By Robert Romano — Remember the 2009 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memo on supposed right-wing extremism?
It was the one that defined the ideology as “groups, movements, and adherents that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority” and “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
This was the same memo that suggested veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan might be recruited by terrorists.
In one broad swoop, it appeared that the government was targeting millions of Americans solely on the basis of their political beliefs, and even because they had served their country at war. When it became public, it caused a firestorm nationwide.
An Americans for Limited Government (ALG) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request into the memo at the time revealed several sources had been used to develop the intelligence assessment. Many were news stories and some even were outlandish websites.
But the key one to remember is the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center.
At the time ALG President Bill Wilson noted, “Not a single study or report was from any government source,” said Wilson. “There was no evidence of any actual active recruitment of ‘disgruntled veterans’ by these groups, no evidence showing that folks who purchase guns or oppose gun-control legislation are necessarily dangerous, and no evidence that the economic downturn or the election of Barack Obama that is fueling any actual ‘resurgence’ of ‘extremism.’”
“The memo did not illuminate on any actual planned attacks or any groups known to be planning attacks, or any groups with histories of perpetrating attacks that are currently conducting any types of operational recruitment, meeting, or planning attacks,” Wilson added. In other words, there was no evidence presented in the report itself.
Putting a fine point on the matter, he said, “The background DHS used was not based on credible intelligence sources, reporting, and analysis. Instead, what we found is that the Department was apparently surfing the net to see what news stories happened to turn up to support a pre-determined conclusion.”
After the memo became public, Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano issued a statement defending the report, swearing up and down that the government “[does] not — nor will we ever — monitor ideology or political beliefs.”
Then, weeks later, a DHS Domestic Extremism Lexicon, whose release the Department claimed was a mistake, contained 9 pages of terms and political identifications that the DHS linked to potential domestic terrorists. The definition of “rightwing extremism” from the controversial DHS memo also appeared in that report.
Eventually the original memo was withdrawn, and Napolitano was forced to admit in congressional testimony that “The wheels came off the wagon because the vetting process was not followed,” and to boot that “An employee sent it out without authorization.”
Originally, she was defending the report, but once Congress started prying, those involved were promptly thrown under the bus.
That same year, a similar memo was sent out by Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC), a federal “fusion center”, to Missouri law enforcement. In that “threat” advisory, police were told to keep an eye out for Americans concerned about unemployment, taxes, illegal immigration, gangs, border security, abortion, high costs of living, gun restrictions, FEMA, the IRS, and the Federal Reserve.
The MIAC advisory also stated that potential domestic terrorists would be attracted to gun shows, shortwave radios, action movies, movies with white male heroes like Rambo, Tom Clancy novels, and presidential candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin.
Much like the DHS memo, the Southern Poverty Law Center was cited, this time directly in the MIAC memo itself, as a top source of information.
And much like the DHS memo, it was withdrawn by the agency that put it forward, followed by public apologies from government officials. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder (R-MO) even asked that Missouri Public Safety Director John Britt be placed on administrative leave.
And who could forget the written exam administered by the Pentagon that defined “protests” as a form of “low-level terrorism,” raising serious concerns among civil liberties advocates about how the military views the exercise of First Amendment freedoms like civil dissent?
Next up was retired Army Colonel Kevin Benson, seminar leader at the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and former head of the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies, who wrote an article in Small Wars Journal depicting a scenario where a “tea party” militia led by “race-baiting and immigrant-bashing by right-wing demagogues” had overtaken the government of Darlington, South Carolina with the tacit consent of law enforcement and a tea party-sympathizing governor.
Most recently, another report has emerged, “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” by Dr. Arie Perliger, director of terrorism studies at the West Point’s Center for Combating Center (CTC). That was just published on Jan. 15.
This report warns of the rising militancy of so-called “anti-federalists” that Perliger says embrace ideas like “civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government.” And so-called “anti-federalists” who “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights.”
In light of the report, ALG’s Wilson in a letter called on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee to defund the CTC pending withdrawal of the report and the termination of Perliger from public service.
“Not one more dime of taxpayer money should be wasted on CTC, which is indoctrinating our servicemen and women with brazen propaganda against the American people,” Wilson declared.
In that report, the Southern Poverty Law Center was referenced no less than 24 times.
Which is little wonder. That organization appears to have the ear of the entire military, security, and law enforcement establishment nationwide.
While no smoking gun, a recent exchange of emails exposed by Judicial Watch between the Department of Justice and Southern Poverty Law Center, arranging for the organization’s co-founder Morris Dees to speak at a Department event, does reveal the cozy relationship between the nation’s top law enforcement and the organization.
Judicial Watch notes that Southern Poverty Law Center lists as hate groups several conservative organizations like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, and Concerned Women for America.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center has, in the past few years, taken to labeling organizations with conservative views on social issues as ‘hate groups,’” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Fitton added, “Given these fawning emails, one would have thought that a head of state was visiting the Justice Department. The SPLC is an attack group, and it is disturbing that it has premier access to our Department of Justice, which is charged with protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans.”
The fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been used so prominently in three major intelligence assessments by DHS, Missouri’s “fusion center,” and now even at West Point confirms that the organization’s reach into the security apparatus of the U.S. is far and wide indeed.
Wilson said the West Point memo was “part of a wider pattern of targeting Americans by the military and security establishment that ought to be disturbing to all Americans regardless of political stripe.”
Yet, except for some right-leaning outlets and organizations that are crying foul, the story is receiving little attention in the mainstream media.
A recent Pew Research Center poll found 53 percent of Americans view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms.
Perhaps one reason why is on account of a growing body of evidence that the American people are being targeted by security officials, law enforcement, and now the military, singularly based on their political beliefs. And apparently at the behest of a politically motivated, radical left-wing organization. All the while, a complicit or complacent media turns a blind eye.
“When a liberal group like the Pew Research Center finds that more than half of the American people feel the government is a threat to their liberty, this a hardly a fringe concern,” Wilson noted, concluding, “Maybe the American people have every right to be afraid of the government after all.”
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.