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September 13, 2021 RAPID RESPONSE

Stopping Domestic Terrorism: A Critical Examination of the Department of Homeland Security’s Violence Prevention Strategy

A core pillar of President Biden’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism is what the administration calls a “public health” approach to violence prevention. Though branded as a “public health” approach, the initiatives promoted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through its Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships (CP3) weave law enforcement and the intelligence apparatus into efforts by civil society actors to connect individuals with mental health and social services because they may display some combination of vague and commonly occurring signs – such as having a grievance, being socially alienated, or being depressed – that DHS links to violence. Such an approach threatens to discourage people from getting the support they may need, and opens the door for racial and religious biases to influence who is considered a potential mass shooter or terrorist.

This webinar critically examines DHS’ violence prevention strategy, with panelists interrogating its empirical foundations, illuminating its harms, and tracing its evolution from discredited Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programs of the Obama era, which failed to prove their value and instead painted their targets—American Muslims—as a community of potential terrorists.


  • Fatema Ahmad, Executive Director, Muslim Justice League
  • Jennifer Mathis, Deputy Legal Director and Director of Policy & Legal Advocacy, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law 
  • Amelia Vance, Director of Youth & Education Privacy, Future of Privacy Forum


  • Harsha Panduranga, Counsel, Liberty and National Security, Brennan Center for Justice; Vice Chair, National Security and Civil Liberties Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice


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