Tracking white supremacists groups

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- President Trump has asked the Feds to do a better job of identifying violent extremists, but we are learning that it won't be easy trying to distinguish between free speech protected by the constitution and those with actual criminal intent.

But those we spoke with say the Feds need to figure out a way to turn up the heat and figure out how to keep track of these individuals.

"Get confidential informants, get people to infiltrate their groups, certainly intelligence analysts," says Jack Tomarchio, a former principal deputy for intelligence for the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security.

Nancy Baron-Baer is the regional executive director of the Anti-Defamation League who believes we should be monitoring or doing a better job of monitoring websites frequented by white supremacists.

"Channels like 4chan and 8chan, 8chan being the place where the manifesto that is being talked about since this weekend was placed," she said.

But some note that anti-Hispanic screed believed written by the El Paso terror suspect appeared on the online message board 8chan only about 20 minutes before the shooting.

And that mere membership in or support for a white supremacist organization is not illegal. And that is why laws need to be strengthened to allow authorities to track potential domestic terrorists just as they do international terrorists like Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Tomarchio says, "We need to treat this in a similar way, so I would counsel that we need to look at getting more intelligence, more data on these individuals."

Baron-Baer adds, "There are many ways that we can work on this problem together."

She says there are also programs we could be doing in schools like the ADL's 'No Place for Hate' campaign. It is currently sponsored in 225 schools and community groups.

"And the purpose of the program is to empower students and teachers to learn about diversity to combat bigotry, to combat hate and to learn to appreciate the other," she said.

And Tomarchio says as a society we also need to be more mindful of what people are saying around us.

"It doesn't call for paranoia, it just calls for mindfulness and be mindful of those indicators where an individual might be saying things," he added.

For the record, the FBI made about 90 domestic terror arrests so far this year, and had hundreds of other cases still open.
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