DHS Crushed This Analyst for Warning About Far-Right Terror

Clearly the threat from Right-wing terrorists and other groups has been severely undercut by the overblown emphasis on so-called “Islamic terrorism,” a term that should be disputed in the first place!

This is a point we have been making for quite some time now, and this is buttressed by Spencer Ackerman’s recent article about the DHS crushing an analyst who warned about “Far-Right Terror.” (h/t: Avram)

DHS Crushed This Analyst for Warning About Far-Right Terror

by Spencer Ackerman (Wired.com)

Daryl Johnson had a sinking feeling when he started seeing TV reports on Sunday about a shooting in a Wisconsin temple. “I told my wife, ‘This is likely a hate crime perpetrated by a white supremacist who may have had military experience,’” Johnson recalls.

It was anything but a lucky guess on Johnson’s part. He spent 15 years studying domestic terrorist groups — particularly white supremacists and neo-Nazis — as a government counterterrorism analyst, the last six of them at the Department of Homeland Security. There, he even homebrewed his own database on far-right extremist groups on an Oracle platform, allowing his analysts to compile and sift reporting in the media and other law-enforcement agencies on radical and potentially violent groups.

But Johnson’s career took an unexpected turn in 2009, when an analysis he wrote on the rise of “Right-Wing Extremism” (.pdf) sparked a political controversy. Under pressure from conservatives, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) repudiated Johnson’s paper — an especially bitter pill for him to swallow now that Wade Michael Page, a suspected white supremacist, killed at least six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. For Johnson, the shooting was a reminder that the government’s counterterrorism efforts are almost exclusively focused on al-Qaida, even as non-Islamist groups threaten Americans domestically.

“DHS is scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counterterrorism, as is Congress,” Johnson tells Danger Room. “There’ve been no hearings about the rising white supremacist threat, but there’s been a long list of attacks over the last few years. But they still hold hearings about Muslim extremism. It’s out of balance.” But even if that balance was reset, he concedes, that doesn’t necessarily mean the feds could have found Page before Sunday’s rampage.

A Neo-Nazi rally in Washington D.C., August 2002. Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

Johnson left DHS in April 2010 after “they dissolved my team,” he says. Had he still been at DHS, he says he would have published an analysis calling attention to a growing number of attacks on mosques, which he thinks could serve as a “warning” to Sikh communities that are often mistaken for Muslim ones. But finding so-called “lone wolf” terrorists like Page is a challenge no matter their motivations, since they operate outside established extremist cells and often don’t have criminal records, making it difficult for law enforcement or homeland security officials to spot them.

Now a security consultant in the Washington D.C. area, Johnson used to work for DHS’ analysis shop, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). He supervised a team of six analysts studying what he calls “domestic non-Islamic extremism.” It’s a telling term: the DHS employed as many as 40 analysts who looked at al-Qaida and other jihadist groups’ inroads into the homeland.

Johnson ran everything else. One person on his team worked on the threat from anarchists; another, the threat from animal-rights extremists. Still others looked at anti-abortion radicalism, white supremacy and radical environmentalism. They were supplemented by analysts at the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; but outnumbered by the literally thousands of analysts, operatives and other counterterrorism officials throughout the government who focus on jihadism. “Salaries were our major budget item,” he recalls.

Then, in April 2009, Johnson warned that the election of the first African-American president, combined with recession-era economic anxieties, could fuel a rise in far-right violence. “DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities,” he wrote.

And so began a brief media firestorm. Conservative writers feared that the DHS was demonizing — even, potentially, criminalizing — mainstream right-wing speech. “It’s no small coincidence that [Secretary Janet] Napolitano’s agency disseminated the assessment just a week before the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests,” pundit Michelle Malkin speculated in the Washington Times. Others objected that Johnson’s report unfairly stigmatized veterans.

It surprised Johnson. An Eagle Scout leader from northern Virginia in his early 40s, Johnson became interested in counterterrorism in his teens, after an Arkansas standoff between federal authorities and a millenarian group called The Covenant The Sword And The Arm of The Lord, which stockpiled weapons and explosives to bring about Armageddon. “I was always fascinated with why people use religion to justify violence and believe the world was ending — and had a role to play in hastening that end,” Johnson said.

Stung, DHS responded by cutting “the number of personnel studying domestic terrorism unrelated to Islam, canceled numerous state and local law enforcement briefings, and held up dissemination of nearly a dozen reports on extremist groups,” the Washington Post reported in June 2009.

According to Johnson, his former team now consists of a single analyst tasked with tracking all domestic non-Islamic extremism. His database has been shuttered.

