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Who is watching the Watchmen? [Bush DHS commissioned infamous "right-wing extremism" report]
The Washington Examiner ^ | 2009-05-05 | Gene Healy

Posted on 05/05/2009 9:19:37 AM PDT by rabscuttle385

April was a cruel month indeed for new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The weeks before the Swine Flu outbreak found her stumbling through reporters’ questions about a DHS threat assessment memo on “Rightwing Extremism.”

That memo urged law enforcers nationwide to monitor the allegedly gathering danger from Rightist radicals, including pro-lifers, immigration opponents, and those who reject “federal authority in favor of state and local authority.”

Was this a sinister conspiracy by an administration full of Chard-sipping arugula eaters determined to spy on Red-State patriots? That‘s quite unlikely: The memo was commissioned during the Bush administration, as was a similar memo focusing on “Leftwing Extremists.”

But conservatives were nonetheless right to be concerned. The DHS memo suggests that bureaucratic “mission creep” can be as dangerous to liberty as a deliberate campaign of repression.

America’s experience with domestic spying in the pre-Watergate period makes that clear. Presidents Johnson and Nixon believed antiwar groups were being funded by the Soviet Union, and pressured the CIA, the FBI, and the military to establish the link.

Federal intelligence operatives assigned to domestic spying programs like COINTELPRO and Operation CHAOS found little evidence of communist subversion.

Yet it’s the rare bureaucracy that closes up shop for lack of anything useful to do: instead, COINTELPRO and CHAOS agents began keeping files on law-abiding citizens who disagreed with their government.

The U.S. military got into the act as well. The Army kept files on over 100,000 citizens, including such dangerous national security threats as folk singers Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez.

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the program revealed that “comments about the financial affairs, sex lives, and psychiatric histories of persons unaffiliated with the armed forces appear throughout the various records systems.”

Given the history, it’s not entirely paranoid for conservatives to wonder if federal observers might lurk among the crowds at future tea parties.

A more recent example of mission creep’s dangers can be seen in the Pentagon’s TALON program. TALON, short for Threat and Local Observation Notice, encouraged military personnel and civilian DoD employees to file reports on suspicious activities, which could then be sent on to law enforcement. As before, the military quickly began to monitor peaceful protests.

In March 2005, the Army’s 902nd Military Intelligence Group warned the Akron, Ohio, police department about an assembly of middle-aged peace activists organized by local Quakers.

Responding to criticism of the Army’s Quaker-watching excursion, a Pentagon spokesman declared, “The fact that the marches proceeded peacefully is irrelevant to leveling criticisms against the Army in this instance. Hindsight is always 20/20.”

Public ridicule led to TALON’s end in 2007. But other post-9/11 surveillance efforts continue apace. Yale law professor Jack Balkin warns that fear of terrorism has contributed to the growth of what he calls “the National Surveillance State,” a regime in which the federal government uses its expanded information gathering capabilities to monitor the citizenry and ward off potential threats.

That in itself presents a threat, Balkin writes, because “the more powerful government becomes in knowing what its citizens are doing, the easier it becomes to control people’s behavior.”

In the Vietnam era, keeping tabs on dissenters was a low-tech affair. FBI and CIA agents depended on paper files and index cards; they needed to physically open letters and individually review telegrams. Today, with modern processing power and data-mining technology, the possibilities for surveillance are staggering. And so is the potential for abuse.

In March, Rod Beckstrom, the DHS official in charge of cybersecurity, resigned, citing concerns about an information security plan that envisioned a lead role for the NSA, giving the agency a dangerous level of access to civilians’ web searches and email.

And the week after the “Rightwing Extremism” memo was revealed, Justice Department officials admitted that the NSA had been engaged in illegal “overcollection” of Americans’ domestic communications.

Though some bloggers and radio hosts may have overreacted to the DHS memo, it was heartening to see conservatives finally show concern over possible abuses by the national security bureaucracy.

But their level of outrage shouldn’t depend on whose ox is getting gored—constitutional privacy shouldn’t be a Red Team/Blue Team issue. As the National Surveillance State grows, the need for new checks and balances has never been greater.

