Jay Sekulow wrote:
I wanted to update you on our action items concerning the Assessment from the Department of Homeland Security. We are notifying all 50 States that any interference with First Amendment rights, based on this misguided report will not be tolerated. I am sending a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano outlining our legal concerns and demanding a retraction. You can read that letter here. To sign on to the Demand for Retraction click here. In addition, our Be Heard Project is launching a major intiative for those under 40 to express their outrage on this action. To participate go to BeHeardProject.com.
The Department of Homeland Security has issued an emergency assessment entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” When the document was first made public yesterday, I instructed our staff to verify that this was in fact a legitimate document. The reason I expressed skepticism was that the nature of the statements contained in the report were so outrageous to the pro-life community and to free speech that I could not imagine that Homeland Security would actually issue such a document. Nevertheless, we’ve had an opportunity to verify the document as to its authenticity. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has also stated that it did in fact issue the document to all law enforcement personnel throughout the United States.
The report is troubling as to its scope and dangerous as to its precedent. The key finding noted by the Department of Homeland Security is that, although there is “no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence . . . rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.” In defining rightwing extremism, the report states “rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented . . . and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.” To label pro-lifers and those who are opposed to certain immigration policies as rightwing extremists and domestic terrorists is incorrect as a matter of law and wrong as a matter of policy.
Nowhere in this report is there any mention of Al Qaida cell groups operating domestically here in the United States. DHS has taken its focus away from rooting out those people that are bent on causing harm to the United States. Instead, they are using government resources to monitor pro-life citizens who are exercising their free speech rights by holding up a sign in front of an abortion clinic. On FOX News today I stated that the government needs to be spending its time rounding up terrorists who are bent on the destruction of our government rather than focusing on grandmothers holding up a pro-life sign outside an abortion clinic.
The scope of this report is also dangerous. In discussing rightwing terrorists, the report states that there is a phenomenon of violent radicalization in the United States. Pointing to those who are opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, the report envisions what it calls the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States as these pro-life groups, those opposed to immigration, and returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Several times the Department of Homeland Security mentions the fact that we have a historic President in the United States. Unfortunately, despite this historic event, the Department of Homeland Security seems to be prepared to trample on the First Amendment rights of concerned citizens that want to disagree with the current regime’s positions. I say this because the report says that many rightwing extremists are antagonistic towards the new Presidential administration and have also exhibited “paranoia of foreign regimes” taking an active role in U.S. policy. These foreign regimes are already taking an active role in U.S. policy and we’ve been concerned about this issue for the last several months.
At bottom, this is a dangerous precedent. It is troubling in its scope. It is wrong as a matter of public policy and it targets citizens of the United States who have fundamental free speech rights that can be exercised. We are going to react within the context of a legal response to the Department of Homeland Security’s actions. I linked here an interview I just completed on FOX News on the situation and we will have more on this on Monday.
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