CNN's Fran Townsend attacked an Obama administration report alerting law enforcement that “rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans”; Wolf Blitzer did not point out that the Bush administration, which Townsend worked for, had issued a report in 2008 drawing a similar conclusion.
During the June 10 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend, former President Bush's adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism, attacked an Obama administration report alerting law enforcement that “rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans,” claiming that there was “no real intelligence to support” the claim. However, host Wolf Blitzer did not point out that the Bush administration, which Townsend worked for, had issued a report in 2008 drawing a similar conclusion.
As Media Matters for America has 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 June 10 edition of CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer:
BLITZER: We spend so much time worrying and focusing in on Al Qaeda, Middle East terrorists -- and for good reason, after what happened on 9-11 -- but a lot of folks forget what happened at the Oklahoma City federal office building only a few years earlier.
These were homegrown terrorists. This is a real serious problem. Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, addressed it directly only a few weeks ago, when she -- she suggested, let's not forget homegrown terrorists.
TOWNSEND: That's right. I mean, she was criticized, Wolf, because she actually brought particular focus to veterans returning from the war overseas. And there was rightful debate about how bona fide her concern about that group of returning veterans was. There was no real intelligence to support there being a threat from that community.
But domestic terrorism, as you call it, homegrown terrorism, is a huge priority for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. They make arrests every year, as I mentioned, particularly environmental radical groups that turn violent or destroy property.
This is, of course, much worse. And I -- I think it's important that this begin, as Janet Langhart Cohen suggested, a public debate. We need to label as evil the speech that inspires this sort of hate.