This is probably the simplest and cheapest way of increasing the vigilance and expertise of the personnel in one of the most important government agencies. It may not seem like a huge tactical victory, but huge changes move slowly and the gesture itself is as important as any immediate benefits.
CNN.com – Trump transition officials have asked for the names of State Department officials working on efforts to counter violent extremism, two State Department officials familiar with the questionnaire confirmed to CNN.
The officials confirmed the request involves programs throughout the department aimed at preventing extremism in various ways, such as recruitment.
The request is one of several made of the department that are causing concern among State Department personnel about the incoming Trump administration’s foreign policy priorities.
Reuters first reported the request was being made to the State Department, which included asking for the names of those working in the counterterrorism’s bureau of office of countering violent extremism and whether they were political appointees or civil servants.
Throughout the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump regularly criticized President Barack Obama and his administration for not using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” when describing incidents of terrorism.
An example of how the Trump team frames the fight against terrorism in religious terms can be seen in the statement released by the President-elect earlier this week reacting to the Christmas market incident in Berlin before it was known the perpetrator had connections to ISIS.
“ISIS and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad,” Trump said. “These terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks must be eradicated from the face of the earth, a mission we will carry out with all freedom-loving partners.”
The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment regarding the request.
Some State Department personnel have expressed concern why individual names are being requested, but one State Department official familiar with the request said it seems to only mean to help the transition understand who is doing what job at the department.
“Whatever names they have asked for thus far have been in the context of organizational charts and trying to get a sense of who is doing what jobs,” the State Department official said.
On the motive, the official added, “It is really hard to say. They don’t provide us the context behind these requests. Certainly it is causing concern by some. But in truth, nothing they have asked for yet has been out of the norm for an incoming transition.”
Earlier this month the transition team disavowed a separate questionnaire sent to the Energy Department requesting the names of employees working on climate change issues.
“The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled,” a Trump transition official told CNN.
The transition team has also asked the State Department to provide a list of existing programs and activities intended to promote gender equality, according to sources at the agency, raising fears that these programs may be the target of cuts.
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