April 19th, 2009
10:24 AM ET
13 years ago

Napolitano defends 'right wing extremism' report, regrets offense

(CNN) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano continued to defend her agency's recent report warning of right-wing extremist groups, saying the U.S. has active intelligence suggesting such groups are actively targeting disgruntled veterans.

"The report is not saying veterans are extremists, far from it," she told CNN's John King Sunday on State of The Union. "What it is saying is returning veterans are targets of right wing extremist groups that are trying to recruit those to commit violent acts within the country. We want to do all we can to prevent that."

The agency's report, "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," was published last week and said right-wing extremist groups may be using the recession and the election of the nation's first African-American president to recruit members.

Prepared in conjunction with the FBI, the report was distributed to federal, state and local law enforcement officials. Mainstream media picked up the story after it was reported by conservative bloggers.

In the interview with CNN, Napolitano did not name particular groups the report was referencing, but said "Some of them indeed want to do what happened in Oklahoma city, that is commit violent acts within the homeland."

The Homeland Security Secretary also expressed regret that in "the politicization of everything that happens in Washington, DC," some have taken offence to the report.

"But when you read the report, what it was saying is that, look, we have a threat of terrorism within our own shores and one of the groups being targeted to see if they will be aligned with that are some of our veterans," she said.

Napolitano also said the report's language is "is consistent with other reports that have been issued before."

They were issued before Obama was president and they are being issued now and meant to give people what is called situational awareness and they are certainly not intended to give offense, far from it."

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Carl from MI

    The report was sanctioned by the Bush Administration.

    Why don't all you Republicans vent your anger on the Bush Administration where it so rightly belongs?

    Once again... we find that the Bush Administration is at the crux of all the Republican angst, yet they still fail to give criticism where criticism is due!!!

    Keep chasing those watermelons, Republicans....

    April 19, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. lovable liberal

    If you can read, you could see this point from the very beginning: The report says that extremist right-wingers are actively recruiting from veterans to obtain their skills, not that veterans are seeking out extremist groups.

    The noise from the wingnuts about this, as if it were a disrespect toward veterans, requires that we be too stupid to read. This is a commonplace tactic of wingnuts – to make a reading that isn't in the text at all in order score points with those who can't read for themselves.

    Yes, sometimes people on the left do this, too, but it's much, much rarer.

    April 19, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Billy

    I certainly do not mind the sharing of information regarding any form of terrorism. But I have a problem with the definition of a right-wing terrorist including: rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority. The constitution and our Founding Fathers had a lot to say about respecting the important sovereignty of the individual states. Washington has grown way too big.

    April 19, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Texan

    To those who perpetuated this false indignation (FOX, you know who you are), ... the extremist doth protest too much, methinks.

    April 19, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. chris

    the reasoning for those on the right being upset is crazy when a similar report on left wing extremist was released about 2 months prior

    to those ont he right, please get a clue. Work with us and stop trying to steer the bus over the cliff. Your reasoning is flawed, your policies proven wrong; however once we recover we will not leave you behind, unless you decide to get off the bus

    April 19, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. Kevin B

    The talk radio folks will continue to try and whip up as much hysteria and divsion as possible by frightening the weak minded and willfully uninformed in efforts to have some sort of wedge issue.

    As a veteran the DHS does need to watch all extremist, groups which includes miss guided veterans who are in fact targeted by these dangerous groups to hurt americans. unfortunately it has happened in the past.

    April 19, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Salvador Garcia

    Timothy McVeigh!

    April 19, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  8. chad

    remember timothy mcvey?
    ex-military domestic terrorist.

    April 19, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. Join The Dems

    Right wing terrorism what a joke! ACORN and trying to steal elections is a much bigger threat to this country than right wing terrorism. Calling people of your own nation terrorist and not having the stones to call foreign terrorists just that. Oh, lets just call them foreign combatants. This administration is full of tax cheats who are they themselves domestic terrorists. Nobody cared when Obama was buddies with William Ayers before during and after the election. He was an admitted terrorist and it was ok because it was a different time. This administration only does what is politically correct in their eyes and has no moral or ethical values period.

    April 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. What's all the fuss about

    While I don't see this report as singling out veterans, and as a veteran of one of these present conflicts I took no offense, I think the assessment was a bit off because of the easier relationships between races amongst military personell, thus creating a less tense 'radical' point of view. I think the people who have not served and have a far right of left point of view are the most dangerous.

    April 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Had It

    The old republican nutjobs do NOT care about this country or the citizens. They want their power and wealth. We are watching the death of an evil that should have gone away many many years ago. GREED.

    April 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. Colin, RI

    This is old news that she should not have to apologize for. Extremists have always seen veterans, especially younger ones, as prime targets for recruitment. These veterans are exposed to an organized and sometimes violent way of life, not to mention a great deal of training in weapons. As a veteran, I can recall many training sessions that targeted extremism awareness for that very reason.
    To attack the administration for alerting the nation of the facts is pointless. There is a huge difference between saying that veterans are out to destroy this country and that extremists are trying to recruit veterans for their own gains. For these extremists groups, they don't see their actions as damaging to the country, but as beneficial.
    On another note, I find it quite funny how most of these extremist groups are right-wing fanatics targeting a mainly right-wing military. Yet many Republicans are saying that most members of the Democratic party are the ones who are unpatriotic. I wonder why we can't realize that this nation consists of people who mainly fall right in the middle, with slight tendencies to one party or another. I'm glad the right-wing, Limbaugh-praising fanatics who want the Constitution to be based solely on the words of the Bible are mad. They better get used to it. Unfortunately, the left-wing gloaters aren't much better. I continue to wonder when these fools will put aside their differences and start looking at what they have in common.