A Tea Party activist expresses his displeasure with Johnson’s 2009 report on the danger of far-right extremism.Photo: RBerteig/Flickr

Asked for comment, DHS disputed Johnson’s claim that it gives non-Islamic extremism short shrift.

“The Department of Homeland Security protects our country from all threats, whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence,” spokesman Matt Chandler told Danger Room. “we face a threat environment where violent extremism is neither constrained by international borders, nor limited to any single ideology. This is not a phenomenon restricted solely to any one particular community and our efforts to counter violent extremism (CVE) are applicable to all ideologically motivated violence. DHS continues to work with its state, local, tribal, territorial and private partners to prevent and protect against potential threats to the United States by focusing on preventing violence that is motivated by extreme ideological beliefs.”

Johnson, who has written a forthcoming book about far-right extremist groups, concedes that the definition of “right-wing” in his product was imprecise. In retrospect, he says he should have clarified that his focus was on “violent” right-wing organizations, like white supremacists, neo-Nazis and so-called Sovereign Citizens who believe the U.S. government is an illegitimate, tyrannical enterprise. Much like mainstream Muslims denounce terrorism and object to over-broad analysis portraying Islam as an incubator of extremism, so too do mainstream conservatives denounce neo-Nazis and white supremacists and dispute that those groups are authentically right-wing.

LW: I want to add that while I understand the intent of this last sentence it still is a very strange and objectionable juxtaposition. Why not say that that Conservatives “denounce terrorism” and “object to over-broad analysis” much like mainstream adherents to all religions reject the portrayal of their faiths as “incubators of terrorism.”

Nor does he think DHS should ignore Islamic extremism. “It just needs to be more balanced,” Johnson says. New York congressman “Peter King has held three hearings in the past year on Muslim extremism,” he says, referring to the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, “but he’s yet to have a single hearing on right-wing extremism when there’s been a lot more activity.”

LW: Rep. Peter King has actually had 6 hearings on so-called “homegrown terrorism” threat from American Muslims.

Indeed, since Johnson released his ill-fated report, the Wichita, Kansas, abortion doctor George Tiller was assassinated; a security guard was killed when a gunman with neo-Nazi ties went on a shooting spree at the U.S. Holocaust Museum; the FBI arrested members of a Florida neo-Nazi outfit tied to drug dealing and motorcycle gangs; a man was charged with attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction at a Spokane, Washington march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; and several mosques around the country have been vandalized or attacked — including a Missouri mosque that burned to the ground on Monday, which had been attacked before.

As Salon recounts, the FBI has been warning for years that far-right racialist organizations might be interested in suicide terrorism. Peter Bergen, a longtime chronicler of al-Qaida, wrote on Tuesday that far-right domestic terrorism rivals and might eclipse the threat of homegrown jihadism.

In a press conference on Monday, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Teresa Carlson acknowledged that Page, the perpetrator of the Sikh temple assault, “had contact with law enforcement in the past,” but that contact didn’t rise to the level of sparking an active investigation. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks right-wing extremist groups, has apparently had Page on its radar for some time.

But Johnson doesn’t contend that more resources would necessarily have stopped Page from attacking the Sikh temple. Lone-wolf terrorists are hard to spot. What the government should do instead is broaden its counterterrorism focus beyond just jihadis. “It needs to be more balanced,” Johnson says. “It’s frustrating to see these types of incidents ongoing.”

Read the rest…

Pamela Geller’s New Advert Campaign Against Phantom “Islamization” Uses Faulty “Islamic Terrorism Ticker”

Pamela Geller‘s new advertisement campaign relies on the faulty “Islamic Terrorism Ticker” which we easily debunked recently in the article, TheReligionOfPeace.Com: Working To Streamline the American Empire’s “War on Terror.”

(via. Islamophobia Watch)

Geller unveils new advert to combat ‘Islamization of America’

New York City train commuters may soon see new anti-Islam advertisements on the city’s Metro North line.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) created an ad campaign to raise awareness about Jihadist activities against Israel and the United States, highlighting the number of Islamist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, and a growing number of deaths that have resulted.

“19,207 deadly Islamic attacks since 9/11/01 and counting,” the ad reads. “It’s not Islamophohia, it’s Islamorealism.”

The $15,000 campaign is a response to pro-Palestine ads. It will cover 75 station kiosks throughout the Metro North route for a four-week period.

“We wanted to bring some reality – because truth is a recognition of reality – we wanted to bring some truth to Metro North,” said AFDI executive director Pamela Geller. “People need to understand the implications of the Islamization of America,” she added.

Geller’s group is already in litigation with the New York City Metro Transit Authority after the rail system rejected a different series of ads on the grounds that they violated its advertising standards – a move Geller is framing in terms of the First Amendment.

