Are you attending a Tea Party in your town today? Do you attend any rallies expressing your opinion on public policy or federal laws? Are you a returning veteran from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars? Congratulations. You are now considered to be a rightwing extremist by the Department of Homeland Security.
A report was published and distributed by the Department of Homeland Security to "federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials". The report is labeled as an assessment and the date on it is April 7, 2009. The title? "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." Nice.
The faceless bureaucrats behind this piece of work are referred to as "the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division", in coordination with the FBI.
"The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic right wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence." According to an article at World Net Daily, though there is no specific information to cause heightened alarm, the office blames the state of our country's economy and the election of the first black American President as the sources of aggravation that may push "right wing extremists" over the edge.
The assessment admits that membership in known extreme groups has declined and that there has been no increase in violence. Yet, the agency insists it will be working with state and local "partners" to track regional increases.
Most heinous is the part of the report that claims veterans are an increased law enforcement risk. The agency claims the extremists are recruiting and radicalizing returning veterans. The FBI reports only a minuscule number of incidents of violence involving returning veterans yet the flag is raised and the group is targeted by the agency.
A response from the American Legion came in letter form to Secretary Janet Napolitano:
Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
April 13, 2009
Dear Secretary Napolitano,
On behalf of the 2.6 million-member American Legion, I am stating my concern about your April 7 report, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence and Recruitment.”
First, I want to assure you that The American Legion has long shared your concern about white supremacist and anti-government groups. In 1923, when the Ku Klux Klan still yielded unspeakable influence in this country, The American Legion passed Resolution 407. It resolved, in part, “…we consider any individual, group of individuals or organizations, which creates, or fosters racial, religious or class strife among our people, or which takes into their own hands the enforcement of law, determination of guilt, or infliction of punishment, to be un-American, a menace to our liberties, and destructive to our fundamental law…”
The best that I can say about your recent report is that it is incomplete. The report states, without any statistical evidence, “The possible passage of new 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 American Legion is well aware and horrified at the pain inflicted during the Oklahoma City bombing, but Timothy McVeigh was only one of more than 42 million veterans who have worn this nation’s uniform during wartime. To continue to use McVeigh as an example of the stereotypical “disgruntled military veteran” is as unfair as using Osama bin Laden as the sole example of Islam.
Your report states that “Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages.” Secretary Napolitano, this is more than a perception to those who have lost their job. Would you categorize union members as “Right Wing extremists”?
In spite of this incomplete, and, I fear, politically-biased report, The American Legion and the Department of Homeland Security share many common and crucial interests, such as the Citizen Corps and disaster preparedness. Since you are a graduate of New Mexico Girls State, I trust that you are very familiar with The American Legion. I would be happy to meet with you at a time of mutual convenience to discuss issues such as border security and the war on terrorism. I think it is important for all of us to remember that Americans are not the enemy. The terrorists are.
David K. Rehbein
The American Legion
If President Obama was sincere in his claims of bringing more open government and preserving freedom of speech to American citizens, he would demand the firing of the employees responsible for this report. Harassing citizens for holding political views is not true to our basic freedoms.
Remember when the anti-war protesters were screaming about dissent being patriotic? The anti-war protests were attended by people of all walks of life and political persuasions. The same is true of other protests, whether they are the Tea Party protests, illegal immigration protests, or pro-life and pro-choice rallies. It is hard to imagine all of these participants being labeled as "right wing extremists". These are all basic human rights. Aren't both those on the left and right concerned about human rights? Does that make a person an extremist?
The Department of Homeland Security was not needed when it was created. It has proven to be exactly what critics of the department's creation predicted - another giant, out of control government agency. It is a disgrace.