Alert the Media, and DHS Urban Legends of Right-Wing Extremism

I’ll be appearing on the Jack Riccardi show this morning at 11:30 am CT.  Jack broadcasts out of San Antonio on KTSA 550 AM.  The station has an Internet stream, so even if you don’t live in San Antonio, you can listen live to the show.

Jack wants to discuss the DHS report on “right-wing extremism”, a warning on threats that the DHS never bothers to quantify and explicitly says that don’t exist to their knowledge.  What could be worse?  Tom Maguire discovers that the authors of this political hit piece can’t even research what little data they provide.  They use an April 2007 court case to justify their fear of ethnic violence, but never bother to look at the actual court documents.  Here’s the argument from the report:

— (U) In April 2007, six militia members were arrested for various weapons and explosives violations. Open source reporting alleged that those arrested had discussed and conducted surveillance for a machinegun attack on Hispanics.

Well, that was what the media reported, but court documents and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms debunked the story:

At a May 1 bail hearing, ATF agent Adam Nesmith seemed to testify that the government had evidence of the five militia members plotting a machine-gun attack on Mexican immigrants in the nearby town of Remlap. Nesmith described a reconnaissance mission the militia allegedly conducted in Remlap and told the judge, “There was a plan to attack a group of Mexicans in the Remlap area with their machine guns.” The judge denied bail, and the alleged backwoods militia machine-gun plot made news across the country. One typical headline the day after the bail hearing read, “Alabamians planned to machine gun Mexicans.”

But there is no mention of any specific plan to kill Mexicans in the search warrant affidavits or any other court document related to the Alabama Free Militia defendants, and the ATF says Nesmith’s testimony was misconstrued. [ATF regional director] Cavanaugh told the Intelligence Report that Nesmith did not mean to suggest that the defendants plotted to machine-gun Mexicans. What Nesmith meant to convey, Cavanaugh said, is that the militia members were planning to steal machine guns from Mexicans in Remlap — not to shoot the Mexicans with machine guns. “The purpose of the [reconnaissance] trip described by the agent in the testimony was to go to those Latinos and take their machine guns, which the militia believed them to possess,” Cavanaugh said.

Great work, DHS! They’re quoting debunked wire reports rather than researching the actual cases. Tom continues:

Yet this is one of only two examples cited of racist militia incidents triggered by the immigration debate. And the DHS cites “Open source reporting” as making the allegation. My goodness, other open source reporting debunked it – can’t the DHS analysts even make a phone call to BATFE to confirm this, or buy a subscription to Google? Or do they just believe any damn thing they read it if suits their storyline (hmm, can the Times handle the new competition? Can the Huffington Post?)

The other example cited by DHS doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, either, but read Tom’s post to see why.

Clearly, this is not just a political hit piece designed to invalidate opposition to Barack Obama’s policies, but a shoddy piece of work in every other sense as well.

Update: I had the time wrong initially; it should be 11:30 CT. My apologies.