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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Delayed Homeland Security Report Warns of ‘Lethal’ White Supremacy

 Delayed Homeland Security Report Warns of ‘Lethal’ White Supremacy

by Zolan Kanno-Youngs

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security warned on Tuesday that violent white supremacy was the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland” in an annual assessment that a former intelligence chief had accused the agency of withholding in deference to President Trump.

The intelligence chief-turned-whistle-blower last month accused the department of blocking the report and directing analysts to play down the threat of violent white racism as well as Russian election interference to align the agency’s message with the president’s. But the final report appeared to do no such thing.

The threat assessment highlighted white supremacists as the most deadly among domestic terrorists in recent years and Russia as the primary threat to spreading disinformation.

“I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years,” Chad F. Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, wrote in the foreward to the assessment. The threat report also stated that “Russia is the likely primary covert influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation within the homeland.”

The agency also highlighted Iran and China’s cyberwarfare abilities and warned of a potential surge in migration to the southwest border.

The delayed release of the report has been a point of scrutiny for a department that has faced consistent accusations of morphing into a tool for Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign. After the department singled out domestic terrorists and specifically white supremacists in a terrorism framework in September 2019, the agency’s leadership committed to releasing a follow-up assessment to the threat as well as a blueprint to confront it within months. It took far longer.

Brian Murphy, who was demoted from his post as the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence chief in August, said last month in a whistle-blower complaint that Mr. Wolf and his deputy, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, blocked the release of the assessment because of how it would “reflect upon President Trump.”

The Homeland Security blueprint did finally emerge, shortly after Mr. Murphy’s complaint. It included $10 million for nonprofits and other organizations to prevent extremist violence.

The administration’s treatment of white supremacy re-emerged as an issue last week, when Mr. Trump failed to condemn white racist violence during the presidential debate, even after Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, affirmed to Congress the lethal threat of the racist extremists.

Now, the Homeland Security Department has done so in the assessment.

“This threat assessment confirms two things: that white supremacist extremists are the top domestic threat to the homeland, and they are often inspired by President Trump’s rhetoric,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

The threat assessment for the most part mirrored drafts that were leaked to the public, refuting concerns that the department would dilute any warnings. The department did add a section absent from previous versions of the report, titled “exploitation of lawful and protected speech and protests.”

The section echoed Mr. Trump’s description of city governments led by Democrats as fostering chaos.

“We have seen over 100 days of violence and destruction in our cities,” according to the report. “The co-opting of lawful protests led to destruction of government property and have turned deadly.”

While a majority of the protests against police violence and racism this summer were peaceful, some did include individuals who committed violent acts, including in Portland, Ore., where the Homeland Security Department sent teams of tactical agents. The aggressive methods of those agents, including forcing demonstrators into unmarked cars and using tear gas, is under investigation by the inspectors general for the Homeland Security and Justice Departments.

Credit...Maranie R. Staab/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Some demonstrators also lobbed commercial-grade fireworks at a federal courthouse and the agents surrounding it. A self-proclaimed supporter of the loose-knit movement known as antifa was also accused of fatally shooting a right-wing activist who was part of a pro-Trump caravan in Portland. That antifa supporter, Michael Forest Reinoehl, was shot and killed last month by law enforcement agents before he could be taken into custody.

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