Top Homeland Security Democrat objects to DHS report on “right-wing extremism”
posted at 6:38 pm on April 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Janet Napolitano stood her ground earlier today on the DHS report on the supposed “right-wing extremism” of federalism and gun rights, but a key Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security has demanded a better explanation. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) pronounced himself “dumbfounded” at the report, and will ask Napolitano how this report ever got out of her office. Audrey Hudson reports:
The top House Democrat overseeing the Department of Homeland Security is demanding that officials there explain how and why they wrote and released a controversial report identifying veterans as potential terrorist threats.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano that he was “dumbfounded” such a report would be issued.
“This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans — including war veterans,” Mr. Thompson said in the letter sent Tuesday.
“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,” Mr. Thompson said.
Thompson didn’t stop there. He wants an explanation of what “activities” Napolitano has planned with law enforcement officials to monitor legitimate public political activity, as promised at the end of the DHS report. He called himself “particularly struck” by this statement. And well he might; it promises to have government treat political discourse as a subversive activity.
Thompson, it should be noted, is hardly a Blue Dog Democrat. He sued George Bush for supposed Constitutional violations in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (the suit was dismissed). He cast a vote to block the Electoral College representation of Ohio in 2004, attempting to use allegations of voting problems to delegitimize Bush’s victory. He is known as a solid liberal.
Even a solid liberal like Thompson can see an abuse of power by DHS in attacking political discourse that opposes the current administration. Give Thompson his due; we may disagree on policy, but he understands what DHS did here and wants to put a stop to it.