Former New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton warned CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” that domestic terrorism has superseded the threat of international terrorism in the United States.
“For the last 20 years our biggest concern was international terrorism — ISIS, Al Qaeda,” Bratton said in a Friday evening interview. “Now it’s here and it’s us, and it’s the citizens of the United States, some of whom are rebelling against everything we thought we believed in for the last 300 to 400 years.”
Former Homeland Security Department counterterrorism official, Nate Snyder, echoed Bratton’s sentiments on “The News with Shepard Smith.”
“If you’re talking about the lethality of the threat, domestic terrorism — meaning violent white supremacists, neo-Nazis, sovereign citizens, militia movements — have been the most lethal threat in these past ten years compared to Al Qaeda and ISIS- inspired threats,” Snyder said.
State capitols across the nation are facing the threat of violence in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugurations. FBI Director Christopher Wray told state officials to take any extremist threat seriously at a briefing on inauguration security at FEMA headquarters on Friday.
“If we find that an individual poses a violent threat, then we and our partners will take advantage of every lawful authority and method we’ve got to disrupt any attempt or attack,” Wray said. “Our posture is aggressive; it’s going to stay that way through the inauguration.”
Wray said the agency is tracking “extensive” online chatter that includes calling for armed protests. Some extremists online have been ignoring President Trump’s call for peace, and are citing the fact that he has still not formally conceded, according to Politico. There are also some extremists on the instant messaging platform “Telegram” who are calling for surprise attacks nationwide, according to the Washington Post.
Bratton told host Shepard Smith that it is “much, much harder” to battle domestic terrorism, and that the U.S. does not have the “tools to battle domestic terrorism” in the way it does to battle international terrorism. Snyder criticized the deleterious effects of the Trump administration’s policies for weakening the country’s ability to combat threats from neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and sovereign citizens.
“Unfortunately, during this administration, there was a systematic atrophication of these efforts, not only from my former office but also from analysts within the department’s intelligence and analysis division that would focus primarily on tracking these threats,” Snyder said.
The National Park Service shut down the National Mall amid widespread security concerns. The Army confirmed Friday that as many as 25,000 National Guard troops will be in D.C. to help with security for Biden’s inauguration. That’s roughly five times the number of troops that the U.S. currently has in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bratton said there should be more transparency when it comes to law enforcement delivering information to U.S. citizens, in order to keep them aware and to further protect them.
“I hope after January 20 we get back to a situation where we can be more transparent, more forthcoming, and where we can have American law enforcement leadership being where they need to be, which is at those podiums, talking to you, rather than some of us, former law enforcement officials,” Bratton said.