Geller is awaiting approval of her latest ads, and said she will take legal action again if necessary. If the new ads meet with the New York rail system’s approval, she hopes to take her message nationwide – starting on San Francisco’s BART system.

Daily Caller, 17 July 2012

Update:  See “Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer announce new anti-Islam ad”, The American Muslim, 18 July 2012

Annual Report: Zero Civilians in U.S. Killed by Islamic Terrorism… Just Like Every Year Since 9/11

Following the devastating 9/11 attack, terrorism has become the number one issue for the U.S. government.  Just under 60% of discretionary spending for the 2012 federal budget was allocated to the military–ten times the amount spent on education and health care.  As a U.S. citizen, over half of your income tax goes to sustaining the war state.  Since 9/11, more than a trillion dollars have been spent funding the War on Terror.  Aside from depleting the nation’s treasury, thousands of U.S. soldiers have been killed during these hostilities.

To justify this exorbitant cost, the American establishment must convince its citizenry that terrorism is a major threat to their safety and well-being.  Terrorism is portrayed as an existential threat to all Western civilization.  For this reason, government officials, with the help of the mainstream media, routinely fear-monger about the overwhelming threat of Islamic terrorism.  Right-wing Islamophobes lead the way, but the basic paradigm is generally accepted by both left and right, Democrat and Republican alike.  There is bipartisan consensus when it comes to the basic premise of the War on Terror, with little difference in foreign policy between George Bush and Barack Obama.

To prove the gravity of the threat, various government-affiliated organizations have been documenting terrorism.  The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), for example, has been diligently recording data on terrorist attacks.  Just this week, the NCTC released to the public its annual terrorism report for the year 2011.

Micah Zenko of The Atlantic published an article entitled Americans Are as Likely to Be Killed by Their Own Furniture as by Terrorism.  Although Mr. Zenko’s good intention and clever title deserve praise, I feel that his article is (unintentionally) misleading.  For one thing, Americans are much more likely to be killed by their own furniture than by terrorists.  And for another, the article’s byline is misleading:

Terrorist attacks killed 17 U.S. civilians last year and 15 the year before.

Those of you who regularly read my writing know that I closely follow such data and have proven again and again that, since 9/11, Islamic terrorists have killed a grand total of zero civilians in the United States.  So, why does Mr. Zenko state that 17 U.S. civilians were killed by terrorist attacks in 2011 and another 15 the year before?

It’s unfortunate that Mr. Zenko failed to mention the very important fact that none of these deaths occurred in the United States.  Moreover, all of these fatalities occurred in war zones–in regions that the U.S. is militarily occupying (Afghanistan and Iraq) or assisting in the occupation of (Palestine).  Buried on page 17 of the NCTC report, we read:

Seventeen U.S. private citizens worldwide were killed by terrorist attacks in 2011. These deaths occurred in Afghanistan (15), Jerusalem (1), and Iraq (1). Overall, U.S. private citizen deaths constituted only 0.13 percent of the total number of deaths worldwide (12,533) caused by terrorism in 2011. Fourteen U.S private citizens were wounded by terrorism in 2011; 10 in Afghanistan, three in Jerusalem, and one in Iraq.

In the entire year of 2011, the Afghan and Iraqi insurgencies killed a combined total of 16 U.S. private civilians.  By way of comparison, note that in a single event in March of 2011, “[a]n American soldier went on a house-to-house shooting spree in two [Afghan] villages…killing 16 people…four men, three women and nine children.”  Not surprisingly, this incident–clearly an act of terrorism if that word is to have any meaningful definition (although admittedly, it does not)–does not find its way into the NCTC report.  This is because it’s only terrorism when our enemies (especially Muslims) do it.

This huge double standard is apparent from the NCTC report itself, which declares on the opening page:

In compiling the figures of terrorist incidents that are included in the CRT and the NRT, NCTC uses the definition of terrorism found in Title 22, which provides that terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” (See, 22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)[2]).

In other words, by definition the United States or its military cannot commit acts of terrorism.  An act becomes terrorism based not on the action but on who commits this action.  If “subnational groups or clandestine agents” kill civilians in an attack, this is terrorism–especially if that group is Muslim or named “Al-Qaeda”.  Meanwhile, if the United States kills ten times as many civilians in an even greater attack, that’s not terrorism at all and will never find its way in the government’s database of terrorist attacks.

If an American soldier guns down 16 Afghan villagers (including three women and nine children), that’s not terrorism.  Meanwhile, the NCTC counted Major Nidal Hasan’s shooting spree against U.S. soldiers on a military base as an act of terrorism. This, in a nutshell, summarizes the American government’s mentality.

