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Sunday, January 17, 2016

The threat here at home

In the first year of President Obama’s term in office, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning about the threat of domestic terrorism. 

Immediately, Fox News and the rest of the conservative media – Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and other talk radio figures – slammed the document and were soon followed by Republican members of congress.

Overly sensitive to the hue and cry from the right in those early days, then Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano withdrew the report and the unit behind it was disbanded.

Since then, America has had several instances of right-wing terrorism, from the South Carolina church shooting to the murder of police in Las Vegas and the Bundy clan’s repeated armed run-ins with federal authorities.

Daryl Johnson is the Homeland Security analyst who worked on the report, and he says that pull back has made things dangerous.
On Friday, the department announced a task force with the Justice Department to focus on countering homegrown extremists radicalized by foreign groups such as the Islamic State, drawing staff members from dozens of federal and local agencies. It is unclear if the group would investigate domestic antigovernment groups.
“The D.H.S. is scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counterterrorism,” Mr. Johnson said. “The same patterns that led to the growth of the antigovernment groups in the 1990s is being played out today. D.H.S. should be doing more.”
In case you have forgotten the growth of those right wing groups in the 1990s – again, under a Democratic president they accused of “tyranny,” we had the Oklahoma City bombing, which until 9/11 was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, and is still the second most deadly attack of its kind. 169 people died and over 680 people were injured.

Even worse, today’s mainstream conservatives are espousing many of the radical ideas of the extremist movement. 

What once was way out on the fringe has now manifested in Republican lawmakers like Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Governor Greg Abbott calling for a “convention of the states,” echoing Confederate-era arguments about diluting the federal government and leaving more up to right-wing state governments.

Thanks to Fox News browbeating the government into downplaying this very real threat to Americans, we could face a major loss of life.

Author Oliver Willis was one of the first political bloggers in the world (since 2000), and was among the first bloggers to interview President Obama at the White House. I am on Twitter @owillis and write at