Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Are You a Domestic Terrorist?

As a public service, we present today's self-help quiz, aimed at assessing you as a possible security risk. Please answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions:

-- Do you oppose abortion?

-- Are you against illegal immigration?

-- Did you vote for Ron Paul last year?

-- Do you believe in conspiracy theories?

-- Still have a "Harry Browne for President" sticker on your car?

-- Are you a veteran of the armed forces?

-- Were you upset by Barack Obama's election to the presidency?

Congratulations; if you responded affirmatively to any--or all--of these questions, then you might be considered a domestic terrorist by the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement agencies. As reported by Audrey Hudson and Eli Lake of the Washington Times, DHS recently published a nine-page assessment on "Rightwing Extremism" that appears to lump many traditional conservatives in the ranks of potential terrorist.

According to the report--which was recently disseminated to police organizations around the county--such factors as the economic recession, the election of Mr. Obama and the return of "disgruntled" veterans could increase the ranks of white power militias around the country.

Never mind that the "threat" posed by militias and white supremacist organizations has been routinely inflated, and there hasn't been a serious attack from those elements since Timothy McVeigh blew up the federal courthouse in Oklahoma City 15 years ago. Under the leadership of Janet Napolitano, DHS is hot on the trail of conservative reactionaries.

Obviously, Secretary Napolitano's department has to be concerned with the full array of potential threats, regardless of political stripe. But as our "questionnaire" suggested, Homeland Security has a rather odd way of defining possible terrorists, looking for them among the ranks of libertarians, conspiracy theorists and ex-military members, among others.

And, as Ms. Hudson and Mr. Lake discovered, the department has a hard time quantifying the menace. Despite such recruiting lures as a struggling economy and a liberal administration, there seems to be little evidence of expanding membership among white supremacist groups and the militias. The FBI tells the Times that out of a group of 23,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, only 200--less than one percent--joined such groups as the Ku Klux Klan and the Ayran Nation.

On the other hand, there is much reason for concern about the threat from left-wing radicals. The FBI is still trying to determine the number of young Somali men who have traveled from Minnesota to join terrorist factions in their homeland. More disturbingly, some federal officials worry that some of the Somalis may return to the United States, and launch attacks on our soil.

But the threat doesn't end there. When you factor in groups ranging from the Earth Liberation Front and Palestinian terror factions, to animal rights radicals and Al Qaida sleeper cells, it becomes clear that left-wing extremists pose a far greater security risk.

So, where's the comparable reporting on elements from the far left? A DHS spokeswoman claims the agency circulated a report on those threats in January, but it has never been leaked to the press--or released to the public. It is also unclear if the assessment on left-wing terrorists was circulated among law enforcement groups.

It's also worth noting that Homeland Security isn't the only organization focused on possible right-wing threats. Late last month, the Missouri State Police halted distribution of a report which linked a host of conservative groups to the militia movement, including anti-abortion activists, fundamentalist Christians and even supporters of libertarian politicians.

The document was produced by something called the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC), an intelligence "fusion" operation that provides assessment to the state police. As you might have guessed, information for the MIAC report came (in part) from the Department of Homeland Security. While the report touched off a firestorm in the conservative blogosphere, ti received virtually no attention in the national press.

Perhaps the Washington Times story will get a little more play--and force attention on the misplaced priorities of those who are supposed to be protecting us. Only in the alternate universe of Janet Napolitano would someone who voted for Bob Barr be labeled a potential terrorist.

Making matters worse, the Missouri report (and the DHS data that inspired it) suggest that millions are being wasted on the state and local "fusion centers" that have sprung up around the country. We can only imagine how much time was lavished on the MIAC assessment, so that Missouri state troopers could learn to spot domestic terrorists by the crosses and bumper stickers on their cars.

Welcome back to the pre-9-11 security mindset, where everyone worried about the "next McVeigh" that was supposedly lurking at every militia meeting. Meanwhile, we never paid attention to the really important stuff, like young Muslim men enrolled in U.S. flight schools--the same ones who had no interest in learning to land the aircraft.