Examiner columnist Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and the author of The Cult of the Presidency.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: bds; bho44; bhodhs; bigbrother; biggovernment; dhs; duckandcover; extremists; govwatch; gwb43; leftwingextremism; lp; lping; napolitano; nsa; policestate; pravdamedia; privacy; rightwingextremism; surveillance; wot

1 posted on 05/05/2009 9:19:37 AM PDT by rabscuttle385
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To: bamahead

.


2 posted on 05/05/2009 9:19:57 AM PDT by rabscuttle385 ("If this be treason, then make the most of it!" —Patrick Henry)
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To: rabscuttle385

Actually I suspect it goes back to Clinton in its original form.


3 posted on 05/05/2009 9:22:57 AM PDT by cripplecreek (The poor bastards have us surrounded.)
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To: rabscuttle385

The report was commissioned under Chertoff, but Napoliano’s people had the final input and final say, as in the footnote about the military, at least, that’s what she admitted.


4 posted on 05/05/2009 9:28:01 AM PDT by Deb (Beat him, strip him and bring him to my tent!)
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To: rabscuttle385

There you go. Bush’s fault. Move on./s


5 posted on 05/05/2009 9:34:34 AM PDT by rwa265 (Christ, My Cornerstone)
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To: Deb

footnote?


6 posted on 05/05/2009 9:35:18 AM PDT by Doctor Raoul (Ayers Lied, People Died. No Justice, No Peace.)
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To: rabscuttle385

So the Bush Administration commissioned reports on the terroristic threat of political extremists on both sides of the aisle, but Obama’s team decided that only extremism on the right counted (can you even BE too extremely left with this crowd?) and they decided that being pro-life, anti-tax, pro 10th amendment or even a veteran all qualified an individual as dangerously extreme rightwing potential terrorist.


7 posted on 05/05/2009 9:39:27 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: rabscuttle385
The very first page of hussein’s report says that since the economic collapse and the election of the first black President, the threat matrix has changed and the report is amended to reflect those changes... so this leftist tripe is bovine poop.

LLS

8 posted on 05/05/2009 9:39:47 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer (hussein will NEVER be my President... NEVER!!!)
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To: Disco Dave; FBD; BraveMan
>ping<

Validation, for those who needed it. LOL!

9 posted on 05/05/2009 9:40:51 AM PDT by Landru (Arghh, Liberals are trapped in my colon like spackle or paste.)
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To: Doctor Raoul
The comment about the military and Iraqi war veterans being susceptible to joining extremist groups was apparently a footnote to a statement in the report. I don't know, but that's what Napolitano said.
10 posted on 05/05/2009 9:45:59 AM PDT by Deb (Beat him, strip him and bring him to my tent!)
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To: rabscuttle385

The commission of a report and the outcome are two separate processes. What is the original requirements document and SOW? Specifically?


11 posted on 05/05/2009 9:53:53 AM PDT by combat_boots (When the government controls the captial, all that is left is tyranny. Tagline by Redwarning.)
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To: combat_boots

If this was true, why would Napolitano and the administration not announce this??? Don’t waste a “crisis” and all that tripe.....


12 posted on 05/05/2009 10:04:59 AM PDT by Thank You Rush
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To: Thank You Rush

The outcome of course. Changes and additions/deletions. Editing and approval of content.


13 posted on 05/05/2009 10:08:54 AM PDT by combat_boots (When the government controls the captial, all that is left is tyranny. Tagline by Redwarning.)
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To: LibLieSlayer

The very first page of hussein’s report says that since the economic collapse and the election of the first black President, the threat matrix has changed and the report is amended to reflect those changes... so this leftist tripe is bovine poop.
LLS

BINGO!


14 posted on 05/05/2009 10:20:32 AM PDT by Crim
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To: LibLieSlayer

Spot on...

Not to mention that a March ‘09 DHS report which listed ‘black separatists’ as extremists was immediately revoked by the agency—

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/may/05/homeland-pulled-back-extremism-dictionary/

Result: Only veterans, second amendment supporters and pro-lifers are extremist-—NOT black separatists.


