Just a few months into the Obama presidency, congressional Republicans and conservative media claimed to be outraged by a Department of Homeland Security document. DHS has released plenty of reports, but in this 2009 instance, the agency issued a general alert to law enforcement about ideological extremists and their interest in politically motivated violence.
The report had been commissioned by the Bush/Cheney administration, but Republicans freaked out anyway – conservatives decided that concerns about violent radicals may implicate more mainstream activists on the right. Some GOP members of Congress even called for DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation.
The Republican tantrum was bizarre, but it nevertheless convinced federal officials to scale back their scrutiny, at least for a while, of home-grown extremists and potentially violent fringe radicals.
Federal officials’ interest in domestic terrorists, however, has not gone away.
A new intelligence assessment, circulated by the Department of Homeland Security this month and reviewed by CNN, focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists and comes as the Obama administration holds a White House conference to focus efforts to fight violent extremism.Some federal and local law enforcement groups view the domestic terror threat from sovereign citizen groups as equal to – and in some cases greater than – the threat from foreign Islamic terror groups, such as ISIS, that garner more public attention.
According to the CNN report, Homeland Security and the FBI have identified 24 violent “sovereign citizen-related attacks” in the United States over the last four years.
The reaction from conservative media figures wasn’t quite what I expected.
A panel on “The Five” was discussing a recent Department of Homeland Security report detailing the threat from right-wing sovereign citizens, who are considered domestic terrorists. The report noted that the primary targets of those extremists were law enforcement officers, according to CNN.After co-host Greg Gutfeld quipped that DHS feared “armed Lutherans laying siege in a Hot Topic in a mall,” Fox’s Juan Williams reminded him of the Oklahoma City and Atlanta Olympics bombings.Co-host Eric Bolling then challenged Williams to come up with any example of right-wing or “Christian crusade” terror attacks on American soil in the last seven years.
Wait, is this really what some on the right believe? That violence from right-wing radicals and fringe movements simply doesn’t exist at all?
Because, whether Bolling likes it or not, the examples aren’t hard to come up with. Indeed, the report the Fox panel was discussing specifically pointed to dozens of violent attacks from domestic extremists.
Just last year, Cliven Bundy was at the center of a dangerous conflict with law enforcement, and some of Bundy’s supporters who participated in the standoff drove to Las Vegas and killed several people, including two police officers. (The above photo shows a local officer outside a Las Vegas Wal-Mart, where Jerad and Amanda Miller, anti-government extremists, killed one of their victims.)
Do conservatives chose not to remember incidents like these? Do they not believe the incidents count as violent extremism?