Another newer act of terrorism on American soil


…and no it wasn’t done by Muslims.

millerAnother U.S. shooting spree has left bullet-riddled bodies in its wake, and refocused attention on violent, right-wing extremists. Frazier Glenn Miller, a former leader of a wing of the Ku Klux Klan, is accused of killing three people outside two Jewish community centers outside Kansas City, Kan. As he was hauled away in a police car, he shouted “Heil Hitler!” Unlike Islamic groups that U.S. agencies spend tens of billions of dollars targeting, domestic white supremacist groups enjoy relative freedom to spew their hatred and promote racist ideology. Too often, their murderous rampages are viewed as acts of deranged “lone wolf” attackers. These seemingly fringe groups are actually well-organized, interconnected and are enjoying renewed popularity.

In April 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a study on right-wing extremists in the United States. The 10-page report included findings like “The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.” It controversially suggested military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could potentially be recruited to join hate groups. The report provoked a firestorm of criticism, especially from veterans groups. The Obama administration was just months old, and newly appointed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano withdrew the report, apologizing for it during a congressional budget hearing.

SPLCLogoMark Potok is a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking right-wing hate groups and Frazier Glenn Miller for years. Potok said, about that report, “a real problem with the Department of Homeland Security … ever since a particular report on the right wing was leaked to the press in April of 2009, DHS has sort of cowered. They essentially gutted their non-Islamic domestic terrorism unit.”

The SPLC was co-founded in 1971 by civil-rights lawyer Morris Dees. It began suing white supremacist groups in the 1980s, representing clients that the groups threatened, beat and harassed. Potok described Frazier Glenn Miller as “one of the best-known white supremacist activists in the country for a very long time … active for more than 40 years in the movement. He joined, as a very young teenager, things like the National States’ Rights Party, a descendent of the American Nazi Party.” Miller formed his own wing of the Klan, which marched publicly in military fatigues. He had dealings with another supremacist group, The Order, that gave him $200,000 from the more than $4 million stolen through bank robberies and armored-car holdups.

After being sued by the SPLC, Frazier Glenn Miller agreed to a settlement in one case, but violated the terms of the agreement and was found guilty of criminal contempt. While out on bond, he disappeared, issuing a crudely typed “Declaration of War,” specifically targeting Morris Dees for murder. He was eventually arrested. Potok told me, “He was initially charged with conspiracy, very serious charges, in 1987 that could have sent him to prison for 20 or 30 years. But he cut a deal with the federal government and agreed to testify … against his comrades. That wound up meaning a mere five-year sentence for him, and he served only three years.”

Miller cooperated with federal prosecutors, testifying against 13 white supremacist leaders. He was released from prison and was assisted, it is believed, by the Federal Witness Protection Program as he relocated to Nebraska and changed his last name to “Cross.” Frazier Glenn Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, lost credibility with other white supremacists and faded into relative obscurity. He occasionally ran for office in Missouri, after running virulently racist campaign ads on radio.  Then he went on his murderous rampage this week. “Perhaps if he had been in prison all those years rather than a witness in this trial,” Potok reflected, “we wouldn’t have experienced what we saw in Kansas City the other day.”

 

Potok and the SPLC track the recent rise of right-wing hate groups. When I asked him about the FBI’s focus on animal rights and environmental groups, he replied, “The idea that eco-terrorists, so-called, are the major domestic terror threat, which was in fact said to Congress a couple of times by FBI leaders during the Bush years, I think is just patently ludicrous … no one has been killed by anyone in the radical animal-rights movement or the radical environmentalist movement.” The SPLC will soon release a report that links registered members of two prominent white supremacist online forums to more than 100 murders in the United States—in just the past five years.

While law-abiding Muslims are forced to hide in their homes, and animal-rights activists are labeled as terrorists for undercover filming of abusive treatment at factory farms, right-wing hate groups are free to organize, parade, arm themselves to the hilt and murder with chilling regularity. It’s time for our society to confront this very real threat.

amy-column360Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.

A good ruling-Hutareeites go free


In order as shown: Tina Mae Stone, Joshua Matt...

In order as shown: Tina Mae Stone, Joshua Matthew Stone, David Brian Stone Sr., David Brian Stone Jr., Thomas William Piatek, Michael David Meeks, Kristopher T. Sickles, Joshua Clough, Jacob J. Ward (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I railed against these folks in a post here where I said they were terrorists and should be charged with terrorism.  Instead the federal government charged them with “sedition” and earlier this week all but lost that case.  I agree with the ruling insofar as it apply universally to all who come before U.S. district  judge Victoria Roberts.

Let’s begin with who are the Hutaree militia and what were they charged with.  They call themselves “Christian warriors”….the equivalent of Muslim “jihadists” but without all the baggage that goes along with the term jihadists.  They were charged with seditious conspiracy against the government, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. The indictment said that the Hutaree planned to attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession for the officer or officers they planned to kill, using explosively formed penetrator improvised explosive devices (which under federal law are considered “weapons of mass destruction).  It’s important to note informants were instrumental in bringing the charges against the group…much like what has happened with so many jihadists inspired plots we’ve seen throughout the last decade.

