Veterans groups are furious at the paper's suggestion that law enforcement look out for disgruntled military veterans, as it noted "the willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war." Thanks for your service, vets, but Homeland Security is stuck on Oklahoma City bomber and Persian Gulf War vet Timothy McVeigh.
More mushy thinking from the memo: "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. They also opposed free trade agreements, arguing that these arrangements resulted in Americans losing jobs to countries such as Mexico." Many Democrats have opposed illegal immigration and NAFTA, too. And what business is that of Homeland Security, unless the individuals broke federal law?
When I queried the White House, a spokesperson stood by this administration comment to the Washington Times: "The president is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned."
That's not good enough. The administration should make it clear that it will not tolerate any hint that the federal government might be on the lookout for conservatives and right-leaning veterans.
Yes, I know there have been violent right-wing nuts who have aggrandized criminal thuggish behavior -- even killing people -- under the wrongly assumed cloak of conservatism. And I want the government to catch those individuals, prosecute and punish them to the full extent of the law.
If Homeland Security officials want to issue an advisory that names such groups and provides information that helps local law enforcement understand the modus operandi of criminal enterprises so that criminals can be apprehended, go to it, guys.
But when the Department of Homeland Security releases an assessment that opines that the "historical election of an African American president and prospect of policy changes are providing to be a driving force for right-wing extremist recruitment and radicalization," it makes me worry about the brains in DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis.