Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is touting a raft of new programs aimed to combat domestic extremism—many of which are raising red flags among interest groups across the political spectrum.
The new DHS plans follow a March intelligence community report that deems white supremacy and violent domestic extremism as the most dangerous terror threat to the homeland. Mayorkas made similar statements at a Sept. 21 Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on counterterrorism.
“Today, U.S.-based lone actors and small groups, including homegrown violent extremists and domestic violent extremists—who are inspired by a broad range of ideological motivations—pose the most significant and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country,” he said.
These “broad range of ideological motivations” include “racial bias, perceived government overreach, conspiracy theories promoting violence, and false narratives about unsubstantiated fraud in the 2020 presidential election,”
He didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “perceived government overreach” or “conspiracy theories promoting violence.” He did, however, assure lawmakers that his department is working hard to combat these perceived threats.
One of the major programs touted by Mayorkas is the newly branded DHS Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3), formerly known as the Office for Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention. In conjunction with that, the DHS is in the midst of a $77 million grant program aimed to provide state and local institutions with tools to counter extremism.
The DHS first announced CP3 in May along with a new dedicated domestic terrorism branch within the Department’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A). Mayorkas told the Homeland Security panel that CP3 is helping expand the department’s ability to prevent terrorism and targeted violence “through the development of local prevention frameworks.”
“Through CP3, we are leveraging community-based partnerships and evidence-based tools to address early-risk factors and ensure individuals receive help before they radicalize to violence,” he said.
However, Mayorkas didn’t offer details about other elements of CP3—elements that various interest groups say pose a threat to liberty.
Among the details that weren’t discussed are what CP3 says on its own site—that it “leverages behavioral threat assessment and management tools, and addresses early-risk factors that can lead to radicalization to violence.”
According to human rights activist Ed Hasbrouck, consultant to the nonprofit Identity Project, this mission amounts to a pre-crime program.
“CP3’s attempts to predict future crimes are to be based on behavioral patterns— i.e., profiling—and on encouraging members of the public to inform on their families, friends, and classmates,” Hasbrouck wrote when CP3 was first announced.
By Ken Silva