The Department of Homeland Security is being justly savaged for their recent report warning of the rise of “rightwing extremism” as a likely source of domestic terrorism. What is striking about the report is its vagueness. It reads as though some leftists sat back in their chairs and made it up after watching Keith Olbermann. The DHS concedes that it is has no intelligence to support its warning:
“DHS has no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but right-wing extremists may be gaining new recruitments by playing on their fears about several emerging issues,” [DHS spokeswoman Sara] Kuban said.
and the report casts its net amazingly wide to identify extremists:
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.
That’s right, if you support federalism, you may be a terrorist. (Like these guys.)
The DHS argues that they’re not singling out conservatives for suspicion:
Some critics have said the DHS is equating conservative views to right-wing terrorism, but a DHS official countered that earlier this year, the department issued a mirror intelligence assessment of left-wing extremist groups.
But, as Michelle Malkin points out, the DHS’s bulletins on leftwingers have specifically identified particular terrorist groups (e.g., the ELF), not labelled all Americans of a particular political bent as potential terrorists. And Fox News points out that even those particular groups are marked as threats to cyber infrastructure, not to human life.
BONUS: Not only does the report list no intelligence supporting future threats, its research regarding past incidents is shoddy. At least one of the very small number of incidents they cite is basically an urban legend. (Via Hot Air.)
UPDATE: DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has issued a partial apology for the report, apologizing for singling out veterans as potential terrorists, but she stood by the rest of the report:
“Let me be clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States,” Napolitano said in a statement. “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.”
It’s interesting that she has rediscovered the word “terrorism,” which she previously refused to use, preferring the peculiar term “man-made disasters.” Apparently the word is more appropriate when applied to hypothetical right-wing extremists, than when applied to real terrorist networks actively plotting attacks against the United States.
UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg weighs in.