A Tale of Two Worlds: Rightwing Extremists, Leftwing Extremists, the FBI and DHS.

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Weren’t the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) talking?

An  FBI press release this morning proclaimed  “NEW MOST WANTED TERRORIST: First Domestic Fugitive Added to List” and stated that the domestic terrorist being sought is “an animal rights extremist wanted for allegedly bombing two San Francisco-area office buildings in 2003.”  

But a DHS report issued in late January on left-wing extremists had me convinced left-wing extremists are non-violent.  (It used that word four times in a seven page report.)

On the other hand, the term non-violent was nowhere to be found in the DHS report on rightwing extremists.  But the term “violent” was used 18 times.

And the FBI used the word “terrorist.”   Surely, according to DHS it was the right-wingers who were the terrorist threat.  “Terrorist” was used 13 times in the right-wing report, but only twice in the left-wing report.  (Hey, didn’t the DHS Secretary tell us the correct language is “man-made disasters” not acts of terror?  I guess someone in DHS didn’t get the memo.)

So, what’s going on with this animal rights extremist on the FBI Most Wanted list?   Hmmm.  Perhaps “animal rights activists” are RIGHT-wing extremists?   Nope, that wasn’t it.  Animal rights extremist — along with “environmental, and anarchist extremist movements” – are defined by the DHS report as left-wing extremists.

The DHS report states that these left-wing extremist are focusing on cyber attacks against our nation, because of “the perception that cyber attacks are nonviolent align (sic) well with the ideological beliefs, strategic objectives, and tactics of many left-wing extremists.”

DHS comes to the conclusion that “cyber attacks are attractive options to left-wing extremists who view attacks on economic targets as aligning with their nonviolent, ‘no-harm’ doctrine and tactic of ‘direct action.’”

The report on the left-wing extremists does mention bombing about half-way through the report and goes on to say on the last page, “Animal rights and environmental extremists … use non-violent and violent tactics that, at times, violate criminal law.”

What about those right-wingers?  Why should we fear they will become violent?  The DHS report says, “The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but right-wing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment.” (Looks like I&A and Janeane Garofalo are reading the same “talking points” memos.)

DHS based their findings partly on “right-wing extremist chatter on the Internet.” Now, if DHS is monitoring Internet chatter of domestic left-wing extremists it sure wasn’t mentioned in the report. I guess they only monitor the “chatter” of al-Qaeda and the right-wing.

And who are these potentially violent right-wing people?

According to the DHS report, “Right wing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.  It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

Well, I’m not hate-oriented, but I do think federal authority has overstepped it bounds. I also oppose abortion, and disagree with the current non-enforcement of immigration laws. I wonder if the DHS thinks I’m an extremist?

Another DHS red-flag seems to be supporting Second Amendment rights. I guess my life NRA membership isn’t helping me in the eyes of the DHS.

The DHS right-wing report goes on to say these groups include “violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement.” (I wonder why violent organizations which identify with other religions aren’t mentioned?)

And what is the potential threat of these right-wing extremists? According to the DHS “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.”

Indeed, the “veteran” connection is mentioned eight times in the report’s nine pages.

So, a reasonable surmise as to who would be the first domestic terrorist to be on the Most Wanted list, would have been a returning vet with a Christian Identity, who supports the second amendment, is pro-life, wants a non-porous border, and favors state and local authority over federal authority. That describes many people, but it doesn’t seem to describe the person who made the list.

So maybe the FBI and DHS are not singing from the same page in the hymn-book.

Or maybe the FBI is just smarter than DHS.

Or maybe, just maybe, the FBI Most Wanted list reflects reality and the DHS reports reflect something else.

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