White supremacy is “deadliest threat” to US, DHS assessment project says

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The most recent draft report predicts a “high threat environment at least until” early next year, concluding that some US-based violent extremists have profited from rising social and political tensions in China. 2020.

Although foreign terrorist organizations continue to call for attacks on the United States, according to the report, they “will likely remain limited in their ability to lead such plots over the next year.”

The threat assessment – which also warns against continuing Russia’s disinformation efforts – is all the more remarkable given that President Donald Trump has often used racial attack tactics in his quest for re-election and has often downplayed the threat of white supremacists during his tenure. The Trump administration has portrayed Antifa and the anarchists as a major threat to the United States, with the president tweeting this summer that the United States will designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.

The recently released draft reports, which were made public by Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes and first reported by Politico, assess a host of threats, including cyber influence, foreign influence and migration irregular.

All three projects say white supremacist extremists are the deadliest threat. However, the placement and language on white supremacy in three versions of the DHS draft documents differ slightly.The earliest available version of the State of the Homeland Threat Assessment 2020 drafts read: “We believe that isolated offenders and ideologically motivated small groups will pose the greatest terrorist threat to the homeland until 2021 , the white supremacist extremists presenting the most deadly. threat. ”

The main section on terrorist threats to the homeland is amended in the last two drafts to replace “white supremacist extremists” with “domestic violent extremists presenting the most persistent and deadly threat”.

However, the reports all contain this language: “Among the DVE [Domestic Violent Extremists], we believe that white supremacist extremists (WSEs) will remain the country’s most persistent and deadly threat until 2021. ”

Wittes released the documents because he wanted there to be a “benchmark of what career people at DHS were actually assessing threats against” the final product that is released by the department.

He told CNN that “the most striking thing is in this political atmosphere; they said what they said ”- that white supremacist violence is the threat they are most concerned about.

“I don’t want to criticize them when that language is there. Having said that, it is somewhat different in the first draft of the following two and I think the nature of the change is notable as a reflection of the political pressure they are under. , ” he said.

CNN has reached out to DHS for comment. The final threat assessment for 2020 has not been made public.

The 2020 Draft Report also finds that Russian state-affiliated actors will continue to target US industry and all levels of government with “intrusive cyber espionage”. China and Russia are nation-states’ most capable cyber adversaries, but Iran and North Korea also pose a threat to the United States, according to the project.

One of the “main takeaways” from the report is that “Russia is likely to be the main actor of foreign influence and the main supplier of disinformation and disinformation in the homeland.”

Moscow’s main objective is to undermine the American electoral process and weaken the United States. Some Kremlin-related misinformation could also motivate acts of violence in the United States, the draft report says.

Trump has consistently downplayed the threat of white supremacist violence during his presidency, including when he said there were “good people” among the extremists who sparked violence in Charlottesville, Va., In 2017. He also called Blacks Lives Matter a “symbol of hate” and has regularly tweeted stories highlighting violence against white Americans as he seeks support in the suburbs.

Officials in his administration, however, cautioned against white supremacist extremism.

Last year, CNN reported that White House officials had pushed back efforts by their DHS colleagues for more than a year to make tackling national terrorist threats, such as those from white supremacists, a more high priority, as specifically stated in the national counterterrorism strategy.

Then-Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said last year that white supremacist extremism was one of the “most powerful ideologies” behind acts of violence in the United States, when he published the department’s counterterrorism strategy, outlining persistent threats from foreign terrorism and focusing on domestic terror. threats, especially white supremacism.

“In our modern times, the continued threat of racist violent extremism, in particular white supremacist extremism, is a heinous affront to the nation, to the struggle and to the unity of its diverse population,” a- he said in a speech at the Brookings Institution for nearly a year. since.

The threat assessment was prompted by a 2019 DHS counterterrorism strategy that called for annual reports to inform government officials and the public.

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