An exclusive report from Reuters says that President Trump is seeking to rename and possibly entirely refocus the efforts of a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program called the ‘Countering Violent Extremism Grant Program’ towards radical Islamic extremism.

The program, established by memorandum on July 6, 2016, is a grant-based initiative to provide funds towards community focused efforts at curtailing extremist activities. Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) has been the focus of DHS’s Office for Community Partnerships since its inception in 2015.

The entire CVE program was allocated $10 million, to be split along five focus areas:

  • Developing resilience ($3 million)
  • Challenging the narrative ($2 million)
  • Training and engagement ($2 million)
  • Managing intervention activities ($2 million)
  • Building capacity ($1 million)

The targeted institutions for receipt of the grant funding are state, local, and tribal governments, non-profits, and institutes of higher learning. If a particular program qualified, they would have to submit an application to be awarded grant money.

According to Reuters, an unnamed member of the Trump transition team, in a meeting with a CVE task force in December, suggested the possible name change and focus to Islamic Extremism.

The CVE grant initiative only issued its first grant money on January 13th; just under three weeks ago. It’s probably safe to say there is no empirical data as to the efficacy of this program.

At this point we can only speculate as to the identity and motives of whatever particular Trump transition team members floated the idea of focusing on Islam. But considering the relatively small amount of funding involved in what is essentially a scholarship program—my platoon’s vehicles and equipment, entrusted to a 23-year-old, was worth more than this entire program—to paint this as a DHS primary effort to focus counter-terrorism efforts solely on Muslims is particularly misleading.

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This also highlights the failure of the Trump administration to get ahead in messaging its initiatives, whether they are real or imagined by the media. As we are seeing in real time, failure to control the messaging on any policy will allow it to escape into the vast expanse of white noise, where it can and will morph into whatever the current conversation wants it to become.

And while I don’t agree with the concept of targeting any particular religious group by the government, for any reason, no matter how small, there is no actual proof that is what is going on.

Image Courtesy of Reuters