The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in "rightwing extremist activity," saying the economic recession, the election of America's first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.
..."It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration," the warning says.
The report warns that “rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.” That's not the same as saying that all veterans are right-wing extremists. Nonetheless, that's the way Joe Scarborough tried to spin the report:
Scarborough: They don’t want to use “the war on terror” because that makes them feel uncomfortable, but they have no problem targeting veterans returning from war. This is perverse. …There’s not a war on terror but there may be a war on veterans.
The report's point that extremism may be connected to abortion or immigration is also not the same as stating that all those with conservative views on these issues are terrorists. Regardless, Pat Robertson espoused that distortion, along with unique views of the political and sexual orientations of DHS officials:
ROBERTSON: It shows somebody down in the bowels of that organization is either a convinced left winger or somebody whose sexual orientation is somewhat in question. But it’s that kind of thing, somebody who doesn’t think that we should have abortion on demand, is labeled a terrorist! It’s outrageous!
While regretting the politicization of the report, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano emphasized that it does not smear veterans but focuses on their possible recruitment:
Napolitano: Here is the important point. The report is not saying that veterans are extremists. Far from it. What it is saying is returning veterans are targets of right-wing extremist groups that are trying to recruit those to commit violent acts within the country. We want to do all we can to prevent that. (Videos h/t Think Progress)
As a DHS official told Fox News, "This is the job of DHS, to assess what is happening in this country, with regard to homegrown terrorism, and determine whether it's an actual threat or not, and that's what these assessments do. This is nothing unusual..."
Crooks and Liars points out that an FBI report from July 2008 came to the same conclusions regarding the recruitment of veterans by white supremacist groups:
FBI reporting indicates extremist leaders have historically favored recruiting active and former military personnel for their knowledge of firearms, explosives, and tactical skills and their access to weapons and intelligence in preparation for an anticipated war against the federal government, Jews, and people of color.
In January 2009, the DHS completed a report on left-wing extremists, as did the U.S. Department of Energy in April 2001. These particular reports seem to have escaped the notice of conservative commentators now crying foul.