DOJ Budget Includes $85M Increase to Fight Domestic Terrorism

Attorney General Merrick Garland told House lawmakers Tuesday that the Biden Administration’s 2022 budget request for the Department of Justice (DOJ) would seek an $85 million increase from last year’s budget for domestic terrorism investigations and cases.

“Our budget supports my commitment to protecting our national security, including addressing both international and domestic terrorism while respecting civil liberties.” Garland testified to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. “It includes increases of $45 million for the FBI domestic terrorism investigations and $40 million for the U.S. attorneys to manage increasing domestic terrorism caseloads.”

The increase from last year’s budget for domestic terrorism cases comes as Democrats have sought to label Trump supporters who protested on January 6 at the Capitol as domestic terrorists, domestic violent extremists, and white supremacists. Committee Chairman Matt Cartwright (D-PA) said at the hearing the “attack on the Capitol” was an “unprecedented” threat from domestic violent extremism.

Garland testified during his confirmation hearing that his first priority as attorney general would be the investigation into January 6. So far, the DOJ has charged more than 400 people as part of that investigation.

Garland also said at Tuesday’s hearing the threat of domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism keeps him up at night.

“My oath is to protect the Constitution and Americans from all enemies, both foreign and domestic,” he said. “And so both forms of terrorism are extraordinary concern to me. We never want to take our eyes off of what happened on 9/11 and that the risks that the country continues to face from foreign terrorist attacks on the homeland.”

“Likewise, we have a growing fear of domestic violent extremism and domestic terrorism and both of those keep me up at night…virtually every morning, I get a briefing from the FBI in one of the other or both areas,” he told the committee.

Committee Ranking Member Robert Aderholt (R-AL) pressed Garland on why the FBI classified the 2017 congressional baseball game shooting that targeted Republican members of Congress as a case of “suicide by cop” instead of domestic terrorism, despite the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence doing so, as previously reported by Breitbart News.

The attorney general said he had not yet had a chance to speak to the FBI about it and promised he would do so.

Garland also said the total budget request seeks to increase the DOJ’s civil rights funding by $33 million, for a total of $209 million for the civil rights division, the community relations service, and related civil rights work. The budget will also include a “historic investment of $1 billion” to support the department’s Office of Violence Against Women.

The DOJ budget request includes an increase of $304 million, for a total of $1.2 billion, for programs that support “community-oriented policing and addressing systemic inequities,” he said.

He also said funding to combat gun violence would increase by $232 million, for community violence intervention programs, to improve background checks, and for more comprehensive red flag laws.

Garland promised the DOJ would step up its work on environmental justice, asserting that “communities of color, low-income communities, and tribal communities often suffer the most harm from environmental crimes and pollution.”

Garland also requested a 21% budget increase for the Executive Office for Immigration Review that will pay for 100 new immigration judges, improved technology, and other “efficiency mechanisms” to reduce a backlog of nearly 1.3 million cases pending before immigration courts.

“I have mentioned only a few of the department’s important programs this morning. I ask your support for our budget as the entire department works to ensure adherence to the rule of law, protection and public safety, and equal justice for all Americans,” he testified.

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iSelect fined $8.5m after admitting energy price comparison service misled customers | Australia news

Online product comparison website iSelect has been fined $8.5m after admitting in the federal court that its energy price comparison service misled customers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission first filed proceedings against the company in April 2019 alleging it had engaged in “deceptive” conduct over its energy plans.

iSelect had told consumers it would compare all electricity plans offered by its partners and recommend the most suitable one. But, the consumer watchdog alleged, iSelect had limited the number of plans that could be uploaded to its website and failed to adequately disclose that cheaper plans were available only via its call centre.

Thousands of consumers who visited iSelect’s website between November 2016 and December 2018 were misled, the ACCC said. The watchdog’s chair, Rod Sims, said in a statement on Thursday that iSelect “was not upfront with consumers that it wasn’t comparing all plans offered by its partner retailers”.

“In fact, about 38% of people who compared electricity plans with iSelect at that time may have found a cheaper plan if they had shopped around or used the government’s comparison site Energy Made Easy,” Sims said.

In an agreed settlement before the federal court, iSelect also admitted that between March 2017 and November 2019 it misrepresented the price of some of the plans it recommended to almost 5,000 consumers.

Because of an error in its website and call centre code, iSelect quoted a total price for some plans that underestimated the cost by up to $140 per quarter.

“iSelect’s misleading conduct may have caused some consumers to switch electricity providers or plans on the basis of a price that was understated or without being aware that a cheaper plan was available,” Sims said.

“It can be complex and confusing for consumers to compare prices and other features of electricity services in a bid to get the best deal for what often is a major household expense. Comparison sites need to make it very clear if their recommendations are influenced or limited by commercial relationships.”

The ACCC chair said comparison websites had a responsibility to ensure their algorithms were correct and to prevent incorrect recommendations. “This is particularly so when they generate significant revenue in commissions from those recommendations,” Sims said.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange on Thursday, iSelect acknowledged the fine and said some of the conduct was the result of a “coding error”.

It said both parties had acknowledged there was “no evidence that iSelect intended to mislead consumers or deliberately contravene the law”.

“The joint submissions also acknowledged the corrective actions taken by iSelect after it was notified of the ACCC’s concerns, including increasing the prominence of disclaimers on our website, as well as iSelect’s cooperation, including initiating settlement discussions, and its compliance program,” the company said.

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