Janet Napolitano Responds To Conservative Paranoia About DHS Report

Yesterday I posted about a report from The Department of Homeland Security on the risk of right wing extremism. Many conservative bloggers, who were not the subject of this report, grossly misrepresented the contents of the report to support the common conservative meme that they are some sort of victims. Many of them also buy into the paranoid  conspiracy theories spread by fanatics  such as Glenn Beck and other right wingers who are out of touch with reality.

With all the publicity created by the declassification of the report, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has issued this statement:

The primary mission of this department is to prevent terrorist attacks on our nation. The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve as someone personally involved in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution.

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.

We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.

I am aware of the letter from American Legion National Commander Rehbein, and my staff has already contacted him to set up a meeting next week once I return from travel. I will tell him face-to-face that we honor veterans at DHS and employ thousands across the department, up to and including the Deputy Secretary.

As the department responsible for protecting the homeland, DHS will continue to work with its state and local partners to prevent and protect against the potential threat to the United States associated with any rise in violent extremist activity.

Surprisingly Little Green Footballs has been one of the more prominent blogs which has noted the absurdity of the conservative reaction to this report, along with criticizing several other beliefs being spread in the conservative blogosphere and media. In posting the above release they called the conservative response “hyperventilating.” In a post on the report yesterday they wrote:

First, this DHS assessment was begun more than a year ago, before Barack Obama was even nominated. It has absolutely nothing to do with “tea parties,” and it was not done at the behest of the Obama administration.

Second, I’m seeing it brought up repeatedly that the report contains a reference to veterans, mentioning that some of these groups are seeking to recruit them. This is nothing more than a fact, and the report even says that only a tiny number of veterans would join such groups — but that their talents could bring a great deal of capability to the extremists. Has everyone simply forgotten that Timothy McVeigh was a veteran?

The DHS report is not intended to target anyone but the most extreme elements of the far right, and it’s depressing to see so many bloggers jumping to totally unwarranted conclusions.

AJ Strata has a good take on this: The Threat Of Far Right Extremism – Updated!

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  1. 1
    TheBad says:

    This report is the kind of thing that drives our country farther apart, and rightfully so. I personally think there should be a few jobs on the line here, starting with Janet Napolitano. There is clearly a political agenda being pushed here. After reading this report I would not blame anyone who feels they fall into one of the categories, which is about half or more of this country, to start stocking up on weapons and getting ready to defend themselves, against the government. Watch how the sell of weapons is going to keep going though the roof. History shows us that this is how fascism normally starts, and has led to the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people around the world. For a report like this to be put out by our government, there is no excuse for it. President Obama needs to do the right thing here, and step up to the plate, fire Ms Napolitano, and then apologize to everyone who was offended by this report, and let it be known that this will not be allowed on his Watch. Anything less will be taken as he agrees and supports it, and will continue to drive this country of ours farther apart.

  2. 2
    Christopher Skyi says:

    Well it may be a conservative  “meme,” but the “mene’s” lifespan is only lengthen by reports such as this:
    The Associated Press says that the Homeland Security report on “right wing extremism” was issued despite objections from the Department’s own civil rights division:

    Civil liberties officials at the Homeland Security Department did not agree with some of the language in a controversial report on right-wing extremists, but the agency issued the report anyway. …
    Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said the report was issued before officials resolved problems raised by the agency’s civil rights division. Kudwa would not specify what language raised the concerns.

  3. 3
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Well, let’s face it: the Homeland Security Department should be closed down. It’s very existence is a far greater threat to civil liberties than any of its reports. It serves an extralegal function in combining overseas intelligence powers with domestic police powers that bothers me a great deal. I did not expect President Obama to scrap it, presidents just don’t scrap cabinet departments, but I don’t have to like it.

  4. 4
    Christoher Skyi says:

    OK — let me try again:
    It’s not paranoia if they’re really out to get you:
    DoD Training Manual: Protests are “Low-Level Terrorism”

    Both the right and left should be alarmed about this, but so far, only “right-wing” protests are being singled out in the Department of Homeland Security:. Richard Thompson, chief of the Thomas More Law Center says the report  targeted as “potential terrorists” Americans who:

    Oppose abortion
    Oppose same-sex marriage
    Oppose restrictions on firearms
    Oppose lax immigration laws
    Oppose the policies of President Obama regarding immigration, citizenship, and the expansion of social programs
    Oppose continuation of free trade agreements
    Are suspect of foreign regimes
    Fear Communist regimes
    Oppose a “one world” government
    Bemoan the decline of U.S. stature in the world
    Are upset with loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs to China and India, and more

