The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have inappropriately skewed the threat of violent extremism and domestic terrorism solely against Arabs and Muslims, ignoring other violent radical groups. The fatally flawed Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) paradigm: pilot programs, the “Don’t Be a Puppet” web-based program aimed at high schools students, the Shared Responsibility Committee ‘s (SRCs), government policies, practices, and legislation; are aimed at and/or effectively continue to target Arabs and Muslims under the premise that they are inherently predisposed to committing acts of violence, acts of terror. This is racial and religious profiling, and targeting of individuals without individual assessment and satisfying the legal burden of probable cause.
The CVE program’s identified risk factors for radicalization and/or susceptibility to engage in violent extremism are broad and over inclusive, and not grounded in science. The current CVE framework is based on theories that have been repeatedly disproven. One such assumption is the “radicalization theory,” which suggests that there is an identifiable path or blueprint that an individual follows on the road to becoming an extremist and ultimately committing an act of violence. Another assumption deals with the concept of “indicators.”16 According to this assumption, there are distinguishable signs an individual exhibits that would suggest he or she is on a path to committing a violent crime. Academics and policymakers have long discredited these assumptions; yet, current CVE programs are based on the assumption that these theories are true.
In 2011, the White House released the “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States.” The plan was introduced as a domestic counter-terrorism strategy in response to the recruitment efforts by foreign terrorist organizations. This report became the foundation for the federal government’s Countering Violent Extremism programs, or CVE.
On February 18, 2015, the White House organized a three-day summit on CVE that brought together local, federal, and international leaders to examine actions the U.S. and its allies can implement to advance community-oriented approaches to countering violent extremism. During this summit, three domestic pilot CVE programs in Boston, Massachusetts; Los Angeles, California; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, were debuted. Disturbingly, the decision to implement the CVE program from the initial pilot cities (Boston, Los Angeles, and Minnesota) to across the country was made without any substantive review. CVE has largely been operated in secret, with little to no transparency, but masking as a community engagement initiative.
The criminalization of communities and 1st Amendment Protected speech including political speech is unlawful. CVE is a surveillance tool, that has not only been used to monitor our communities but also has served as an entrapment tool and divided communities. These programs perpetuate hate and discrimination, as evident in the rise of hate crimes, bullying and cyber-bullying against Arabs and Muslims, and anti-Arab sentiment, xenophobia, and Islamophobia rhetoric.
CVE programs are increasingly enlisting technology groups like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to remove and censor content on the internet. The government’s strategy poses numerous concerns for technology companies, privacy rights advocates, and civil rights organizations. The new CVE push is for companies to increase their activity and perhaps lower the bar for what type of content/user is being removed, which runs the risk of requiring social media companies to make decisions with their own implicit bias and assumptions that essentially amounts to attempts to predict crime and criminals, which does not work. However, we have seen a proliferation of organizations and initiatives that have engaged in campaigns branded as counter messaging, but in reality are enlisting social justice advocates to carry out the CVE agenda by helping identify users who appear to be sympathizing with or promoting extremists beliefs or thoughts and political dissent/opposition movements which are Constitutionally protected.
We strongly believe that the best way to counter hate speech is with more speech.
Our communities serve this country in the military, government, and medical and science fields. We are Americans. We have the same rights and legal protections as all Americans.
Below you will find some additional information and documents ADC has produced and/or collected in our efforts to combat the FBI’s CVE program.
ADC Written Testimony to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Investigations – ISIS Online: Countering Terrorist Radicalization & Recruitment on the Internet & Social Media
Community Conference Call Regarding Government “CVE” Programs (July 29, 2016)
ADC Congressional Issue Brief for Meetings and Advocacy (CVE 101 – 1pager)
Education Stakeholders (Teachers, Counselors, Schools, Parent-Teacher Associations, Teacher Unions)
Political Activists (Animal & Environmental) and Tech/Internet Freedom Stakeholders
Countering Violent Extremism is the Perfect Excuse to restrict free speech and control the media – UN special rapporteur on free expression
Countering Violent Extremism: Code Phrase for More Big Brother? – Patrick Eddington
Privatizing Censorship in fight against extremism – Courtney Radsch, Committee to Protect Journalists
International Business Times: Countering Violent Extremism Bill: Muslim, Civil Rights Organizations Voice Opposition To Controversial Legislation
U.S News and World Report: FBI’s Anti-Extremism Website Should Be Scrapped, Groups Say
Washington Post: Muslim activists alarmed by the FBI’s new game-like counterterrorism program for kids