The Homeland Security Department has cut back from doing its own intelligence and analysis of home-grown extremists in the wake of conservative criticism of a report on domestic terror threats. The department has taken the step despite warnings from law enforcement and civil rights experts that threats are increasing, The Washington Post
Sources reported that the department has cut staff working on domestic terrorism not involving Islam, canceled briefings with state and local law enforcement, and held up reports on extremist groups. The moves followed conservative criticism of the report, titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” issued just four months into the Obama administration, officials told the Post.
The report, which warned that President Barack Obama’s election and the poor economy could fuel “violent radicalization,” was attacked for being an assault on conservative views on such issues as abortion and immigration. Law enforcement officials and other sources said the unit that produced the report has been gutted and said the department has not reported on domestic extremist groups in depth since 2009, the Post reported.
A recent study showed that a majority of the 86 major terrorist plots in the United States from 1999 to 2009 were unrelated to al-Qaida and allied movements. In the past year, authorities have arrested neo-Nazis for alleged involvement in planting a bomb along the route of a Martin Luther King parade in Spokane, Wash.; members of an Alaska militia for alleged involvement in a plot to kill state troopers; and a Wisconsin man for planning to kill Planned Parenthood workers, the Post reported.
Regardless, a Homeland Security official told the Post that what some see as caution or avoidance stems from concerns that aggressive operations involving home-grown groups could be viewed as civil liberties violation. The officials also pointed out that the FBI is “the primary lead for the federal government” on domestic terrorism, the Post reported.
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