    April 19, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. videodrome

    So, we have had to deal with talk about "lef-wing extremist groups" for years.

    April 19, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. Bill ~ Down on the Bayou

    Citizens nation-wide should do everything in their power to never ever lit this Napolitano woman get behind them, especially if she has a weapon. She is as dangerous as her boss(obama) and some all the rest of his henchmen.
    And now he is somewhere in Latin America sucking up to Hugo Chavez and the Castro Brothers looking for assistance designing a model for the direction he wants to take this country. In South America he is mostly black, in Europe he is mostly white. Can you realy trust someone two-faced enough not to know who he is from day to day?

    April 19, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. Scott AZ

    I guess if supporting the framework of our Constitutuion, holding our politicians regardless of their party responsible for their actions, demand enforcement of our borders makes me a radical extremist than I'm proud to wear that title!

    April 19, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. Willis

    I think it is outrageous that Napolitano warned of "people with Ron Paul bumper stickers".

    Ron Paul is a legitimate presidential candidate and a long standing member of Congress. Like his politics or not, Paul is does not promote anti American ideas.
    He is a Conversationalist – and that is what scares the Democrats and Republicans, both working to errode our rights and voter power.

    I like Obama, but, Napolitano was a very poor choice and she is the one that needs to be watched.

    April 19, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. Me in AZ

    Ok, sorry BUT if you go on ANY republican blog, or political site there are MANY MANY MANY guys claiming to be retired marines that would have taken Obama out, they would lead a revolution, they should all take up arms. I mean come on, if they are retired military and now saying this stuff then they are NUTS and need to be watched! It might not be a nice thing, but if you want to claim your military then write that crap, then be prepared to be watched! I agree with Janet 100%!!!!! Obviously Obama has overwhelming military support, but when someone in the military does NOT support him, some times they talk extremist talk. I for one and over their stupid crap, but they are still a threat!

    April 19, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. katiec

    The republicans are fueling unrest with their constant lies, hate, anger and trying to divide our country. These politicans have become
    totally unAmerican, ignoring our country and putting their party,
    politics as usual and winning at any cost over our survival. I have
    never seen our elected officials stoop so low.
    They fail to acknowledge our country faces many diasters and refuse to accept any responsibility or submit any workable plans. They can
    only point fingers, obstruct, and create unrest.
    This is not what they were elected to do and heaven help us if they
    do not start putting country and us first.

    April 19, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  19. Lori

    It isn't hard to believe that one or some of those people at the tea parties is capable of being one of those right-wing extremists that the report is talking about. From calling the President a 'terrorist', 'socialist', 'fascist' it only serves to incite hate and there were enough rednecks in the audience to take that next step to harm the President. If anything happens to the President, the GOP will be to blame by the American people.

    April 19, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. ruth

    The only thing the veterans want is what they were PROMISED. Do you nitwits not get it? They are not disgruntled-only want what they were promised. George Bush promised everything but didn't deliver anything.

    April 19, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. IS IT 2012 YET ??

    It's hard to imagine how – or why – Arizona ever elected Napolitano to anything. I'm sure most Arizonans did not know what they were getting, and had no idea what they would be inflicting on the nation.

    April 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Just Say No to Socialism

    The spin machine in full force. Maybe she should use a teleprompter next time!!

    April 19, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Al from SoCal

    Keep piling on thoses straws, and the Obama administration's
    approval will continue to do go
    DOWN !!!

    April 19, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. Dexter Skagway

    The conservative propaganda machine has been chumming up fear and hate for something like two decades now, and they have created an enraged mob.

    Thanks to poison-spitting monsters like Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Palin, Rove, Cheney, W, GIngrich, Fox News, and so many others, the right has become a cesspool of creepy crackpots seething with overblown hate. And they did it intentionally to motivate ands control their followers (hate-mongering pays well, too). But they made a mob, and mobs are ignorant, angry, stupid, cruel, and violent.

    Have you never heard them call their fellow Americans "socialists," "traitors," "America-haters," "terrorists," and so many other wild, deluded, and absurd epithets? These dingbats cheer secession and loudly hope the economy fails to prove they are right. Most actually believe this gibberish. Some could easily take it too seriously and act.

    Considering what the conservatives have done to their own people, political violence is a very real possibility.

    April 19, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  25. william from Lillington

    It is clear that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is clearly incapable of doing her J O B. This is not a democrat or republican speaking hear but a member of the intelligence community. When you approve a report that sights members of our military that volunteered to fight and defend our nation potential terrorist. Then apologize for it. I am sorry I see that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has a invested her interest elsewhere in the world of politics. You are a disgrace to the intelligence community and your work lacks any sort of intriguing. Any report that sights people with different opinions and willing to voice those opinions need to participates in a classes called US history 101, civil rights 101 and Asymmetric Warfare Training. This is the same blunder the Bush Administration made during the intelligence report on Iraq to congress. I have one world of advise for DHS Janet Napolitano, Resign.

    April 19, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
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