Earlier this week, judge Roberts, a Clinton appointee to the bench by the way, ruled against the government, dismissing the sedition charges, i.e. conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the U.S. and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. Other weapons crimes tied to the alleged conspiracies also were dismissed.  Judge Roberts said, ‘statements and exercises do not evince a concrete agreement to forcibly resist the authority of the United States government,…(David Stone’s) diatribes evince nothing more than his own hatred for — perhaps even desire to fight or kill — law enforcement; this is not the same as seditious conspiracy.’  Roberts took the concept of freedom of speech to the very limits of the law and concluded that while what the defendants said was horrible, scary, frightening, absent any defined and definite action to do what they said they wanted to do, they had the right to that speech and  opinion. (You can read more about the acquittals here)  In today’s America that’s an extraordinary position to take, considering the slightest innuendo is enough to get you locked up for life, depending upon your political, religious and/or racial inclinations.  If you looked at the way the trial was conducted it follows so closely with all the other federal prosecutions of people related to terrorism offenses but with a far different outcome.  I assert the difference was this judge, Victoria Roberts got it right; that inspite of the highly inflammable accusations and statements made, free speech is what one is entitled too as long as there is no accompanying illegal action that results from that speech.  It may be a narrow line, but it seems Roberts walked across it successfully when issuing her ruling. I wish more judges had the constitutional fortitude to give such a ruling as Roberts.

Finally a dig at the Tea Party, birthers and  political conservatives.  When Janet Napolitano’s Homeland Security agency first came out with the warning of right wing extremism’s threat to the homeland, those groups who hate Obama came out to vehemently oppose even the idea that some people from their side of the spectrum could, would even do the things that were mentioned in the reports of three years or so ago.  It was simply inconceivable to them that violence and terror could come from any but the halls of Islamic extremism and treachery and any and every conviction along those lines served to underscore their belief.  They also used the birther notion that President Obama was some sort of illegal alien with an Islamic agenda to drive home the points that the Nation was under attack.  Indeed, Hutaree members had some rather strange notions along those lines as well.  The point man for the government’s case against the Hutaree was Eric Holder much maligned too for his suggestions early on that prosecutions of terror related cases should be done by the federal government in federal courts on American soil and not by military tribunes because in America that’s simply what we do.  That very suggestions was enough to also force some to question the administration’s concern for the safety of the Homeland or it’s jaundiced view , as they claim, towards federal prosecution of those who might otherwise be regular, normal American citizens.  In this atmosphere steps judge Roberts, above,  appointed to the bench by a liberal president Bill Clinton who is  almost as despised as Obama. Ms Roberts  went against an equally “liberal” administration headed by a Constitutional lawyer in Barack Obama, with a ruling that was, one could say, strictly constitutionalist.  Kudos to judge Victoria Roberts. I hope others on federal benches across America have the courage to apply the law  as she has  without giving in to fear.

The Face of American Terrorism


American based terrorism doesn’t get much mention in mainstream media, maybe because those who are responsible for it in many cases reflect the ethnicity of those who write about terrorism.  I mean it’s much easier to call someone who looks different from you and has a funny name a terrorist than it is to call your next door neighbor or the person who attends your church or synagogue one.  Janet Napolitano knows a thing or two about what happens to people who take an even handed approach to this issue of homegrown terrorism because she was excoriated in the media by pundits for a 2009 report released by Homeland Security entitled, Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. Because there’s no mention of Islam in the title, the report was denounced by many across the political spectrum.  Media Matters does a pretty nice job of detailing the arguments of some of the people opposed to labelling American terrorism just that, and their analysis can be found here.  Needless to say, the 2009 report doesn’t follow the meme so often repeated in public discourse that ‘all terrorists are Muslim’ because such a statement is false on its face, racially charged and bigoted.

Do you know who the people pictured above are?  They are members of Hutaree who see law enforcement as the enemy and  they planned to kill a police officer, possibly at a traffic stop, and then attack the funeral procession to kill more officers. Sounds much like terrorism to me, but instead these folks were charged with seditious conspiracy against the government, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.  Ever  hear of the group The Sovereign Citizen?  You can see for yourself the width and breadth of this group across the country here.  The FBI has a full page on them which says in essence they do not feel bound to obey the laws of America, do everything to circumvent the law up to and including murder of public officials and the destruction of government institutions.  The ubiquitous federal government isn’t the only entity to see the danger Sovereign Citizen members present to the general public.  A local Texas sheriff, Chief Smith has issued his  own terrorism warning saying in part

Chief Smith wants the Citizens to be aware that these people could be practicing their beliefgs in this area.  Chief Smith warns that these persons have the potential to act out in very violent manners with both citizens and law enforcement if the contact with them is negative.

