In the interest of full disclosure, I am a past commander of the local American Legion Post in my former home of Manchester, MA. As I was reading through this truly bizarre report put out by the Dept. of Homeland Security, I was outraged at the multiple references made that veterans could be potential threat against the government. As Ed Morrissey at Hot Air points out,
Of all the smears listed in the new DHS warning about “right-wing extremism,” none are more dastardly and despicable than the insinuation that returning military veterans represent a security threat to the nation they willingly served. The Commander of the American Legion has sent the following letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano explaining to her that military veterans are not the enemy
American Legion National Commander David Rehbein wasted no time in expressing the outrage felt by veterans across this nation.
Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
April 13, 2009
Dear Secretary Napolitano,
On behalf of the 2.6 million-member American Legion, I am stating my concern about your April 7 report, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence and Recruitment.”
First, I want to assure you that The American Legion has long shared your concern about white supremacist and anti-government groups. In 1923, when the Ku Klux Klan still yielded unspeakable influence in this country, The American Legion passed Resolution 407. It resolved, in part, “…we consider any individual, group of individuals or organizations, which creates, or fosters racial, religious or class strife among our people, or which takes into their own hands the enforcement of law, determination of guilt, or infliction of punishment, to be un-American, a menace to our liberties, and destructive to our fundamental law…”
The best that I can say about your recent report is that it is incomplete. The report states, without any statistical evidence, “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.”
The American Legion is well aware and horrified at the pain inflicted during the Oklahoma City bombing, but Timothy McVeigh was only one of more than 42 million veterans who have worn this nation’s uniform during wartime. To continue to use McVeigh as an example of the stereotypical “disgruntled military veteran” is as unfair as using Osama bin Laden as the sole example of Islam.
Your report states that “Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages.” Secretary Napolitano, this is more than a perception to those who have lost their job. Would you categorize union members as “Right Wing extremists”?
In spite of this incomplete, and, I fear, politically-biased report, The American Legion and the Department of Homeland Security share many common and crucial interests, such as the Citizen Corps and disaster preparedness. Since you are a graduate of New Mexico Girls State, I trust that you are very familiar with The American Legion. I would be happy to meet with you at a time of mutual convenience to discuss issues such as border security and the war on terrorism. I think it is important for all of us to remember that Americans are not the enemy. The terrorists are.
David K. Rehbein
The American Legion
The entire report is filled with generalities and offers no specifics for any of its claims and assessments. Michelle Malkin tracked down DHS officials to verify if this report was indeed for real.
Well, the press office got back to me and verified that the document is indeed for real.
They were very defensive — preemptively so — in asserting that it was not a politicized document and that DHS had done reports on “leftwing extremism” in the past. I have covered DHS for many years and am quite familiar with past assessments they and the FBI have done on animal rights terrorists and environmental terrorists. But those past reports have always been very specific in identifying the exact groups, causes, and targets of domestic terrorism, i.e., the ALF, ELF, and Stop Huntingdon wackos who have engaged in physical harassment, arson, vandalism, and worse against pharmaceutical companies, farms, labs, and university researchers.
By contrast, the piece of crap report issued on April 7 is a sweeping indictment of conservatives. And the intent is clear. As the two spokespeople I talked with on the phone today made clear: They both pinpointed the recent “economic downturn” and the “general state of the economy” for stoking “rightwing extremism.” One of the spokespeople said he was told that the report has been in the works for a year. My b.s. detector went off the chart, and yours will, too, if you read through the entire report — which asserts with no evidence that an unquantified “resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalizations activity” is due to home foreclosures, job losses, and…the historical presidential election.
I highly recommend that everyone follow Michelle’s advice and read the entire report. As for the Obama Administration and Janet Napolitano in particular, perhaps they had better broaden their horizons at bit as Founding Bolggers points out.
Does the use of the image of a violent leftist terrorist, while advocating “Revolutionary Change!”, qualify for scrutiny in the DHS report on leftwing extremism? Is there even going to be a report on leftwing extremism?