TheHill.com reports GOP reps' attacks on DHS report without noting findings by Bush FBI

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

TheHill.com reported that Rep. Peter King "called for a hearing to investigate a Department of Homeland Security report that highlights security risks posed by extremist groups and disgruntled veterans." But The Hill did not note that the DHS cited an FBI report authored under President Bush that previously identified this pattern.

An April 16 article on TheHill.com reported that Rep. Peter King (R-NY) "called for a hearing to investigate a Department of Homeland Security report that highlights security risks posed by extremist groups and disgruntled veterans." The article further reported: "King said the report could have a tumultuous effect on the veteran and military community. 'These men and women are fighting, putting their lives on the line,' said King on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' on Thursday. 'We said we'd never repeat Vietnam as far as how we treat returning veterans, and we're doing it now ... [the report] would have to be demoralizing [for troops]. It would have to be demoralizing.' " The article also reported that House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH) called the report's conclusion "offensive and unacceptable." But the article did not note that as evidence for its conclusion 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," the DHS cited a 2008 FBI report -- authored during the Bush administration -- that stated, in the words of the DHS, that "some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups." In an April 15 article, Politico's Jen DiMascio reported that the FBI report had "similar findings" but "generated little controversy or coverage."

As Media Matters for America noted, in the July 2008 report, titled "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11," the FBI's Counterterrorism Division found 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 report further stated: "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." It also stated: "According 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 TheHill.com article:

A key House Republican Thursday called for a hearing to investigate a Department of Homeland Security report that highlights security risks posed by extremist groups and disgruntled veterans.

Rep. Peter King (N.Y.), the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, has asked for a hearing into the matter, one day after the committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said he was "dumbfounded" by how the agency could release such a report.

[...]

[DHS Secretary Janet] Napolitano said lawmakers who had criticized the report -- including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who called it "offensive and unacceptable" -- had misconstrued the statements about veterans and were using it as political ammunition.

"He wants to make some political hay," Napolitano said on NBC's "Today Show" of Boehner's comments. "This (report) is an assessment of things just to be wary of, not to infringe on constitutional rights, certainly not to malign our veterans.

[...]

King said the report could have a tumultuous effect on the veteran and military community.

"These men and women are fighting, putting their lives on the line," said King on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday. "We said we'd never repeat Vietnam as far as how we treat returning veterans, and we're doing it now ... [the report] would have to be demoralizing [for troops]. It would have to be demoralizing."

In Thompson's letter to Napolitano on Wednesday, he criticized the report, which was authored by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, for infringing on Americans' civil liberties.

"This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans -- including war veterans," the letter read. "As I am certain you agree, freedom of association and freedom of speech are guaranteed to all Americans -- whether a person's beliefs, whatever their political orientation, are 'extremist' or not."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.