17 comments:

opus said...

I see it as a purely political document created by the administration. Now they'll use it as justification to label anyone who disagree's with them as an extremest, neo-nazi, anti-semite. Also watch for it to be used prominantly in the next election.

In the bigger picture,as far as I'm concerned the government has never focused or dealt with the problem of extremest since 9/11, they've been more concerned with political correctness. It's a miracle we haven't been attacked again.

Paul_In_Houston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul_In_Houston said...

Is Texas A Terror State?.

-
DAMN that pesky 10th Amendment! :-)

-

J.R. said...

I got a 4/7 on your questionnaire and I've written letters to my Congressional delegation -- no white powder or teabags -- opposing the growth of the surveillance state. I guess I'm screwed, but I've seen this coming since DHS was founded. Welcome to the party.

I'm not sure how you can put Somali terrorists in a "left wing" or "right wing" bin. I think anyone who wants to attack the U.S. would be ostracized by both major parties (and the libertarians and greens as well), and their ideology isn't a good fit for anything we have here in the U.S.

Also, I don't think the "fusion centers" are part of the pre-911 mindset... they're a direct creation of DHS and the states who were hungry to spend counter-terror dollars. I think they're an atrocious waste of money and a sign of creeping authoritarianism. The one in Maryland, for example, spent most of the Bush years compiling lists of people who attended anti-war protests. "Fusion" is just code for domestic surveillance, and while there are good uses for a smart homeland defense intelligence apparatus, composing bogus "enemies lists" is not one of them. Now that the right is as inflamed about this as the left has been, perhaps Congress can get together and trim the fat out of DHS's budget.

Good luck with that, though, because the organization was designed from the ground up to be politically unassailable. "Senator, how can you vote for less HOMELAND SECURITY?"

Enjoy your right to peaceably assemble; maybe I'll see you at a Tea Party.

opus said...

J.R.

A couple things.
At the anti-war protests we saw countless people calling for the death of our troops,the death of the president and vice president, proclaiming support for our enemies on the signs they carried,t-shirts they wore and speeches they gave. People whose default position was the U.S.is evil. You saw these things at every protest, they weren't merely isolated groups off doing their own thing while the more moderate left held their protests.

You don't see that happen on the right, extremist, being allowed on the same platform as everyone else.
Another thing you don't see is anyone calling for the death of our president,the failure of our troops and country or with the default position that everything is the U.S.'s fault and we're evil.

So which group, from their words and actions would appear to be the home of a possible threat?

Now I don't think everyone on the left is a radical, but if you give the psychos on your side of the asile a seat at the table along with everyone else then don't cry when their slime rubs off on you.

I would also argue this isn't a DHS report, it's a Democrat/Obama report.

Ken Prescott said...

"If this be treason, let us make the most of it."

Patrick Henry

SwampWoman said...

Woohooo! I'm a Domestic Terrorist! Be afraid...be VERY afraid. DHS doesn't know the half of it. I use butter and cream in my recipes, too.

Ken Prescott said...

Woohooo! I'm a Domestic Terrorist! Be afraid...be VERY afraid. DHS doesn't know the half of it. I use butter and cream in my recipes, too.I've been known to fart in public, drink caffeinated beverages, and laugh at bawdy jokes.

So when can I expect a federal SWAT team to Wacoize my (Biblical beast of burden)?

cfmulloy said...

Spook,

I am not going to defend either the MIAC product or the DHS assessment, but since I work at a fusion center, I at least want to defend the overall program. We do produce intel products on radical islamist threats. So does DHS. A lot of those products, however, use source materials from the IC and are not releasable at an UNCLASS level. Therefore, the chances of them being leaked are less.

We also focus on left-wing groups, although the analysis in those products is often as sloppy as the analysis in the products publicized dealing with the right-wing DT groups.

Finally, the fusion center program is still in its infancy, as is the whole homeland security concept. A lot of bad habits from the IC have been imported to DHS, but it also has a lot of potential, especially in linking up the local law enforcement agencies to the fusion centers, DHS, and the wider IC, without having to go through the single-point-of-contact/single-point-of-failure that is the FBI.

One final time: the product was crap, but DHS puts out a lot of other products that display tighter reasoning, and are honestly useful to the collectors, the cops, and the policy makers these products are designed for.

J.R. said...

Opus,

Here's a link to the story I was referring to -

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/16/AR2009021601131.html

The group is described as "peaceful" and conducting their protests according to law. The big thing to note is Sen. Cardin's quote from the article:

But Cardin, who last week was named chairman of a Senate subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security, said he has not received "all the direct answers I need." He said DHS might have violated federal rules by forwarding information about a peaceful group that showed no intention of breaking the law. "They exercised their right to petition their government in a lawful manner," Cardin said in an interview.Now I don't doubt there were people calling for Pres. Bush's death at some protests, and I think those people should be dealt with by the Secret Service or DHS, just as they'd deal with any threat to the President. But your assertion that the radical law-breaking fringe was at "every protest" seems false given the reporting in the Post.

I hope that the Fusion Centers will stick to producing high-quality reports on real threats, and leave law-abiding citizens -- on both sides of the aisle and everywhere in between -- free to go about our business.

SwampWoman said...

I was very disappointed in our gathering of domestic terrorists at the Jacksonville Landing today. The people knew how to spell, string together coherent sentences, and not a litterbug in the group.

kitanis said...

I read the DHS Document.

At first glance.. I found nothing wrong with it.. until I re-read the document about Veterans and the area that expoused about "constitutional issues" . Then I got mad.

This was written by a bureaucrat.. and I noticed it was leaked a day or two before April 15th..It was deigned to get a certain reaction.. and it did.

I guess.. I have a blue card from my years in the military.. so I am a card carying extremist.. But DHS dose not understand.. I took the oath of enlistment five times.. I still hold myself to that oath even today even though I out now.

Augurwell said...

No.... BUT I do like to put the fear - and spear- into Socialists.

The movie DeJavue with Denzel Washington is one good movie.
Bad Boys II - Will Smith - is a favorite too.

On a more serious note; we agree that international terrorism by Al-Qaida
and Iran is more involved in piracy than they let on; tanker filled with nitrates and fuel-oil and all. !

Hostile Press I suppose... "... is worth 1,000 bayonets to the enemy".

AND now that you mention 'fusion centers' this reminds me of 'tribalfusion' cookies I find being blocked by my cyber security.

With the Constitution being ignored by some elected who have taken an oath to protect it there may be some concern by those who have shirked duty.

... this is just not my cup of tea if you know what I mean, I drink coffee.

~

mors vens said...

Spook, I am looking forward to any commentary you might have for the Prez' meeting with Calderon today. Once again CNN has reported the "facts" that if the Assault weapons ban is renewed all of the border violence will magically cease. I am disgusted.

HL Shancken said...

Being scornful of or mocking Communist Party initiatives designed to destroy you must surely be born of ignorance of your enemy and seals your ultimate fate.

You are all staring at pure evil and yet you mock it. Do you think this is wise?

Is it wise to be dismissive of an organization that since its founding in 1903 with just 17 charter members by 1917 had grown to 20,000 and seized control of the largest country in the world, which by 1960 controlled the lives of a billion people, which has killed 150 million people, and which has always, since the very first, described the United States as its Main Enemy? Do you really think this is wise?

Do you think ignorance, denial, and derision will save you?

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2009/04/re-are-you-domestic-terrorist.html

Alison said...

In general, but particularly to Opus -

This DHS assessment was begun before the change in administration... meaning that it was the Bush administration's idea. Still mad? They did an identical assessment of left-wing groups.

It's hardly reflective of a new political agenda at DHS under Napolitano, unless you think that the government should be covering up reports that make the conservative movement look bad, like Bush did for all those years.