Sunday, February 03, 2013

Government targeting of conservatives a disturbing trend

Remember the 2009 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memo on supposed right-wing extremism?

It was the one that defined the ideology as “groups, movements, and adherents that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority” and “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

This was the same memo that suggested veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan might be recruited by terrorists.

In one broad swoop, it appeared that the government was targeting millions of Americans solely on the basis of their political beliefs, and even because they had served their country at war. When it became public, it caused a firestorm nationwide.

An Americans for Limited Government (ALG) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request into the memo at the time revealed several sources had been used to develop the intelligence assessment. Many were news stories and some even were outlandish websites.

But the key one to remember is the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center.

At the time ALG President Bill Wilson noted, “Not a single study or report was from any government source,” said Wilson. “There was no evidence of any actual active recruitment of ‘disgruntled veterans’ by these groups, no evidence showing that folks who purchase guns or oppose gun-control legislation are necessarily dangerous, and no evidence that the economic downturn or the election of Barack Obama that is fueling any actual ‘resurgence’ of ‘extremism.’”

“The memo did not illuminate on any actual planned attacks or any groups known to be planning attacks, or any groups with histories of perpetrating attacks that are currently conducting any types of operational recruitment, meeting, or planning attacks,” Wilson added. In other words, there was no evidence presented in the report itself.

Putting a fine point on the matter, he said, “The background DHS used was not based on credible intelligence sources, reporting, and analysis. Instead, what we found is that the Department was apparently surfing the net to see what news stories happened to turn up to support a pre-determined conclusion.”

After the memo became public, Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano issued a statement defending the report, swearing up and down that the government “[does] not — nor will we ever — monitor ideology or political beliefs.”

Then, weeks later, a DHS Domestic Extremism Lexicon, whose release the Department claimed was a mistake, contained 9 pages of terms and political identifications that the DHS linked to potential domestic terrorists. The definition of “rightwing extremism” from the controversial DHS memo also appeared in that report.

Eventually the original memo was withdrawn, and Napolitano was forced to admit in congressional testimony that “The wheels came off the wagon because the vetting process was not followed,” and to boot that “An employee sent it out without authorization.”

Originally, she was defending the report, but once Congress started prying, those involved were promptly thrown under the bus.

That same year, a similar memo was sent out by Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC), a federal “fusion center”, to Missouri law enforcement. In that “threat” advisory, police were told to keep an eye out for Americans concerned about unemployment, taxes, illegal immigration, gangs, border security, abortion, high costs of living, gun restrictions, FEMA, the IRS, and the Federal Reserve.

The MIAC advisory also stated that potential domestic terrorists would be attracted to gun shows, shortwave radios, action movies, movies with white male heroes like Rambo, Tom Clancy novels, and presidential candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin.

Much like the DHS memo, the Southern Poverty Law Center was cited, this time directly in the MIAC memo itself, as a top source of information.

And much like the DHS memo, it was withdrawn by the agency that put it forward, followed by public apologies from government officials. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder (R-MO) even asked that Missouri Public Safety Director John Britt be placed on administrative leave.

And who could forget the written exam administered by the Pentagon that defined “protests” as a form of “low-level terrorism,” raising serious concerns among civil liberties advocates about how the military views the exercise of First Amendment freedoms like civil dissent?

Next up was retired Army Colonel Kevin Benson, seminar leader at the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and former head of the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies, who wrote an article in Small Wars Journal depicting a scenario where a “tea party” militia led by “race-baiting and immigrant-bashing by right-wing demagogues” had overtaken the government of Darlington, South Carolina with the tacit consent of law enforcement and a tea party-sympathizing governor.

Most recently, another report has emerged, “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” by Dr. Arie Perliger, director of terrorism studies at the West Point’s Center for Combating Center (CTC).   That was just published on Jan. 15.

This report warns of the rising militancy of so-called “anti-federalists” that Perliger says embrace ideas like “civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government.” And so-called “anti-federalists” who “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights.”

In light of the report, ALG’s Wilson in a letter called on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee to defund the CTC pending withdrawal of the report and the termination of Perliger from public service.

“Not one more dime of taxpayer money should be wasted on CTC, which is indoctrinating our servicemen and women with brazen propaganda against the American people,” Wilson declared.

In that report, the Southern Poverty Law Center was referenced no less than 24 times.

Which is little wonder. That organization appears to have the ear of the entire military, security, and law enforcement establishment nationwide.

While no smoking gun, a recent exchange of emails exposed by Judicial Watch between the Department of Justice and Southern Poverty Law Center, arranging for the organization’s co-founder Morris Dees to speak at a Department event, does reveal the cozy relationship between the nation’s top law enforcement and the organization.

Judicial Watch notes that Southern Poverty Law Center lists as hate groups several conservative organizations like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, and Concerned Women for America.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center has, in the past few years, taken to labeling organizations with conservative views on social issues as ‘hate groups,’” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Fitton added, “Given these fawning emails, one would have thought that a head of state was visiting the Justice Department.  The SPLC is an attack group, and it is disturbing that it has premier access to our Department of Justice, which is charged with protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans.”

The fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been used so prominently in three major intelligence assessments by DHS, Missouri’s “fusion center,” and now even at West Point confirms that the organization’s reach into the security apparatus of the U.S. is far and wide indeed.

Wilson said the West Point memo was “part of a wider pattern of targeting Americans by the military and security establishment that ought to be disturbing to all Americans regardless of political stripe.”

Yet, except for some right-leaning outlets and organizations that are crying foul, the story is receiving little attention in the mainstream media.

A recent Pew Research Center poll found 53 percent of Americans view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms.

Perhaps one reason why is on account of a growing body of evidence that the American people are being targeted by security officials, law enforcement, and now the military, singularly based on their political beliefs. And apparently at the behest of a politically motivated, radical left-wing organization. All the while, a complicit or complacent media turns a blind eye.

“When a liberal group like the Pew Research Center finds that more than half of the American people feel the government is a threat to their liberty, this a hardly a fringe concern,” Wilson noted, concluding, “Maybe the American people have every right to be afraid of the government after all.”



The coming regulatory recession?

Yesterday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce reported the stunning news the U.S. economy actually contracted by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. The immediate response by many politicians and the establishment media was to blame spending cuts, or the threat of them, rather than even look at the dramatic increase in regulation over the last few years.

The Washington Post sent a news bulletin shortly thereafter that blamed the problem on “cuts in government spending, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles.” The “cuts in government spending” part is wrong on its face. According to the U.S. Treasury Department (and hat tip to John Nolte of, government expenditures actually increased by more than 10 percent from the previous quarter.

The Associated Press story The Post linked to in the bulletin did not repeat the error and was technically accurate in noting reduced defense spending. But a more likely cause of the economy contracting was the very real threat — and realization — of the “regulatory cliff.” If there’s one thing worse than uncertainty, it is the certainty thousands of pages of new regulatory policies will go into effect. It’s far more likely the contraction was caused by entrepreneurs and investors seeing this future of shackling regulations and pulling back their investment in response.

President Obama’s reelection made it highly unlikely job creators would get any substantial relief from costly new provisions of the Affordable Care Act or the Dodd-Frank banking overhaul that hits many community banks and non-financial businesses. As Adam J. White noted recently in The Weekly Standard, “The Obama administration’s first three years of major rules, costing up to $26.7 billion, were five times more burdensome than the Bush administration’s first three years ($5.3 billion) and three and a half times more burdensome than the Clinton administration’s ($7.6 billion).” White adds that these “major rules” were only a fraction of the 3,500 total regulations Obama has issued so far, and the cost figures did not even included the opportunity costs for the economy in his blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline.

In addition, government entities that faced bipartisan criticism for being out of control, such as the EPA and Department of Labor, now had free rein. Indeed, a torrent of new regulations that had been on hold for more than a year suddenly were released — in President Obama’s post-election Unified Regulatory Agenda and elsewhere. National Journal reported just after the election that “federal agencies are sitting on a pile of major health, environmental and financial regulations that lobbyists, congressional staffers and former administration officials say are being held back to avoid providing ammunition to Mitt Romney and other Republican critics.”

As my Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Ryan Young has put it: “Now that this ammunition will no longer have electoral consequences, the EPA can move ahead on delayed rules on everything from greenhouse gas emissions to ozone standards. Rules from the health care bill and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill also likely will make themselves known in the weeks to come.”

In addition to the domestic rules, the Basel III international banking accord that was scheduled to go into effect this year threatened to severely constrict banks of all sizes from making loans even to high-quality borrowers. Under the regime, banks would have been forced to hold two to three times as much capital against most mortgages and small business loans.

The good news is slow growth — or even negative growth — can be dramatically reversed if the regulatory onslaught is reversed or at least significantly reduced. For instance, the first quarter of 2013 may be better because Basel III was delayed and somewhat revised to allow banks to hold different types of capital. To get growth going again, President Obama and Congress’ first priority should be to reduce or reverse the “regulatory cliff.”



Some Israeli satire

You need to know a bit about Israeli politics to follow it.  A centrist party (Yair Lapid) got an unexpectedly large vote in the recent election and the conservatives under Netanyahu (Likud) just scraped a plurality


Is this guy the most disgusting RINO yet?

Hagel faulted for calling US “world bully” in Al Jazeera interview

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel on Thursday faced a barrage of criticism about his fitness to be the next defense secretary, including his agreement with a controversial statement that the United States is the “world’s bully.”

President Barack Obama’s nominee to be defense secretary ran into sharp opposition from Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee who questioned Hagel on an array of controversial policies.

Senators questioned Hagel about his opposition to tough U.S. policies toward Iran, his calling the successful U.S. military surge in Iraq a “blunder,” and his support for sharp unilateral cuts in U.S. nuclear forces.

Hagel also backtracked on past statements that a “Jewish lobby” was intimidating the Senate into adopting “dumb” policies.

Hagel maintained a calm demeanor but at several points in the hearing appeared unprepared for some questions during seven hours of testimony.

Freshman Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), in his first public appearance as a member of the committee, played portions of a 2009 Al Jazeera interview in which Hagel was asked how the United States could lead in reducing nuclear arms when the “perception and the reality” views the United States as “the world’s bully.”

Hagel, in the video, responded saying: “Well, her observation is a good one, and it’s relevant. Yes, to her question.”

A visibly upset Cruz then asked Hagel during the hearing: “Sen. Hagel, do you think it’s appropriate for the chief civilian leader of the U.S. military forces to agree with the statement that both the perception, quote, ‘and the reality’ is that the United States is, quote, ‘the world’s bully’”?

Hagel disagreed with the email and said his comment was a “relevant and good observation.”

Much more HERE



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: