Government reports characterizing some returning veterans as possible extremists have echoed the sentiments of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has likened tea party participants to shades of executed mass murderer Timothy McVeigh.
But now it seems the SPLC has been made part of the broad Department of Homeland Security community, with its president, Richard Cohen, helping formulate plans to be submitted to Secretary Janet Napolitano to help “combat violent extremism.”
The issue was raised by Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers organization, which recruits a wide range of peace officers and others to affirm that they will not go beyond the reach of the U.S. Constitution, even if asked to by their government.
“This is no joke,” he told WND. “They’re telling us they’re going to use social welfare and go and indoctrinate parents and children to look for signs of extremism.”
He referenced an online report called the “Countering Violent Extremism Working Group” to which Cohen contributed.
That report, identified as being from Spring 2010, also includes as a contributor Ronald Haddad, the chief of police in Dearborn, Mich., who in recent weeks has seen his officers arrest Christians for talking to Muslims about Jesus on public rights-of-way. Charges later were dismissed.
Also on the panel was Amin Kosseim, a deputy inspector for the New York City Policy Department; Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society; Dalia Mogahed of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies; Asim Rehman of the Muslim Bar Association of New York; Nadia Moumani of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute; and a contributor Rhodes called a “token Christian,” Mary Marr of the Christian Emergency Network.
Agency officials did not return a WND request for comment today.
Cited as “Subject Matter Experts”‘ were Laurie Wood, an analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Arif Alikhan, an assistant secretary for policy development in the DHS, among others.
WND reported earlier when the SPLC issued a scathing report linking the tea party participants to the murderous rage of McVeigh, who killed children and adults alike in his attack on the Oklahoma City federal building.
The SPLC report, “Rage on the Right, The Year in Hate and Extremism,” assailed Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., for “plugging” anti-government ideas and Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt for daring to promote Second Amendment gun rights.
The SPLC’s Mark Potok warned “so-called ‘Patriot’ groups – militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose ‘one-world government’ on liberty-loving Americans – came roaring back after years out of the limelight.”
The report echoed themes in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security report in 2009 that characterized “right-wing extremists” as opponents of abortion and illegal immigration and supporters of gun rights and third-party political candidates.
The SPLC said the “radical right” “caught fire last year.”
Potol said the tea parties “and similar groups that have sprung up in recent months cannot fairly be considered extremist groups, but they are shot through with rich veins of radical ideas, conspiracy theories and racism.”
Now Rhodes says the new document makes it look as though the SPLC is “officially part of the DHS.”
“What does the working group do? Make recommendations on training and how to use all of the local resources – police, social services, media, NGOs, you name it – to fight ‘extremism.’ So, now no need to file a FOIA request to discover that SPLC is writing the reports naming constitutionalists as possible terrorists. Now it is in your face and the mask is off,” Rhodes said.
“Pay attention to who sits on this panel … to who DOESN’T, how they plan on reaching DHS tentacles down into every level of society, and how they talk overtly about the need to utilize local SOCIAL WELFARE and MENTAL HEALTH agencies to counter ‘violent extremism,'” he said.
The report includes comments about “establishing advisory councils/focus groups to include civic and community organizations, faith based and education entities, private sector security, and the media,” as well as efforts to ‘leverage all available public and private resources within a local environment including social services, medical, mental health and family/school counseling professional.”
The use of “social services” options already may have begun. Rhodes cited a developing case of a social services agency in Concord, N.H., that cited a father’s interest in Oath Keepers as one of the reasons to take state custody of a newborn baby away from the parents.
“State and major urban fusion centers play a critical role in local crime prevention efforts in that they receive intelligence-information from federal authorities regarding threats to the homeland and evaluate those threats from a local context,” the report noted.
“These fusions centers must share that knowledge with local law enforcement so that it can inform the community on violent crime reduction efforts,” the report said.
It was one of those fusion centers, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, that in 2009 issued a report linking conservative groups to domestic terrorism and warned law enforcement to watch for vehicles with bumper stickers promoting presidential candidates Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin. It also warned police to watch out for individuals with “radical” ideologies based on Christian views, such as opposing illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes.
Ultimately, Chief James Keathley of the Missouri State Patrol said the release of the report caused him to review the procedures through which the report was released.
He said the report warning about those who hold Christian views was “created by a MIAC employee, reviewed by the MIAC director, and sent immediately to law enforcement agencies across Missouri. The militia report was never reviewed by me or by the Director of Public Safety, John Britt, at any point prior to its issuance. Had that report been reviewed by either my office or by leaders of the Department of Public Safety, it would never have been released to law enforcement agencies.”
‘Hate crimes’ training
The new DHS report suggests that “knowledge regarding specific threats should be blended with awareness of societal and religious practices” and “law enforcement should train communities on what constitutes a hate crime and encourage them to report hate crimes.”
Hate crimes in the U.S. have been adopted largely with special protections for homosexuals. Supporters of a federal hate crimes law signed by President Obama confirmed the law would not necessarily protect a Christian pastor speaking from his own pulpit on the issue of homosexuality.
“DHS should reassess its hate crime training to include understanding extremism and ideological violence,” the committee said.
Only a few weeks after the Missouri report was uncovered, WND reported on a Department of Homeland Security report that warned against the possibility of violence by unnamed “right-wing extremists” concerned about illegal immigration, increasing federal power, restrictions on firearms, abortion and the loss of U.S. sovereignty and singled out returning war veterans as particular threats.
The report, “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” dated April 7, stated “threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts.”
However, the document, first reported by talk-radio host and WND columnist Roger Hedgecock, went on to suggest worsening economic woes, potential new legislative restrictions on firearms and “the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
The report from DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis defined right-wing extremism in the U.S. as “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 anti-government, 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.”
Most notable was the report’s focus on the impact of returning war veterans.
“Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists,” it said. “DHS/I&A is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize veterans in order to boost their violent capacities.”
Said Rhodes, “This is the overt politicization of DHS, to use it against political enemies.”