Instead, Haines indicated she views the intelligence agency’s work with regard to far-right terror—Haines used the phrase “white nationalism”—as a matter of identifying connections to foreign actors and disinformation. The coalescing of globalizing white nationalist and far-right violence is increasingly a focus of the incoming Biden team. Russ Travers, a former acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center who was recently tapped as Biden’s deputy homeland-security adviser at the White House, has written that the U.S. is increasingly an exporter of such violence and drew connections to the 2019 mosque murders in Christchurch, New Zealand.
But an intelligence focus on QAnon will inevitably stoke controversy. Even after the FBI warned in 2019 that QAnon posed a domestic-terror threat, at least two QAnon boosters, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO), have been elected to Congress. Efforts a decade ago to study far-right terror resulted in the Obama administration ending a DHS analytic entity that did so following a conservative outcry.
Speaking to the veteran presence at the Capitol insurrection, Biden’s nominee for secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, pledged on Tuesday to “rid our ranks of racists and extremists” at his own confirmation hearing.