The Daily Beast has done it again; a compelling read, this time on Russ Travers, who was fired by Trump and hired by Biden as his deputy homeland security adviser. The article is lengthy but worth the read. Some critics are nervous about this hire, but I have not seen one appointment that has disappointed me so far.
President Biden was sworn into office Wednesday under the shadow of the Jan. 6 insurrection with a pledge to take down the kind of extremists who took over the Capitol. To help lead that effort, he has tapped a distinguished veteran of the War on Terror—an appointment that raises the question of whether the new administration will draw from a disastrous conflict with jihadists to confront a much different threat from far-right terrorists.
Russ Travers spent four decades in the intelligence and security apparatus, rising to become acting head of the National Counterterrorism Center. Former President Donald Trump ousted Travers from that position in March as part of a purge of the intelligence agencies. Travers’ allies say he was ousted for trying to reposition the NCTC, a key creation of the post-9/11 security state, to analyzing domestic terror. They describe him as an energetic and often contrarian figure who has put in the time in recent years to understand a resurgent threat that the post-9/11 counterterrorism apparatus neglected.
Last week, Biden announced that Travers will return to government service, this time as his deputy homeland security adviser. Notably, Travers’ boss, White House Homeland Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, is a former deputy energy secretary with expertise in nuclear weapons and Russia, not terrorism, teeing up Travers for an important portfolio. “Russ will be an essential leader on DVE [domestic violent extremism] issues,” said a source familiar with his new job, though not the only point person on the issue.
After a near shouting match with a neighbor, a member of Trump’s hate cult, over what he called a ‘ni@@er’ woman as vice president and amnesty for 10,000,000 ‘fucking Mexicans,’ I saw this post. People like Kevin McCarthy inspire millions of people’s hatred toward those who do not look like them. Fear of the other is so tiresome.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: "I was disappointed to see, within hours of assuming office, the new administration was more interested in helping illegal immigrants than helping our own citizens …"pic.twitter.com/6dK2i4MERm
— The Recount (@therecount) January 21, 2021
Not long after Trump appointed him acting director in August 2019, Travers began speaking publicly about a threat that NCTC largely did not address: domestic terrorism, something that by bureaucratic design was in the FBI and Department of Homeland Security’s purview instead. Travers’ interest resulted in a September 2019 conference on domestic terror; one of the driving forces behind the conference, Clare Linkins, recently the NCTC executive director, is now senior director for counterterrorism on Biden’s National Security Council. At a think-tank speech that November, Travers observed that the U.S. was increasingly seen as an “exporter” of far-right terror, as evidenced by events like the Christchurch mosque murders, and contended that such extremism was unfortunately becoming a global movement.
— DomesticTerror (@DomesticTerror2) January 16, 2021
Travers has been at times prescient about far-right terror. In an August interview, he told Yahoo News’ Sean Naylor that such terror was likely should Trump lose the election. Travers considered it absurd to change the subject to comparatively marginal instances of left-wing violence, as Trump did, as the greater danger from the right made it appear like “night and day.”