The Politicization of the Department of Homeland Security

The Politicization of the Department of Homeland Security

By Lee Cary

The recently released Department of Homeland Security assessment of rightwing extremism represents an alarming politicization of that huge federal agency.


The 10-pages document is entitled: “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”  Its source is the Extremism and Radicalization Branch of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Assessment, of the Department of Homeland Security.  (Imagine the size of their security badges.) Read it here.


American Thinker Jim Byrd’s article entitled “Is Texas A Terror State?” provides a catalogue of transgressions that cumulatively define rightwing extremism. Byrd concludes that, when measured against Governor Rick Perry and Texas, the Lone Star State is solidly in the rightwing extremism column.  (Excluding Kinky Friedman, of course.)


American Thinker Lance Fairchok’s article entitled “DHS, ‘Rightwing Extremism’ and Information Warfare” places the DHS document in the context of information warfare.


Next, let’s crawl into the weeds of this “amateurish” (Fairchok’s accurate assessment) intelligence analysis, and examine its literary style.


First, its language is replete with vague and unsubstantiated hypothetical statements. Here are just seven examples. 


1.  “may”  – “It is unclear if either bill [concerning mandatory firearm registration, and tagging and registration of ammunition] will be passed into law; nonetheless, a correlation may exist between the potential passage of gun control legislation and increased hoarding of ammunition…” (p. 6) (Or, folks are just frightened.)


2.  “may” –  “Because debates over constitutional rights are intense, and parties on all sides have deeply held, sincere, but vastly divergent beliefs, violent extremists may attempt to co-opt the debate and use the controversy as a radicalization tool.”  (Like what ACORN did with the AIG executive homes tour?)


3.  “potential” – “High unemployment, however, has the potential to lead to alienation, thus increasing an individual’s susceptibility to extremist ideas.” (p. 4) (Might those also be leftwing extremist ideas, too?)


4.  “potential” – “DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremist groups’ frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals and small groups toward violence.” (p. 5) (Greater than the collective violence committed by illegal immigrants now held in federal prisons? And what’s “perceived”- as though this perception is not reality – about millions of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. anyway?)  


5.  “could” – “Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn…could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past. (p. 2) (And the implied long list of those confrontations from the past is found where exactly?)


6.  “could” – “Rightwing extremist paranoia of foreign regimes could escalate or be magnified in the event of an economic crisis or military confrontation, harkening back to the ‘New World Order’ conspiracy theories of the 1990’s.” (p. 6) (Refresh our memories, what were all those criminal acts that the NWO conspiracy theorists committed?)


7. “potentially” – A prominent civil rights organization [Which one?] reported in 2006 that large numbers [How many is large?] of potentially violent neo-Nazi, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces.” (p. 7) (The lingering impact of Timothy McVeigh whose motives remain unclear.)


Secondly, it’s full of vague and hypothetical assertions based on anecdotal and dated examples from the mid 1990’s, with just a sprinkling of more current events.


Ruby Ridge, Waco, the Pittsburg head case who recently killed three policemen (No mention of the gunman who killed four policemen in Oakland. Didn’t fit the template, did it?). Three rightwing militia members arrested in Battle Creek Michigan with weapons. In 1996.


So, what was the comparable social trauma behind the mid 90’s events?  (The analysts missed citing the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby.


Lastly, the timing of the release of this document near April 15 is, well, it’s suspicious.  Using the DHS/I&A intelligence assessment composition model:


The possible correlation between the release of this report shortly before the scheduled rightwing-related Tea Parties could indicate an effort by some to potentially distract attention away from the legitimate protests of April 15 against federal taxes in a way similar to the 1998 bombing of a Sudanese aspirin factory. 


A long time ago, a young, U.S. Army, counterintelligence agent submitted reports to a hardscrabble, retired, master sergeant for his review and editing.  It was the rare report that didn’t bounce back covered with words lined-out in red ink, and comments scribbled in the margins like “Says who?” “How do you know that?” “Prove it.”


If he edited the DHS/I&A’s intelligence assessment, it’d come back looking like a CSI crime scene.

Page Printed from: at April 15, 2009 – 05:17:53 PM EDT

Tax Day Becomes Protest Day

Tax Day Becomes Protest Day

How the tea parties could change American politics. 

Today American taxpayers in more than 300 locations in all 50 states will hold rallies — dubbed “tea parties” — to protest higher taxes and out-of-control government spending. There is no political party behind these rallies, no grand right-wing conspiracy, not even a 501(c) group like

[Commentary] Reuters

A rally and march in protest of higher taxes in Santa Barbara, Calif., April 4.

