The most dangerous threats to U.S. national security in the coming year are violent white supremacists. That's according to a draft report from the Department of Homeland Security that was leaked to the press last Friday. Not "antifa." Not Iran, or even Russia. The American racist far-right will continue to be the most dangerous producer of violence and terrorism in the coming year.
This isn't exactly news, at this point. But given that the white supremacist movement is a prominent source of Donald Trump's public support, it remains to be seen whether Trump's installed leadership at the Department of Homeland Security will alter those findings—or purge them outright—before they are finalized.
Benjamin Wittes, who obtained three drafts of the document, notes that white supremacy was stripped from the initial executive summary, instead changed to the more abstract "Domestic Violent Extremists" in a later draft, and the reference to white supremacists as most dangerous "among" them is buried at the bottom of the section.
"Among DVEs [Domestic Violent Extremists], we judge that white supremacist extremists (WSEs) will remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland through 2021," the document stated.
Wittes told Politico he was publishing the documents to provide a "benchmark" as to what career officials at DHS have identified as the most dangerous threat to the nation, to be compared against whatever final version is later released.
What the report does not state is the plainly obvious: The line between violent white supremacy and "mainstream" Republican support is blurring, with militia and white nationalist groups becoming prominent organizers of pro-Trump, armed "caravans" meant to intimidate and harass Black Lives Matter protesters and other anti-racism protests.
The Trump administration has heavily pressured government law enforcement to ignore or obfuscate violence by pro-Trump groups, even as Trump's top allies issue false claims of widespread violence by "antifa" (anti-fascists) and Black Lives Matter. We cannot presume that law enforcement will even be permitted to act against pro-Trump domestic terrorist groups under Attorney General William Barr. As in past years, any suggestion that federal law enforcement officials are even monitoring the groups will be met with widespread outrage among the "mainstream" conservatives on whose behalf those groups operate.
That may be a dire assessment, but you cannot say it is an untrue one. Experts are warning that almost any election outcome is likely to result in domestic terrorism, especially if egged on by Trump and Republican allies. The White House may try to bury the links between politically motivated violence and Trump's most loyal base of support, but that does not mean those links will vanish.
CNN now reports that the report in question will not be issued, with a “source familiar with the situation” charging that illegally acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Citizenship and Immigration head Ken Cuccinelli “stopped the report from being finished” after intelligence division head Brian Murphy refused to alter its findings to better support Trump’s public declarations.