Janet Napolitano continues to thrash around for any rationalization she can find for the DHS report that painted political organizing on abortion, federalism, and immigration as potential national-security threats and called returining military vets a danger to the country they served. Yesterday on CNN, Napolitano tried explaining that the DHS doesn’t see these vets as threats. The DHS sees them as saps who don’t know any better than to fall into extremist traps:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Sunday portrayed veterans as victims – not perpetrators – of right-wing extremism as she sought to combat the political controversy arising out of an April 14 Homeland Security memo warning that returning soldiers could be ripe for domestic terrorism participation.
“The report is not saying that veterans are extremists. Far from it,” Napolitano said on CNN’s State of the Union. “What it is saying is returning veterans are targets of right-wing extremist groups that are trying to recruit those to commit violent acts within the country. We want to do all we can to prevent that.”
Yes, the poor dears are victims that obviously can’t decide themselves not to join violent groups … none of which the report bothers to name, by the way. Unlike the report on left-wing extremism, which names several known groups with track records of violence, the DHS report that Napolitano continues to defend never bothers to name an actual threat. Instead, it repeatedly states that DHS has no data on actual threats:
The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.
And how does the DHS identify “domestic rightwing* terrorists”?
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly 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 antigovernment, 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.
So the Federalist Society has gone from being a group that follows the Constitutional tradition to being a potentially dangerous extremist group! And what did the report actually say about veterans? Page 2, the first mention of veterans in the report, makes veterans sound more like perps than victims:
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.
That doesn’t say that terrorist groups will exploit senseless veterans and trick them into becoming violent terrorists. It presumes that veterans have a predisposition to become violent extremists because of the difficulties that they have “reintegrating into their communities.” It’s the latest corollary to the every-Vietnam-vet-is-a-powderkeg belief. It’s not until two pages later that the report mentions the issue of recruitment and radicalization. And on page 8, we get this rather large section header:
(U) Disgruntled Military Veterans
Napolitano is not only condescending towards veterans in her latest rationalization, she’s being completely dishonest about the way the DHS assessment treats returning combat vets. The report identifies them as a potential national-security threat to the country which they defended on the front lines.
DHS needs to stick to watching the groups themselves, and not people exercising their First Amendment rights and returning military veterans. In fact, the first thing Napolitano should do is to actually get threat data, instead of making up a bunch of scare stories about political dissent while not bothering to identify actual known racist and white-supremacist groups with track records of violence who should be watched.