Trump's most dangerous base strategy
A little reminder:
TRUMP, when asked if he views white nationalism as a rising threat worldwide: “I don’t really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. They’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing.” — remarks Friday in Oval Office.
THE FACTS: Both data and many experts who track violent extremists point to white nationalism as a rising threat in the U.S. and abroad.
According to data released this month by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, for instance, white supremacist propaganda efforts nearly tripled last year from 2017. Reports of the propaganda — which can include fliers, stickers, banners and posters that promote hateful ideology — rose 182 percent to 1,187 cases. That’s up from the 421 reported in 2017.
The number of racist rallies and demonstrations also rose last year, according to the group. At least 91 white supremacist rallies or other public events attended by white supremacists were held in 2018, up from 76 the previous year.
The Anti-Defamation League in January said domestic extremists killed at least 50 people in the U.S. in 2018, up from 37 in 2017, and noted that “white supremacists were responsible for the great majority of the killings, which is typically the case.”
Separately, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported the U.S. had more hate groups last year than at any point in at least the past two decades. The organization, which tracks white supremacists and other far-right extremists, said the 1,020 groups it counted in 2018 amounted to the highest number since the center broadened its survey of such groups in the 1990s.
The center said it was the fourth straight year of hate group growth, representing a 30 percent increase roughly coinciding with Trump’s campaign and presidency. That came following three straight years of decline near the end of the Obama administration.
And the Justice Department reported in November that hate crimes across the U.S. spiked 17 percent in 2017 — marking a rise for the third straight year. There were 7,175 reported hate crimes that year, up from 6,121 in 2016, according to the FBI report. More than half of the crimes were motivated by bias against a person’s race or ethnicity. Anti-Semitic hate crimes increased 37 percent.
Among the episodes in the last few years: a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 after which Trump blamed “both sides” for violence, and last October’s shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in which the gunman accused of killing 11 people allegedly drew inspiration from white nationalism. Authorities last month arrested a Coast Guard lieutenant, an alleged white supremacist who appeared interested in attacking top Democrats and network TV journalists.
That's sobering. But Trump doesn't agree that it's a problem so the US government isn't going to do anything about it:
The Department of Homeland Security has disbanded a group of intelligence analysts who focused on domestic terrorism, The Daily Beast has learned. Numerous current and former DHS officials say they find the development concerning, as the threat of homegrown terrorism—including white supremacist terrorism—is growing.
In the wake of this move, officials said the number of analytic reports produced by DHS about domestic terrorism, including the threat from white supremacists, has dropped significantly. People in and close to the department said this has generated significant concern at headquarters.
“It’s especially problematic given the growth in right-wing extremism and domestic terrorism we are seeing in the U.S. and abroad,” one former intelligence official told The Daily Beast.
The group in question was a branch of analysts in DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). They focused on the threat from homegrown violent extremists and domestic terrorists. The analysts there shared information with state and local law enforcement to help them protect their communities from these threats.
“You hear this administration say how domestic terrorism is a clear priority. But you can’t say that and then all of a sudden get rid of the unit that’s there to detect threats. You can’t have it both ways.”
— Former DHS official Nate Snyder
Then the Trump administration’s new I&A chief, David Glawe, began reorganizing the office, which is the DHS component that has a place in the Intelligence Community. Over the course of the reorganization, the branch of I&A focused on domestic terrorism got eighty-sixed and its analysts were reassigned to new positions. The change happened last year, and has not been previously reported.
“We’ve noticed I&A has significantly reduced their production on homegrown violent extremism and domestic terrorism while those remain among the most serious terrorism threats to the homeland,” said one DHS official.
Former officials pointed to a spate of domestic terror attacks in recent years as evidence that DHS erred by shuttering this branch. From the massacre that left 11 people dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue to a shooting targeting Republican members of Congress in June 2017 to bomb threats that a deranged Trump fan directed at prominent Democrats and CNN, violent attacks informed by homegrown hatred have left Americans increasingly terrorized.
Pressed on whether DHS disputes this reporting, a senior DHS official pushed back.
“The same people are working on the issues,” the official said. “We just restructured things to be more responsive to the I&A customers within DHS and in local communities while reducing overlap with what the FBI does. We actually believe we are far more effective now.”
But Sgt. Mike Abdeen with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told The Daily Beast that his office used to receive a significant amount of material from I&A, but that the communications have dried up in recent months. For the last six months, he said, I&A has been mostly silent. He added that this has been consistent with broader changes in how the department communicates with his office.
“It’s been very quiet lately,” Abdeen said. “It’s changed with the new administration. It doesn’t seem to be as robust, as active, as important—it is important, I’m sure, but it’s not a priority. It doesn’t seem like engagement, outreach, and prevention are seen as a priority as we used to see in the past. There were roundtable meetings in the past, there was more activity, more training, more seminars. Now it seems like it’s gone away.”
Of course it isn't. Just as they don't care about foreign actors interfering in the election, they are fine with domestic terrorists because 99% of them are right wingers. In other words, it's just another aspect of Trump's base strategy.