15 posted on 05/05/2009 10:51:12 AM PDT by reagandemocrat
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To: LibLieSlayer

Excellent observation. Some people cannot stop blaming President Bush, the BDS is strong with them.


16 posted on 05/05/2009 10:54:20 AM PDT by jveritas (God Bless our brave troops)
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To: rabscuttle385

Who commissioned it is irrelevant. Who wrote is isn’t. Who published it, and why, is extremely relevant. And that puts the buck right back on Napolitano’s desk.


17 posted on 05/05/2009 10:58:26 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: rabscuttle385; Abathar; Abcdefg; Abram; Abundy; akatel; albertp; AlexandriaDuke; Alexander Rubin; ..



Libertarian ping! Click here to get added or here to be removed or post a message here!
18 posted on 05/05/2009 11:49:12 AM PDT by bamahead (Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master. -- Sallust)
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To: Landru

good observation:

“The DHS memo suggests that bureaucratic “mission creep” can be as dangerous to liberty as a deliberate campaign of repression.”


19 posted on 05/05/2009 11:53:30 AM PDT by FBD (My carbon footprint is bigger then yours)
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To: cripplecreek
That is where it started - with Reno after Waco. I remember his community policing policy that trained police officers across the nation to watch out for the same “right wing extremists.” But I am not surprised it survived the Bush administration and was complemented with a “left wing extremist” list.
20 posted on 05/05/2009 12:50:06 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: rabscuttle385

21 posted on 05/05/2009 12:53:50 PM PDT by Bratch
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To: cripplecreek

Yes I believe it originated in 1997. Or so I have heard.


22 posted on 05/05/2009 1:36:19 PM PDT by RatsDawg
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To: rabscuttle385
Given the history, it’s not entirely paranoid for conservatives to wonder if federal observers might lurk among the crowds at future tea parties. Who cares if the Feds send observers? What are they going to observe? Peaceful, passionate citizens engaging their Constitutional rights. If you have nothing to fear, why be fearful?
23 posted on 05/05/2009 2:16:45 PM PDT by oneamericanvoice (Support freedom! Support the troops! Surrender is not an option!)
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To: Thank You Rush

Apologies for having jumped all over your post. I am disgusted with the media & administration altogether. Reports, EOs, legislation, etc., can be done at the last minute, since many of them are in various stages of development. Ditto for the corporate world. Things are pulled out of the hat or off the shelf on command.


24 posted on 05/05/2009 2:37:25 PM PDT by combat_boots (When the government controls the captial, all that is left is tyranny. Tagline by Redwarning.)
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To: Crim

Thank you!

LLS


25 posted on 05/05/2009 5:29:25 PM PDT by LibLieSlayer (hussein will NEVER be my President... NEVER!!!)
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To: reagandemocrat

True enough!!! Good catch!

LLS


26 posted on 05/05/2009 5:29:54 PM PDT by LibLieSlayer (hussein will NEVER be my President... NEVER!!!)
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To: jveritas
Thank you my brother... and you are 100% dead on about BDS.

LLS

27 posted on 05/05/2009 5:30:24 PM PDT by LibLieSlayer (hussein will NEVER be my President... NEVER!!!)
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: rabscuttle385
. Presidents Johnson and Nixon believed antiwar groups were being funded by the Soviet Union

They were right. That has been proven from the KGB files.

29 posted on 05/05/2009 7:04:21 PM PDT by zeugma (Will it be nukes or aliens? Time will tell.)
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To: rabscuttle385
The memo was commissioned during the Bush administration, as was a similar memo focusing on “Leftwing Extremists.”

Why do I have the feeling that Janet Napolitano's never heard of a "leftwing" extremist that she took seriously? She would have the wit to know that even if there were "leftwing" radicals - it wouldn't paint all dems as being like them. OH NO - she wouldn't profile her OWN group. But with us? She paints with the widest brush known to man.

30 posted on 05/05/2009 7:09:07 PM PDT by GOPJ (Pinch Sulzberger,it so predictably turns out,is only a liberal with other people's money.Howie Carr)
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