The White House released an official report this week that labelled the January 6th Capitol riot as a “domestic terrorist attack” in a document that went on to endorse the removal of all “extremist content” from the internet.
The Biden Administration released the report this Monday, which also called for improved cooperation between the federal government and private internet companies. The report also instructs the US Justice Department to review whether or not a new anti-domestic terrorism law needs to be requested or now.
“Domestic terrorist attacks in the United States also have been committed frequently by those opposing our government institutions. In 1995, in the largest single act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, an anti–government violent extremist detonated a bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people – including 19 children – and injuring hundreds of others,” the report says.
“In 2016, an anti-authority violent extremist ambushed, shot, and killed five police officers in Dallas. In 2017, a lone gunman wounded four people at a congressional baseball practice. And just months ago, on January 6, 2021, Americans witnessed an unprecedented attack against a core institution of our democracy: the U.S. Congress.”
Biden initially requested this report be written up during his first week in office; which was just days after the riot that left around 440 individuals facing criminal charges. Four Trump supporters also died due to medical emergencies during the riot and one Capitol Police officer died due to a stroke while he was fighting off the violent crowd.
The document states that the US supports the Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online, which works to block content available online, and was created after the 2019 massacre of 51 individuals at a mosque in New Zealand.
“[T]he United States endorses the Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online. We applaud language in the Christchurch Call emphasizing the importance of tackling the very real threat posed by online terrorist content while respecting human rights and freedom of expression,” the new document says.
The report also places great emphasis on the fact that private-internet companies need to be held accountable and be more strict when it comes to monitoring content on their platforms.
“Recruiting and mobilizing individuals to domestic terrorism occurs in many settings, both in-person and online. These activities are increasingly happening on Internet-based communications platforms, including social media, online gaming platforms, file-upload sites, and end-to-end encrypted chat platforms, even as those products and services frequently offer other important benefits,” the White House document says.
“The widespread availability of domestic terrorist recruitment material online is a national security threat whose front lines are overwhelmingly private-sector online platforms, and we are committed to informing more effectively the escalating efforts by those platforms to secure those front lines.”
“[W]e must ask the question of whether legislative reforms could meaningfully and materially increase our ability to protect Americans from acts of domestic terrorism while simultaneously guarding against potential abuse of overreach. New criminal laws, in particular, should be sought only after careful consideration of whether and how they are needed to assist the government in tackling complex, multifaceted challenges like the one posed by domestic terrorism and only while ensuring the protection of civil rights and civil liberties,” the document said.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.