Don’t Ignore Home-Grown Hate Groups

By Michael German

Michael German is a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security Program. His work focuses on law enforcement and intelligence oversight and reform. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Mr. German served as the policy counsel for national security and privacy for the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. A sixteen-year veteran of federal law enforcement, Mr. German served as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations. As an undercover agent, German twice infiltrated extremist groups using constitutionally sound law enforcement techniques.

In February, reports emerged that the administration of President Donald Trump was considering rebranding the Obama-era Countering Violent Extremism program to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.” This idea quickly sparked a public backlash from rights groups and Democratic congressional representatives who argue that the re-designation would both discriminate against Muslim communities and ignore the threat posed by white supremacist or other homegrown terror groups. The Trump administration has not released further information about this proposed change. The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge spoke with Michael German, a former undercover FBI agent and Senior Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice

The Cipher Brief: You are a 16-year veteran of the FBI, and you spent almost two years undercover infiltrating violent white supremacists. When you look at groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda, do you recognize the tactics and strategies they use?

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