Is the Obama administration keeping tabs on “right-wing extremists”?
This question comes up because I’ve been informed that someone certainly is keeping tabs on me.
It started last summer. I don’t consider myself a “right-wing extremist” — but the far-Left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) does, and the FBI uses the SPLC as a resource. Since then, every time I fly — and I fly almost weekly – I can’t check in online. I am always directed to go to the airline counter.
There — as soon as I present my identification — the trouble starts. It generally proceeds like this:
- The clerk types a great deal, frowns at the screen, types some more, asks me what my middle name is, types still more, looks at me quizzically, and gets on the phone.
- They’re very secretive about these calls, sometimes even moving to a different desk to make them. They refuse to tell me anything about them afterward, including who they called or why.
- The call usually takes around ten minutes. The whole process takes fifteen or twenty minutes. Then I am checked in and allowed to go to my gate.
After these long, unexplained delays — which had never occurred prior to last summer — happened to me five or six times consecutively, I asked an FBI agent of my acquaintance about it, and he kindly agreed to look into it. A few days later he told me that the strange delays weren’t about me, but about someone else: as it happened, he said, someone on some watch list or other is named Robert Spencer and shares my birthdate.
He said the FBI wasn’t watching me, and as far as he knew, no other government agency was either. But shortly thereafter, an airline clerk gave me a strong indication that what the FBI agent had told me was untrue.
After the clerk finished the long, mysterious phone call, he told me he was breaking the rules to tell me the following: the person on the other end had asked if I was planning on traveling to the UK.
I was not — because the UK has actually banned me from traveling there for the crime of noting that Islam has doctrines calling for violence against unbelievers.
Another time, a different clerk broke the rules again. He told me that the mysterious person he called had remarked: “He sure travels a lot.” Notably, he did not say anything that might confirm what the FBI agent had told me, like, say: “Let him go, that’s not the same Robert Spencer.”
As the behavior of the two desk clerks suggested that the delays were about me after all, I contacted a lawyer, who told me to submit a Redress Inquiry. I did, and in response I received a bland form letter from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), telling me essentially what the FBI agent had told me:
The U.S. Government has completed our review of your case. Your experience was most likely caused by a misidentification against a government record or by random selection.
DHS recommends that you provide your redress control number when making your reservations.
However, I’ve done so numerous times since getting this number, and it never works. I still get the long and mysterious delay at airport counters every time I fly.
The hypothesis that a “right-wing extremist” identification now qualifies someone as a U.S. travel risk is not as preposterous as it might seem at first glance. (Again, note my UK ban.) For years, the Obama administration has shown a disturbing tendency to classify ordinary conservative Americans as terror threats. In April 2013, investigative journalist Todd Starnes of Fox News reported as such:
[T]he U.S. Army listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania.
The incident occurred during an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism.
The list was titled “Religious Extremism.” Topping it was “Evangelical Christianity (U.S./Christian),” followed by “Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt/Muslim)” and then “Ultra-Orthodox” (Israel/Judaism).”
A politically correct trifecta of the three main monotheistic religions. Statistical analysis regarding the frequency of violent behavior from those three groups be damned.
Also on the list: “Al Quaeda [sic] (Transnational/Islam)”; “Hamas (Palestinian/Islamist)”; Abu Sayyah [sic] (Philippines/Islam)”; “Ku Klux Klan (U.S/Christian)”; and “Catholicism (U.S./Christian),” among others.
The list also included “Islamophobia” as a form of “religious extremism.”
The implications of this are quite ominous. If evangelical Christianity, Catholicism and “Islamophobia” were forms of “Religious Extremism” on par with al-Qaeda and Hamas, how long would it be before the Obama administration went to war against them?
After all, the administration has repeatedly declared it is at war with al-Qaeda.
The list’s intentions were clear: those groups are to be considered “extremists” alongside jihadi groups. So how long might it be before accused “Islamophobes” like me have their whereabouts tracked just as suspected jihadis are tracked?
That list was not an isolated case. Investigative reporter Matthew Vadum reported in September 2013:
[C]onservative organizations are “hate groups” and Tea Party supporters are potentially dangerous extremists, according to educational materials the Obama administration is using to indoctrinate members of the nation’s armed forces.
Vadum also noted that a Defense Department diversity training center guide entitled “Extremism,” published in January 2013, warned:
[I]nstead of “dressing in sheets,” radicals today “will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”
The guide even identified the Founding Fathers as “extremists”:
In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.
Meanwhile, wrote Vadum:
[T]he DoD teaching guide treats Islamic terrorism as insignificant, ignoring, for example, the murder spree committed by self-described “soldier of Allah,” U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, at Fort Hood in 2009. The guide references Islamic extremism only in passing and doesn’t provide a precise definition for extremism. “[W]hile not all extremist groups are hate groups, all hate groups are extremist groups,” it states.
Hate groups. There we are.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is in the business of demonizing those who oppose its hard-Left agenda, falsely and libelously called me a “hate group leader” for my work exposing the motives and goals of jihad terrorists. Is there a dusty government office somewhere in Washington where my comings and goings — and those of others who have been smeared by the SPLC — are tracked in the Obama administration’s ongoing battle against “extremism”?
Maybe there is another explanation for why checking in for a flight has become suddenly problematic for me. But let’s take a rational look at the background provided by the Obama administration: the IRS targets conservative groups; the administration signed on to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s effort to compel Western governments to stifle criticism of Islam; the administration scrubbed the records of Muslims with jihad terror ties.
Is the idea that this administration would keep tabs on public foes of its policies farfetched? Or is it a reasonable assumption?