Going back to the Bush administration, these “lexicons” have seemingly had a singular purpose: purging the use of “Islam,” “jihad,” and “Muslim” from any official discussion of terrorism. No one should be surprised that none of those terms can be found in the current DHS “lexicon,” despite the fact that even by the most generous estimates, more than 40 percent of domestic terrorism has come from within the Muslim community, which accounts for less than one percent of the population. In its place, federal bureaucrats have invented and promoted a patently meaningless and undefinable category, “violent extremism.”
The roots of this go back to the end of the Bush administration and a March 2008 “lexicon” published by the National Counterterrorism Center. Titled “Words that Work and Words that Don’t: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication,” it began the effort to purge the usage of the terms “Islam,” “Muslim,” and “jihad” from the vocabulary of government officials.
The Obama administration has taken those efforts even further, removing those terms from the 2009 National Intelligence Strategy, the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, the Quadrennial Defense Review, the FBI Counterterrorism Analytical Lexicon, and the DOD Fort Hood report.
And as seen with the criticism of the previous version of the “lexicon,” this is hardly the first time that the DHS Office for Intelligence and Analysis has come under fire for targeting citizens with no connection whatsoever to terrorism.
In 2009, DHS came under fire for a 10-page report, “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” which classified returning war veterans as potential threats. When government watchdogs submitted FOIAs for the sources used in preparing the report, they found that conspiracy websites and far-left outfits had been used, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, which branded the American Legion veterans organization as a “hate group.” Information also surfaced that the report had been rushed out over the objections of civil liberties officials. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano was forced to apologize to veterans groups and withdraw the report.
Nor is this the first time that homeland security agencies have pushed the boundaries on defining “militia extremists.”
Just a few weeks prior to DHS coming under fire for that “right-wing” report, the Missouri Information Analysis Center, funded by DHS grants, issued a report titled “The Modern Militia Movement,” which branded pro-life groups and those opposed to illegal immigration as potential domestic terrorists. Indicators identified in the report included support for third-party candidates. Political signs and bumper stickers were also suspect, with the Revolutionary War-era “Gadsden flag” specifically called out as a “militia symbol.” The Missouri fusion center later announced it would stop publishing reports altogether.
In light of the recent publication of the DHS “lexicon” that violates their own guidelines, it seems clear that under Secretary Napolitano, DHS officials are intent on continuing to target innocent citizens merely exercising their constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, groups and individuals that federal prosecutors and even federal judges have identified as supporting foreign terrorist groups are actively courted and legitimized by the Obama administration. Leaders from these terror-tied organizations are even being used to help write the DHS department guidelines on “countering violent extremism.”
Is it any wonder then that just last week it was revealed that a DHS-funded study likened terrorism to “ordinary crime” while omitting any reference to the radicalizing effects of Islamic extremist ideology?
Until Congress pushes back on this malfeasance by DHS and holds Secretary Napolitano accountable, it is likely to continue.