Top Dem 'dumbfounded' by 'extremism' report
The top House Democrat overseeing the Department of Homeland Security is demanding that officials there explain how and why they wrote and released a controversial report identifying veterans as potential terrorist threats.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano that he was "dumbfounded" such a report would be issued.
"This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans -- including war veterans," Mr. Thompson said in the letter sent Tuesday.
"As I am certain you agree, freedom of association and freedom of speech are guaranteed to all Americans -- whether a person's beliefs, whatever their political orientation, are 'extremist' or not," Mr. Thompson said.
The report "blurred the line," and Mr. Thompson said he is "disappointed and surprised that the department would allow this report to be disseminated" to law enforcement officials nationwide.
A person would have to be way past partisan to not admit that there are some scary people on the right of the political spectrum. There are of course just as many scary people on the left, maybe more. Reality is that most of the domestic terrorism perpetrated in the US over the last decade or so has been done by far left groups. From fire-bombing car dealerships and animal labs to burning down homes, the left has been busy. Again, this is not to say the right has been quiet.
The report released by the Department of Homeland Security by all accounts is full of supposition, unsubstantiated allegations, and theory. In short, it is about as substantial as the average blog.
I read the report (link for PDF version).
The first paragraphs sum up the report nicely. All emphasis mine.
(U//LES) The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and
— (U//LES) Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.
— (U//LES) Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first
African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new
members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal
through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.
Then we continue.
(U//FOUO) The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.
So effectively, you are a criminal if you do not support the President or abortion, are concerned about losing your house, think that you have a right to bear arms or, more importantly, were in the military.
This report is not about extremism, it's about limiting free speech.
Finally, following the usual pattern for reports like this, the far left media is picking it up and reporting it as a significant finding without questioning the veracity of it. I toured the usual sites today, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, the headlines for it were along these lines "DHS report shows rise in right wing extremism". These headlines are scary. They would be scarier if there were even a shred of truth in them. The report shows nothing of the sort, it says it is possible.
This time may be different though, it may not work this time. We have Democratic politicians like Rep. Thompson above running for cover and we have a very unamused group of veterans groups pissed. We may get a twofer on this one, egg on the face of the administration and their PR wing, the far left media.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is standing by the report. I believe that because of that, we need to throw out the report along with the Secretary. It is my belief that unless she retracts the report and apologizes, she needs to resign.