June 14, 2017

At Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Hearing, Senator Hassan Highlights Critical Importance of Preventing Homegrown Terrorism

Senator Opens by Offering Prayers to Those Injured in Today’s Shooting, Commending Brave Capitol Police & First Responders

HSGAC 6.14.17
Click here for video of Senator Hassan’s remarks.


WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan participated in a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, where she highlighted the important role the Department of Homeland Security must play in combating homegrown terrorism.

Senator Hassan opened her comments by offering her prayers and thoughts to those injured in today’s horrific shooting at the Congressional baseball practice, as well as commending the brave Capitol Police officers, first responders, and other law enforcement members who helped save lives.

The Senator then broadened the discussion, turning her questions to Mike Leiter, Former Director of the National Counter Terrorism Center, and asking how the Department of Homeland Security can help prevent Americans, whatever their ideology, from being radicalized and what resources will be necessary to do that?

See below for a transcript of the Senator’s questioning of Mr. Leiter:

Senator Hassan: “With that said, I want to turn to broaden the discussion a little bit, Mr. Leiter, with you about the issue of homegrown extremism and terrorism. In your view, how can the Department of Homeland Security work to prevent Americans from being radicalized, whatever their ideology, or whatever the ideology it is that inspires them to be radicalized to the point where they're willing to carry out violence? Are we going to be able to arrest our way out of the threat of homegrown terrorism or are we going to have to build partnerships? And again, you've addressed some of the issues about resources, but what kind of resources do we need to be able to do that?”

Mr. Leiter: “Well there's no doubt that we can't arrest our way out of it […] But the best way that (a) we're going to be able to find the people who need to be arrested and (b) reduce the number who are arrested are those deep partnerships with communities.

“Now, the F.B.I. is good at that and has a global and national presence which is probably unmatched, but the Department of Homeland Security plays a key, key role because they are not all in law enforcement. And partnerships cannot just come from people with badges and guns. From my perspective, the Department of Homeland Security can play several roles. First, you of course have the protective element. They are most responsible for our critical infrastructure -- whether it is oil and gas, pipelines, ports, borders -- they have to do that and they have to be funded to do that. Programs like VIPR help do that. Second, they have to be on the front lines of that engagement. And it's not just D.H.S. people walking around the country saying, "Hi, I'm from D.H.S., I'm here to help." It is engaging with those communities so that communities understand how they are under threat and what sort of partnerships that they have to engage with. It is helping them understand what ideological radicalization is occurring online and also building those relationships -- I'm looking over at Senator Harris because so many of these companies are in the Valley -- but building those relationships between government and N.G.O.s and technology communities because there are things that the U.S. Government (a) cannot say, as a matter of constitutional law, and (b) doesn't have any credibility anyway. And the D.H.S. can play a key role in building those partnerships. Last but not least, D.H.S. along with the F.B.I. have to remain at the center of the sharing of information. And not just sharing information, but sharing investigative leads with state and local law enforcement. So we never have a situation like Boston, where something falls below the threshold for the F.B.I., but the Cambridge Police Department or the Boston Police Department might choose to pursue it. And when they do that, they have to make sure that the police to whom they're handing that understand both constitutional limitations, and again, understand the ideological aspects of this so they can make those same difficult distinctions at times between people who are peaceful adherents to Islam and those who have become politically charged violent actors.”