Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 1, 2009

ABOUT THAT DHS REPORT.... For the most part, the conservative apoplexy has faded in response to a Department of Homeland Security report on potentially-violent right-wing extremists. In April, the document was the springboard for a manufactured controversy, but Republicans and political reporters more or less gave up when it became clear the arguments were baseless and there was no reason for Secretary Janet Napolitano to resign.

Given the assassination of Dr. George Tiller yesterday in Kansas, however, it's only natural to revisit the issue. Indeed, the DHS report was specifically about violent radicals -- there were documents prepared on both right-wing and left-wing extremists -- and it explored those who might do harm to physicians and/or medical facilities.

Given this, Mark Kleiman reminds us of the report's relevance.

Remember how Republicans in Congress were all in a dither about the DHS report on right-wing extremist organizations as potential terrorist threats? The Tiller gunman was affiliated with at least two of those organizations. In addition to his connection with Operation Rescue, he was a tax protester, a "sovereign citizen," and a member of the Freemen. Maybe someone should ask Rep. Peter King of New York (ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee) and John Hinderaker of PowerLine whether they still consider the threat of right-wing terrorism to be mere Obama Administration fantasy. (That's beside the fact that the report was ordered up during the Bush Administration.)

Greg Sargent added this morning, "[T]he general intent of the report, which was chock full of warnings about 'lone wolf extremists' capable of violence, now looks perfectly defensible, even reasonable."

This really should have been apparent to the administration's detractors in the midst of the "controversy." There are some Americans on the fringes of society who are both radical and potentially dangerous. It only makes sense for the Department of Homeland Security to be cognizant of these threats, and communicate with state and local law enforcement agencies about the possibility of violence.

Yesterday was a painful reminder of this.

Steve Benen 9:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Comments

Conservatives would privately argue some crimes are different. Even Kristallnacht had its fans.

Posted by: steve duncan on June 1, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

The one thing that really strikes me is that this doctor performed late term abortion on women where their life was threatened, or if the fetus would be severely retarded, etc.

It's not as if this guy was doing these procedures just to make a buck, it seems to me that he sincerely thought he was doing humanity a service.

This is just the start of many more similar incidents I am afraid. The question is, does our society as a whole repudiate extremists on either side of the spectrum, or do we continue to allow right wing media personalities to whip their unhinged followers into a frenzy which undoubtedly will lead to more terror and murder?

Does this country have even an iota of common sense anymore? It's getting so bad I am starting to be disgusted by our country's inability to mature.

Posted by: citizen_pain on June 1, 2009 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

There appears to be a whole industry that embraces politics, publishing, broadcasting, and non profit organizations, which supports comfortable lifestyles for many, many, otherwise smart and informed Americans, that is built on the backs of a segment of the population that is most vulnerable to demagoguery and rabble rousing. It has made Rush Limbaugh a millionaire. It has put cynical Senators and Congressmen in office, it has filled the coffers of anti-tax groups and anti-abortion groups and made millions for publishers and authors and public speakers. The emotional vulnerability of these not-so-bright, quasi-sociopathic 'citizens' puts any of us at risk for violence once they have reached their emotional breaking point. Why can we not have an honest conversation about what this is all about. Somebody is capitalizing big time on the fever swamp they have strategically filled. It's big business. It's not just politics...there is too much money to be made--as is also the case with military adventurism. Too profitable to resist.

Posted by: c4logic on June 1, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK
"[T]he general intent of the report, which was chock full of warnings about 'lone wolf extremists' capable of violence, now looks perfectly defensible, even reasonable."

Actually it always looked perfectly defensible and reasonable. The fact that wingnuts went ballistic over it had nothing to do with how it appeared to sane people.

Posted by: noncarborundum on June 1, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Other right wing nutzos who scare me are those who have criticized the President travelling to NY to see a "Black" play as they would have preferred to have seen him attending "Our American Cousin" at the Ford. Rep. King, as usual, you are so very wrong on this subject.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 1, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I suggest you find evidence of a conspiracy before you get too far out on a limb defending that DHS report. There are nuts who get far too much publicity but real terrorist incidents in this country have mostly been Muslim or eco-nuts. Real abortion violence, so far, has involved two individuals I am aware of. That's in twenty years. Bill Ayres should make this administration think twice before getting hysterical about right-wing violence.

