Blue Dogs Back Bills to Combat Domestic Terrorism Threat, Protect Classified Information
Feb 15, 2021
WASHINGTON—Today, the Blue Dog Coalition, which focuses on issues related to national security, announced its endorsement of two bills to help combat the threat of domestic terrorism and protect our nation’s classified information from those who participated in the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol and members of the QAnon conspiracy movement.
The Blue Dogs endorsed the bipartisan Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021, which would enhance the federal government’s efforts to prevent domestic terrorism by requiring federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess this threat and provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it. The Coalition has advocated for this legislation since it was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 2018. The Blue Dogs also endorsed the Security Clearance Improvement Act of 2021, which would disqualify participants in the violent assault on the United States Capitol and members of the QAnon conspiracy movement from obtaining or maintaining a federal security clearance.
The Blue Dogs have continuously called on Congress to address the threat posed by white supremacist organizations and other violent domestic extremist groups since the 2017 attack in Charlottesville, Virginia. Following the January 6 insurrection, Rep. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), the Blue Dog Coalition’s Co-Chair for Communications, called the attack an act of domestic terrorism.
“The threat of domestic terrorism has never before been as stark as it is now, in the wake of the January 6th attack on the Capitol,” said Rep. Brad Schneider (IL-10), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition who introduced the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act in the House. “Since 2017, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act has been ahead of the curve in recognizing the threat of racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism and offering clear steps in how to prevent its spread. The support of the Blue Dog Coalition clearly demonstrates DTPA’s common sense appeal and commitment to keeping Americans safe. I want to thank the Coalition’s chairs and Members for supporting this critical piece of legislation.”
“As a former national security specialist at the Pentagon, I know how dangerous it is for individuals who participated in a violent attempt to overthrow our government to receive a security clearance and access classified information,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), who is the Blue Dog Coalition’s Co-Chair for Administration and introduced the Security Clearance Improvement Act in the House. “QAnon has spread far beyond the fringes, and we must now take steps to ensure these dangerous conspiracy theories don’t infiltrate our government. Holding a security clearance is a privilege, not a right. I’m proud to have the support of the Blue Dog Coalition in this effort to prevent QAnon members and Capitol rioters from being entrusted with our nation’s secrets.”
BACKGROUND ON THE DOMESTIC TERRORISM PREVENTION ACT (DTPA):
Introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Brad Schneider (IL-10), Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Rep. Robin Kelly (IL-02), Rep. Don Bacon (NE-01), Rep. Vicente González (TX-15), Rep. Fred Upton (MI-06), and Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46), the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (DTPA) of 2021 would strengthen the federal government’s efforts to prevent, report on, respond to, and investigate acts of domestic terrorism by authorizing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring these offices to regularly assess this threat; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it. A Senate companion bill is led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
DTPA would authorize three offices, one each within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to monitor, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism. The bill also requires these offices to provide Congress with joint biannual reports assessing the state of domestic terrorism threats, with a specific focus on white supremacists. Based on the data collected, DTPA requires these offices to focus their resources on the most significant threats.
DTPA also codifies the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which would coordinate with United States Attorneys and other public safety officials to promote information sharing and ensure an effective, responsive, and organized joint effort to combat domestic terrorism. The legislation requires DOJ, FBI, and DHS to provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. Finally, DTPA directs DHS, DOJ, FBI, and the Department of Defense to establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement.
The legislation is nearly identical to the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020, which was endorsed by a broad coalition, including the Anti-Defamation League, Arab American Institute, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, Human Rights Campaign, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Muslim Advocates, NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Sikh Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, Jewish Federation of Chicago, and Unidos.
BACKGROUND ON THE SECURITY CLEARANCE IMPROVEMENT ACT:
Introduced in the House of Representatives by the Blue Dog Coalition’s Co-Chair for Administration, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), the Security Clearance Improvement Act of 2021, would direct the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to add another question to Section 29 that asks applicants whether they have ever been a member of, associated with, or knowingly engaged in activities conducted by an organization or movement—like QAnon—that spreads conspiracy theories and false information about the U.S. government.
Applicants would be asked to provide the name and address of the organization, any positions held in the organization, a description of the nature of and reasons for their involvement with the organization, the dates of their involvement with the organization, and any contributions made to the organization.
In addition, Murphy’s legislation would require the security clearance process—whether the SF-86, the interview portion, or both—to ask applicants whether they participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol or a similar “Stop the Steal” event, and the precise role they played in that event. Even if it does not constitute a criminal offense, attendance at an event designed to overturn the results of a presidential election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power raises serious questions about an applicant’s suitability for a security clearance.
Armed with this information, the U.S. government will be in a better position to make the discretionary decision about whether the applicant is “reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the U.S” and thus deserving of a security clearance.