Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 15, 2009

The Secretary Responds

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 15, 2009

At 1:16 pm (eastern) DHS released the following statement by Secretary Napolitano.

“The primary mission of this department is to prevent terrorist attacks on our nation. The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve as someone personally involved in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution.

Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.

We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources

I am aware of the letter from American Legion National Commander Rehbein, and my staff has already contacted him to set up a meeting next week once I return from travel. I will tell him face-to-face that we honor veterans at DHS and employ thousands across the department, up to and including the Deputy Secretary.

As the department responsible for protecting the homeland, DHS will continue to work with its state and local partners to prevent and protect against the potential threat to the United States associated with any rise in violent extremist activity.”

Here’s how The Hill is framing the Secretary’s statement.


CNN: Napolitano defends report on right-wing extremist groups

Washington Post: Napolitano defends homeland security report

At 7:23 am (eastern) on Thursday in a live interview from Mexico City, Secretary Napolitano apologized to veterans who have found the I&A  assessment of concern.  She also pointed to an alternative reading of the report by VFW President, Glenn Gardner.   Early Thursday afternoon the Associated Press reports that the Secretary, “dismissed criticism of her agency’s intelligence assessments and defended a recent report that says some military veterans could be susceptible to extremist recruiters or lone acts of violence.”

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 15, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

Comments, hopefully thoughtful. Well the Secretary recognized some of the key issues resulting from release of the report. And by the way not only does DHS hire veterans but since 2003 has been dominated by them at mid and top career levels resulting in a sort of mini-DOD culture. Some of that good and some very very bad. Can do can sometimes replace thoughtfulness and sustained examination of critical systems and processes. DOD and the military do learn but very very slowly and not really what I would regard as learning organizations.

As to the statement that motivators of violence are the key point for DHS to examine threats. Hey sorry but capability not motivation is what can be measured. You can never measure motivation. As to the statement that DHS does not monitor ideology or religious beliefs that might be a fine objective but in the day to day analysis of extremist groups how do you decide that they are extremist if you don’t do that sort of monitoring. How many non-ideological and non-relgious groups are extremist? Then what do I know except that many tax exempt groups qualify on paper but not in practice as meeting elemosynary requirements under the statute of Elizabetht the 1st, the so-called Charitable Uses Statute. In her time of course, Catholics did not qualify as an Elizbethan Charitable purpose for tax deduction.

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