Posted by: Mike K on June 1, 2009 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

MikeK
So which was McVeigh: muslim or econut?
Rudolph who blew up abortion clinics and the Atlanta Olympics: muslim or econut?
Black church bombings" That must be the muslims.
As for "real abortion violence". If you only count murders, maybe this makes two. If include firebombings, nurses losing hands, and things like that...perhaps a few more.
Do your research rather than just repeat talking points.

Posted by: jeff on June 1, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, yes. And bill ayers killed exactly nobody. The only people the weather underground killed were themselves. "Pro-life" folks are way ahead of that.

Posted by: jeff on June 1, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

I suggest you find evidence of a conspiracy before you get too far out on a limb defending that DHS report.

Since the report comments at length on the danger posed by lone-wolf violent individuals, and this fact was clearly mentioned in this post, it's not clear why you think it's necessary to prove a conspiracy. Except, of course, that you can't read and can't process information.

Real abortion violence, so far, has involved two individuals I am aware of.

The problem, of course, is that you're never aware before you speak. Typically, this post of yours is based on easily corrected misinformation. (Can you get nothing right?) From the AP:

OTHER ANTI-ABORTION VIOLENCE
A look at other recent cases of abortion-related violence:

* April 2007: Authorities say Paul Ross Evans placed a homemade bomb in the parking lot of the Austin Women’s Health Center in Texas. A bomb squad disposes of the device, which contained two pounds of nails. There are no injuries.

* Oct. 23, 1998 — Dr. Barnett Slepian is fatally shot in his home in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. Militant abortion opponent James Kopp is convicted of the murder in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

* Jan. 29, 1998 — A bomb explodes just outside a Birmingham, Ala., abortion clinic, killing a police officer and wounding several others. Eric Rudolph, also linked to acts of anti-gay terrorism, later pleads guilty to that incident and the deadly bombing at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He justifies the Alabama bombing in an essay from prison, writing that Jesus would condone 'militant action in defense of the innocent.'

* Jan. 16, 1997 — Two bomb blasts an hour apart rock an Atlanta building containing an abortion clinic. Seven people are injured. Rudolph is charged by federal authorities in October 1998.

* Dec. 30, 1994 — John Salvi opens fire with a rifle inside two Boston-area abortion clinics, killing two receptionists and wounding five others. Sentenced to life without parole, he kills himself in prison in 1996.

* Nov. 8, 1994 — Dr. Garson Romalis, who performs abortions in Vancouver, Canada, is shot in the leg while eating breakfast at home.

* July 29, 1994 — Dr. John Bayard Britton and his volunteer escort, James H. Barrett, are slain outside a Pensacola, Fla., abortion clinic. Barrett’s wife, June, is wounded in the attack. Paul J. Hill, 40, a former minister and anti-abortion activist, is later convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

* Aug. 19, 1993 — Dr. George Tiller is shot in the arms as he drives out of parking lot at his Wichita, Kan., clinic. Rachelle 'Shelley' Shannon is later convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

* March 10, 1993 — Dr. David Gunn is shot to death outside Pensacola, Fla., clinic, becoming the first U.S. doctor killed during an anti-abortion demonstration. Michael Griffin is convicted and serving a life sentence.

Posted by: shortstop on June 1, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Greg Sargent added this morning, "[T]he general intent of the report, which was chock full of warnings about 'lone wolf extremists' capable of violence, now looks perfectly defensible, even reasonable."

This really should have been apparent to the administration's detractors in the midst of the "controversy."
------------

I have little doubt that it was apparent to the administration's detractors. I just don't think it mattered to them.

Posted by: Please correct the error on June 1, 2009 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the facts, Shortstop - Now, DocMikey, will you stop embarrassing yourself in print?

Posted by: berttheclock on June 1, 2009 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

There appears to be a whole industry that embraces politics, publishing, broadcasting, and non profit organizations, which supports comfortable lifestyles for many, many, otherwise smart and informed Americans, that is built on the backs of a segment of the population that is most vulnerable to demagoguery and rabble rousing. It has made Rush Limbaugh a millionaire.**********************************


And it has made Mike k. the manifest asshole that we all see him to be. Thanks for putting out the crap so transparently dude. Makes figuring out you fucktards that much easier. Now, why don't you go defend torture, or go proselytize to some 18 year old poor kid until he understands why Jesus wants him to go to Iraq and get his legs blown off to help Him in the bu$hies Crusade.

Posted by: Mkie K, like a rock, only dumber. on June 1, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K, are you sure that you're real name isn't Propaganda spewing fRight-wing shithead of the century?

Posted by: M-key-Mouse K, like a rock, only dumber. on June 1, 2009 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K. comes out in favor of terrorism.

