Eye Opener: Does Holocaust Shooting Validate Homeland Security Report?
Happy Thursday! Did that controversial Homeland Security report on right-wing extremists (pdf) get it right? Several bloggers, commentators and news reports suggest it did, accurately predicting the deadly shooting at the Holocaust Museum.
"Civil rights activists say a string of recent attacks blamed on right-wing extremists, including Wednesday’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum, show that conservative critics were too quick to fault the Department of Homeland Security over an April report warning about the potential for such violence," reports Politico.
(Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.)
Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis distributed the report (pdf) to state and local law enforcement on April 7. It regularly publishes intelligence analyses on domestic and international threats to the nation’s borders and infrastructure.
Though the report did not cite specific threats, it suggested that “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.”
Secretary Janet Napolitano later apologized directly to veterans' groups, admitting the report's language unfairly characterized military servicemembers.
Yesterday's shooter, James W. von Brunn, was a military veteran and professed white supremacist with elaborate conspiracy theories and an active Web site. An acquaintance said von Brunn thought his Social Security benefits had been cut as a direct result of government officials tracking his activities.
The DHS report explicitly addressed white supremacists, writing that, "Threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government 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."
"In the past two weeks, the country has seen the bombing of a Starbucks coffee shop in New York City, the arrest of four men for allegedly plotting to blow up synagogues and shoot down planes, the shooting of two soldiers at an Army recruitment center in Arkansas, the assassination of a doctor inside a Kansas church, and the shooting at the Holocaust Museum," writes Alex Kingsbury of U.S. News and World Report. "Although these are not all cases of right-wing extremism, each is an example of domestic terrorism."
As CBS' Charles Cooper wrote yesterday afternoon, "Connecting the dots is guaranteed to be a contentious, if not fraught exercise. But as the news filtered out, some liberal bloggers did not hesitate to draw conclusions."
"I hope that everyone who mau-maued the Department of Homeland Security for expressing concern about this kind of thing feels appropriately ashamed of themselves," Matthew Yglesias wrote.
"The Republican hysteria over the DHS report -- which was, by the way, initiated by a Bush administration official -- was always based more on a partisan scheme than reality, but the incessant complaints look especially misguided today," writes Washington Monthly's Steve Benen.
Talking Points Memo took a more fact-driven path, lining up evidence it suggests validates the report's findings.
But blogger Matthew Vadum called these allegations "the worst kind of smear" and "par for the course for the left."
"None of this changes the fact that Napolitano's politically motivated directive was wrong then and remains wrong now," he wrote, stating later that the report "was a malicious un-American smear calculated to ridicule and intimidate opponents of the left's policy goals."
Still, one wonders what it will be like around the Office of Intelligence and Analysis today.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.