Since the Obama administration’s Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) program, there have been countless discussions on the topic of surveillance. The most pressing issue, however, is the surveillance of Muslim-majority communities. Despite the federal government’s denial after denial, civil rights groups have attested to the fact that there is a bias in surveilling Muslims. In fact, the CVE program was advertised to be a “community partnership”; local leaders would be given either grant money or government support so that they may report signs of radicalization or extremism. However, what exactly are signs of these qualities? From the get-go, the policy was too vague to work properly, and so, Muslim communities who pose no danger are now being surveilled.
Now, under the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security wishes to rebrand Obama’s CVE program to “Countering Radical Islam” or “Countering Violent Jihad”. It is bad enough that national surveillance targets Muslims who pose no imminent threat, but now the programs are shifting to focus on just “radical Islam”. Both names offered by Homeland are designed to target a specific form of extremism (“violent Jihad”), and turn a blind eye to every other form of extremism plaguing the United States (need I bring up gun violence and the KKK?).
Of course the federal government holds the right to watch for potential threats and dangers. In fact, some would argue that it is a government’s duty to ensure the protection of its people. However, this is not to say the government should host unnecessary, discriminatory surveillance programs. Obama’s CVE program showed no clear solution —there were no clear “signs” that equaled potential extremism, nor is there any consistent data that states radicalization leads to terrorism. Now, the Trump administration is making matters worse by issuing programs specifically targeting a form of extremism while ignoring all others.
Do you hear that? It’s the government saying, “I’m watching you.”
To read more, please visit: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/16/obama-countering-violent-extremism-muslim-surveillance