The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University said it
filed the lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan to force the Justice
Department and the Department of Homeland Security to release
records about their "Countering Violent Extremism" (CVE) program.
Critics for years have questioned its effectiveness.
The Brennan Center said the program relies on a flawed approach to
counter terrorism that "all but ensures" it will stigmatize Muslims
and reinforce Islamophobic stereotypes, suppress dissent, and sow
discord in communities.
Spokespeople for Homeland Security and the Justice Department were
not immediately available to comment.
The agencies set up a task force in January to boost the effort and
other agencies have launched initiatives of their own. These actions
came after President Barack Obama in 2011 unveiled a plan for
"empowering local partners to prevent violent extremism in the
At the same time, the government has pressured Silicon Valley to
more forcefully limit the proliferation of extremist communications
Over the past year, Facebook taken steps to more aggressively remove
content. The company, which boasts 1.5 billion users, is also
helping to fund an initiative led by Homeland Security and the State
Department to outsource creation of online counter-messaging to
[to top of second column]
Last year Congress allocated some $40 million for CVE, above the
several hundred thousand dollars aides said the Obama administration
had requested to cover travel expenses to meet with communities
around the country. Roughly $10 million to $15 million is for state
and local governments, aides said.
The program has been hampered by bureaucratic infighting, as some
experts have advocated enlisting ultra-orthodox, nonviolent Islamic
activists and scholars in deradicalization efforts. Other experts
have argued that such activists sometimes help indoctrinate violent
(Writing by Julia Harte and Andy Sullivan; editing by Kevin
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