Rand Corporation’s Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC) no longer uses the term “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) — it has been replaced with “Terrorism Prevention.”
Let that sink in for a moment; a private company with strong ties to DHS and law enforcement is in charge of Terrorism Prevention!
What could possibly go wrong?
The RAND Corporation’s 259-page report titled, “Practical Terrorism Prevention” boasts that their federally funded research will help law enforcement determine who is an extremist.
The report presents a framework to consider different facets of terrorism prevention policy, issues with measurement and assessment, analysis of past CVE and current terrorism prevention funding in the United States and internationally, and assessments of current efforts and future options for each component of terrorism prevention.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Policy asked the HSOAC to examine the current state of terrorism prevention (superseding the programs and activities previously known as countering violent extremism, or CVE) in the United States and to develop policy options for this area.
Think about what that means; the RAND Corporation is profiting from helping law enforcement determine who is and who is not an extremist.
A Google search for “Rand Corporations close ties to DHS and law enforcement” returned close to 3 million hits. So any report or recommendations they make should be met with skepticism.
Rand wants to take violent extremism mainstream
credit: Sean Nittner
Some of HSOAC’s key findings include things like improving risk-assessments, creating community “Terrorism Prevention” groups, expanding corporate roles in assessing Americans.
- Objective threat information is needed by technology companies to guide their efforts in the online space. Improved risk-assessment tools also would be useful to manage programming for individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses.
- Sharing best practices and knowledge was viewed as important, and interviewees noted the value of bringing together researchers, implementers, and others to share information.
- Federal action to facilitate local programs and capability-building should be the priority across multiple components of terrorism prevention.
- A more robust and interdisciplinary research community is needed for terrorism prevention, and, although efforts in the past regarding CVE were useful and should be continued, they are not enough.
- For countermessaging and intervention programming, the federal government should focus on funding and assisting state, local, and nongovernmental organizations and private actors rather than building capabilities itself.
- The federal government should continue to provide community awareness briefings and training exercises to local groups. These activities were viewed by interviewees as successful in disseminating needed information.
- Pursuing public-private partnerships and broadening support from nonsecurity agencies would be a practical approach to supporting terrorism prevention efforts in a way that is potentially more acceptable to communities and members of the public.
- Building and maintaining the bench of expert practitioners will be important in developing programs from the national to the local levels.
- Strengthening investment in evaluation would address criticism of the effectiveness of both past CVE and current terrorism prevention efforts in the future.
Let’s talk about what is wrong with Rand’s “key findings”
1 – Corporate/law enforcement risk assessment tools are being used on preschoolers and college students creating a massive database of potential extremists.
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2 – Getting like-minded researchers, interviewees to share “Terrorism Prevention” training is a huge red flag.
3 – Allowing DHS/Rand to manipulate local “Terrorism Prevention” programs will only serve to feed the never-ending War on Terror.
4 – A more “robust terrorism prevention community” will only serve to feed America’s paranoia that there is a terrorist around every corner.
5 – Hiring profit-driven “private actors” (corporations) to spread countermessages is a horrible idea.
6 – The Feds and police should not be in the terrorism propaganda business.
7 – Corporate/Government “Terrorism Prevention” will continue to expand because corporations are getting paid to keep everyone in fear.
8 – Building a “bench of so-called expert practitioners” is just a fancy way of saying paid government stooges masquerading as experts.
And last, but certainly not least…
9 – Paying government actors to counter criticism of a highly suspect violent extremist program is immoral. Corporate/government partnerships are dependent on grants and they will do anything to keep the money flowing.
What can we take away from this?
In most countries getting paid to decide who is and who is not an extremist would be a huge red flag. But not in America, where the War on Terror has become a profit-driven machine that threatens to swallow our freedoms whole.
Taking “violent extremism” mainstream and bringing in into our communities only helps those who stand to profit from it.
Image credit: Anthony Freda Art