Criminal Justice & the Rule of Law

DHS Warns of White Supremacy Threat, Russian Disinformation in New Report

Rohini Kurup
Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 1:07 PM

A first-of-its-kind Department of Homeland Security threat assessment details a range of threats to the United States.


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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a homeland threat assessment on Oct. 6 that identified violent white supremacy as “the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland'' and Russia as the primary spreader of disinformation in the United States. The report—the first of its kind for the DHS—details a variety of threats to the United States, ranging from violent extremism to efforts to undermine the election.

The report notes that since 2018, white supremacists have conducted more lethal attacks in the United States than any other domestic violent extremist movement and have “demonstrated longstanding intent” to target racial and religious minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community, among others. It also concludes that Russia “is the likely primary covert influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation,” warning that Russian influence actors continue to aggravate social and racial tensions and stoke political resentment in the United States in order to weaken the U.S. and undermine trust in domestic institutions.

The agency also details the cyber threats posed by Russia, China and Iran, and warns that transnational crime organizations—primarily drug cartels—continue to pose a public health risk and threaten U.S. national security.

The report comes after whistleblower Brian Murphy, who previously led the DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, alleged that agency heads attempt the report and instructed analysts to downplay threats from violent white supremacy and Russian election interference. In a Senate hearing in September, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf denied Murphy’s accusations.

You can read the report here and below:

Rohini Kurup is a J.D. candidate at the University of Virginia School of Law. Prior to law school, she worked as an associate editor of Lawfare and a research analyst at the Brookings Institution. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College.

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