Big surprise.

Posted by: JM on June 1, 2009 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Day-aaam! MikeK, you got OWNED!

Posted by: Obama / Steelers / etc on June 1, 2009 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

The reports wasn't talking about "lone wolves" it also including Ron Paul supporters as well. That's what caused the outrage.

Before you dab your smear brushes with paint, may I remind all of you in my home state of Wisconsin, about 40 years ago, four young fellows in Madison, Wisconsin also decided to try to make social change through violence by blowing up Sterling Hall on the UW-Maidson campus and did so, which resulted in the death of brillant physicals researcher by the name Robert Fassnacht. It was the most destructive act of domestic terrorism before Oklahoma City and 9-11.

The point is, for whatever good motives you may think you have, whether it's ending the Vietnam War or ending abortion, comitting violence in the name of peace or life does your cause more greater harm than anything imaginable. No matter if millions die in war or abortions, the one fellow you kill in name of life and or peace will be maganified far greater than the lives you think you are saving. It may not be fair, but its life. The populace has shown time and again it abhors political violence and anarchy no matter what the cause is.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 1, 2009 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

The reports wasn't just talking about "lone wolves" it also included Ron Paul supporters as well. That's what caused the outrage.

Before you dab your smear brushes with paint, may I remind all of you in my home state of Wisconsin, about 40 years ago, four young fellows in Madison also decided to try to make social change through violence by blowing up Sterling Hall on the UW-Maidson campus and did so, which resulted in the death of brillant physicist researcher by the name Robert Fassnacht. It was the most destructive act of domestic terrorism before Oklahoma City and 9-11.

The point is, for whatever good motives you may think you have, whether it's ending the Vietnam War or ending abortion, comitting violence in the name of peace or life does your cause greater harm than anything imaginable. No matter if millions die in war or abortions, the one fellow you kill in name of life and or peace will be maganified far greater than the lives you think you are saving. It may not be fair, but its life. The populace has shown time and again it abhors political violence and anarchy no matter what the cause is.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 1, 2009 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I know it's like shooting fish in a barrel, but Mike, really ? You're leaving out one of the largest home-grown terrorist organizations to ever operate in the US: the KKK. Their existence should put us on notice that we have a major issue with *right-wing* terrorism in this country. The KKK operated for many years with the blessing of a significant portion of our population.

Posted by: OhNoNotAgain on June 1, 2009 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

The truth of it is that these absolutist movements and the self righteousness and grandiosity that many followers use to promote their cause, attracts seriously mentally ill people.

Many of these guys (or gals for that matter) would test out as having major personality and mental disorders with motivations to act that fit well with frequently extreme rhetoric that bounces around in these organizations.

A huge role is therefore played by the media and other organizations that like to throw loose talk around about pulling arms together and armed secession, etc. It all comes from the same mind frame and someone needs to sue FOX and other organizations for enciting this stuff. In many ways, given the sickness of the people this attracts, you might as well hand them the loaded guns and help them pull the trigger...

Free speech does not allow you to incite to murder and to attract people who indeed will do that...

Posted by: Elie on June 1, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Day-aaam! MikeK, you got OWNED!

That would be POWNED --- punked AND owned!

Posted by: citizen_pain on June 1, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Before people start making facile comparisons between the violent tendencies of the antiabortion movement and 60's-era radicals like the Weathermen, keep in mind that in the 60's and 70's, the Black Panthers, Weathermen, the SLM, etc., did not have an entire nationwide media organization, one of the two major political parties and a network of influential radio talk show hosts providing aid and comfort to them and making feeble excuses for them when their activism turned to murder and violence.

Groups like the Weathermen -- who, it should be noted, damaged some buildings but never succeeded in actually killing anyone -- were always on the margins and in the underground, even on the Left in those days. Today, eliminationist rhetoric and terroristic flights of fancy are a feature rather than a bug in far-right discourse in the blogosphere (e.g. LGF, Free Republic, Malkin) and, more subtly, on mainstream conservative outlets like Drudge or Fox News, where stories and headlines are crafted to incite and inflame anti-government, anti-secular sentiments in their viewers. That's why the DHS report was so prescient and why the right-wing blogosphere had such a conniption about it: they knew it had their number.

Posted by: jonas on June 1, 2009 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Before you dab your smear brushes with paint, may I remind all of you in my home state of Wisconsin, about 40 years ago, four young fellows in Madison, Wisconsin also decided to try to make social change through violence by blowing up Sterling Hall on the UW-Maidson campus and did so, which resulted in the death of brillant physicals researcher by the name Robert Fassnacht. It was the most destructive act of domestic terrorism before Oklahoma City and 9-11.

