The Corner

Napolitano: From Dimwit to Visionary

Have you seen the latest from the Obamedia? Stories like this one from the Washington Post telling us that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was actually prescient in approving the widely condemned release of an agency intelligence assessment fretting about a potential outbreak of “right-wing extremism.” And yes, this is the same Homeland Security Secretary who knows neither the immigration laws it is her responsibility to enforce nor how the 9/11 terrorists got into the homeland, and whose idea of “nuance” is to call “terrorism” a “man-caused disaster.”

Why prescient? The Post quotes Alex Kingsbury of U.S. News and World Report:

In the past two weeks, the country has seen the bombing of a Starbucks coffee shop in New York City, the arrest of four men for allegedly plotting to blow up synagogues and shoot down planes, the shooting of two soldiers at an Army recruitment center in Arkansas, the assassination of a doctor inside a Kansas church, and the shooting at the Holocaust Museum…. Although these are not all cases of right-wing extremism, each is an example of domestic terrorism.

What rot. The men plotting to blow up synagogues and planes, and the shooter of the two soldiers (one of whom was killed), were jihadists. Their activities were an extension of an international terrorist threat we have been confronting domestically for over 20 years (the World Trade Center bombers began training for terrorism in the New York area in 1988). They had nothing to do with “right-wing extremism.” Indeed, if you want to find a government prognostication that accurately foretold them, try the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate from the Director of National Intelligence (not DHS), which predicted a spike in terrorist activities inside the U.S. inspired by foreign jihadist ideology which — because of wide dissemination by the internet and other means — no longer necessarily requires the hands-on participation of established international terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda.

The Starbucks bombing (which actually appears to be the second such attack — there was another in Providence, R.I., at the start of the year) is unsolved, but speculation points to pro-union elements or vigilantes upset over the treatment of coffee-growers. As a former prosecutor, that speculation seems rank to me (I am repeating it only because it has already been published elsewhere) — but it’s less rank than shamelessly lumping it into a baseless fable about right-wing extremism on the rise.

So what does that leave us with? A lunatic who killed an abortion doctor (and was vigorously condemned by conservatives for doing so), and an 88-year-old white supremacist of the Nazi bent (which somehow makes him a right-wing savage — a paradox Jonah has written a book about) who killed a guard with a shotgun at the Holocaust Museum.

That is not a wave of domestic terrorism, much less right-wing extremism. It’s a pair of homicides. They are despicable, of course, but to suggest that they validate Napolitano (“I hope that everyone who mau-maued the Department of Homeland Security for expressing concern about this kind of thing feels appropriately ashamed of themselves,” the Post quotes Matthew Yglesias inveighing) is specious.

The DHS report was noxious because it smeared conservatives as bigots and claimed, in the absence of any evidence that “right-wing extremists may be gaining new recruits” — including from returning military veterans — in preparation for a spate of terrorism. (Who’s the new recruit? The 88-year-old Nazi?) It insinuated that traditional conservative policy positions (pro-federalism, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-illegal-immigration) were drivers of extremism. And it contended — in contravention of standard law-enforcement guidelines and federal law — that federal and state agencies should undertake proactive investigations on the basis of constitutionally protected beliefs and activities.

In 1990, when the jihadist Sayyid Nosair murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane, the NYPD’s chief of detectives immediately (and without conducting any responsible investigation) pronounced that the homicide was not an indicator of religiously motivated terrorism but the work of a lone, crazed gunmen. Years later, after Nosair and his fellow radicals bombed the World Trade Center, it became undeniable that Nosair had been part of a larger movement and that he had not acted alone. A competent investigation would easily have shown an oncoming waive of terrorism.

So, if Napolitano really was right, there’s an easy way to prove it: Let’s see how these cases get charged. So far, Scott Roeder, the accused murderer of Dr. Tiller, is the only defendant charged in the homicide. While many conservatives stepped forward to register horror over the crime, there appears not to be a shred of evidence that it was part of a broader conspiracy or criminal enterprise. And in the Holocaust Museum murder, only James von Brunn has been arrested — and the coverage provides no indication that he had collaborators or that this was any sort of grand plot.

When we said there was a wave of jihadist terror, it was said on the basis serial, related atrocities, tons of evidence, and countless participants. The DHS report was panned because it tried to make the same kind of assertion on the basis of nothing of the kind. But if Secretary Napolitano or the FBI have that kind of evidence, we ought to be seeing it in arrests and affidavits describing evidence that ties in movement leaders, plot masterminds, fundraisers, recruiters, and recruits. We ought to be seeing mega-conspiracy indictments of the kind the FBI has made famous. Where are they?


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Illegal leaks of classified information should be treated as a serious offense. But they would be easier to prevent if less information were classified.