Clueless about Financing Domestic Violent Extremists

Ideas and Issues


New Orleans     

Who in the USA wants to think about what the Treasury Department in its habitual need to assign letters to words calls DVEs or Domestic Violent Extremists?  Nobody, I guess, but how can we avoid it?

The Wall Street Journal ran a catchy headline with an article applauding the fact that Treasury “for the first time” analyzed the financing of these DVE folks.  These “DVEs, are U.S. extremists motivated by domestic concerns, including racial hatred and antigovernment animus. They differ under the Treasury’s new classification scheme from homegrown extremists, who are defined as U.S.-based individuals but primarily inspired by global jihadism.”

This sounded important to me.  The article said Treasury was finding it hard to get a grip on it, but was on the job.  Somehow, I couldn’t figure out from the article what Treasury had come up with in trying to figure out how DVEs were being financed.  I searched Google for a copy of what this first-ever report might have said that was not covered in the article and easily found it.

Reading the relevant sections of the report on DVEs was scary, but not for reasons you might have guessed.  It was frightening, because if I could distill the research from Treasury succinctly, I have to report that they are clueless.

They say they are “self-funded” frequently from their jobs or unemployment.  They say that sometimes they have “donors.”  Treasury says that sometimes they benefit from “crowdsourcing.”  That’s about it.  They say that it’s hard for banks to distinguish how these DVEs are handling their money from regular and usual transactions.  They also mention that some of these activities may be protected by the First Amendment.  Treasury promises they will have recommendations soon on how financial institutions should protect us from DVEs.

Who are they kidding?  Their report says they know zilch.  That’s small comfort and to the degree they are pretending to tell banks how to monitor the activities of these DVEs, their advice, if that’s what anyone would call this, is worthless.  You think I’m kidding, here’s a quote from the horse’s mouth:

DVE attacks are sometimes carried out by individuals with a low-risk financial profile. For example, their funds may be raised from legal sources, may generally be spent on legal activities, may not touch a high-risk jurisdiction, and they may not have identifiable ties to a designated individual terrorist or organization. This is one of the reasons that the movement of DVE funds can be dificult (sic) to detect prior to an attack, arrest, or the emergence of other derogatory information about the transaction parties, and why combating DVE financing presents a particular challenge.

Heck, they even misspelled “difficult.”

It’s also scary because they seem to want banks to listen for “derogatory information about the transaction parties”.  Hey, that could be you and me!

We’ve seen January 6th and recently three guys in Ohio and Michigan pled guilty to terrorist charges for trying to start some mess that would lead to a race war, but this is all after the fact.  Hunting for something when you don’t know what or who you’re looking for, especially in this polarized time of name-calling even in Congress, all sounds kind of like an old school Red scare witch hunt.  We all want them to stop these DVEs for sure, but this minute it looks like the net is going so wide almost anyone could be picked up in the web.