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The White House Didn't Want Trump to Mention White Supremacy in Its Major Terrorism Report
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=50618"><span class="small">Alison Durkee, Vanity Fair</span></a>   
Saturday, 10 August 2019 13:13

Durkee writes: "The recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, has ushered in a new wave of scrutiny into how Donald Trump's presidency has seemingly emboldened white supremacists to commit acts of domestic terrorism, as the alleged Texas shooter's manifesto echoed the president's own rhetoric."

White supremacists rallying in Washington, D.C. (photo: Andrew Stefan/RSN)
White supremacists rallying in Washington, D.C. (photo: Andrew Stefan/RSN)


The White House Didn't Want Trump to Mention White Supremacy in Its Major Terrorism Report

By Alison Durkee, Vanity Fair

10 August 19


Unsurprisingly, administration officials suggested Trump's reluctance to criticize white supremacists was to blame.

he recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, has ushered in a new wave of scrutiny into how Donald Trump's presidency has seemingly emboldened white supremacists to commit acts of domestic terrorism, as the alleged Texas shooter's manifesto echoed the president's own rhetoric. “In both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation,” former vice president and 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden said Wednesday, while fellow candidate and former congressman Beto O'Rourke went one step further, labeling the president a white supremacist himself. “He is [a white supremacist],” O'Rourke said Wednesday. “He's also made that very clear, he's dehumanized or sought to dehumanize those who do not look like, or pray like the majority here in this country.” So it doesn't exactly come as a surprise to learn that when it comes to the federal government's own efforts to combat domestic terrorism, the White House has reportedly been pretty reluctant to give the matter the attention it deserves.

CNN reports that the Trump-led White House “rebuffed” the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to highlight domestic terrorism in the government's National Counterterrorism Strategy, which would have “specifically spelled out” the domestic terror threat as being a major counterterrorism priority. Sources told CNN that the White House “wanted to focus only on the jihadist threat” while ignoring the rising threat of domestic terrorism—including by white supremacists—in the report, which was released last fall. “They had major ideological blinders on,” said one senior source close to the Trump administration. After a year-long battle between the White House and DHS, the report ultimately included one paragraph on domestic terrorism, which briefly acknowledges its rise and mentions “other forms of violent extremism, such as racially motivated extremism, animal rights extremism, environmental extremism, sovereign citizen extremism, and militia extremism”—but, crucially, not white supremacy. DHS sources told CNN that the White House also refused to let the report include a statement acknowledging “that there would be a subsequent domestic terrorism strategy.” (A senior administration official told CNN in defense of the report: “This Administration's National Strategy for Counterterrorism was the first to ever include domestic terrorism. This issue continues to be a priority for this Administration, and the National Security Council has launched an interagency process focused on combating domestic terrorism in support of the President's counterterrorism strategy.”)

The reasoning behind the White House's reluctance to emphasize domestic terrorism—despite it now accounting for nearly as many arrests as international terrorism—is “a matter of some debate,” CNN reports. One official, for instance, suggested the administration's bullishness on emphasizing jihadist terrorism instead was a response to how the Obama White House was “too politically cautious in calling out the threat of Islamist terrorism.” But multiple sources believe the president's seeming allegiance with white supremacists is likely to blame. “You know it will trigger the boss,” the senior source said about the possibility of denouncing white supremacists. “Instinctively you know he's going to be averse to mentioning that.” A former senior administration official told CNN that Trump has a problem with criticizing white supremacists, saying that the source “didn't have expectation” that the administration would support the mention of domestic terrorism “because the preponderance of it involves white supremacy and that's not something this administration is comfortable speaking out against, until the other day by the President and even that was pretty hedged.” Trump said in a speech Monday that the U.S. “must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” though his subsequent statements have undercut the sentiment of his remarks. The president then said on Wednesday that his concern “about the rise of any group of hate” includes “white supremacy, or any other kind of supremacy.”

The recent spate of mass shootings has shined a light on the lack of domestic terrorism resources at Homeland Security, whose reaction to the weekend's tragedies, one DHS official told NBC News, was “uh-oh, we have a problem.” DHS has faced widespread cuts to its domestic terrorism program since Trump took office in 2017, as the Office of Terrorism and Prevention Partnerships' one-time $21 million budget and staff of 16 full-time employees and 25 contractors has dwindled down to just $2.6 million and eight employees. The Trump administration has also cut grants to extremism prevention programs, as well as reassigned intelligence analysts formerly dedicated to domestic terrorism. While Wray has emphasized the FBI's commitment to combating domestic terrorism, that agency has also been affected by an imbalance in resources—as well as the president's own views, former officials suggested to the Washington Post. “I believe Christopher A. Wray is an honorable man, but I think in many ways the FBI is hamstrung in trying to investigate the white supremacist movement like the old FBI would,” former FBI supervisor David Gomez told the Post. “There’s some reluctance among agents to bring forth an investigation that targets what the president perceives as his base. It’s a no-win situation for the FBI agent or supervisor.”

Whether the White House's willingness to confront the problem—and dedicate resources to it—will improve in the wake of the recent shootings still remains a question. In his speech Monday, Trump called for more action to be taken, announcing he was directing the Department of Justice to partner “with local, state, and federal agencies, as well as social media companies, to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike.” But DHS officials told NBC News there have been no discussions of increased funding, and current and former law enforcement officials cited by the Daily Beast say they aren't satisfied with the president's “demoralizing” remarks. “It is a good step to recognize the threat of white supremacy, but words alone cannot solve the problem,” Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent specializing in counterterrorism, told the Daily Beast. “Action speaks louder than words. What kind of policy, legislations, designation, and funding is the administration willing to propose, support, and authorize in order to counter this emerging threat? This is where the rubber meets the road.”

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+1 # chapdrum 2019-08-10 20:04
That would be just so tacky.
 
 
0 # SenorN 2019-08-10 22:51
Someone should correct the title of this article which is supposed to read :...didn't want DHS to mention..." not "...didn't want Trump to mention..."
 
 
+1 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-08-11 08:16
Failure to condemn NeoFascism supports it: there’s no halfway position here.
 
 
+2 # Texas Aggie 2019-08-11 09:10
The article might have mentioned that Sebastian Gorka's wife is directly responsible for cutting the funding to the groups that countered white supremacy. And she had a voice in shutting down the FBI group that investigated white supremacy. The white supremacists have infiltrated into the very top of our government.