So who’s behind the Tax Day tea parties? Ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize. For a number of years, techno-geeks have been organizing “flash crowds” — groups of people, coordinated by text or cellphone, who converge on a particular location and then do something silly, like the pillow fights that popped up in 50 cities earlier this month. This is part of a general phenomenon dubbed “Smart Mobs” by Howard Rheingold, author of a book by the same title, in which modern communications and social-networking technologies allow quick coordination among large numbers of people who don’t know each other.

In the old days, organizing large groups of people required, well, an organization: a political party, a labor union, a church or some other sort of structure. Now people can coordinate themselves.

We saw a bit of this in the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, with things like Howard Dean’s use of Meetup, and Barack Obama’s use of Facebook. But this was still social-networking in support of an existing organization or campaign. The tea-party protest movement is organizing itself, on its own behalf. Some existing organizations, like Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions and FreedomWorks, have gotten involved. But they’re involved as followers and facilitators, not leaders. The leaders are appearing on their own, and reaching out to others through blogs, Facebook, chat boards and alternative media.

The protests began with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., who organized a demonstration on Feb. 16. As word of this spread, rallies in Denver and Mesa, Ariz., were quickly organized for the next day. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli’s Feb. 19 “rant heard round the world” in which he called for a “Chicago tea party” on July Fourth. The tea-party moniker stuck, but angry taxpayers weren’t willing to wait until July. Soon, tea-party protests were appearing in one city after another, drawing at first hundreds, and then thousands, to marches in cities from Orlando to Kansas City to Cincinnati.

As word spread, people got interested in picking a common date for nationwide protests, and decided on today, Tax Day, as the date. As I write this, various Web sites tracking tea parties are predicting anywhere between 300 and 500 protests at cities around the world. A Google Map tracking planned events, maintained at the Web site, shows the United States covered by red circles, with new events being added every day.

The movement grew so fast that some bloggers at the Playboy Web site — apparently unaware that we’ve entered the 21st century — suggested that some secret organization must be behind all of this. But, in fact, today’s technology means you don’t need an organization, secret or otherwise, to get organized. After considerable ridicule, the claim was withdrawn, but that hasn’t stopped other media outlets from echoing it.

There’s good news and bad news in this phenomenon for establishment politicians. The good news for Republicans is that, while the Republican Party flounders in its response to the Obama presidency and its programs, millions of Americans are getting organized on their own. The bad news is that those Americans, despite their opposition to President Obama’s policies, aren’t especially friendly to the GOP. When Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele asked to speak at the Chicago tea party, his request was politely refused by the organizers: “With regards to stage time, we respectfully must inform Chairman Steele that RNC officials are welcome to participate in the rally itself, but we prefer to limit stage time to those who are not elected officials, both in Government as well as political parties. This is an opportunity for Americans to speak, and elected officials to listen, not the other way around.”

Likewise, I spoke to an organizer for the Knoxville tea party who said that no “professional politicians” were going to be allowed to speak, and he made a big point of saying that the protest wasn’t an anti-Obama protest, it was an anti-establishment protest. I’ve heard similar things from tea-party organizers in other cities, too. Though critics will probably try to write the tea parties off as partisan publicity stunts, they’re really a post-partisan expression of outrage.

Of course, it won’t be the same everywhere. There are no national rules, and organizers of each protest are doing things the way they want. And that’s the good news and the bad news for Democrats. It’s not a big Republican effort. It’s a big popular effort. But a mass movement of ordinary people who don’t feel that their voices are being heard doesn’t bode well for the party that positioned itself as the organ of hope and change.

Will these flash crowds be a flash in the pan? It’s possible that people who demonstrate today will find that experience cathartic enough — or exhausting enough — that that will be it. But it’s more likely that the tea-party movement will have an impact on the 2010 and 2012 elections, and perhaps beyond.

What’s most striking about the tea-party movement is that most of the organizers haven’t ever organized, or even participated, in a protest rally before. General disgust has drawn a lot of people off the sidelines and into the political arena, and they are already planning for political action after today.

Cincinnati organizer Mike Wilson, a novice organizer who drew 5,000 people to a rally on March 15, is now planning to create a political action committee and a permanent political organization to press for lower taxes and reduced spending. Tucson tea party organizer Robert Mayer told me that his organization will focus on city council elections in the fall as its next priority. And there’s lots of Internet chatter about ways of taking things further after today’s protests.

This influx of new energy and new talent is likely to inject new life into small-government politics around the nation. The mainstream Republican Party still seems limp and disorganized. This grassroots effort may revitalize it. Or the tea-party movement may lead to a new third party that may replace the GOP, just as the GOP replaced the fractured and hapless Whigs.

