Scarborough ignores Bush FBI report to claim Obama administration stoking fear

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Joe Scarborough distorted a DHS intelligence assessment to allege the Obama administration is warning that returning war veterans "are to be feared." In fact, the assessment, citing a Bush administration report, warned of a possible resurgence among extremist groups that "will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans."

On the April 15 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough distorted an April 7 intelligence assessment by the Department of Homeland Security to allege that the Obama administration is "specifically warning that veterans returning home from war, are to be feared -- that they could be right-wing extremists that want to launch terror attacks on America." In fact, the document, issued to law enforcement officials, warned of a possible resurgence among extremist groups that "will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat." The assessment further stated: "The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today." DHS cited a 2008 FBI report -- authored during the Bush administration -- as evidence that "some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups."

On Morning Joe, Scarborough also said, "I just ask this question to my Democratic friends out there -- and I'm serious about this -- what would you have said if George Bush, [former Bush adviser] Karl Rove, and the head of Homeland Security had issued a report warning about left-wing radicals wanting to blow up America? ... [I]t is frightening." In fact, DHS did issue an assessment on January 26, concluding that "a number of emerging trends point to leftwing extremists maturing and expanding their cyber attack capabilities over the next decade with the aim of attacking targets in the United States." Indeed, in response to a similar claim by conservative radio host Roger Hedgecock, CNN homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve reported during the April 14 edition of Lou Dobbs Tonight: "In fact, in January, there was a warning about left-wing extremists. It was issued by the Obama administration but both reports were begun under President Bush."

In its April 7 assessment, DHS stated, "Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities." As Media Matters for America has noted, in the July 2008 FBI report, titled "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11," the FBI's Counterterrorism Division determined with "[h]igh confidence" that "[m]ilitary experience is found throughout the white supremacist extremist movement as the result of recruitment campaigns by extremist groups and self-recruitment by veterans sympathetic to white supremacist causes." The 2008 report further stated that a "review of FBI white supremacist extremist cases from October 2001 to May 2008 identified 203 individuals with confirmed or claimed military service active in the extremist movement at some time during the reporting period," and that "[a]ccording to FBI information, an estimated 19 veterans (approximately 9 percent of the 203) have verified or unverified service in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

From the April 7 DHS report, titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment":

(U//FOUO) Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.

[...]

(U) Disgruntled Military Veterans

(U//FOUO) DHS/I&A assesses 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. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists -- including lone wolves or small terrorist cells -- to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

-- (U) After Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991, some returning military veterans -- including Timothy McVeigh -- joined or associated with rightwing extremist groups.

-- (U) A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that "large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces."

-- (U//LES) The FBI noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups.

From the April 15 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: This is scary.

BRZEZINSKI: This is --

SCARBOROUGH: This is scary.

BRZEZINSKI: -- spooky. While the report did not cite any impeding attack or name specific groups, it suggested military veterans could be particularly vulnerable to recruitment.

SCARBOROUGH: So -- so, let me --

BARNICLE: Dude, what the --

BRZEZINSKI: What?

SCARBOROUGH: So -- so, they have -- Janet Napolitano and her department have put out a report in the Obama administration, specifically warning that veterans returning home from war, are to be feared -- that they could be right-wing extremists that want to launch terror attacks on America. This, of course, coming at a time when we have a war on our southern border, when we have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and threats of terrorism.

And Janet Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security, and Barack Obama are concerned about veterans coming home from war --

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

SCARBOROUGH: -- and becoming right-wing extremists.

BRZEZINSKI: I want more --

SCARBOROUGH: This, of course, is the same administration, Mike Barnicle -- and I'm just stunned the media didn't say more about this. And I heard about this up at West Point, from the kids up there that were talking about it.

They were stunned that the Obama administration told veterans coming back from war, who had injuries, "You're going to have to take care of that yourself. Take it up with a third-party insurer."

BARNICLE: I've not heard that.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, they did. They did.

BRZEZINSKI: I'm going to get a full writethru and --

SCARBOROUGH: Thank God, Paul Rikoff, who went over to the White House and asked the president what was going through his mind.

BARNICLE: But on this report, where you just read that news brief about it, I mean, off the top of it -- and I've not seen anything about this today --

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, I haven't --

BARNICLE: -- in the newspapers -- off the top of it, it seems as if they're issuing a report basically warning us about returning Iraqi --

SCARBOROUGH: Veterans.

BARNICLE: -- and Afghan war veterans who might come back and do what? Say they don't agree with the war? What?

SCARBOROUGH: Blow up the -- blow it up. Blow up America. Kill people because they might --

BRZEZINSKI: Exploiting fears about the economy and the election of the first black president.

SCAROBOROUGH: Because the economy is bad and we have a black president, veterans may kill --

BRZEZINSKI: We'll talk more. I'm going to get a full writethru and print it out over here.

SCARBOROUGH: -- come back and kill people. It is stunning. Then I just ask this question to my Democratic friends out there -- and I'm serious about this -- what would you have said if George Bush, Karl Rove, and the head of Homeland Security had issued a report warning about left-wing radicals wanting to blow up America? Are -- you know, it's -- it is frightening.

[...]

SCARBOROUGH: You didn't put in there the part about how Janet Napolitano is going to follow --

BRZEZINSKI: I know. We haven't -- the top of the hour.

SCARBOROUGH: -- the Obama administration's orders --

BRZEZINSKI: 'Cause that's an amazing story.

SCARBOROUGH: -- to invade Utah. That's coming next.

BRZEZINSKI: That's not part of the story, but it's an amazing story.

SCARBOROUGH: But they're -- they're going to -- they're going after conservatives first. They're targeting soldiers for surveillance, according to this document, when they come home from war. I suspect an invasion of Salt Lake City is not far behind.

BRZEZINSKI: OK, that might be pushing it a little far, but it is an amazing story.

SCARBOROUGH: The second -- is the second, friends, you see the salt flats rumbling, OK, it's time to run to Vegas. They'll leave Vegas alone.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Military Personnel & Veterans, Terrorism
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Joe Scarborough
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
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