Early warning intelligence looks a lot like this DHS report from 2009; Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization. That early warning analysis could be directly related to the LAX shooting, among others. The problem is, as with other early warning analysis, it wasn’t given the proper public discussion and government action because it was perceived as controversial. It got swept under the rug because no one wanted to acknowledge the dark side of extreme/fringe right politics in the US. There was a fair amount of outcry against the report by some Conservatives. Fox News commentator Sean Hannity interpreted it as targeting conservatives too broadly, referring to everyone who holds conservative beliefs.
The report doesn’t disparage those who hold conservative beliefs or those who are Republican, so why the discontent? Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85). Rightwing extremism falls within that definition and should be taken seriously, as the national security threat it is to the safety and well-being of the public.
The question is, does this result in another round of Ruby Ridge or Waco-like events –which tend to fuel and legitimize the movement. In the DHS report, they address the parallel in ‘Revisiting the 1990s’:
“Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage. During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors.”
We have the information and forewarning to develop a strategy and not be caught on our heels by rightwing extremist armed gunmen. Just because they look like us, talk like us and reside in the US, doesn’t make them any less of a threat than Islamic extremists. When the CIA wrote warning analysis for both Administrations on al-Qaeda, the USG didn’t respond by building a strategy or action plan. If we are aware of the problem, let’s find a solution.