On MSNBC, terrorism expert criticizes Trump administration for cutting funding to counter white supremacist extremism
Former DHS official Peter Vincent: "I was deeply disturbed to see that the White House, shortly after taking power, decided to stop focusing countering violent extremism efforts and funding on all sorts of extremism, and to focus it solely and exclusively on radical Islamic terrorism"
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From the August 16 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports:
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ANDREA MITCHELL (HOST): Peter, you're an expert at what the government does to try to track these white supremacists group, but I do believe that funding was just cut for one of these major programs.
PETER VINCENT: Right, Andrea. I spent the vast majority of my career at the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security doing everything I could to combat threats to the homeland. Most recently at the Department of Homeland Security, I worked on counterterrorism efforts specifically and so I was deeply disturbed to see that the White House, shortly after taking power, decided to stop focusing countering violent extremism efforts and funding on all sorts of extremism, and to focus it solely and exclusively on radical Islamic terrorism, as the president points out.
MITCHELL: And, Maya, what signal does that send? Does that send a signal of empowerment to the David Dukes of the world?
MAYA WILEY: Absolutely. And I think we've seen that the white supremacists and neo-Nazi movements have seen themselves as supported by the president, particularly after his comments of yesterday. And we have to remember that the domestic terrorism threats that we face in this nation since 2002 has been disproportionately from white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and other racist groups. And that's something we have to take seriously as a country if we want to counter domestic terrorism.
MITCHELL: And, finally, Peter, at this point, what do people very concerned about the rise of white nationalism and possible violence, what do they do in their communities?
VINCENT: Well, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have warned on the rise of white nationalism. In fact, we need to remind ourselves, Andrea, that, with respect to killings associated domestically in the United States, associated to terrorism, 70 percent of those have been committed by white supremacists, so-called white nationalists. And so I think communities need to have a very strong dialogue on what we are doing wrong in our own country that is radicalizing people that are born and raised here.