The Department of Homeland Security, which under Secretary Janet Napolitano has shown a keen interest in monitoring and warning about outspoken conservatives, takes a very different approach in monitoring political Islamists, according to a 2011 memo on protecting the free speech rights of pro-Shariah Muslim supremacists.
In a checklist obtained by The Daily Caller entitled “Countering Violent Extremism Dos and Don’ts” the DHS’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties notifies local and national law enforcement officials that it is Obama administration policy to consider specifically Islamic criticism of the American system of government legitimate.
This policy stands in stark contrast to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis’ 2009 memo “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” [pdf], which warned of the dangers posed by pro-life advocates, critics of same-sex marriage and groups concerned with abiding by the U.S. Constitution, among others.
The advice of the Dos and Don’ts list is far more conciliatory. “Don’t use training that equates radical thought, religious expression, freedom to protest, or other constitutionally-protected activity, including disliking the U.S. government without being violent,” the manual’s authors write in a section on training being “sensitive to constitutional values.”
The manual, which was produced by an inter-agency working group from DHS and the National Counterterrorism Center, advises, “Trainers who equate the desire for Sharia law with criminal activity violate basic tenets of the First Amendment.”
The checklist also advised against using moderate Muslim “trainers who are self-professed ‘Muslim reformers’” because they “may further an interest group agenda instead of delivering generally accepted, unbiased information.”
The Homeland Security document also seems to discount evidence unearthed by the Justice Department about the aims of some mainstream Muslim organizations, warning law enforcement not to rely on “unsubstantiated theories” and “conspiracies,” such as the belief that “many mainstream Muslim organizations have terrorist ties” or are “fronts for Islamic political organizations whose true desire is to establish Sharia law in America.”
The manual advises trainees not to assume Muslim Americans are “using democratic processes, like litigation and free speech, to subvert democracy and install Sharia law.”
In fact, the Justice Department proved that some very prominent Muslim organizations do have terror ties in a 2009 case and that they share the Muslim Brotherhood’s goal of Shariah law. “The government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations], ISNA [Islamic Society of North America], NAIT [North American Islamic Trust], with the Islamic Association for Palestine, and with Hamas,” U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis said in the July 1, 2009 ruling.
Tim Clemente, a former FBI agent who hunted Anwar Al-Awlaki and who has worked with Muslims to help stop terrorist plots, told The Daily Caller the government overdoes its sensitivity. Clemente says that the Muslim community “needs a realization, not necessarily a reformation,” that only it can stop terrorist attacks.
“Muslims are the ones that should notice this and should nip it in the bud,” Clemente told TheDC. “When you see the guy radicalizing and yelling at an imam, do more. Take it to the next level. Don’t go turning a blind eye.”
“While it is true that the vast majority of Muslims, especially in America, will never ever be radicalized, the greatest percentage of those that will commit terrorist acts happen to Muslim,” continued Clemente, who was critical of DHS’s 2009 report on rightwing groups.
Although the two reports originated from different wings of Napolitano’s vast Homeland Security bureaucracy, the contrast in their deference to constitutional rights and presumption of innocence is striking.
The “Rightwing Extremism” report warned that the economic recession, Barack Obama’s election, and the “return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating” might lead to a rise in white-power domestic terrorist activity — a threat that, unlike the threat posted by radical Islam, has failed to materialize in the four years since the report was issued.
The 2009 report also defined “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also those who reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority and who “are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”
The 2009 report’s authors conceded that DHS “has no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence.”