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Tilting at Windmills

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April 16, 2009

ABOUT THAT DHS REPORT.... The right's response to a DHS report on radical, potentially violent, right-wing extremists has been quite intense, for reasons that have not stood up well to scrutiny. But the more details emerge, the more it seems Republicans who were outraged by the report didn't think this one through,

For one thing, DHS produced a similar report on radical, potentially violent, left-wing extremists. For another, the FBI published a similar report about the far-right fringe and potential security threats in 2008, and no one seemed to raise an eyebrow.

But perhaps most importantly, if the DHS report is evidence of some kind of nefarious White House agenda, it seems Obama's Republican detractors are complaining about the wrong White House.

The report on right wing groups, it turns out, was prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of DHS' Homeland Environment and Threat Analysis Division. That Division falls under the purview of the Under Secretary For Intelligence & Analysis -- or, in this case, the Acting Under Secretary For Intelligence & Analysis Roger Mackin, who was appointed on September 10, 2008 by noted left wing partisan George W. Bush.

Yep, the report about right-wing extremists that have Republicans worked up was, in fact, requested and prepared by Bush administration officials, an inconvenient fact that might undermine this week's talking points a bit.

On a related note, there seems to be specific concerns about criticism of U.S. servicemen and women. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters yesterday, "To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable."

It's probably worth re-emphasizing, then, that the point of the law-enforcement report wasn't that veterans are right-wing extremists, but rather, that right-wing extremists might target veterans for recruitment. Indeed, Bush's Justice Department prepared a similar report in 2008 titled, "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel Since 9/11," which found that while veterans don't make up a large percentage of "white supremacist extremists," they have sometimes taken leadership roles in the movement.

Oddly enough, when this report was distributed to law-enforcement officials last year, Boehner and Republicans didn't say a word. It's almost as if their goal is to score cheap political points off a misunderstood DHS report, without concern for the facts.

For what it's worth, the Republican uproar drew the attention of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who responded yesterday in a written statement: "Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don't have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence."

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

That last quote by Janet Napolitano needs, "So STFU" at the end...

Posted by: neill on April 16, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the new reality of the right: their entire message consists of principle-free opposition to this administration and nothing more. If Obama says "up," they say "down." We're not just talking about the fringe TV and radio personalities; this approach permeates the Republicans in congress as well.

It's a true sign of weakness and a sure strategy for perpetual minority status.

Posted by: BH on April 16, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK
It's a true sign of weakness and a sure strategy for perpetual minority status.
Absolutely. But wouldn't it be kinda nice if we could get there without an Oklahoma City along the way? There are some genuinely dangerous people in the riled-up Rethug "base". Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 16, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Actually it makes a fair amount of sense to worry about veterans as extremists, because dominionist and white-supremacist groups have been infiltrating the military and using military bases as recruiting grounds since long before 9/11. Even in the mid-90s there were stories about supremacist organizations being run within the military and supremacist literature being printed using military resources. (Then there's the dominionist flap at the Air Force Academy...)

Posted by: paul on April 16, 2009 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Sec. Napolitano slammed 'the media' right to Matt Lauer's face. Nice.

Posted by: Ohioan on April 16, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Think of these daily outrages from the right as political roadside bombs. The right really did learn a lot about insurgency.

Posted by: beep52 on April 16, 2009 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

"It's almost as if their goal is to score cheap political points off a misunderstood DHS report, without concern for the facts." Ya think?

The GOP doesn't know how to do anything else. Their own policies and positions are intellectually bankrupt and totally indefensible, so they lie like a rug.

Posted by: Tigrrrl on April 16, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Ask any critic if they actually read the report.

Posted by: George on April 16, 2009 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

OMG--what would right-wingers have said if someone had pelted the White House grounds with teabags last year?

Posted by: ceenik on April 16, 2009 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Yep, the report about right-wing extremists that have Republicans worked up was, in fact, requested and prepared by Bush administration officials, an inconvenient fact that might undermine this week's talking points a bit."

I don't know whether to admire your irrepressible optimism or weep for your learning difficulties . . . .

Don't hold your breath.

Posted by: retr2327 on April 16, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

At some point in time even the dimmest bulb in the public has to recognize some facts. If the right wing zealots continue to rant and rave like village idiots they just keep chipping away at there support.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 16, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

"It's almost as if their goal is to score cheap political points off a misunderstood DHS report, without concern for the facts."

Almost as if? Do you have an alternative explanation that would be less unflattering if it were true?

Posted by: s9 on April 16, 2009 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

That's funny, a lot of us consider George Bush II a notable leftist too.

The problem was not the report itself. One figures DHS files many reports on domestic threats (and we haven't gotten to anarchists or Earth First types yet). It's who got named in that report which caused the stink: Ron Paul supporters, people talk a lot about the Constitutions, people who are returning veterans, etc.

As you should well know, people who think they're naturally patriotic don't like being called enemies of the state.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on April 16, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody at all uneasy about the idea that the government decides it's entitled to do reports on movements, of whatever stripe, that it deems politically extreme? Didn't we get upset about that in the 60's and 70's with respect to the FBI's extensive monitoring programs in this area, COINTELPRO and all that? Nobody? Bueller? OK then.

Posted by: scott on April 16, 2009 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK
As you should well know, people who think they're naturally patriotic don't like being called enemies of the state.

Cry me a river, wingnut. McVeigh also thought he was "naturally patriotic".

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 16, 2009 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

scott, we have to be ever-vigilant for abuses, of which we all know there have been very many over the years, but there are genuinely dangerous people out there on both left and right, and it would be irresponsible not to have somebody keeping an eye on them.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 16, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

You know what the really ironic thing is? If DHS overreaches and starts illegally monitoring law-abiding right-wingers, guess which group will be the first to jump to the right-wingers' defense. That bastion of homosexual communists hell-bent on destroying America: the ACLU!

Posted by: shawn on April 16, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

The gang-bangers and white supremacists go to Iraq for live fire and weapons training and who should be there to welcome them but international mercenaries (like former South African goon squad members and soviet satellite secret police, thanks Blackwater) who know how to supply the latest in weaponry. The drug gangs have the cash to buy the weapons (RPG's anyone?) but the neo-nazis may be saving their pennies.

Posted by: Th on April 16, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

"..we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence. And from people who wear Levi's".

Posted by: JK on April 16, 2009 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Long forgotten I suppose is 4/19/95 when Timothy McVeigh committed the Oklahoma City bombing killing 168 and injuring 800; ignored I suppose are the many shootings at and bombings of family planning and abortion clinics; not a threat I suppose is the recent rise again of the KKK and neo-Nazi groups...not of concern I suppose is the baseless socialism and fascism propaganda pushed by Fox News and other noise machine outlets to stir up their lunatic fringe...

Posted by: disparu on April 16, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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