The Chief has every reason to be concerned.  Just last week a ‘sovereign citizen’ in Florida, claiming he “did not have to follow the law or obey law enforcement officers” fired an AK-47 weapon at a store after calling them repeatedly to demand a product they did not have.  Larry Kelly then led law enforcement officials on a chase through the city of Ensley, Florida before being captured.  Again, last week another ‘sovereign citizen’ Matthew O’Neill was arrested after sending a white powder substance to the Colorado Department of Revenue which was dealing with his tax issues.  It doesn’t take a genius to understand the significance of that in post 911 America does it?  Then it was an act of terrorism, now it’s a disgruntled tax case.  But ‘sovereign citizen’ encounters with the law have also been deadly.  What’s significant is if one were to replace each of the above linked news stories with someone’s Arabic name or reference to their religious belief it would be a sure indicator of their terrorist inclinations, BUT absent such identifying tags, while still abhorrent and deadly, the acts are crimes which we have all too often been accustomed, absent the accompanying terrorism hysteria.  Conservatives have for some time bemoaned the increase in laws on the books to handle what they consider situations already adequately addressed in law, yet many on the right are the first to claim the need for increased laws to save America from ‘sharia law’, for instance to the presence of municipally approved places of worship to articles of clothing to any number of other things associated with Islam and Muslims in America. This is the dilemma America faces today; how to deal with the hypocrisy and demagoguery of politicians and political parties, such as the Republican  and Tea Party, while still legitimately addressing the role of the rule of law.  What’s good for the goose IS good for the gander as well.  It’s either all terrorism or it’s not, but most likely chances are it will not be classified terrorism, especially by the main stream media, as long as people who write about it look like the people above who perpetuate it.

A Mind is a terrible thing to waste


…..and FoxNews has lost its mind!  In a theme picked up by most Islamophobes, FoxNews went on the air with several different shows ( see here and here ) claiming The Council of American Islamic Relations CAIR, was able to get an exemption from TSA for Muslim women travelers so that they would not have to go through invasive full body pat downs.  Of course it was a lie, easily proven as such with a little bit of investigation which  when certain groups are mentioned by certain individuals NEVER gets done.

The policy has always been in place since full body scanners were introduced into airports that one could refuse going through one but had to subject themselves to a full body pat down instead. In other words the so called naked body scanners are optional for the flying public.   The TSA in its own press release has also said that Muslim women or any passenger who is wearing something that is covering their head and upper body because of medical or religious reasons…..using the very general term baggy clothing to describe such garb, and who does not want to remove it in order to be cleared must then face the options of a trace portal, trace detection or pat down of the covered area.   The first two, trace portal and trace detection are done mechanically to detect the presence of explosive residue on the body or clothing of someone.

Anyone who refuses AIT or full body image scanning that clearly shows the naked human body, MUST go through the invasive groping body search or pat down.  It is significant to point out that CAIR and other Muslim groups in America have declared the AIT scanners are not an option for Muslims and encouraged their followers to submit to the pat down search instead.  Why anyone thinks that is asking to be exempt from the prying eyes and groping hands of government is beyond  me.

After the full body pat down, a person can risk a secondary screening because of some alarm raised on the part of TSA personnel about the passenger, and this secondary screening involves either trace portal, trace detection or pat down of the covered area.  This screening is obviously meant to discover traces of explosives since the passenger has already been patted down by security and it is here where CAIR suggests that a person may ask to pat down the covered area instead of having TSA personnel do so since that has already been done by a security officer. The intent of the pat down here is to detect explosive residue, not determine what object is under the baggy clothing.  It may be that the person has been in contact with explosive material that is not on their person or in their carry on luggage but have trace amounts found on their clothes which might suggest suspicious behavior and grounds for further investigation before allowing that person on the plane.  What is plain by looking at the steps paggesngers go through is at the point where a woman is asked to have her hijab touched, groped, felt, whatever you want to call it, she has ALREADY gone through the invasive pat down that anyone who rejects the AIT scanners goes through and this part of the screening process is a more fine tuned one to check for exposure to explosives.  Those airports that do not have trace portal devices which cost, according to TSA $160,000 per unit might opt for a pat down of the suspected body part to resolve security concerns.  CAIR goes so far as to say that should a Muslim woman undergo the secondary pat down, she has the right, as any member of the flying public, to have someone with her other than TSA personnel, and the pat down can be done in private, out of sight.  That is not an exemption, rather an explanation of the rights any member of the flying public has available if they should undergo the vigourous and intrusive nature of the security apparatus instituted under the Bush Administration and maintained by the Obama Administration.

Isn’t it an axiom of government and especially a free government that has decided to change course and pursue  infringing upon the rights of its citizens that such a turn of events will take place gradually and that any gains it acquires towards this purpose it will not give up?  That day in 2001 when the TSA became a part of the federal bureaucracy was a day it was stamped forever into government and would attempt with the help of both political parties presently in existence  to get ever increasing powers at the expense of American citizens.  These invasive security measures upon our person are our fault and ours alone for we’ve allowed them, through our votes and the election of officials who engage in the political process for personal power and aggrandizement to usurp the power of the people.  If FoxNews really wants to make headlines, why don’t they investigate how many trace portals bought by TSA are manufactured by one of the two companies who make them, GeneralElectric, parent company for now, of  Fox’s competitor NBC.  Corporate media however, is fixated on its own survival even at the cost of the general public.  It is far more lucrative in the short run to demonize segments of society than it is to look into back room machinations of corporations who solidify by diversification their grip on a terror driven society intent on eating its own.