TRUMP TO DUMP Obama’s “Countering Violent Extremism” program…replacing it with “Countering Islamic Extremism”

The Trump administration plans to rename and refocus a deliberately vague Obama-Kerry government program called ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ which targeted all kinds of violent ideologies to a program called ‘Countering Islamic Extremism’ which will focus exclusively on ‘Islamic’ extremism…NOT white supremacist shootings or bombings.

REUTERS  The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism”  the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

Such a change would reflect Trump’s election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islam” in describing it. That stops now…now that the adults are in charge.

The failed CVE program aimed to deter groups or potential lone attackers through Muslim community partnerships and educational programs or counter-messaging campaigns in cooperation with companies such as Google and Facebook.

The Obama administration sought to foster relationships with Muslim community groups to engage them in the counterterrorism effort. In 2016, Congress appropriated $10 million in grants for CVE efforts and DHS awarded the first round of grants on Jan. 13, a week before Trump was inaugurated.

Some proponents of the program fear that rebranding it could make it more difficult for the government to work with Muslims already hesitant to trust the new administration, particularly after Trump issued an executive order last Friday temporarily blocking travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries. 

Still, the CVE program, which focuses on U.S. residents and is separate from a military effort to fight extremism online, has been criticized even by some supporters as ineffective. In the below chart, Gray represents Islamic Jihadist extremism and Tan represents Non-Islamic jihadist extremism.

A source who has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the program said Trump transition team members first met with a CVE task force in December and floated the idea of changing the name and focus. 

In a meeting last Thursday attended by senior staff for DHS Secretary John Kelly, government employees were asked to defend why they chose certain community organizations as recipients of CVE program grants, said the source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

Although CVE funding has been appropriated by Congress and the grant recipients were notified in the final days of the Obama administration, the money still may not go out the door, the source said, adding that Kelly is reviewing the matter.

Some Republicans in Congress have long assailed the program as politically correct and ineffective, asserting that singling out and using the term “radical Islam” as the trigger for many violent attacks would help focus deterrence efforts. Others counter that branding the problem as “Islamic” would only serve to alienate more than three million Americans who practice Islam peacefully.

Many community groups, meanwhile, had already been cautious about the program, partly over concerns that it could double as a surveillance tool for law enforcement.

Hoda Hawa, director of policy for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said she was told last week by people within DHS that there was a push to refocus the CVE effort from tackling all violent ideology to only Islamic extremism.  “That is concerning for us because they are targeting a faith group and casting it under a net of suspicion,” she said. (Good, that’s where it should be)

Another source familiar with the matter was told last week by a DHS official that a name change would take place.

One grant recipient, Leaders Advancing & Helping Communities, a Michigan-based group led by Lebanese-Americans, has declined a $500,000 DHS grant it had sought, according to an email the group sent that was seen by Reuters. A representative for the group confirmed the grant had been rejected but declined further comment. (Probably were afraid they’d actually be expected to turn in their fellow Muslims from their own community)

 

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