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Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Programs

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.

Click here to read ADC’s Grant Guidelines for DHS related CVE Funding

Mapping the CVE Apparatus

CVE Resources for Education Stakeholders

CVE Resources for Activist and Technology Stakeholders

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.

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.


Federal Legislation & Policy Efforts

ADC Statement for the Record to Subcommittee on National Security Hearing: Combating Homegrown Terrorism (August 2017)

ADC Statement of the Record to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for the Countering Violent Extremism Act of 2015

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 

ADC Request to Secretary Kerry on UN Action Plan and CVE

ADC Request to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to Investigate the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program 

Coalition Letter  to Congress Highlighting Civil Rights and Liberties Problems of HR2899: The CVE Act

ADC Letter to Senators on Problems with the Senate CVE Bills – S. 2418 CVE in Social Media Act and S. 2369/S.2522 Community Partnership Act

ADC and Coalition Partners Letter to DOJ and DHS Demanding Removal of “Don’t Be a Puppet” Website

Over a Dozen Civil Rights Organizations Demand Letter to FBI on Removal of “Don’t Be a Puppet”

Take Action: Tell Congress to Reject Racial & Religious Profiling! Reject the CVE ACT!

ADC Petition

Counter Messaging & Education Resources

Community Conference Call Regarding Government “CVE” Programs (July 29, 2016)

ADC Brief on Impact of CVE on Human Rights & Freedom of Expression – UN Special Rapporteur Report (1pager)

ADC Congressional Issue Brief for Meetings and Advocacy (CVE 101 – 1pager)

Politico: The FBI Needs to Stop Spying on Muslim-Americans

The Intercept: FBI Left Out Top Muslim-American Groups When Vetting Anti-Extremist Game

The Intercept: FBI’s “Shared Responsibility Committees” to Identify “Radicalized” Muslims Raise Alarms

The Intercept: Spies Among Us: How Community Outreach Programs to Muslims Blur Lines Between Outreach and Intelligence

Mixed Messages: How the media covers “violent extremism”

Link to Brennan Center for Justice Resource 

Media/Press  Coverage

ADC Press Statement Don’t Target Our Children: FBI’s “Don’t Be a Puppet” Website in Schools Must be Dropped

ADC Press Statement ADC Demands Cancellation of “Shared Responsibility Committees” FBI Informant Program

ADC Press Statement Over a Dozen Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Groups Call on FBI to Dismantle Dangerous and Misleading Website

International Business Times: Countering Violent Extremism Bill: Muslim, Civil Rights Organizations Voice Opposition To Controversial Legislation

NY Times: F.B.I. Tool to Identify Extremists Is Criticized

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

Huffington Post Blog

ADC Blog