Dr. Tiller prevented the death of hundreds of women by providing them medical care that only one other doctor in the entire country would provide. That means that Scott Roeder didn't kill only one man. He has also killed the women who would have been helped by Dr. Tiller and will now die or be permanently injured because their pregnancy went horribly wrong.

The point is not that one man was killed, as horrible as that is. The point is that murdering that man ensured that many others will die needlessly in the future because Dr. Tiller will not be alive to help them.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on June 1, 2009 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jonas I suggest you read the article "Radical Chic" by Tom Wolfe and read up on Leonard Bernstein's fundraising efforts for the Black Panthers. The only reason the Weathermen didn't kill more people was the fact they weren't terribly bright. These were spoiled brats playing at "revolution."

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 1, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sean -

Let me say this clearly and concisely - I don't give a SHIT about what the Black Panthers or the Weathermen did forty years ago ... or whether yesteryear's domestic terrorists included left-wingers or not.

Even then, these radical leftist groups were marginal. And they had plenty of competition (and institutional support) from the their analogues on the right ... and those right-wing organizations were both larger and more effective (you know, killing people, subverting elections, intimidating large numbers of people). And those groups were DIRECTLY INTEGRATED INTO THE POLITICAL SYSTEM in the places they operated. Does the word "KKK" ring a bell?

So ... may I suggest that the domestic terror problem that we face today comes from the right. May I suggest that you engage with that and stop wanking about the 1960's? And may I suggest that stop pissing on us and telling us that it is raining?

Posted by: Bokonon on June 1, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I have to wonder what a "left-wing extremist" is these days. The Unabomber was probably one, as he was against technology and lived in a one-room cabin and had a PhD. But of course, he had no coherent political philosophy-- he could be just as easily typed as "rightwing"-- a survivalist, Montana, granted the PhD doesn't fit.

And Islamic extremists can't possibly be considered "left-wing" in any sensible sense of the word-- against modern secular culture, and they're religious, etc.

I suspect that the whole "extremist" thing means that you're on the outer edge and that you aren't going to be easily associated with anything mainstream. If you thought working for a candidate was enough, after all, you wouldn't resort to violence.

It does give me pause that the "outer edges" of most of our extremists are perilously close to the views expounded on right-wing radio shows, however.

Posted by: petra on June 1, 2009 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well, you juvenile delinquents have gone back to deleting my comments so I guess obscenity and non-answers weren't enough. I've raised five teenagers and know the drill.

[We are not engaged in a battle of wills, and if we were, I would win. Comments that even border on condoning domestic terrorism and the assassination of a physician will be unpublished. Deal with that, or don't post to offend. --Mod]

Posted by: Mike K on June 1, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

That is to say, their mothers raised them. I just squirted sperm around and then played absentee father.

Posted by: Myke K on June 1, 2009 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

before we continue patting ourselves on the back, can we find out why the DHS did not stop this in the first place? the guy was a known entity. why wasn't he followed? why wasn't the doctor's church protected if there had been protests there before (and i presume with this same man there)?

seems to me that someone in this administration fell down on the job. we need to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Posted by: marydem on June 1, 2009 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Bonokon I suggest you Google the terms "Earth First" or "Earth Liberation Front" or "PETA" before we start talking about the domestic terrorist threat. Oh, you may want to Google the term "anarchist" and read all about what they wanted to do at the Republican National Convention before being busted by the cops.

If you're going to dismiss the Weathermen or the Black Panthers as non-threats, then I don't see why I should pay much heed to the KKK, although I would consider them domestic terrorists as well as those groups.

By the way, I would also Google "SLA" and ready about Patty Heart too.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on June 1, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Sean Scallon -

Way to double-down on your original idiotic post - which was an attempt to hijack this discussion into talking about LEFT WING terror groups instead of the murder that just occurred.

Patty Hearst? Please ... spare me. How many decades ago was that?

There is NO flipping equivalent between the prevalence or power of left-wing terror groups and right-wing terror groups in this country in the present day. The fact that ELF and PETA exist do not make them the equivalent of, say, the KKK (which still freakin' exists, and is still active, despite your cute effort to define them out of existance). Not in terms of membership, not in terms of power, not in terms of body count. You can even Google that. If you know how. :-)

So ... you failed. Thanks for playing.


Posted by: Bokonon on June 2, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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