Donald Trump’s chaos-spawning immigration ban focused solely on refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries (Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Somalia). His curious exclusions (Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) happen to be places where he holds significant business ties. So, it’s often difficult to take Trump’s stated priorities (to Make America Safe Again) at face value, and now, he’s reportedly planning to refocus the U.S. counter-extremism program solely upon Islam — at the exclusion of white supremacists or any other groups who have been responsible for waging terror attacks in the U.S.
Reuters spoke with five sources familiar with briefings on the plan. The name of the program would be shifted from “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) to either “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.” This shift would fall in line with the tone of Trump’s multiple executive orders on immigration as well as his campaign preference for “radical Islam,” which was a term that he criticized Obama to declining to use.
The rebranding of this program could create more problems than Trump hopes to solve. It would fuel anti-American rhetoric and extremism, and the program would completely drop its focus on other groups who are intent upon spreading terror. As one might expect, there are competing views on whether to revamp the current program at all:
Some Republicans in Congress have long assailed the program as politically correct and ineffective, asserting that singling out and using the term “radical Islam” as the trigger for many violent attacks would help focus deterrence efforts.
Others counter that branding the problem as “radical Islam” would only serve to alienate more than three million Americans who practice Islam peacefully.
Many community groups, meanwhile, had already been cautious about the program, partly over concerns that it could double as a surveillance tool for law enforcement.
The White House hasn’t responded to Reuters’ request for comment, but if Trump’s immigration policies (including the travel bans and the removal of funds for sanctuary cities) are any indication, we might soon see an executive order on this subject. And it may happen on a Friday afternoon again, so Hot White House Correspondent Mess Sean Spicer would be excused from defending the move until it has time to percolate.