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

By Lauretta Brown | October 15, 2015 | 4:53pm EDT

(AP photo.) 

( – John Carlin, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) assistant attorney general for National Security, announced on Wednesday that the DOJ is creating a 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 (SPLC) “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.”

"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 said in his speech at George Washington University in a discussion co-hosted by the SPLC. "When it comes to hate and intolerance, no single ideology governs."

Carlin was asked about the value of the SPLC’s work in helping the 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 said, emphasizing that “Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups in this space are very important.”

John Carlin, assistant attorney

general for national security at

the Department of Justice. (AP)


The SPLC’s website features a “hate map” that lists the Christian and conservative Family Research Council (FRC) as a “hate group” because of its defense of traditional marriage.

The SPLC’s “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 GW’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.

Convicted domestic terrorist Floyd

Corkins, who attacked the 

conservative and Christian

 Family Research

Council in August 2012.  (AP) 

“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,” she said.

“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,” she said. “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.”

During his interrogation by FBI officials,  domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins said he learned about the Family Research Council (FRC) being a supposedly “anti-gay” site by looking at the SPLC’s  web site.  When Corkins was arrested, there were 50 rounds of ammunition in his backpack and 15 Chik-fil-a sandwiches.

Corkins had planned to kill as many people as he could at the FRC and smear Chik-fil-a sandwichs in the faces of the victims.

In the court’s “Statement of Offense” outlining Corkins’ crimes, it states, “He committed the shooting for political reasons. He had identified the FRC as an anti-gay organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center Website.” 

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