CREW requests DHS records on combatting white supremacy
- Copies of all calendars and/or other records from January 20, 2017, to the present reflecting meetings Katharine Gorka had, currently Adviser to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Policy, and formerly Adviser to the DHS Chief of Staff’s Office;
- Documents reflecting the responsibilities and duties of Ms. Gorka, both in her current role as Adviser to the DHS Office of Policy and in her previous role as Adviser to the DHS Chief of Staff’s Office;
- All communications from January 20, 2017, to the present between Ms. Gorka and George Selim, former DHS Director of the Office for Community Partnerships, and/or his then-deputy David Gersten; and
- Documents reflecting DHS’ 2017 review of the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, ordered by then-DHS Secretary John Kelly in January, as well as any other documents reflecting the decision to revoke CVE grant funding from the nonprofit organization, Life After Hate, and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
On January 13, 2017, then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that DHS had selected 31 proposals to support local efforts to counter violent extremism to receive $10 million in grant funding appropriated by Congress in 2016. Only two of these projects were aimed at countering white nationalist groups: Life After Hate, founded by former white supremacists who have renounced the racist ideology, was awarded $400,000 to assist individuals seeking to leave hate groups, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was awarded $900,000 to counter-jihadist and white supremacist recruiting. Shortly after President Trump took office, then-DHS Secretary John Kelly ordered a review of the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) task force, including a “re-vet” of the groups that had already been selected to receive funding. When DHS published a new list of award recipients on June 23, 2017, neither Life After Hate nor UNC- Chapel Hill was included.
Prior to joining the Trump Administration, Katharine Gorka, currently Adviser to the DHS Office of Policy, and formerly Adviser to the DHS Chief of Staff’s office was highly critical of the DHS Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Task Force, and proposed limiting its focus on radical Islamic extremism, rather than white supremacist groups. Yet, in May 2017, DHS and the FBI warned that white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 […] more than any other domestic extremist movement.” Nevertheless, the following month, DHS revoked the only two CVE grants intended to counter white supremacist groups.
The requested records would shed light on the decision by DHS to revoke funding for programs aimed at combatting white supremacist groups only months prior to a fatal attack at a rally staged by white nationalists, during which a counter-protester was killed by a man participating in the rally.