A recent disgrace of a Department of Homeland Security report on “right-wing extremists” took the liberty of singling out Iraq war veterans as possible agitators of “right-wing violence” against the government. The footnote in the report stems from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing since Timothy McVeigh was a veteran of the first Gulf War.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been scrambling to explain and/or defend the report.
The Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Wednesday said a Homeland Security Department intelligence assessment unfairly characterizes military veterans as right-wing extremists.
House Republican leader John Boehner described the report as offensive and called on the agency to apologize to veterans.
The agency’s intelligence assessment, sent to law enforcement officials last week, warns that right-wing extremists could use the bad state of the U.S. economy and the election of the country’s first black president to recruit members.
The assessment also said that returning military veterans who have difficulties assimilating back into their home communities could be susceptible to extremist recruiters or might engage in lone acts of violence.
“To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable,” said Boehner, R-Ohio.
The commander of the veterans group the American Legion, David Rehbein, wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expressing concern with the assessment, which made its way into the mainstream press after conservative bloggers got wind of the analysis.
Rehbein called the assessment incomplete and said it lacked statistical evidence. He said the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by military veteran Timothy McVeigh, cited in the report, was one instance of a veteran becoming a domestic terrorist.
“To continue to use McVeigh as an example of the stereotypical ‘disgruntled military veteran’ is as unfair as using Osama bin Laden as the sole example of Islam,” Rehbein said in the April 13 letter.
Janet Napolitano defended the report:
“Let me be very 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.”
Napolitano said the department respects and honors veterans and that she intends to meet with Rehbein next week after she returns from a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border and meetings in Mexico City.
Glen M. Gardner Jr., national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, disputed claims that Homeland Security analysts were describing veterans as terror threats.
“The report should have been worded differently, but it made no blanket accusation that every soldier was capable of being a traitor like Benedict Arnold, or every veteran could be a lone wolf, homegrown terrorist like Timothy McVeigh,” said Gardner, a Marine veteran from Round Rock, Texas. ” It was just an assessment about possibilities that could take place.”
A top Democrat in Homeland Security blasted the report as well:
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.
I guess we know where this administration is headed. If you have passionate views opposing their socialism, you might end up in a Homeland Security report.
If you believe your money is your money and the government need stop confiscating it for obscene spending, you might be a right-wing extremist.
In fact, we could go through a whole slew of “You might be a right-wing extremist if…”
…you believe in capitalism.
…you believe in limited government.
…you believe politicians should be held accountable.
…you believe in freedom of speech.
…you believe government should cut spending, not raise taxes.
Yes, all of those positions probably make you a crazy right-wing extremist.
Sound off below, I know we can come up with more.
Napolitano apologizes, sort of: