The economic downturn and the election of the nation’s first black president are contributing to a resurgence of right-wing extremist groups, which had been on the wane since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment distributed to state and local authorities last week.
The report, produced by the Department of Homeland Security, has triggered a backlash among conservatives because it also raised the specter that disgruntled veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan might “boost the capabilities of extremists . . . to carry out violence.”
The assessment noted that domestic security officials had seen no evidence that such groups were planning attacks in the U.S.
From Michelle Malkin’s national column
What and who exactly are President Obama’s homeland-security officials afraid of these days? If you are a member of an active conservative group that opposes abortion, favors strict immigration enforcement, lobbies to protect Second Amendment rights, protests big government, advocates federalism or represents veterans who believe in any of the above, the answer is – you.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has turned her attention away from acts of Islamic jihad on American soil (which she now refers to as “man-caused disasters”). Instead, her department is sounding the alarm over an unquantified “resurgence” in “right-wing extremism activity.” On April 7, the Homeland Security Department sent a nine-page warning memo to law-enforcement offices across the country titled “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”
The report includes a sweeping definition of the threat:
“Right-wing 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 anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
You cannot ignore the context or the timing of this Homeland Security report. It’s no small coincidence that Ms. Napolitano’s agency disseminated the assessment just a week before the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests. The grass-roots events organized by fiscal conservatives, independents, Libertarians and, yes, even some Blue Dog Democrats were fueled by the “current economic and political climate” of bipartisan profligate spending and endless taxpayer-funded bailouts.
The growing success of the loose-knit movement has invited scorn, ridicule and fear-mongering from Obama supporters. Liberal bloggers have likened the Tea Party movement to neo-Nazis, militias and even Weather Underground terrorists.
From the Washington Post
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responded yesterday to widespread criticism of a leaked domestic intelligence report warning local law enforcement agencies to be on guard for right-wing extremist groups seeking new recruits amid the nation’s economic troubles.
“Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States,” Napolitano said in a written statement issued by her department. “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.”
The department’s office of intelligence and analysis distributed the report to state and local law enforcement agencies April 7. The office regularly publishes intelligence analyses of domestic and international threats to the nation’s borders and infrastructure.
The report drew sharp criticism from Republican lawmakers, conservatives and veterans groups, who said it unfairly targeted returning military veterans and gun rights advocates without citing specific threats. The report said the return of military veterans facing challenges with reintegrating into their communities “could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”