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Bipartisan team stunned by 'extremism' allegations
Posted By Bob Unruh On 04/17/2009 @ 10:50 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.
Members of both sides of the aisle in Congress are expressing outrage and seeking an investigation into a new Department of Homeland Security report on “extremism” that targets U.S. military veterans, opponents of abortion and supporters of other conservative causes.
U.S. Rep Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., was horrified at what he described as a “shoddy, unsubstantiated” document that was delivered to law enforcement across the nation.
“I am concerned at what appears to be a shoddy, unsubstantiated, and potentially politicized work product that has been disseminated to the Intelligence Community, and law enforcement as a finished intelligence product,” he wrote to DHS chief Janet Napolitano. “The report appears at best sloppy and unprofessional and at worst a representation of political bias being passed off as intelligence analysis by DHS.”
According to the Washington Times, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said he was “dumbfounded” that the report was, in fact, released.
“This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans – including war veterans,” Thompson told Napolitano in a letter.
“As I am certain you agree, freedom of association and freedom of speech are guaranteed to all Americans – whether a person’s beliefs, whatever their political orientation, are ‘extremist’ or not,” Thompson said.
He said he was disappointed and surprised the report would be issued. And he demanded to know what types of further activities DHS had planned regarding the issue.
The federal agency’s report is called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”
It already has generated a lawsuit by talk radio host Michael Savage.
As WND reported, a public-interest legal group submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the DHS demanding to know why it calls Americans who support the 2nd Amendment and dislike lax immigration “extremists.”
Now Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, is offering his criticism and demanding to know why, as ranking member of the committee, “which is responsible for authorizing funding for this office,” he was not given a copy of the report but had to obtain it from open sources on the Internet.
“I would appreciate clarifications as to why this report was not provided to the committee and an understanding of what other reports DHS may be failing to provide to the committee,” he wrote.
He also wanted some clarifications:
“The report purports to analyze ‘rightwing extremism’ without defining the term or specifying by name a single group that falls into this category,” he said. “According to the imprecise analysis contained in the report, ‘rightwing extremists’ could include groups dedicated to opposing abortion or illegal immigration as well as those who may not agree with the new administration’s ‘perceived’ stance on several issues including illegal immigration and restrictions on firearm ownership.
“On their face, these statements may appear to cast legitimate viewpoints – in fact some viewpoints that recently constituted administration policy – in a suspicious light. Without any specific reporting to support such vague statements it is easy to see how they are offensive to many people,” he wrote.
A spokesman for the federal agency told WND today that the DHS would refuse to identify the actual authors of the report. The agency also would not comment on any procedures or actions it may take in response to the controversy over the report.
But to the Associated Press, a DHS official confirmed there were concerns by the agency’s office of civil rights about some of the language in the report.
It was issued anyway, the agency said.
Napolitano earlier described the charges in the report as assessments, “not an accusation.”
Hoekstra called on the ombudsman for the office of director of National Intelligence to investigate the report itself.
“Our nation’s veterans and hardworking families that may be facing tough times should not be viewed as a threat and neither should citizens who oppose out-of-control federal spending and tax hikes,” he wrote.
The congressman, who has sponsored a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of parents to raise their children, also was disappointed by the report’s assertion without substantiation that unemployed parents may foster “rightwing extremist” beliefs in their children.
“Beyond apologizing for its obviously offensive references, the administration needs to get to the bottom of how and why a report like this was written, and put standards in place to keep it from happening again,” Hoekstra said.
“I would also appreciate an explanation of the assertion, which is somehow tied to ‘rightwing extremists,’ that there is a ‘perception’ that illegal immigrants were taking away jobs from Americans in the 1990s because they were willing to work for lower wages,” the congressman wrote.
“Regardless of one’s view on immigration policy matters, it cannot be seriously disputed that the protection of the American workforce is one of the driving considerations for the current structure of U.S. immigration law. For DHS, which is charged with administering the immigration laws, to apparently not understand this core principle is shocking,” he added.
“When may we expect the office to start consistently producing quality intelligence products?” he wondered.
“It is a civil rights action brought under the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution, challenging the policy, practice, and custom of the United States Government that targets for disfavored treatment those individuals and groups that are considered to be ‘rightwing extremists,’” the complaint said.
According to the federal government, characteristics of members of the suspect group of people include those who:
The case seeks a declaration that the DHS policy violates the First and Fifth Amendments, a court order permanently enjoining the policy and its application to the plaintiffs’ speech and other activities, and the award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
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