Sunday, April 03, 2005

Homeland Security List Of Domestic Terrorists Clouded By Partisan Politics

The one part of our government that should be above the fray of partisan politics should be the Department of Homeland Security.

But that's apparently not the case, with regard to the department's internal list of domestic terrorists and terrorist groups.

According to a March 25 story in Congressional Quarterly, a draft of a department planning document, “Integrated Planning Guidance, Fiscal Years 2005-2011,” does not list fringe right domestic terrorists. It does list those associated with the fringe left.

Although the department's main domestic concerns between now and 2011 are radical Islamist groups affiliated with Al Qaeda and other foreign entities tied to the Islamic Jihad movement, a secondary concern, apparently, are fringe left groups such as Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. Those groups are listed as terrorist threats.

However, anti-government groups, white supremecists and other fringe right movements, many of which have actually staged terrorist attacks, are absent from the list.

No one should deny the fact that fringe left groups, such as the two named above, have been responsible for terror attacks, leading to deaths in a handful of states. But even the department acknowledges their efforts are designe to damage property, not kill people. To not include the fringe right movements -- which have been convicted over and over of attempting, and sometimes succeeding, in killing people -- is both partisan politics and, frankly, incompetence.

Consider these examples of terror acts tied to the radical right fringe:

-- The conspirators behind the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and wounded more than 500, were inspired by fringe right movements.

-- Eric Rudolph, the man charged with carrying out the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, which killed one woman and injured more than 100, was a member of the radical anti-abortion group Army of God. Initially, Rudolph was the object of a massive North Carolina manhunt in connection with a Birmingham, Ala., abortion-clinic bombing that killed a police officer and maimed a nurse.

-- Another Army of God member, James Kopp, was convicted in the 1998 shooting of a doctor who performed abortions.

-- In 2003, a Texas man, William J. Krar, pleaded guilty to charges of possessing a weapon of mass destruction. Authorities had discovered enough sodium cyanide bombs to kill hundreds of people; machine guns and several hundred thousand rounds of ammunition; 60 pipe bombs; and remote-control explosive devices disguised as briefcases in a storage space he rented. Krar was a white supremecist and tied to fringe right groups.

-- Stephen John Jordi was charged with planning a terrorist bombing campaign, pleading guilty in February, 2004, to one count of attempted firebombing. Jordi was allegedly planning to bomb a number of targets, including gay bars and abortion clinics.


It shouldn't be a complete surprise that the department is engaging in partisan politics. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft was the king of the well-timed press conference announcing the capture of someone with a foreign-sounding last name (, the vast majority of whom have never been convicted.

But some of the Justice Department's greatest successes under Ashcroft's tenure -- stopping domestic terrorists tied to the fringe right -- never received such publicity.


Domestic terror experts told CQ that they were surprised the department did not include fringe right groups on their list of adversaries.

“They are still a threat, and they will continue to be a threat,” Mike German, a 16-year undercover agent for the FBI who spent most of his career infiltrating fringe right groups, told CQ. “If for some reason the government no longer considers them a threat, I think they will regret that,” said German, who left the FBI last year. “Hopefully it’s an oversight.”

James O. Ellis III, a senior terror researcher for the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, told CQ that fringe left groups, which have been more active recently, have focused mainly on the destruction of property. Fringe right groups have a much deadlier and more violent record and should be on the list. “The nature of the history of terrorism is that you will see acts in the name of [right-wing] causes in the future.”

In the past few years, Ellis told CQ, fringe left violence has overtaken fringe right violence as the primary form of domestic terror. “When a conservative government comes to power, you see more activity from the opposite side of the spectrum,” he said.

At the same time, the membership and activity of fringe right groups has suffered since the Oklahoma City bombing, and the broadcasting of images of the children who died in the federal building’s second-floor day care center. “A lot of people said, ‘I’m fighting against the Zionist Occupied Government, I’m not here to kill children,” Ellis told CQ.

Still, Ellis warned, the movements remain worthy of the government’s concern. Last October, the FBI arrested a man in Tennessee who tried to buy sarin nerve gas and C-4 explosive to attack a government building. The man, Demetrius “Van” Crocker, had also inquired about obtaining nuclear waste or other nuclear material, according to the FBI. And in 2003, a Pennsylvania man was convicted of mailing hundreds of letters containing fake anthrax to abortion clinics around the United States.

“We don’t have the luxury of ignoring threats from either side of the political spectrum,” Ellis told CQ.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is Guiliani now screaming publicly whenever someone accuses the Department of Homeland Security of playing politics?
His mantra has been, in so many words, how could anyone dare to be stupid enough to accuse homeland security of putting politics above precaution, etc. Remember his reaction when Howard Dean subtly suggested the security alerts last summer based on information several years old was designed to increase Bush's presidential bid. I wonder how Guiliani would respond to this post?

I would have to research this more. But perhaps the Republicans can more conveniently label the left-wing threats because the groups actually have names. These Right-wing wacko jobs appear to be more isolated individuals and less organized, thus harder to identify.

10:17 AM  

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