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More on the Homeland Security Extremist Report

By Ed O'Keefe

Following up on yesterday's post that noted many saying the Holocaust Museum shootings vindicate a Homeland Security intelligence analysis on right-wing extremism (pdf), let's review two recent thought-provoking analyses on the issue. (Make sure to also peruse the comments left behind by readers.)

The first comes from David Silverberg, editor of Homeland Security Today. In late May he wrote that DHS should stop apologizing for the report and discussed the "two truths" that emerged from the situation:

One is the difficult position of DHS in sharing intelligence. Unlike the FBI and CIA, DHS has to work with a broad swath of state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement agencies. Alerting them to possible rightwing extremist terrorist activities was entirely within the DHS mandate. The report was unclassified, although marked "law enforcement sensitive." These local agencies have to be aware of this threat and so the report was given wide distribution. That, however, brought with it the risk of leakage for political reasons. It's a risk that the intelligence community routinely runs with its products although agencies like the CIA have the advantage of serving a small number of cleared customers. DHS has to work with a far more unwieldy apparatus of varied political orientations and agendas. Still, given the mantra of info-sharing, that's exactly what [the Office of Intelligence and Analysis] did in this instance.
This will not be the last time that DHS-distributed sensitive material will leak from its law enforcement partners. We've been hearing endless complaints from the states and locals that they don't get enough federal intelligence to be effective. Well, in this instance the intel was shared and this is the result. There will be more such instances. Everyone should get used to it.
Second, it's time to stop apologizing, to focus on the threat that the report identified and for Napolitano to back up her analysts. The growing danger is not that DHS is monitoring potential extremist terrorists but that hanging out its own analysts to dry will put a chill on realistic, objective intelligence analysis of both domestic and foreign threats. In fact, there was nothing untoward in the report. It was a finished, polished, objective, carefully written analysis of the threat of domestic terrorism from a potential source. No service is being done the nation by freezing realistic threat analysis due to political correctness from either the left or right extremes.
Anyone involved in information gathering, analysis and dissemination, whether from open sources through journalism, or classified sources through intelligence analysis and assessment, is familiar with the dilemma: Realistic analysis brings with it uncomfortable truths that people don't like to hear. That's what happened in this instance. The authors of this report were doing their jobs and they're being punished for it. In fact, if anyone deserves an apology it's the I&A analysts at DHS. It's time for Napolitano to stop apologizing and start backing up her people.

In today's New York Times, Paul Krugman, suggests that conservative media outlets are egging along the activities of eager extremists:

Today, as in the early years of the Clinton administration but to an even greater extent, right-wing extremism is being systematically fed by the conservative media and political establishment.
Now, for the most part, the likes of Fox News and the R.N.C. haven’t directly incited violence, despite Bill O’Reilly’s declarations that “some” called Dr. Tiller “Tiller the Baby Killer,” that he had “blood on his hands,” and that he was a “guy operating a death mill.” But they have gone out of their way to provide a platform for conspiracy theories and apocalyptic rhetoric, just as they did the last time a Democrat held the White House.

Krugman calls out Fox News' Glenn Beck, the editorial pages of The Washington Times and Rush Limbaugh for the "mainstreaming of right-wing extremism."

"Yes, the worst terrorist attack in our history was perpetrated by a foreign conspiracy," Krugman concludes. "But the second worst, the Oklahoma City bombing, was perpetrated by an all-American lunatic. Politicians and media organizations wind up such people at their, and our, peril."

Read Krugman's column and Silverberg's analysis in full and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 12, 2009; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  FY-Eye  
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Next: Eye Opener: June 15, 2009

Comments

It is dangerous and disturbing what is going on in our United States of America.
The hate, anger, distrust and hypocrisy being touted by the media and the support of this unAmerican activity by the republican party leaves one to wonder what has happened to country first, survial first qualifications for a politician.
The republicans have allowed theirselves to be dictated to by these radicals.
They have become our domestic terrorists.

Posted by: kathlenec | June 14, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The DHS report drew fire because of HOW it portrayed those who might be RIGHT WING extrimests as Vets and Firearms owners. There are millions of Vets who are very partriotic and the report may have been working from a worst case steriotype. There are 80 million gun owners or more in this country and the vast majority are fine patriotic citizens. To lump them in with domestic terrorist or hate groups is the worst kind of simplistic steriotype. It is similar to the arguments made by racists in the 1960s. One armed terrorist does not paint all gun owners as right wing threats to the nation. The analyists at DHS need to be more specific in how the catagorize any threat. (yes, I've seen the report.)

Posted by: RichardBunn | June 15, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

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