Mr. Reynolds is the author of “An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths” (Thomas Nelson, 2006). He will be covering the tea party protests today at

DHS, ‘Rightwing Extremism’ and Information Warfare

DHS, ‘Rightwing Extremism’ and Information Warfare

By Lance Fairchok

The Homeland Security Assessment targeting mainstream conservatism was amateurish, poorly written and its logic absurdly shallow. It’s a shot across the bow in the unfolding information warfare.

The DHS Intelligence Assessment Document marked “For Official Use Only” and entitled; Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,  was released to law enforcement agencies nationwide. Its stated purpose was to “deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.” Read the entire document here.

If this DHS Assessment is an example of the kind of analysis our decision makers receive from our intelligence agencies, we are in far worse straits than I had imagined.  It is amateurish, poorly written and its logic is absurdly shallow.  It sounds as if it was cobbled together from bits and pieces of dated research to quickly fill a short notice requirement.  I suspect it was not intended to inform or educate law enforcement first responders and decision makers, so much as it was designed to shape their perceptions in the information war the Left is waging on the American people.


Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.


The statement “they have not yet turned to attack planning” has the ring of inevitability to it, an assumption that attacks will come because of race and that it is impossible to object to Obama simply because of his radical politics. We are presented no evidence or example of how “Rightwing extremists have capitalized” because I suspect that their evidence would fall firmly under protected speech, and rightly subject to criticism. More importantly it would reveal the ideological underpinnings of the authors.


Anti-American rhetoric, such as calls for revolution and hate speech from the Radical Left has been over the top for many decades, yet we endure another fabrication of “potential” rightist conspiracies. With tens of thousands of Islamic Jihadist attacks since 9-11, and less than half a dozen “right wing extremist” examples in the last 20 years, one wonders how much critical analysis went into this nonsensical report. By their admission the threat has been merely words, but unlike Islamic extremism where words often equate to action, the opposite has been true of America’s fanatics. 


Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts. Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn-including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit-could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.


Violence prone fringe groups certainly exist in this country, and their political and ideological motivations run a wide gamut from environmentalism, to gay rights, to anarchy, to white, Hispanic and black supremacy.  The issues the DHS study claims are the rallying points for radicalism and extremist recruitment are exactly those that animate the national political debate; abortion, illegal immigration, gun rights, race equality and exceptionalism, jobs and how the economic crisis is being handled. It presents little or no evidence for its conclusions and offers no citations.  It regurgitates the extravagant stereotypes of the military and average Americans that fill the fever swamps of radical leftist blogs, advocacy groups and publications.


A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that “large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces.”


This “assessment” is not an analysis of a national trend or an examination of existing evidence or even recent radical literature; it is targeting those whose politics fall within the broad insinuations contained within its pages, namely mainstream conservatives. It is a manipulative information tool intended to paint the loyal opposition as reactionary kooks who are prone to violence and a danger to the country.


This is part of a more widespread ongoing information campaign to plant and reinforce critical themes into the American official, and broader public psyche, a continuation of the “clinging to guns and religion” message so frequently found in the rhetoric of President Obama and his acolytes.  Watch for reinforcing messages from other venues and other government organizations.  It will be used by talking heads, journalists and administration officials to make agenda-driven analysis sound rational as they work to delegitimize, marginalize and divide Americans, precisely when it is apparent that significant grass roots opposition movements are gaining steam.


Do not be surprised by the cynical use of the Department of Homeland Security for a political information war campaign.  It is the modus operandi of the Left and has been used effectively for decades. 

Ironically the report refers to the atrocities of Ruby Ridge and Waco as an example of radical motivations.  Both events were anti-constitutional criminal abuses of American citizens by their own government.  The spin campaign by the Clinton Administration to paint those crimes in a favorable light was intense, and in large measure successful.  Anyone who questioned the tactics of the government was painted as a “Waco Wacko.”  The murder of children swept aside in liberal hypocrisy. The American people in large measure still believe the obscuring disinformation about those two events.  The Obama-era team has refined the method.


In the information battle we live through, every media story and every government report is suspect.  Experts, universities, think tanks, non-profits and interest groups are all tools for the spin masters and propagandists whose ethics are defined by “the ends justifies the means” of Saul Alinsky’s model.  The DHS Rightwing Extremism paper is merely a recent example of how the American people and their law enforcement agencies are manipulated . When those who excel at information manipulation and media control also sit in government the price of truth becomes eternal skepticism.


And we ain’t seen nothin yet.

Page Printed from: at April 15, 2009 – 11:01:13 AM EDT