It’s appropriate that the United States is now officially backing Al-Qaeda fighters in Syria given the fact that the primary focus of the war on terror has been shifted away from Muslim extremists and re-aligned to target politically active, conservative and libertarian Americans.
The latest salvo comes in the form of an ABC Studios drama which demonizes a Texas militia group as dangerous right-wing extremists, lifting its story from last year’s arrest of Hutaree militia members in Michigan who despite being charged with planning to kill police officers were later acquitted.
As we have documented, under the Obama administration, the characterization of Americans who distrust big government and adhere to constitutionalist principles as domestic extremists or even terrorists has accelerated.
The most recent example was a study funded by the Department of Homeland Security which characterized Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.
Entitled Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970-2008 (PDF), the study was produced by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. The organization was launched with the aid of DHS funding to the tune of $12 million dollars.
While largely omitting Islamic terrorism – the report fails completely to mention the 1993 World Trade Center bombing – the study focuses on Americans who hold beliefs shared by the vast majority of conservatives and libertarians and puts them in the context of radical extremism.
The report takes its definitions from a 2011 study entitled Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism, produced by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, in which the following characteristics are used to identify terrorists.
- Americans who believe their “way of life” is under attack;
- Americans who are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”;
- People who consider themselves “anti-global” (presumably those who are wary of the loss of American sovereignty);
- Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”;
- Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty”;
- People who “believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty.”
The report also lists people opposed to abortion and “groups that seek to smite the purported enemies of God and other evildoers” as terrorists
Former Congressman Bob Barr responded to the study by labeling it a “frightening” and “bizarre” example of how “government officials seem to have become increasingly distrustful of individual liberty.”
“The report may appear innocuous, but it is not. It offers a carefully scripted but insidious analysis of Americans who happen to hold certain philosophical or political views, many of which are common among conservatives and libertarians,” wrote Barr, quoting the Infowars story which highlighted how the study was all part of the “rush to denounce legitimate political beliefs as thought crimes.”
After our article on the study was picked up by the Drudge Report, the story took on a life of its own, prompting scorn from conservatives across the spectrum, including a Washington Times report by By Wesley Pruden entitled The new terrorists — they’re all of us.
As we have exhaustively documented on numerous occasions, federal authorities and particularly the Department of Homeland Security have been involved in producing a deluge of literature which portrays liberty lovers and small government advocates as terrorists.
The rush to denounce legitimate political beliefs, or even mundane behaviors, as thought crimes, by insinuating they are shared by terrorists, has accelerated in recent months.
Under the FBI’s Communities Against Terrorism program, the bulk purchase of food is labeled as a potential indication of terrorist activity, as is using cash to pay for a cup of coffee, and showing an interest in web privacy when using the Internet in a public place.
As we have documented on numerous occasions, the federal government routinely characterizes mundane behavior as extremist activity or a potential indicator of terrorist intent. As part of its ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign, the Department of Homeland Security educates the public that generic activities performed by millions of people every day, including using a video camera, talking to police officers, wearing hoodies, driving vans, writing on a piece of paper, and using a cell phone recording application,” are all potential signs of terrorist activity.
The DHS also stoked controversy last year when it released a series of videos to promote the See Something, Say Something campaign in which almost all of the terrorists portrayed in the PSAs were white Americans.
In the course of the 10 minute clip, a myriad of different behaviors are characterized as terrorism, including opposing surveillance, using a video camera, talking to police officers, wearing hoodies, driving vans, writing on a piece of paper, and using a cell phone recording application.
Despite encouraging viewers not to pay attention to a person’s race in determining whether or not they may be a terrorist, almost all of the scenarios in the clip proceed to portray white people as the most likely terrorists. Bizarrely, nearly every single one of the “patriotic” Americans who reports on their fellow citizen is either black, Asian or Arab. Imagine if the video had portrayed every terrorist as an Arab and every patriotic snoop as white, there’d be an outcry and rightly so, yet this strange reversal must have been deliberate on the part of the DHS, but why? Is this merely political correctness taken to the extreme or is something deeper at work?
In addition to rhetoric from the likes of Vice-President Biden that Tea Partiers are akin to “terrorists,” other legitimate grass roots activists such as End the Fed protesters have also been labeled as dangerous extremists by the federal government.
In March 2009 it came to light that the End the Fed protests, which took place at banks and regional Federal Reserve branches across the country the previous year on November 22, were being monitored closely by the United States Army Reserve Command, who implied that those protesting against the Fed and the bankster bailout were essentially terrorists.
On November 22, 2008, Alex Jones led a rally at the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas Texas. The Dallas protest is specifically mentioned in the official Army document. Ron Paul’s brother was also in attendance.
The FBI has also gone out of its way to characterize returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan as a major domestic terrorist threat. Additionally, Janet Napolitano said she stood by an April 2009 DHS intelligence assessment that listed returning vets as likely domestic terrorists.
Just a month later, the New York Times reported on how Boy Scout Explorers were being trained by the DHS to kill “disgruntled Iraq war veterans” in terrorist drills.
In March 2009 we broke the story of the infamous MIAC report, leaked to us by two concerned Missouri police officers. The report listed Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, people who display bumper stickers, people who own gold, or even people who fly a U.S. flag and equates them with radical race hate groups and terrorists.
Indeed, the MIAC report is just one in a series of similar threat assessment documents released over the last decade that list average American citizens as dangerous extremists and potential terrorists. This characterization stretches back long before the Obama administration came to power.
We have highlighted previous training manuals issued by state and federal government bodies which identify whole swathes of the population as potential terrorists. A Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Law Enforcement pamphlet gives the public characteristics to identify terrorists that include buying baby formula, beer, wearing Levi jeans, carrying identifying documents like a drivers license and traveling with women or children.
A Virginia training manual used to help state employees recognize terrorists lists anti-government and property rights activists as terrorists and includes binoculars, video cameras, paper pads and notebooks in a compendium of terrorist tools.
Such training documents are manifesting real-life situations where people are being harassed, assaulted and arrested by law enforcement simply for owning material or discussing topics related to the Constitution and the bill of rights.
In May 2008, a student of a large bible college in east Texas was accused by federal agents of committing an “act of terror and espionage” after he gave a talk to a group of Boy Scouts in which he encouraged them to educate themselves about the U.S. constitution.
In July 2007, the Kuhns, a North Carolina couple, were terrorized by sheriff’s deputy Brian Scarborough, who broke into their house, assaulted them and then arrested the couple for the crime of flying an upside down U.S. flag.
The couple were handcuffed, arrested and bundled into a squad car, to the protests of numerous neighbors who demanded to know why the Kuhns were being incarcerated, but were told to leave by police.