Sens. Henry Stern, D-Los Angeles, and Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, announced plans Monday to introduce legislation that would require both the state Attorney General and the California Office of Emergency Services to create units focusing on domestic terrorism.
“Let’s be very clear,” Stern said. “What happened last week (at the U.S. Capitol) wasn’t Antifa. It was effectively sponsored by a president and his loyalists in local, state and federal office who have been encouraging and supporting the white nationalist movement, helping it get bigger and stronger to try and normalize the types of atrocious activities we witnessed in Washington. We have to respond not just with blustery condemnation, but with a concrete answer to this threat to domestic security.”
Umberg, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a retired army colonel who, as a federal prosecutor, secured numerous convictions of white supremacists who terrorized Blacks in Southern California, told City News Service he was “appalled” at the riots and failure of law enforcement to respond.
“What struck me about last week’s events, aside from being incredibly sad, is the incredible failure of our intelligence gathering and analytic ability,” Umberg said. “The only way you can effectively investigate and prevent these kinds of attacks or incidents is with actionable intelligence.
“If this were a military operation where there was so much information that was in the blogosphere and in the internet world about what was going to happen and we failed to adequately gather and operationalize it, that would be an indictment of our capability to handle these situations.”
Umberg added, “We need both state and federal mechanisms to gather, analyze and operationalize intelligence or this is going to continue to happen.”
The lawmakers said the legislation, which is still being drafted and will be introduced in the coming weeks, will call for:
— establishing investigation teams at the Department of Justice to investigate and coordinate efforts to thwart acts of domestic terror, hate crimes and other criminal activity by white nationalist, neo-Nazi, neo-confederate, anti-government militia and other similar groups, such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and the Ku Klux Klan; and
— establishing within the Cal OES State Threat Assessment Center a new operation to take steps necessary to assess potential threats from such groups.
“The most effective way to combat domestic terrorism is with actionable intelligence gathered from all reliable investigative agencies,” Umberg said.
The lawmakers noted that beyond the events that took place in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday, which have been well documented, an October report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies found that “white supremacists and other like-minded extremists conducted two-thirds of the terrorist plots and attacks in the United States” in the first eight months of 2020.
The report also noted: “…the domestic landscape could shift from a decentralized milieu of extremists to more organized and hierarchically structured groups… (which) could increase the competence and professionalism of these organizations in numerous areas, such as planning attacks, recruiting, training, improving operational security, and fundraising.”
Once the bill is introduced, it will be referred to a Senate policy committee and will likely be set for hearing sometime in March.
Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, called on California Attorney Gen. Xavier Becerra and Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer to go after local residents involved in the insurrection.
“I know the (U.S. Department of Justice) is working on this, but the wheels of justice move slowly,” Min, a former Securities and Exchange prosecutor, told City News Service.
Min said he believes there are state charges that could be applied to suspects who conspired locally and attempted to carry out the crimes in the nation’s capital.
Min encouraged local prosecution of the suspects “for the safety of our community and to uphold the rule of law and to demonstrate forcefully California will not abide by these terroristic attacks.”
Min pointed out there were was “ample” evidence in social media posts about plans to ransack the Capitol.
“It seems very clear there were a number of California residents involved and a number of Orange County residents,” Min said.
Umberg said he “wholeheartedly supported” Min’s call for local law enforcement’s involvement.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer issued a statement saying his office was assisting federal and state authorities to go after rioters.
Spitzer said the unrest “demonstrated a sickening disregard for our American democracy and the rule of law.”
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: