Benjamin Sarlin
The Daily Beast
May 1, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security set off a firestorm earlier this month when a memo surfaced that warned of right-wing extremists. The memo, which was issued to law-enforcement officials, suggested that extremists driven to dire straits by the Obama administration could recruit returning veterans to help produce Timothy McVeigh-like terrorism. Now, The Daily Beast has obtained another DHS memo, and this one identifies an even more far-ranging group of “extremists.”

RAND
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Partisans leapt to decry the first DHS memo as part of a Democratic conspiracy to marginalize right wingers. But it became clear that DHS’s broad descriptions of extremists (“mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority”; “may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration”) were symptomatic of an ongoing agency problem that crossed ideological lines. Indeed, earlier memos surfaced that targeted left-wing extremists with the same uncomfortably vague descriptions. For example, one memo warned that anarchist extremists “embrace a number of radical philosophical components of anticapitalist, antiglobalization, communist, socialist, and other movements.”

The new memo obtained by The Daily Beast locates an even wider-ranging group of extremists among us. You could safely say it crosses liberal and conservative lines: Entries range from Mexican separatists to antiabortion extremists to racial Nordic mysticism. (Islamic groups are specifically excluded from this document.)

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