Shortly before 2:00 pm (eastern) Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, released a letter to Secretary Napolitano (access the pdf version of the letter). The Chairman raises serious questions regarding the recently leaked DHS intelligence assessment (see two posts immediately below). One phrase best captures the tone of the letter, the Chairman writes, “I am dumbfounded that I&A released this report.”
SECOND UPDATE: In a story filed early Thursday afternoon, the APs Eileen Sullivan writes, “The senior Democrat of the House committee with oversight of the department said the most recent report raises privacy and civil liberty issues. “This report appears to have blurred the line between violent belief, which is constitutionally protected, and violent action, which is not,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in a letter to Napolitano.”
UPDATED HEADLINES (as of 6:00 am eastern on Thursday)
Associated Press: Republicans criticize report on right-wing groups
San Francisco Chronicle: Homeland insecurity
US News and World Report: the new McCarthyism: DHS reports on right-wing extremism
The vast majority of media and blog reports are highlighting a partisan divide in reaction to the I&A assessment. This is inconsistent with what I am hearing. The vast majority of those commenting on the report – Republican, Democrat, and otherwise – are blasting it. No one has raised more serious questions than the Democrat from Mississippi, Mr. Thompson. Read his letter.
Last night my Email queue filled up with complaints from full-time, professional Democrats that found my more ambivalent critique of the report (see below) “troublesome,” “dangerous,” “short-sighted,” and otherwise unacceptable. A couple of “tory” Republicans were the only specifically partisan correspondents who wrote to support my argument.
Despite broad bipartisan consensus regarding this issue on Thursday morning it is hard to find media attention to critiques by Democrats. Kudos to Audrey Hudson at the Washington Times for her story: Top Dem ‘dumbfounded’ by ‘extremism’ report.
The administration – that happens to be Democratic – is attempting to defend the report. But the buzzsaw of criticism is coming from all corners. It is not helpful – it is especially unhelpful – to emphasize a partisan divide where it does not exist.