Fake News: Trump DID NOT Remove White Supremacist Groups From Terror Watch Program

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk

A post on Occupy Democrats claims President Trump "is implementing a new change to America's domestic terrorism programs that will officially install religious profiling against Muslims and remove the dangerous white supremacist extremist groups who are responsible for much violence across the United States from the watch lists."

It bases this claim on a Reuters story that doesn't actually mention the words "watch list", "profiling" , "tracking" or "terror watch program" at all. So what actually happened? The Reuters story explains:

The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, "Countering Violent Extremism," or CVE, would be changed to "Countering Islamic Extremism" or "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism," the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

The Countering Violent Extremism program is run by the Department of Homeland Security and its purpose as described on its website is:

CVE aims to address the root causes of violent extremism by providing resources to communities to build and sustain local prevention efforts and promote the use of counter-narratives to confront violent extremist messaging online. Building relationships based on trust with communities is essential to this effort.

In other words, it is mostly aimed at putting out counter-messaging rather than watching extremist groups. Watching and tracking terrorists (including domestic ones) is something the FBI is responsible for, with programs like the Terrorist Screening Center.

So is this fake news? We think it is: shifting the focus of a government program so it aims its messaging at one specific target instead of some others is not the same as removing targets from a watch list that is actually the responsability of another agency. While one can have an opinion on whether altering the focus of this program is a good thing or not, posting misleading headlines about it is unlikely to be very productive.

Fake or not, lots of people were sharing the story as the Trendolizer graph at the end of this article shows.

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