Amateur Hour at DHS

The controversial Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment stirred criticism that the DHS had turned away from monitoring real terrorism plots and was now labeling veterans, pro-life groups, and limited government advocates as threats to national security. Consider those fears vindicated.

Americans for Limited Government (ALG) filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents and correspondence that supported the DHS report. The result: DHS sent a letter and list of the sources used to assess a significant number of innocent Americans as potential terrorists.

Seriously, read the whole thing. This collection of open source material amounts to an afternoon of internet browsing. Several arrests and indictments are mentioned, but newspapers and blogs are used instead of primary documents such as actual arrest reports and indictments that are available over the internet.

When a government agency charged with the physical security of the nation’s borders is running around on the internet looking for accusations of racism instead of using actual law enforcement and intelligence reports to justify its threat assessments, we are all in trouble. As Jeffrey Rosen has said, the biggest problem with DHS is that it was “a bureaucratic and philosophical mistake.”

Create a bureaucracy designed to inflate fears and issue color-coded threat levels, and that is what you will get. But don’t be surprised when TSA agents at the airport decide to go beyond their aviation security mission and get rebuked by a federal judge. Expect people lawfully traveling with cash to get detained without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion that they are breaking the law or pose a threat to airline safety. Anticipate that the “no-fly” list will become a “no-rights” list when a politician can seek political advantage by advocating that anyone designated for double-secret probation be denied their Second Amendment rights.

In related news, Jonathan Turley highlights the fact that English comedian Paul O’Grady was held on suspicion of being an illegal alien from Cuba because of his “funny accent.”

Your tax dollars at work.