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The DHS Report on Right Wing Extremists

John on August 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm

You remember it. It suggested that there was a surge in right-wing extremism. Anyone who owned a gun or was pro-life was suspect. Only the report didn’t contain any evidence. No statistical studies. No numbers at all really. Now we know why.

A group called Americans for Limited Government filed an FOIA to force DHS to reveal the source for the information in that report. Here’s what they found:

As it turns out, Janet Napolitano’s DHS did not conduct even the most rudimentary research or investigation. It did no statistical analysis. It did not even bother to interview those it accused and allow them the opportunity to defend themselves.

Instead, in what should send shockwaves throughout the nation, DHS functionaries simply cruised the Internet (in tin-foil hats, no doubt) and relied entirely upon some of the most disreputable sites on the web to stage its attack upon its “rightwing” targets.

Foremost upon the websites DHS relied upon to launch its ruthless, reckless assault was a site called whatdoesitmean.com. In its response to the ALG FOIA request, DHS reported utilizing the site no less than eleven times – far more than any other site – to substantiate its accusations against veterans and other “rightwing extremists.”

Now on the one hand, it makes sense that an agency looking for a rise in extremism might look at extremist websites for proof. But have a look at this site. They publish stuff like this story on scientists destroying the “radio to God.” Whatever can be gleaned from this, it sure doesn’t relate to most people on the right. It’s also not clear that, kooky as it is, any of this stuff is violent or encourages violence.

The other problem is that even the so-called “serious” websites the DHS relied on for its report, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, are little more than fear factories designed to raise money from the left:

[A]ccording to the Southern Policy Center (a 501c3 “charity”) 990 forms as reported, they received $33,526,228 in 2007. The same form reports that their net assets or fund balances in 2007 were $219,551,849.

That’s a hell of a lot of reasons to keep gunning the engine on racial hatred. But as Sweetness and Light points out, all of these stories are the product of one guy. And a simple Alexa searches show that the high profile hate groups on the web haven’t grown since last year, not in any measurable way. The numbers and the claims made by DHS don’t match.

It’s pretty hard to look at the evidence and conclude that this was a dispassionate study of trends. Rather it looks a lot like a smear job designed to encourage people on the right to shut up and sit down, something the President and his administration continue to advocate today.

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Category: Politics |

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