Homeland Security omits "right-wing" threats

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Under the George W. Bush administration, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) reports omitted threats from "right-wing" domestic extremist groups (such as theAryan Nations and Army of God or anti-abortion activists, while identifying "left-wing" domestic groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), as terrorist threats.

President Barack Obama's DHS has recognized right-wing extremists as posing threats to the United States. [1] A 2009 report expressed concern that right-wing extremists could exploit the poor state of the U.S. economy, anti-immigrant sentiment, and the election of the country's first black president to recruit new members to their cause.[2] However, some criticized the DHS for pushing out the report without resolving problems raised by the agency’s civil rights division about the report's definition of right-wing extremism.[3] While this led some to accuse the Obama administration of anti-conservative bias, the 2009 DHS report also identified threats from left-wing extremists.[4]

Right-Wing Bias in 2005 DHS Report

In 2005, Congressional Quarterly obtained a sensitive Homeland Security report designed to focus DHS spending on the most serious threats, and found that it focused on "possible terror threats from radical environmental and animal rights activists" but omits threats posed by right-wing extremists." [5]

The report stated that between 2005 and 2011 DHS expen "expects to contend primarily with adversaries such as al Qaeda," but also lists "left-wing domestic groups, such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), as terrorist threats." However, it "does not mention domestic extremist groups" or white supremacist groups like Aryan Nations and Army of God or anti-abortion activists, "which have previously been identified by federal officials as threats"[5] and "which have staged numerous terrorist attacks that have killed scores of Americans." [6]

Experts on domestic terrorism were "surprised the department did not include right-wing groups on their list of adversaries. ... James O. Ellis III, a senior terror researcher for the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), said ... that whereas left-wing groups, which have been more active recently, have focused mainly on the destruction of property, right-wing groups have a much deadlier and more violent record and should be on the list. 'The nature of the history of terrorism is that you will see acts in the name of [right-wing] causes in the future.'"[6]

"This [was] the first time the two-year-old department has prepared what will now be an annual Integrated Planning Guidance Report, a document that is listed as 'sensitive' but not classified, meaning it is not intended to be released publicly," wrote the New York Times's Eric Lipton. "The goal, said Brian Roehrkasse, a department spokesman, is to focus the department's $40 billion in annual spending toward the most serious threats." [5]

"The DHS document, entitled 'Integrated Planning Guidance, Fiscal Years 2005-2011,' is dated January 2005. . . Its pages are marked 'Sensitive â?? Do Not Distribute Outside the Department of Homeland Security â?? Draft.' Each paragraph in the document is marked '(U/FOUO),' which typically indicates it has been reviewed by a government censor and determined to be unclassified, but 'for official use only.'" [6]

SourceWatch Resources

External links


  1. "Statement by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on the Threat of Right-Wing Extremism", DHS Press Release dated April 15, 2009, accessed September 8 2010.
  2. See, e.g. "Homeland Security Report Warns Of Rising Right-Wing Extremism", Huffington Post/AP, April 14, 2009, accessed September 8, 2010.
  3. DHS ignored civil-liberties lawyers’ warnings on report, HotAir.Com, April 17, 2009, accessed September 8, 2010.
  4. Obtained: Federal Agency’s Memo Warning Of “Left Wing Extremists”, WhoRunsGov.Com "Plumline" blog, April 15, 2009, accessed September 8, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Homeland Report Says Threat From Terror-List Nations Is Declining" New York Times, March 31, 2005.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Animal Rights Groups and Ecology Militants Make DHS Terrorist List, Right-Wing Vigilantes Omitted, Congressional Quarterly, March 25, 2005.