The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is one of the nation's premiere entities fighting discrimination, ethnic and racial discrimination, and hate crimes in the country.
Their magazine, The Intelligence Report, is always a fascinating look into hate groups and hate crimes happening across the country. But it is chilling, scary stuff. We are, quite literally, surrounded by "crazy people"--people so filled with hate, often based on misconceptions and myths--that they join one of the nearly 1,000 hate groups now identified by SPLC. Check out their hate map, which identifies the groups by state.
In the current edition of the Intelligence Report, SPLC features an interview with Daryl Johnson, the man behind the now infamous report Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.
The report was written by Johnson, who has twenty years in intelligence working on domestic terrorism, while he worked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to the article, the report "pointed out that some domestic extremists focused on single issues like immigration and abortion and also noted that extremists were interested in recruiting military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Its analysis of the causes of the surge of right-wing radicalism — the election of the nation's first black president and the economy."
The report was intended for use by local and state law enforcement agencies but was leaked to the press by someone with a political agenda who did not like the fact that far-right conservative groups were potentially being targeted by DHS or police because of the threat they pose to the nation's security. For many years, police have targeted far-left groups like ALF (Animal Liberation Front) and ELF (Earth Liberation Front) due to violent acts they've committed and threatened. So why not also focus on far-right groups due to the violent acts they've committed and threatened?
Well, when conservative bloggers and commentators (who I will not call journalists even though some work for agencies like Fox News--think Michelle Malkin and her ilk) saw the document, they used it to launch attacks against President Obama (claiming he was using DHS to target Republicans just because they were conservative!) and against DHS (claiming its report was politically motivated).
What happened as a result?
"When the right-wing report was leaked and people politicized it, my management got scared and thought DHS would be scaled back. It created an environment where my analysts and I couldn't get our work done. DHS stopped all of our work and instituted restrictive policies. Eventually, they ended up gutting my unit. All of this happened within six to nine months after the furor over the report. Analysts then began leaving DHS. One analyst went to ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement], another to the FBI, a third went to the U.S. Marshals, and so on. There is just one person there today who is still a 'domestic terrorism' analyst.
Since our report was leaked, DHS has not released a single report of its own on this topic. Not anything dealing with non-Islamic domestic extremism—whether it's anti-abortion extremists, white supremacists, 'sovereign citizens,' eco-terrorists, the whole gamut."
Right after the report was pulled by DHS, the following happened.
"In late May 2009, abortion provider George Tiller was shot and killed by an anti-abortion fanatic — just the kind of person the DHS report had warned of in one section. In June 2009, neo-Nazi James von Brunn killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., while trying to storm into the building. Many similar attacks and planned attacks by the radical right have followed, right up to the present day."
So perhaps Johnson is right when he maintains our nation is now more at risk from terrorist attacks because of all this:
"We are more vulnerable. I mean, we lost five good analysts, four of them, including myself, very well-seasoned, considered experts in their topics. We obviously have this serious threat coming from Al Qaeda, or some other international terrorist group, which can result in a mass casualty-producing attack. But I feel that the government has a lot of good intelligence analysts focused on Al Qaeda and similar threats.
What worries me is the fact that our country is under attack from within, from our own radical citizenry. There have been a lot of small-scale attacks lately, whether it's three mail bombs sent to U.S. government facilities in Maryland and D.C., or a backpack bomb placed near a [Martin Luther King Jr. Day] parade in Spokane, Wash., or two police officers gunned down at a traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark., [by antigovernment extremists in May 2010].
"These incidents are starting to add up. Yet our legislators, politicians and national leaders don't appear too concerned about this. So, my greatest fear is that domestic extremists in this country will somehow become emboldened to the point of carrying out a mass-casualty attack, because they perceive that no one is being vigilant about the threat from within. That is what keeps me up at night."
FYI -- Johnson, the author of the report that caused the firestorm, is a conservative Republican. He is not part of some Obama conspiracy to use DHS and police agencies to target Republicans just because there is a Democrat in the White House.He says the report was "not politically motivated." Yet, many of the attacks against him and the report surely were.
So here is the irony people. Because of concerns expressed by conservatives in the media about this report, our nation is now more at risk from attacks by right-wing domestic terrorists (who have committed more terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11 than Muslims!). Should the next big terrorist attack come -- something like what happened in Norway perhaps (by a right-wing terrorist) -- who do you think will get blamed? Obama and DHS.
"Obama cannot keep us safe!"
"Democrats are soft on terrorism!"
And more conservative Republicans will come to power.