Homeland Security Report

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miss. congressman ‘dumbfounded’ by ‘rightwing’ report

By Billy Davis

A Batesville police spokesman confirmed that the Batesville Police Department has received a controversial report about “rightwing extremists” from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

BPD Deputy Chief Don Province said the police department, like other law enforcement agencies, routinely receives DHS warnings that describe potential threats related to terrorism.

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The police department accesses the reports once a week through a secure Web site, he said.

The leaked nine-page report, which has been condemned by both Democrats and Republicans, suggests that hot-button issues such as the economy, gun control and illegal immigration, and the first election of a black president, could serve as recruitment tools for white supremacist groups.

The report is entitled, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” 

The report also suggests that veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could be recruited by white supremacists or act as “lone wolf” terrorists, and the report draws parallels from the Gulf War and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, a U.S. Army veteran, to make that point. 

The report was read and approved by DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, who offered a semi-apology for offending veterans but has otherwise defended the report. 

Critics of the report have blasted its vague evaluations, such as a reference to “right-wing  extremist chatter” without citing sources, and its admittance that no “attack planning” has been documented.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, in a letter to Napolitano, said he was “dumbfounded” by the report and “disappointed and surprised” that it was sent to law enforcement agencies.

“This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans, including war veterans,” said Thompson, who chairs the Department of Homeland Security Committee. 

The DHS report drew criticism from David Rehbein, national commander of the American Legion, who told Napolitano in a letter that McVeigh was only one of 42 million American veterans who have returned from war.

“The best that I can say about your recent report is that it is incomplete,” states the commander, suggesting a lack of “statistical evidence” regarding veterans who are returning home. 

The report was also blasted by conservatives for its loose definition of “right-wing extremism,” which it divides into two groups: “hate-oriented,” based on hatred of religious groups or races, and “anti-government,” which favors state or local authority over federal authority.

The report also said “right-wing extremists” sometimes follow a single issue and cited opposition to abortion or immigration as two examples.

Napolitano has said those definitions could have been written more clearly.

Batesville resident Ron Hood, a politically active Republican, said the report uses criteria that describe thousands of Americans who demonstrated at the “tea party” demonstrations last week. 

“Using the criteria they used, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would all be considered domestic terrorists,” Hood said.

The DHS report parallels a similar document in Missouri, where the state’s Department of Public Safety issued an intelligence report about the “modern militia movement.”

 Missouri’s law enforcement agencies were advised that tell-tale signs of a dangerous militia member are anti-abortion and anti-immigration literature, and bumper stickers that demean the federal government and support third-party candidates.