    OK, you’re saying, so what?  (You should be saying “WTF?!”).  Well consider this:
    The secret government “Terrorist Watch List,” reportedly already swelled to more than 1.1 million names.
    Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y) have introduced identical bills — the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009.” This proposal would give the attorney general the power to unilaterally and in secret develop a watch list of persons believed to be unworthy of possessing a firearm or any explosive.
    This new “dangerous terrorist” watch list would include names based not on hard evidence of criminal activity, but on nothing more than the subjective conclusion by the attorney general that a person is “appropriately suspected” (whatever that means) of engaging in some manner of assisting or preparing for acts of domestic or international terrorism. The American people would never be privy to what criteria might be employed by the attorney general to determine whether someone is an “appropriate suspect,” and they would have no way of knowing why they might be denied the ability to purchase a firearm.
    OK, now put two and two together: you’ve been classified as a “potential terrorists” because you’ve engaged in what the Dept. Of Homeland Security concluded is “low level terrorist activity” (see it for youself in here in the excerpt from the DoD awarness training quiz) which really means you’ve simply exercised your 1st Amendment protected right to protest and NOW you want to exercise your 2nd Amendment right to buy a gun.

    “Not only are WE (dept. of Homeland Security) watching you, the AG can deny you the right own a gun based on a secret, non-public criteria.”
    If a person were to be refused “permission” to purchase a firearm or explosive, and if they subsequently filed a lawsuit in federal court to find out why, the government still could keep such information secret. In other words, the attorney general could deny a U.S. citizen the ability to own a firearm, and never have to give the reason.
    The government already has remedies already at its disposal to keep firearms out of the hands of known or suspected terrorists. Under existing federal law, there are numerous categories of persons prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms; including persons in violation of immigration laws, convicted felons, illicit drug users and others. And if a person truly is a known or suspected terrorist, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — as the federal law enforcement agency primarily responsible for enforcing the nation’s gun laws — certainly should be made aware of that information. We don’t need a secret, anti-Second Amendment watch list to implement effective law enforcement in America.
    It’s both sad and alarming that under an Obama admin, The State continues to try to clip away at the 1st and 2nd amendment (of course, to protect us from terrorism).  Some liberals have taken a page out of the neo-con playbook on how best to get around constitutionally protected rights.

    The government has no business, NONE, watching you because you’re organizing or participating in protests.  We pay the the government to protect us, and this is NOT protecting us. It’s B.S.

    Hope and Change indeed.  I think it’s time for the left to wake up.

    “In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

    And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

    And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

    And then… they came for me… And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
    ~ Richard John Neuhaus

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    The Thomas Moore Law Center is a right wing outfit and is not a reliable source.

    They are not targeting the people which they claim. This is pure fiction. Making such false claims is consistent with their previous actions.

    In commenting on the report you also ignore two important facts:

    1) There were reports on both left and right wing extremism (with the reports not saying what right wingers are claiming the report on right wing extremism said)  and

    2) This is not something from the Obama administration. The reports were written by a Bush appointee and declassified under Obama.

    This is all right wing hysteria with no basis in fact.

    As soon as it raised one world government it should have been a tip off that this is just another right wing conspiracy theory.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    You not only cited the totally unreliable Thomas Moore Law Center but also relied upon a report from World News Daily? You can’t get more inaccurate than a far right wing propaganda outfit reporting on the claims of a far right wing nut group.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    The real concern is not for civil liberties under Obama but about groups such as The Thomas Moore Law Center which promote theocracy. They are the real threat to freedom in this country.

  8. 8
    Fritz says:

    If you don’t have real concerns about civil liberties under any American administration, then you haven’t been paying attention.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    True, but I’m not impressed by talk about civil liberties from people on the far right who supported Bush’s infringements upon civil liberties and are now using false claims to create such a case against Obama. I am also far more concerned about the threat to civil liberties from the right wingers attacking Obama (and from theocrats like the Thomas Moore Law Center) than I am from Obama.

  10. 10
    Fritz says:

    FWIW (and this was rather surprising to me), guns are not sold out everywhere anymore and prices have not skyrocketed.  I picked up a Glock 19 from a store Saturday with stock on hand, and prices on AR-15 stripped lowers were in the $150 range (they were at $400 in 1994 before the Ugly Rifle Ban passed).
    Could you tell me how right wingers attacking Obama could possibly be a threat to civil liberties?

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    I mean if they were in power, their policies present far more of a danger to civil liberties than Obama’s policies.

    I’m not surprised that guns are available. Any initial shortages were based more on paranoia than reality. I would expect that dealers would find a way to get more in stock to meet demand.

  12. 12
    Fritz says:

    Well, sure — “if they were in power”.  Huge if.  I’m more concerned about the people who are in power.
    I am going to lose a $50 bet that the Ugly Gun Ban would be reinstated this year.  Best bet I ever lost.

  13. 13
    Ron Chusid says:

    Not all that huge an if. Republicans were just in power and had a terrible record on civil liberties. It makes it hard to take them seriously when they attack Obama on civil liberties based on bogus claims.

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