Robbie Gramer

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The problem with pointing out that the Trump Administration wants to severely shift focus on Muslims involved in terrorism to the point of ignoring domestic radical right-wing and anti-government groups is that it’s not an oversight.

These are some of the very people, often white nationalists, who most ardently supported Trump’s bigoted campaign, and it’s not likely that the self-avowed tough-on-crime politician will turn on these militias. That will put law enforcement officers, government officials and non-white folks in general in harm’s way. Perhaps an outcry from police groups can bring greater light on what could be a lethal decision?

From an article by Emily Tamkin, Robbie Gramer and Molly O’Toole of Foreign Policy:

Such a shift would also downplay the threat from other forms of terrorism. Far-right and anti-government groups plan and carry out domestic attacks at a greater frequency than foreign terrorist groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit focused on advocacy and civil rights. There are nearly 1,000 such groups in the United States, such as the Crusaders, which counts among its membership three men in Kansas who plotted in October 2016 to bomb an apartment complex where Somalis live. The SPLC noted an increase in hate crimes in the month following Trump’s election.

And since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, anti-government groups have racked up a death toll on par with that of Islamist extremists, according to New America, a think tank, which keeps a database on terrorist incidents. Until the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, in which a New York man pledging allegiance to the Islamic State killed 49 people, far-right extremism caused more deaths in the United States than did jihad.

“The trend lines look very similar,” David Sterman, a terrorism analyst with New America, told FP.

According to a 2015 survey of nearly 400 law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, authorities considered anti-government violent extremists, rather than radicalized Muslims, to be “the most severe threat of political violence that they face.”

And that threat may be growing. The former U.S. counterterrorism official said recent intelligence briefings showed an uptick in domestic threats associated with white nationalists and anti-government groups. Police officers are being threatened by these groups as well, the official said — and are even being infiltrated by them, according to a classified FBI counterterrorism policy guide from April 2015.•

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Sounding like Alphabet’s very own Rumsfeld, Eric Schmidt asserted to Foreign Policy that additional information, even if its fake or false, is a plus. I suppose if you tunnel down a philosophical rabbit hole far enough you can make an argument that faulty info can teach us something about its origin, but that’s clearly missing the point in this case. Smart people can say the dumbest things.

From Robbie Gramer at FP:

Information overload is a real problem these days. Internet trolling, fake news stories, information “echo chambers,” and the dark side of social media have headlined discussions on the future of politics and culture, particularly after the U.S. presidential elections. Perhaps no one is better suited to address this challenge than the man behind Google.

“We, and I personally, believe very strongly that more information is better, even if it’s wrong,” said Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Inc.

“Let’s start from the premise that more information, more empowerment, is fundamentally the correct answer” to the world’s most pressing challenges, Schmidt said Thursday after accepting Foreign Policy’s Diplomat of the Year award. …

In a discussion Thursday night with FP CEO and Editor David Rothkopf, Schmidt touted Google’s recent tests to combat trolling. “I’m absolutely convinced that these questions about validity, good information, bad information, will be sorted out,” he said. On trolling, Schmidt said “there’s a straightforward technological solution to an evil behavior. It’s easy to do, we did it, it can be replicated. And there’ll be more such solutions.” Google announced a new project to automatically fact-check news in ‘real time’ earlier Thursday.

Schmidt also stressed the positive impact of information on the world. “It’s amazing how powerful the need for information is and how information-starved everyone is. So let’s start by celebrating…that we are busy empowering people in a way that is fundamentally different,” he said, citing the economic, educational, and security benefits a person in the developing world gains from just a cell phone.•

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