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DHS’s domestic terror unit eliminated by Trump administration: ‘It’s not a priority’

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White supremacists march on Charlottesville, VA during the August 2017 "Unite the Right" rally that left a woman dead. Image via Karla Cote/Creative Commons.

The Department of Homeland Security has shut down a working group of intelligence analysts who focused on domestic terrorists, which has dramatically reduced the amount of information available about threats from white supremacists and others.

Current and former DHS officials said the development has caused significant concern within the agency, especially as the threat from right-wing extremism and domestic terrorism grows in the U.S. and abroad, reported The Daily Beast.

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The Trump administration appointed David Glawe to oversee the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and last year he shut down a group that shared information with state and local law enforcement to help them monitor threats from violent extremists and domestic terrorists.

Glawe then scattered the analysts to new positions within the department as part of an office reorganization, the website 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,” one DHS official told The Daily Beast.

Glawe insisted in a statement to the website that DHS and its I&A office continued to share intelligence with the FBI, state and local law enforcement, and the National Network of Fusion Centers about potential threats — “regardless of a threat actor’s ideology.”

“I&A is also focused on ensuring intelligence production is not duplicative of other agencies and focused on areas where DHS I&A can add the most value through unique data and access within the Department,” Glawe said in the statement. “When DHS/I&A identifies domestic terrorism threats or related information of value, DHS/I&A immediately coordinates it and shares it as widely as possible.”

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A senior DHS official pushed back on the Beast’s reporting.

“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 law enforcement officers say they’ve received significantly less material from I&A since Glawe shut down the office focusing on domestic terror threats.

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“It’s been very quiet lately,” Sgt. Mike Abdeen, of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “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.”

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has insisted the agency was concerned about domestic terrorism, saying she has “seen the face of such evil with attacks in places such as Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and Charleston” — but former officials say Glawe’s decision undercuts those claims.

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“You hear the secretary and this administration say how domestic terrorism is a clear priority and how resources will be bolstered,” said Nate Snyder, a former DHS official who focused on violent extremism. “But you can’t say that and then all of a sudden get rid of the unit that’s there to detect threats and share information with our first responders, law enforcement, and federal partners. You can’t have it both ways.”


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