Obama's 'Countering Violent Extremism' Program Collapses Into Absurdity

In February 2015, President Obama hosted a three-day summit on "Countering Violent Extremism" (CVE) that featured a roll-out of three local programs in Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. This culminated CVE efforts by the Obama administration going back to 2011.

But just over a year from Obama's White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, the programs are now admittedly a complete failure -- and publicly rejected by elements of the very communities they intend to serve.

Even at the time of the summit, the CVE programs had already been deemed a failure.

These programs are also a practical failure in preventing violent extremism. Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported on one Somali youth leader in Minneapolis associated with government-funded CVE programs who later attempted to join the Islamic State.

Remarkably, as the Obama CVE programs are in complete meltdown, Republican leaders such as Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and conservative organizations such as the Heritage Foundation are openly embracing Obama's CVE agenda -- and even calling for its expansion.

Kicking off their CVE programs in December 2011, the administration issued the "White House Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism," which articulated its goals:

To support our overarching goal of preventing violent extremists and their supporters from inspiring, radicalizing, financing, or recruiting individuals or groups in the United States to commit acts of violence, the Federal Government is focused on three core areas of activity: (1) enhancing engagement with and support to local communities that may be targeted by violent extremists; (2) building government and law enforcement expertise for preventing violent extremism; and (3) countering violent extremist propaganda while promoting our ideals. (pp. 1-2)

So Obama's own stated goals fall into three areas: 1) engagement; 2) training; and 3) counter-propaganda. In each of these areas, Obama's CVE programs have been a complete failure.

1. Engagement

Obama's CVE policies were developed in 2011 specifically at the demand of U.S. Muslim groups. Now, the very same Islamic groups that demanded CVE are some of its loudest opponents. They claim that the administration is promoting "Islamophobia" through their programs.

Just a few months after the February 2015 White House Summit, Islamic groups in Boston -- one of the cities selected for funding local CVE programs -- were openly attacking those policies:

Islamic and civil rights groups in Boston and two other cities spoke out Thursday against a federal government initiative to counter violent extremism, saying it unfairly targets the nation’s Muslim communities.

“There’s no evidence programs like this are effective,” said Liza Behrendt, organizing consultant for Jewish Voice for Peace, an anti-discrimination group. “It’s a federal program that singles out Muslim communities and reinforces false notions of the link between Islam and terrorism.”

Nadeem A. Mazen, a Cambridge city councilor, called the program “authoritarian.” He urged an alternative approach that would increase community engagement and community policing, rather than using “violent practices like surveillance and racial profiling.”

Shannon Erwin, cofounder of the Muslim Justice League, said the program could rely on false indicators to identify potential at-risk youths, targeting people who grow beards, express interest in foreign policy, and adhere to strict religious beliefs.

More recently, Islamic groups in Minneapolis denounced the administration's CVE policies. Again, one of the three cities targeted by the White House for CVE funds:

A diverse group of leaders representing civil rights and religious organizations Tuesday called on Minnesotans to stand against Islamophobia and oppose a federal anti-terror program.

The leaders, who met at the State Office Building for an event organized by the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said they are concerned about recent anti-Muslim comments from presidential candidates and the "negative impact" that the federal government's Countering Violence Extremism program might have on the Muslim community.

These engagement efforts targeting communities vulnerable to terrorist recruitment have been such a failure that National Public Radio had to recently report that even if the CVE programs aren't effective, they somehow mystically still benefit these communities.