Katharine Gorka was hired at DHS in May 2017 but has remained largely out of public view in her role as Senior Advisor. Gorka is a terrorism researcher who has been described as an “anti-Muslim activist” and has been accused of holding an “Islamo-centric view of terrorism,” despite the fact that most terrorist acts in the United States are committed by white supremacists. During Gorka’s tenure at DHS, she reportedly worked to de-prioritize countering white supremacist violence and reorient the agency’s Countering Violent Extremism program towards a singular focus on Muslim communities, even as white nationalist violence has risen.
The public deserves to know what Gorka is doing at DHS, but the Trump administration is illegally withholding records that could have answers. Weeks before a neo-Nazi killed a woman in Charlottesville, VA, DHS revoked a CVE grant for a group that sought to de-radicalize white nationalist gangs, a decision with which Gorka was reportedly involved. Today, despite recent high-profile instances of white extremist violence—like the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the largest act of anti-Semitic violence in American history—the CVE program is essentially defunct, a fact which some attribute to Gorka’s successful opposition to using CVE to counter violent white extremism.
We’re suing to find out whether Gorka’s extreme and biased views are driving Homeland Security resources away from real threats. Democracy Forward requested records from DHS in November of 2018 under the Freedom of Information Act. The records sought include calendars, call logs and other documents that would reveal Gorka’s day-to-day activities within the Trump administration. DHS is illegally withholding that information, so we’re taking legal action.
We expect a response from the government by April 8, 2019.