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Since 2014, Defending Rights & Dissent has been organizing in local communities to oppose CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) programs. Much of that work has been as part of the national Stop CVE Coalition, founded by the Muslim Justice League. Thanks to the coalition, grassroots opposition to CVE has been building – but Congress is still in thrall to this unproven program that undermines free speech, religious freedom, and privacy.
The current iteration of CVE is called Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3). Launched by the Biden Administration and housed at the Department of Homeland Security, CP3 is the same old hot mess that CVE has always been.
CP3 co-opts community members to ferret out individuals (usually youth) who haven’t broken any laws, but who may, based on a set of dubious ‘indicators’, commit violence in the future. Often these indicators are based on political or religious beliefs, which is why the program has to use community members as proxies for law enforcement, who DHS admits would be prohibited due to “constitutionally based civil rights and liberties.”
We’ve been lobbying Congress against CVE for almost a decade, but recently pivoted to a new strategy. The Stop CVE Coalition is engaging members of the Appropriations Committee to insert transparency and reporting language into the Appropriations bill. If we succeed, DHS will have to provide information and justifications for continuing this program.
Our plan seems to be working. Our no-nonsense critique of the CP3 program has been met with nods of agreement. Yes, DHS has provided zero evidence that CVE has done anything to prevent violence, after millions of dollars and a decade of trying. Yes, vague and broad indicators of potential violence, many resting on First Amendment protected speech, are a recipe for civil liberties disasters.
One of our biggest champions for ending the program is Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who led a Dear Colleague letter (below) to the Approps Committee. Appropriators are appropriately concerned about the threat to civil liberties posed by CP3, and realistically skeptical about the effectiveness of the program. We are optimistic that reporting requirements will be included in the bill, and, once DHS has to shed light on the program, it will lose significant support.
We’re also looking for allies at the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent agency created in 2007 “to ensure that the federal government’s efforts to prevent terrorism are balanced with the need to protect privacy and civil liberties.” The PCLOB recently announced it will consider privacy and civil liberties issues concerning government efforts to counter domestic terrorism. Defending Rights & Dissent, along with the Mulsim Justice League, submitted comments on behalf of the Stop CVE Coalition urging the PCLOB to examine the implementation of CVE and CP3. Read our comments here. We strongly believe that an inquiry into the program that focuses on privacy and civil liberties concerns will produce a damning report.
The Stop CVE Coalition continues to organize in communities to build grassroots opposition to CVE and CP3, while searching for creative (and admittedly, wonky) ways to force Congress to see the truth about the program and end it.2022.04.25 FY23 Homeland Draft CP3 Report Language_final