Report finds Homeland Security Program’s Effectiveness Unmeasurable

April 6, 2017 A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finding suggest there is no way to measure if the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) tactics employed by U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2011 have made the country any safer.

The GAO study concluded (PDF):

“Although GAO was able to determine the status of the 44 CVE tasks, it was not able to determine if the United States is better off today than it was in 2011 as a result of these tasks.

It is important to note that CVE differs from counterterrorism. CVE goal is to provide nonviolent avenues to express grievances and provide education before inviduals resort to violence. The CVE approach involves members of the community as the eyes and ears to identify radical behavior early on.

The Obama administration touted CVE as a key component in combatting violent extremism by preventing radicalization in the first place. In 2015, President Obama underscored the importance of discrediting the ideology of extremists during a speech at the Pentagon.

“ultimately, in order for us to defeat terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda it’s going to also require us to discredit their ideology—the twisted thinking that draws vulnerable people into their ranks, President Obama said.

The multi-agency effort by federal agencies including FBI and U.S. Department of Justice partnering with state and local police departments to provide a holistic approach to preventing extremism much like community policing. Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson met several times with leaders of the Muslim American community across the country and often called on Muslim leaders to denounce extremist acts.

Critics called CVE the politically correct approach to countering terrorism due to its refrain from using offensive terms. In 2014, a Congressional Research Service report concluded that with no lead agency the CVE program lacked efficiency and effectiveness. The Heritage Foundation argued that for agencies like the FBI, CVE’s more “social and preventative role” of does not mesh well with the FBI’s law enforcement and emerging intelligence missions.

The GAO report did not find that CVE is not a useful approach, it just needs a framework that provides a means for measuring effectiveness. Terrorism experts say there really is no way to measure the preparedness of a community until an actual event occurs and without exception–the United States government has failed the test.

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