About that DHS report…

ABOUT THAT DHS REPORT…. The right’s response to a DHS report on radical, potentially violent, right-wing extremists has been quite intense, for reasons that have not stood up well to scrutiny. But the more details emerge, the more it seems Republicans who were outraged by the report didn’t think this one through,

For one thing, DHS produced a similar report on radical, potentially violent, left-wing extremists. For another, the FBI published a similar report about the far-right fringe and potential security threats in 2008, and no one seemed to raise an eyebrow.

But perhaps most importantly, if the DHS report is evidence of some kind of nefarious White House agenda, it seems Obama’s Republican detractors are complaining about the wrong White House.

The report on right wing groups, it turns out, was prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of DHS’ Homeland Environment and Threat Analysis Division. That Division falls under the purview of the Under Secretary For Intelligence & Analysis — or, in this case, the Acting Under Secretary For Intelligence & Analysis Roger Mackin, who was appointed on September 10, 2008 by noted left wing partisan George W. Bush.

Yep, the report about right-wing extremists that have Republicans worked up was, in fact, requested and prepared by Bush administration officials, an inconvenient fact that might undermine this week’s talking points a bit.

On a related note, there seems to be specific concerns about criticism of U.S. servicemen and women. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters yesterday, “To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable.”

It’s probably worth re-emphasizing, then, that the point of the law-enforcement report wasn’t that veterans are right-wing extremists, but rather, that right-wing extremists might target veterans for recruitment. Indeed, Bush’s Justice Department prepared a similar report in 2008 titled, “White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel Since 9/11,” which found that while veterans don’t make up a large percentage of “white supremacist extremists,” they have sometimes taken leadership roles in the movement.

Oddly enough, when this report was distributed to law-enforcement officials last year, Boehner and Republicans didn’t say a word. It’s almost as if their goal is to score cheap political points off a misunderstood DHS report, without concern for the facts.

For what it’s worth, the Republican uproar drew the attention of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who responded yesterday in a written statement: “Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.”