ALG Blasts DHS Methodology Used in “Rightwing Extremism” Memo Revealed in Freedom of Information Response by Department

August 11th, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today condemned the methodology used by the Department of Homeland Security in issuing a controversial “right-wing extremism” threat assessment to law enforcement in April as “complete speculation.”

“Our worst fears about what went into this memo have been confirmed. The government department that was supposed to be tasked with identifying domestic terrorist threats is apparently using news stories, kooky websites, and conjecture instead of actual hard intelligence reporting and analysis,” said Wilson.

“This is a disgrace, and calls into question what it is that the so-called ‘Extremism and Radicalizaton Branch of the Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division’ actually does,” Wilson added.

Americans for Limited Government filed a Freedom of Information request in April demanding all documents related to the drafting of the controversial “right-wing extremism” memo. It has now received an interim response from the Department related to “All data and all studies, reports, or other documents regarding data created or reviewed by the Department in general to draft the Report… [and] on the specific groups listed in the footnote on page 2 of the Report that were used by the Department.”

Those studies and reports included 217 pages, “releasable in their entirety, all of which are publicly available,” according to the DHS FOIA response. All of the data used by the Department are available via the Internet. A summary of the web-links is included here.

ALG top researcher Don Todd recently gave his assessment of the memo and DHS’ FOIA interim response, “Here you have a bunch of government bureaucrats surfing the web that come up with this crackpot website [], and then they alert all the police agencies in the country to look out for veterans, pro-lifers, and people that believe in states’ rights.”

FOX News today exclusively reported on DHS’ response to ALG’s freedom of information request.

“Not a single study or report was from any government source,” said Wilson. “And again, 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 had reported that “rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans”.

“We already knew that 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,” said Wilson.

“And now we know why,” Wilson added, explain, “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,” Wilson explained.

In defining “rightwing extremism,” the Department of Homeland Security memo targets “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.”

“We now know for a fact that DHS was monitoring political speech and thought, whether on the Internet or via other forms of communications,” said Wilson, pointing to websites included in the DHS FOIA response that tracked gun-control legislation.

The memo had claimed that “Many rightwing extremists groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms and in response have increased weapons and ammunition stockpiling, as well as renewed participation in paramilitary training exercises.”

Previously DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said, “We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs.”

“DHS’ response to our freedom of information request unfortunately confirms in no uncertain terms that their hunt for ‘rightwing extremists’ was nothing more than a witch hunt,” Wilson concluded.

Enclosed Materials:
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request to Department of Homeland Security, April 17th, 2009.

Department of Homeland Security interim response to FOIA request, August 5th, 2009.

Summary of web-links cited by Department of Homeland Security that were used in drafting “rightwing extremism” memo.

One page summary sheet of ALG analysis of DHS methodology in drafting “rightwing extremism” memo, August 2009.

FOX News reporting Freedom of Information response by DHS, August 11th, 2009.

Interview Availability: Please contact Alex Rosenwald at (703)383-0880 or at to arrange an interview with ALG President Bill Wilson.

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