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Democratic Senators Denounce Plan To Focus Counter-Extremism Program On Islam

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Democratic Senators Denounce Plan To Focus Counter-Extremism Program On Islam

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting about the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A dozen Democratic U.S. senators on Thursday denounced a Trump administration plan to revamp a government program on countering violent extremism, saying narrowing its focus solely to Islamic threats could jeopardize security and may be illegal.

Restructuring the program to omit white supremacists and other non-Islamist groups “would severely damage our credibility with foreign allies and partners as an honest broker in the fight against violent extremism, and prove divisive in communities across our country,” Senators Cory Booker, Brian Schatz, and 10 others wrote in a letter addressed to cabinet secretaries.

Reuters reported last week that Republican President Donald Trump’s administration wants to rename the “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, program introduced by the previous Democratic administration of Barack Obama to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.”

The potential name change reflects a broader goal of Trump’s to exclude groups in the program’s purview such as white supremacist, whose followers have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States, five sources familiar with the matter said.

CVE aimed to address the causes of why some people are drawn to violence or extremism by providing grants and other resources to community groups to develop prevention efforts, including using social media.

Earlier this month, Trump signed an executive order temporarily blocking travel to the United States by people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, prompting a global outcry and charges from his critics that he was advancing a white nationalist agenda.

Trump has rejected characterizations of the order as a “Muslim ban” and said it is necessary to protect national security.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials who work on CVE met on Tuesday to continue discussions about the proposed changes, according to two sources who have worked closely with DHS on the program.

Refocusing CVE efforts largely on Islam would “alienate Muslim organizations and individuals in the United States,” the senators wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, and Wade Warren, acting administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“It will also put U.S. service members, diplomats, development practitioners, and citizens traveling the world at significant risk, and will increase the likelihood of more attacks,” the letter said, and could “violate constitutional protections and the rights of American citizens.”

At least three community organizations have already declined funding collectively totaling nearly $1.4 million awarded under the auspices of the CVE task force, citing concerns about the Trump administration’s posture toward Muslims and the possible changes to the program.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer declined to comment on the reported changes last week, but said during a briefing that the program was initially intended to focus on “rooting out radical Islamic terrorism.”

Several former DHS officials told Reuters the CVE program was not conceived with that goal, although it has been criticized by even some supporters as tacitly too focused on Muslims or largely ineffective.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington, additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley and Kristina Cooke; editing by Grant McCool)

IMAGE: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting about the Supreme Court at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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11 Comments

  1. Thoughtopsy February 10, 2017
    Reply
  2. Eleanore Whitaker February 11, 2017

    He says it isn’t about “Muslims” and then every word out of his mouth about national security starts with “muslim.” Curious thing though. He leaves out Muslims in Saudi Arabia, the UAR and Egypt and these countries say nothing about his attack on their religion? Smell the BS yet folks?

    The point is that the Republicans NEED Trump to put all of those good ole good ole crooks from the south and midwest in political patronage jobs. McConnell’s wife Elaine? Erik Blackwater Prince’s Sister, Betsy DeVos? Who’s next? Trump sister Mary Ann on the SC? Why not Twatzilla Conway? Or even better Melania?

    Oh wait…it has to be a white male with big big ties to big big big billionaire businesses.

    Trump is so full of BS that it is coming out of his ears already.

    What I find funny? Twatzilla getting told by her hero, “Mr. Trump” to shut her mouth. Bet you anything she is smarting from that one. That’s the stuff of which all corporate bitches become venomous turncoats.

    Reply
    1. idamag February 11, 2017

      He was raised by a racist father who told him never lose and always get even. So, he is a racists. He panders to racists and the racists love him. He is also inviting a terrorist attack. With today’s technology there is no way to prevent them altogether. They have a dirty bomb that can be inserted into a lipstick tube. Dirty bomb is a small nuclear bomb. The primitive idea that if we have millions of soldiers and the best planes, we are safe. Those methods are going the way of the bow and arrow as a military weapon.

      Reply
      1. Eleanore Whitaker February 11, 2017

        I think the most disturbing thing the Republican bullies seem to overlook is Trump’s drive to “get even.” Remember last week when he tweeted that he would defund all federal dollars to CA?

        He pointed and delegated and 162 immigrants were rounded up in San Francisco this week, one of them the mother of two American born school children who were left at school not realizing their mother had been deported. This is the same kind of Pogroms Hitler pulled.

        If this is what the Republicans think they will pull with any state who doesn’t obey TRUMP LAW, they are in for a war.

        Reply
        1. idamag February 11, 2017

          The name, “neo-nazies, is a misnomer. They are not new. They are the same old, same old. When WWII started nazies were not well liked. In fact, they were downright hated. So, the nazi party, in this country, went underground and operated under different names. They have actually infiltrated our government. While the nazies were screaming, “Watch out for couumists” they were taking over while you kept your eyes peeled for communists. Same M.O. hitler used.

          Reply
          1. Eleanore Whitaker February 11, 2017

            I love how the NeoCONs now call liberals “fascists” because we are not going to be silenced on our tax dollars. These are the laziest bums in the country. Since the Civil War all we heard out of them to avoid paying their fair of federal taxes and obeying federal law was “states’ rights.”

            Now, the few remaining Dem states will pull out of the union and let these CONfederates have the government they want. However, think about it. Trump is pushing CA, WA, NY and MA to obey his travel ban even though courts struck it down.

            If that isn’t an example of mentally unstable, ruthless nut, I can’t imagine what more proof we need.

            But to show how utterly stupid the Republican states are, they actually think they have DEM states by the throat. They don’t. All we have to do is use their states’ rights, pull out of the union and let them do what they always do when they don’t learn to shut their stupid mouths…fail. The Great Depression will be theirs.

            Reply
        2. David February 12, 2017

          Eleanore!!! War? Let me laugh thinking about you liberals fighting a “war”. By the way, I see that while you are still stupid and a liar, your post was less vile than usual.

          Reply
      2. Loisjshaw February 12, 2017

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        Reply
  3. AR February 11, 2017

    May God put him on the right path. By banning Muslims he is banning followers of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary.

    Reply
  4. idamag February 11, 2017

    There should be more Democrat speaking out before I like them again.

    Reply
  5. Eleanore Whitaker February 11, 2017

    Even when the ultra right try to make the lame case “So what? The Russian hacking didn’t affect the outcome of the election,” that’s art of their cover up.

    First, the evidence now and proof of the hacking is overwhelming as I posted many times previously it would be. When the Republican legislators appointed electors for the Electoral college from their states, are we to believe it was all neat and clean? There was NO pay offs to the electors to vote for Trump?

    Priebus is so guilty that when he speaks in interviews, he can’t even lie without blinking 80 times in one sentence. Ryan and McConnell knew about the hacking in August 2016 and did nothing. Is that part of their oath of office too? Look the other way when foreign influence infiltrates our election process?

    What the GOP wants most right now is to squash any investigations, deny all of the proof until it can no longer be denied and keep on sabotaging everything decent, honorable Americans believe in.

    Reply

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