The head of DHS, Janet Napolitano, today tried to spin the now infamous report her department released this week as portraying veterans as unwitting victims of extremist groups, rather than being extremists themselves.
“The report is not saying that veterans are extremists. Far from it,” Napolitano said on CNN’s 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.”
This is standard damage control stuff, trying to massage the offensive comments in the report on right-wing extremists. The administration wants you to believe that they are not indicting combat veterans as extremists; rather they are very concerned for our well being. Veterans are victims, unable to avoid being swept up in ideologies of hate, fear, and violence against the government.
“In retrospect, anything can be written differently to prevent politicization,” she continued. “But I think any fair reading says this is very consistent with other reports that have been issued before. They were issued before Obama was president, they’re being issued now. They’re meant to give people what’s called situational awareness, and they’re certainly not meant to give offense. Far from it.”
So according to the secretary, DHS is concerned about combat vets being recruited into extremist hate groups, and she is taking steps to prevent it from happening, including raising situational awareness. So why hasn't DHS talked to the military about their concerns?
About a decade ago, the Army created a one stop web portal for soldiers called AKO, or Army Knowledge Online. Today, a soldier can fill out forms, contact other soldiers, hold web conferences, send instant messages, and search through hundreds of military briefings and powerpoint slides. Most soldiers are required to log on at least monthly to get information from their unit, so the Army can talk nearly instantaneously to almost all of its soldiers. And what information is available on AKO to warn soldiers about what DHS says is a 'resurgent threat' that is 'more pronounced than is past years'?
A search of the entire AKO site for hate groups gets one hit-on an AKO blog talking about the DHS report-
Searching all of AKO for extremist group gives one relevant result; a Powerpoint breifing from last March about extremist groups.
But there is no mention of them recruiting combat vets. It is just a generic outline of the Army policy on military membership in hate/extremist groups.
So the Department of Homeland Security is apparently very concerned about extremist groups recruiting veterans, but forgot to mention it to the Army.