Friday, April 17, 2009

Department of Homeland Security Releases Threat Assessment; Warns of People Motivated by Thought

Washington, D.C.--Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a “threat assessment” report to state and local law enforcement officials yesterday, designed to make them aware of people who warrant monitoring by police. The report singles out veterans and those who oppose the Obama Administration’s policies on immigration, gun control, and abortion, as worthy of enhanced surveillance.

The report makes clear that DHS “has no specific information that domestic right wing terrorists are currently plotting acts of violence” and fails to mention a single “rightwing” organization, unlike reports issued in previous years that have listed multiple known terrorist groups and described their plans. Sources said that in making the most recent threat estimates, DHS was relying less on the vagaries of specific examples and more on "immutable laws" such as the axiom “pro-guns equals hate.”

The report appears to draw on the genetic theories of actress Janeane Garofalo, who said in a recent interview “I really believe that some people’s limbic brain dominates more than others. Our limbic brain controls all our emotions and it causes us to be irrational … I really believe that if a neuroscientist examined the brain of somebody who identified as a conservative, they would find it’s wired differently.” According to DHS sources, Garofalo’s theory of how genetically determined brain function is tied to dangerous political orientations could prove useful in, for example, “finding out who’s a rightwing eugenicist.”

The DHS report notes that rightwing extremists can include those who "are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship.” One DHS official explained that “anyone who supports the enforcement of current immigration laws must be prone to authoritarianism.”

Regarding abortion, the report states that rightwing extremism “may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion.” It also states extremist groups include those that oppose “the expansion of social programs to minorities.” The inclusion of pro-life groups in the threat assessment was hailed by a representative of the birth control organization Planned Parenthood, who said “Finally, those who oppose abortion and minorities are being exposed as the hate mongers they are.” The representative made the statement at a ceremony in which Planned Parenthood presented its annual “Maggie Award,” named after the organization’s founder, Margaret Sanger, who created a “Negro Project” in 1939 that stated “Negroes still breed carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes … is [in] that portion of the population least intelligent and fit.”

The DHS report also states that rightwing extremism can include groups known for “rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority,” calling to mind notorious extremists in American history, such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who led a revolution to create a Constitution that placed strict limits on the power of the federal government.

The guidance to local law enforcement also reminds them that “Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists.” DHS sources added that, beyond their combat training, returning veterans might have become more keenly dedicated to protecting individual rights and personal freedom during the course of their service, which could prove useful to those opposed to some Administration programs.

Finally, the report notes that “Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of rightwing extremist groups.” Howard Dean, the former head of the Democratic National Committee who was endorsed repeatedly by the National Rifle Association, declined comment.

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