The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently announced that it had started thinking about introducing new legislation that would tackle domestic terrorists.
Brad Wiegmann, a deputy assistant attorney general at DOJ’s national security division, told reporters that the department considers whether there is any need for additional prosecutors who would have special authorities regarding the cases of domestic terrorism.
Wiegmann emphasized that the crucial question is whether some relevant types of conduct cannot be covered by existing laws.
He also pointed out that there might be some other benefits of additional legislation.
The DOJ official stressed that no existing law enables the government to designate certain people as domestic terrorists, meaning no charges could be filed on this ground.
Wiegmann compared this circumstance with how law recognized international terrorism, thus enabling various charges, including the one of material support.
Matt Cartwright, a Democratic Representative from Pennsylvania, is one of the lawmakers who publicly expressed his support for the domestic terrorism legislation.
Cartwright, who also chairs the relevant subcommittee, said that domestic extremism presents ‘a cancer for the country’.
He pointed out that crimes that could be described as domestic terrorism are mostly perpetrated by right-wing extremists and, as such, caused much more deaths than the violence coming from other organizations.
Prejudice in favor of the left?
Many commentators raised skepticism regarding the new legislation.
They pointed out that the domestic terrorism laws are not likely to cover the violence caused by leftist organizations such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa.
These commentators referred to widespread protests that happened last year, causing numerous deaths and billion-dollar material damage, usually due to the destruction of private businesses that operated on the streets.
There are also indications that the new legislation might be directed against a broader range of conservative organizations, including those that support former President Donald Trump.
To what extent this might be the case would become known once the first drafts of the legislation arrive in Congress.
It would be crucial to see what stance would different Congress members take on the legislative proposal.