A cursory search of news report in 2011 reveals that on a seemingly routine basis the United States killed more Afghan civilians than the 17 U.S. civilians killed by Muslim terrorists in the entire year.  Here is a very incomplete sampling of the victims of various U.S.-led raids in the previous year:

three civilians, five civilians (including one woman and two children), 65 civilians, nine boys, the Afghan president’s own cousin (can you imagine if the Afghans shot and killed a U.S. president’s cousin–or even the president’s dog?), two children, seven civilians (including women and children), six civilians, two women and a child, two civilians (including a 12-year old girl), a boy, a girl, four civilians (including two women), one civilian (shot and killed because he had a flashlight in his hand), 14 civilians (two women and 12 children), 13 civilians (including three women and eight children), two civilians, “up to 16 civilians”, four civilians, six civilians (including an 11-year old girl), a journalist, four civilians, and seven civilians.

Recently it came to light what I suspected long time ago: to minimize reported civilian deaths, the United States government, borrowing a tactic used by Israel, defines “militant” to mean “all military-age males in a strike zone.”  Simply put, wherever an American bomb falls, there lies a militant.  Even using such an absurdly restrictive definition of “civilian”, the United States has killed way more Afghan civilians than the Afghan insurgency has killed American civilians, a fact that is evident from the incomplete list above.

Long before it was revealed that the U.S. was counting “militants” in this way, Gareth Porter of Counterpunch had astutely noted:

Except for a relatively few women and children killed by accident, the civilians who died in the raids were all adult males who were counted as insurgents in press releases and official data released by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Porter estimated that in reality U.S. Night Raids Killed Over 1,500 Afghan Civilians in Ten Months in 2010 and 2011, far outstripping the meager 17 civilians killed by Muslim terrorists as reported by the NCTC.  This is not even to speak of the civilians killed by the U.S. in other Muslim countries, such as Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

But, always remember: they are the violent ones.

*  *  *  *  *

The NCTC has released annual terrorism reports since 2005 (see: 20052006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011).  Going through these, we find that in this entire seven year period, there were only two successful acts of Islamic terrorism inside the U.S. (the Little Rock recruiting office shooting and the Fort Hood Shooting).  Both were against military targets: in the former, Carlos Bledsoe shot and killed a U.S. soldier outside an army recruiting center.  In the latter, Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed 12 soldiers and one military-contracted ex-soldier on a military base.

In other words, at least since 2005, not a single civilian has been killed in the U.S. by Muslim terrorists.  

As for American deaths outside the U.S., the majority of these (over 80%) have been in war zones, according to the data available in the NCTC reports.  Of these fatalities, 97% have been in Afghanistan and Iraq.  From 2005 to 2011, the total number of U.S. deaths outside of war zones has been limited to 17.  This means that, outside of those countries the U.S. wages war in, an average of two American civilians per year are killed by Muslim terrorists.  This, I think, should put Micah Zenko’s article in further context.

*  *  *  *  *

In fact, we can go further back than 2005 using the RAND Corporation’s list of terrorist attacks within the United States.  (RAND is a nonprofit global policy think tank financed by the U.S. government.)  Going through this 2010 report, it becomes clear that Muslim terrorists haven’t killed a single civilian in the U.S. since 9/11.

A similar situation exists in Europe: Europol has been releasing annual terrorism reports since 2006.  As I indicated in my 2011 article Europol Reports Zero Deaths from Islamic Terrorism in Europe:

Zero civilians in Europe have been killed by Islamic terrorists in the last half decade.  In fact, the only injuries incurred from Islamic terrorism were to a security guard who “was slightly wounded.”  Perhaps the “anti-jihadist” blogosphere should find this one security guard and give him a medal of honor and declare him a martyr for the cause.

Unfortunately, since the publication of that article, a French citizen of Algerian ethnicity shot and killed three soldiers and four civilians.  This brings the total civilians in Europe killed from Islamic terrorism (2006-present) to a grand total of four, or an average of less than one person per year.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the great threat of Islamic terrorism in the Western world: you are more likely to die from an allergic reaction to peanuts, being struck and killed by lightning, or being crushed to death by your television set than being killed by a Muslim terrorist.

Nonetheless, the NCTC report states that the “ultimate goal” of the publication “is to maintain global awareness of the persistent threat terrorism poses and the critical need to secure its defeat.”  Could this be anything other than rank propaganda?  Yet, in spite of the horrifically biased methodology employed by the NCTC, the data belies the case being made, a strong indication of how flimsy the ideological basis for the War on Terror really is.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.