Another controversial DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) product has surfaced. The Washington Times and Fox News are each highlighting a Domestic Extremism Lexicon (large pdf) that was very briefly available in March.
According to Fox News, the Department of Homeland Security withdrew the report within hours of it being released. “The lexicon was not an authorized I&A product, and it was recalled as soon as management discovered it had been released without authorization,” a DHS spokesperson explained. “Since this happened prior to our last experience, our new internal protocols were obviously not in place. Even so, this product is not, nor was it ever, in operational use.” The Homeland Security official who spoke to FOX News said the office that released the report had taken on a “maverick” attitude by acting without authorization and is now being “reined in.”
As with the prior product, there is nothing in the report that does not appear in a college-level Terrorism 101 course. But an official government document — and especially an “intelligence and analysis” product — focusing on groups or movements for which there is neither criminal predicate nor reasonable suspicion raises constitutional questions.
In many libertarian and conservative circles the controversy regarding another I&A product focused on domestic extremism has not seriously diminished since being released in mid-April. To get a sense of the attention this newly surfaced (but even earlier) report is getting in some quarters — now including this quarter — check out the 4200 and increasing links generated by a google search on “domestic extremism lexicon.”
RUMOR WATCH: The maverick comment quoted by Fox matches chatter today between the Hill and the Department. Apparently at least one DHS senior analyst — identified to me only by a female pronoun — has decided the threat of domestic terrorism is being seriously underplayed and has taken upon herself to increase the attention level. She evidently has allies, though clearly not in the Secretary’s or the spokesperson’s offices. Standby for the eventual emergence of a hero-victim-martyr. Which one depends a great deal on context and timing.