The Department of Homeland Security warned on Tuesday that violent white supremacy was the “most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland” in an annual assessment that a former intelligence chief had accused the agency of withholding in deference to President Donald Trump.
The intelligence chief-turned-whistleblower last month accused the department of blocking the report and directing analysts to play down the threat of violent white racism as well as Russian election interference to align the agency’s message with the president’s. But the final report appeared to do no such thing.
The threat assessment highlighted white supremacists as the most deadly among domestic terrorists in recent years and Russia as the primary threat to spreading disinformation.
“I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years,” Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, wrote in the foreword to the assessment. The threat report also stated that “Russia is the likely primary covert influence actor and purveyor of disinformation and misinformation within the homeland.”
The agency also highlighted Iran and China’s cyberwarfare abilities and warned of a potential surge in migration to the southwest border.
The delayed release of the report has been a point of scrutiny for a department that has faced consistent accusations of morphing into a tool for Trump’s reelection campaign. After the department singled out domestic terrorists and specifically white supremacists in a terrorism framework in September 2019, the agency’s leadership committed to releasing a follow-up assessment to the threat as well as a blueprint to confront it within months. It took far longer.