President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr have blamed antifa for sporadic violence and rioting during the ongoing Black Lives Matters protests. That strategy is undercut not only by constitutional hurdles and conflicting evidence on the ground, but also by a sobering report from Trump’s own intelligence officials that calls for a revamped approach to domestic extremism, The Intercept reports. The analysis from the National Counterterrorism Center offers a critical view of the gaps and weaknesses in combating homegrown terror threats. It suggests a focus on individuals who break the law, rather than groups.
The report raises troubling questions about the government’s ability to head off a major attack from extremists at home. It depicts a system ill-equipped to deal with the rising threat of domestic extremists because of splintered approaches by different agencies. The report warned bluntly that “there is no whole-of-government [domestic terrorism] threat picture.” Federal officials cannot agree on what to call violent extremists inside the U.S., their efforts are “rarely integrated,” and combating the “potent” threat is not a top priority in some agencies, said the report, which grew out of a summit of government officials and outside experts last fall. As a result, intelligence officials are hampered by a “lack of analytic research” and formal threat assessments to draw on, the report said, and that gap in valuable intelligence “in turn reinforces the lack of policymaker prioritization.” Barr, while creating a federal task force to confront “anti-government extremists engaged in indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order,” pointed the finger at antifa and supporters of the far-right Boogaloo movement, a white extremist group that envisions a coming “civil war.”