House Democrat urges Biden to declare white supremacy a national security threat

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in Washington
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By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Jackie Speier sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to issue an executive order identifying white supremacy and violent extremism as a threat to national security.

Speier, a top Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Military Personnel subcommittee, also pushed federal agencies to screen military recruits and those seeking government security clearances for ties to violent extremism on social media.

In her letter dated Friday, Speier said she is alarmed by this growing threat and that the U.S. government and the Department of Defense are not effectively screening servicemembers.

"Social media platforms...are frequently used by domestic terrorist groups to recruit members and plan violent attacks... yet social media is not reviewed during the military's accessions process or even as part of the background investigation process for security clearances," she said in her letter, which was also addressed to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

Earlier this month, Biden directed his administration to conduct a full assessment of the risk of domestic terrorism. The assessment will be carried out by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in coordination with the FBI and DHS.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security warned that the United States could face a heightened threat of domestic extremist violence for weeks from people angry at former President Donald Trump's election defeat and inspired by the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)