DHS Sees Resurgence in Rightwing Extremism

Updated below

“The consequences of a prolonged economic downturn–including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit–could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities,” according to a new assessment (pdf) from the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

“In addition, the historical election of an African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization.”

“A recent example of the potential violence associated with a rise in rightwing extremism may be found in the shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 4 April 2009,” the DHS report said.

See “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis, April 7, 2009 (For Official Use Only).

The report has drawn attention from several conservative bloggers and talk show hosts, who interpreted the report’s references to right-wing positions on abortion, immigration and gun control as defamatory in this context.  The “document targets most conservatives and libertarians in the country,” according to The Liberty Papers blog.

The report, however, describes “extremists” more narrowly as those “that are primarily hate-oriented” and those that “reject federal authority,” not those who simply oppose abortion or immigration.

A 2001 report prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy examined “Left-Wing Extremism: The Current Threat” (pdf).

DHS reportedly issued its own analysis of left-wing extremism earlier this year. (See Leftwing Extremists Likely to Increase Use of Cyber Attacks over the Coming Decade [pdf], Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis, January 26, 2009.)

Update: “Unfortunately, this report [on Rightwing Extremism] appears to have blurred the line between violent belief, which is Constitutionally protected, and violent action, which is not,” wrote House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson in an April 14 letter (pdf) to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “I am disappointed and surprised that the Department would allow this report to be disseminated to its State, local and tribal partners in its present form.”

In an April 15 statement on the report, Secretary Napolitano said: “We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs.”

No Responses to “DHS Sees Resurgence in Rightwing Extremism”

  1. George Smith April 16, 2009 at 12:59 PM #

    Very few get upset or even find newsworthy most of the day to day operations of the Department of Homeland Security. Very few care that one of its primary functions is the siphoning of taxpayer money into the national and private security industry or that its budget exceeds that of much older agencies, like the FDA, which actually exist to provide immediate benefit to Americans.

    However, release this report and every news agency and blog takes it up, using it to claim political bias in analysis.

    Well, DHS has also analyzed and funded many things which would seem to exist to look at the left as a potential source of trouble.

    For an example, see this story on a Texas anti-terror fusion analysis center here.

    This was an archetype for the kind of behavior in which people show they really don’t care a fig what’s going on day to day in the name of counter-terrorism and keeping the country secure. But if someone can scream they’ve been the object of unfair calumnies in an official document, then everyone gins up the oceans of outrage until leaders are forced to apologize for what amounted to a very tepid and brief analysis.

    Then we can all go back to sleep while DHS gets more money for widgets and process to identify threats which don’t amount to much and security requirements which don’t actually provide much added security, but which do make it easier to detain or jail non-criminals on minor infractions and irregularities in documentation and records.

  2. MILNEWS.ca April 18, 2009 at 8:55 AM #

    Oopsie, it appears not all the bureaucratic hoops were jumped through according to this media report:

    “Intelligence analysts at the Homeland Security Department ignored objections by civil-liberties officials before sending out a controversial report on the resurgence of domestic right-wing extremism, a department official confirmed Friday.

    The “intra-department disconnect” between the department’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and its Office of Intelligence and Analysis that prepared the 10-page assessment, was flagged in a letter Friday by Rep. Pete King (R-Seaford) and other Republicans on the House Committee on Homeland Security….” (more on link)

    Seems this little bit may be getting tweaked at some point, too:
    “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. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

    Good catch, Steven – thanks for sharing the “before” version, and looking forward to seeing the “after” version.

  3. Howard Lauther June 2, 2009 at 11:52 AM #

    At the very least, try to get your facts straight. “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” was created by the Bush Administration on January 23, 2007, long before most people had even heard of Barrack Obama. Since then, it’s been constantly updated with data which is being continually developed by the use of warrantless wiretaps and other tools via in the Patriot Act, which is unconstitutional. And, as mentioned above, in 2001 the Bush Administration also created a leftwing watch list entitled, “Leftwing Extremists Likely to Increase Use of Cyber Attacks over the Coming Decade.”