Monday, June 15, 2009

Operation Vigilant Eagle

From today's WSJ: FBI Seeks to Target Lone Extremists. It appears the FBI has some extra time on its hands, so why not pursue non-criminals that may do something bad based on little to no common traits or behavior? Or, are the traits known, but not acknowledged?

The FBI is "trying to identify a potential lone wolf before he or she would act out violently," Michael Ward, the bureau's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, said in an interview earlier this year.

The lone-wolf initiative is one element of a broader strategy to fight domestic terrorism, dubbed "Operation Vigilant Eagle," launched late last year in response to what the memo identified as "an increase in recruitment, threatening communications, and weapons procurement by white supremacy extremist and militia/sovereign citizen extremist groups."

Some questions come to mind:

If there is recruitment, how can it be lone-wolf?

Threatening communication should be taken seriously, and we think it is today. Will the FBI change how it responds to these messages today?

Last, don't white supremists already own weapons? Why should the FBI worry about someone buying his 2nd, or 50th, gun?

Neither man appears to have been active in groups that might have tipped off authorities to the danger. In the search for potentially violent individual extremists, "an emphasis should be placed on the identification of individuals who have been ostracized from a group for their radical beliefs," the FBI memo said.

Would that include bloggers that call Obama a "Socialist" or "Communist"? We've been called "Right Wing Nut" and "Stupid" by so-called 'conservative' thinkers (link to posts).

The stepped-up attention to the issue in recent months is part of a broader worry about rising threats and violence from political extremists.
... recent lone-wolf cases include the killing of a soldier in Little Rock, Ark., last month, allegedly by a converted Muslim extremist, Abdulhakim Muhammad.

Should we take offense to the "political extremists" label?

Speaking of political extremism, here is today's snapshot of our current Comrade Survey:

James Taranto comments on lib Paul Krugman's recent warning of right-wing extremists in his NYT column:

There is a bit of truth to what Krugman is saying: The right is generally out of sorts these days, and crackpot conspiracy theories are more prominent than they used to be on the right, just as they were more prominent on the left--often promoted by Krugman himself--during the Bush years. Such crackpottery is baneful, but it is characteristic of parties and political movements when they are out of power.
We can think of someone else whose published rants included attacks on "neocons." We won't name names, but the guy is a former Enron adviser. The Washington Post quotes a von Brunn scribbling: "Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do." That sounds a lot like left-wing extremist Jeremiah Wright the other day, although the Associated Press reports that Wright now says he meant to say "Zionists" rather than "Jews." (Had he consulted the Anti-Semitic Manual of Style, he would have known that "Zionist" is the preferred term when trying to sound respectable.)

Yes, there is a sense in which von Brunn appears to be a man of the "right." But as we've noted, political space is non-Euclidean, so that the extremes on one side tend to converge with the extremes on the other side. Linking von Brunn to mainstream conservatives--even to comparatively truculent ones--is a real stretch.

And Jonah Goldberg comments in his NRO article, A Silly Game of Connect-The-Dots:

But, of course, we have Sarah Palin to thank for von Brunn. So says some genius at the Daily Kos. A competing braniac at the Huffington Post says, “Thank you very much Karl Rove and your minions.” Pretty much the entire media establishment is comfortable labeling von Brunn as a member of the “far right.” Putting aside other objections to that nomenclature, if von Brunn is a member of the far right, then it would be helpful and journalistically responsible if the press would start calling Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, et al., moderates and centrists.

That won’t happen, because the whole point of these exercises is to paint the Right as an undifferentiated blob of evil.

Photos - top to bottom:

Theodore Kacynski - Unabomber, Berkeley Professor, Political: probably liberal
James von Brunn - Holocaust Museum shooter, 9-11 Truther, Jew-Hater, Political: probably liberal
Scott Roeder - Dr. Tiller shooter, Pro-Life except when shooting people, Jew-hater, Neocon-hater, Political: Kusinich supporter?
Abdulhakin Muhammad - Shooter of Army recruiters, convicted criminal, muslim convert, Political: probably liberal

Maybe the FBI could find some commonality among the previous nuts to help them narrow their search for the next nuts.

Just because a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then, doesn't mean our tax dollars should be used paying blind squirrels to find the random nut.

And the real worry, the motivation behind this post: those blind squirrels may find others that feel, smell or taste like nuts, and therefore infringe on those non-nuts' freedom. Been known to happen...

1 comment:

americafarm said...

Regarding threatening comments - I believe they have implemented a new policy of treating all hostile speech as "true" threats. The Cowart case, the Bill White case, little by little the definition of "true threat" is changing from meaning a real intention to carry out a real crime against someone to mean "speech that truly upsets someone else".