DHS unlikely to publish threat assessment on time, but draft flagged White supremacist threat
Posted October 1, 2020 7:52 p.m. EDT
CNN — The Department of Homeland Security is poised to miss its deadline to publish the first Homeland Threat Assessment, which was the subject of a recent whistleblower complaint alleging political motivations.
The assessment, which is intended to provide an overview of the terrorist threat landscape and anticipate emerging threats, was scheduled to be released on Thursday, according to the department's counterterrorism action plan.
Last month, leaked drafts of the assessment showed changing language about the threat from White supremacists.
Around the same time the drafts were made public, DHS whistleblower Brian Murphy claimed that top department officials raised concerns about how the assessment would reflect upon President Donald Trump. Murphy previously led the department's intelligence division, before being reassigned amid controversy that his office gathered intelligence on US journalists.
DHS spokesperson Chase Jennings said the assessment is forthcoming but said there is no statutory deadline for the product. Jennings said Wolf addressed the major threats facing the country in September during his State of the Homeland address.
All three DHS threat assessment drafts state that among domestic extremists, white supremacists will remain the most "persistent and lethal threat" in the US through 2021.
However, the earliest available version reads: "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."
According to the Murphy whistleblower complaint, two sections of the assessment were specifically labeled as concerns: White Supremacy and Russian influence in the United States.
Ken Cuccinelli, the DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary, told Murphy to modify the section on White supremacy "in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent "left-wing" groups," according to the complaint.
During his nomination hearing last month, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called Murphy's complaint "patently false."
"It's a fabrication, completely," he said.
Wolf also addressed White supremacist extremists, telling lawmakers that, over the previous two years, they were the most "persistent and lethal" threat facing the US among domestic violent extremists.
But he rejected the idea that it was the overall deadliest threat facing the homeland, pointing to nation state threats, pandemics and hurricanes.
The threat assessment, which was initiated by the previous acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, has undergone review to include a wider swath of input from offices within DHS, according to a source familiar.