DOJ Official Praises the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Work in Combatting Domestic Terrorism

Lauretta Brown | October 15, 2015 | 8:15am EDT
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The Justice Department building in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

( – John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security, announced Wednesday that the Justice Department is creating the new position of domestic terrorism counsel to combat the “real and present threat” of domestic extremism.

Carlin praised groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center “that dedicate themselves to examining what the threat is, observing it, and reporting on it,” adding that the work of the SPLC was “very important.”

The SPLC says it places groups -- including conservative, Christian groups -- on its "Hate List" based on their beliefs, not their propensity for violence.

"Homegrown violent extremists can be motivated by any viewpoint on the full spectrum of hate — anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs," Carlin told a gathering at George Washington University. The discussion was co-hosted by SPLC. "When it comes to hate and intolerance, no single ideology governs."

Carlin was asked about the value of SPLC’s work in helping DOJ deal with the threat of domestic terrorist extremism.

“I can say, based on our briefings, that as I said in my opening remarks, we very much think that the domestic terrorism threat is a real and present threat that demands to be addressed in new, creative ways,” he replied emphasizing that “Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups in this space are very important.”

The SPLC’s website features a “hate map” that lists the conservative. Christian Family Research Council (FRC) as a “hate group” because of its defense of traditional marriage. The “hate map” was cited by convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins in his decision to attack the FRC in 2012 when he shot and wounded a security guard before being subdued.

“We recognize that, over the past few years, more people have died in this country in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups,” Carlin said in his remarks.

SPLC’s Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich participated with Carlin in Wednesday's discussion of domestic terrorism. asked Beirich about their designation of the Family Research Council as a hate group.

“I think there’s a common misunderstanding about the way you get on our Hate List. We post groups on the basis of ideology, not whether they’re violent or not,” she replied.

 “Of course some of the groups are particularly violent, the Skinheads, Neo-Nazis, and what not,” she continued.  “Others are simply pushing propaganda that we consider hateful. For example, there’s an organization called American Renaissance, it puts out reams and reams of information about why black people are inferior, it lies basically, so black people are dumber, they’re psychopathic, they’re more violent.

“In the same way groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association do that but what they’re putting out is anti-gay material so gay people are pedophiles, or molesters, or whatever the case may be, and that’s why they’re on the list and that’s the direct analogy.”

“Look our list is, we’re a nonprofit, we put out a list every year, we have relationships with people in federal law enforcement, but we’re a completely separate entity and we put our material out to the entire public, right?” Beirich replied when asked how these listings might affect SPLC aiding in domestic terrorism investigations.

“So it’s there to be seen, so it’s not like we’re somehow, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s controlling domestic terrorism investigations. It’s clearly not the case. It’s public information, it’s our opinion that it’s hateful, and that’s basically it,” she concluded.

The new Domestic Terrorism Counsel will serve as the main point of contact for U.S. Attorney offices nationwide and will work to identify trends across cases, help shape strategy and analyze legal gaps that need to be closed, the Associated Press reported.

Also See:
Conservatives to DOJ, FBI: Stop Advancing Southern Poverty Law Center’s Anti-Christian Agenda

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