Biden Taps a War on Terror Veteran to Stop White Supremacists - 2021-01-21
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.