Politico reports that the most recent version of the draft report anticipates an “elevated threat environment at least through” early 2021, deducing that some violent extremists in America have taken advantage of this year's social and political unrest.
While threats from foreign terrorist organizations are still a reality, the report says they “probably will remain constrained in their ability to direct such plots over the next year.”
The DHS’s threat assessment is even more striking as Donald Trump continues to use race-baiting tactics in his efforts to be reelected this November, while also making efforts to minimize the rising tide of white supremacy during his presidency. At the same time, the Trump administration has even characterized Antifa and anarchists as a major threat to the U.S.
Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes initially released the draft reports, which assets a number of threats, like cyber, foreign influence, and irregular migration. All three versions of the report reveal that white supremacist extremists are the most harmful threat, though language in the drafts is slightly altered.
The earliest available version of the State of the Homeland Threat Assessment 2020 drafts says, “We judge that ideologically-motivated lone offenders and small groups will pose the greatest terrorist threat to the Homeland through 2021, with white supremacist extremists presenting the most lethal threat.”
The later two drafts use “Domestic Violent Extremists presenting the most persistent and lethal threat” instead of “white supremacist extremists.”
All the reports incorporate this language: “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.”
Wittes told CNN that, “the most striking thing is in this political atmosphere; they have said what they said”—or that the biggest thing the U.S. should collectively fear is white supremacist violence. “I don't want to criticize them when that language is there. That said it is somewhat different in the first draft than the subsequent two and I do think the nature of the change is notable as a reflection of the political pressure they are under,” he said.
The final version of the 2020 threat assessment has yet to be released to the public.