Right-Wing Extremism? Really?

A February 20th, 2015 CNN report: "DHS intelligence report warns of domestic right-wing terror threat" has been widely cited in the Obamacon press as authoritative proof that right wing crazies are threatening to blow up the country.

CNN makes two major claims in the piece. First, that:

The Homeland Security report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks across the U.S. since 2010.

and second, that:

A survey last year of state and local law enforcement officers listed sovereign citizen terrorists, ahead of foreign Islamists, and domestic militia groups as the top domestic terror threat.

However, only three incidents are listed -- and CNSnews, which apparently tried to obtain the source documents reports:

CNSNews.com contacted the DHS and asked if and when its report might be made available to the public, and why it apparently was released solely to CNN. DHS spokesman Sy Lee in an e-mail response said "the report you are referring to is not public" and would not be made available to the public.

There is, therefore, no obvious supporting evidence for the 24-event claim -- in fact, Cynics might be entirely justified in imagining that the other 21 violent incidents barely rose beyond the mouthing off level.

More tellingly, the report on the survey whose results CNN quotes contains this:

This research used a purposive sample, therefore there is selection bias; however, it was intended. Comparatively few law enforcement officers have worked with the intelligence process. Even fewer have experience with the newest standards and guidelines. Using a random sample of a broad population of law enforcement officers, generally, would provide no valuable results. As a result, use of this sampling frame provided access to a population wherein the research team knew the respondents had been exposed to both law enforcement intelligence and the current standards and practices. Persons in both the MIPT and MSU samples had received training using the same national standards and programs. Moreover, both training programs were funded by the Department of Homeland Security which had exacting standards for training course content and approval as well as a requirement that training programs had to be delivered in a manner that was consistent.

In other words. the survey reports the views of only those law enforcement officers who had recently attended DHS-sponsored training events hyping right-wing extremism -- so the one thing we can reasonably deduce from the fact that the perceived threat from right-wing extremism barely beat out its competitors -- rating a 3.2 on a four point scale vs 2.9 for Islamic Jihadists -- is that the seminars the survey graded them on must have been laughably unconvincing.

On the surface the story seems to have been intended to provide something for the Obamacon media to focus the public's attention on while the blogosphere frothed about the absence of key people like FBI director James Comey from the list of White House advisors on the domestic terror threat. The problem, however, goes much deeper because “right-wing extremism” has been an expensive Obamacon bogeyman since 2008, but doesn't actually pose a serious national security threat; and, the Sovereign Citizen crazies, in particular, aren't right wingers -- they are extremist Democratic Libertarians who demand American rights and entitlements while refusing to consider themselves committed to the American constitutional agreement and thus bound to obey laws enacted under it. 

A February 20th, 2015 CNN report: "DHS intelligence report warns of domestic right-wing terror threat" has been widely cited in the Obamacon press as authoritative proof that right wing crazies are threatening to blow up the country.

CNN makes two major claims in the piece. First, that:

The Homeland Security report, produced in coordination with the FBI, counts 24 violent sovereign citizen-related attacks across the U.S. since 2010.

and second, that:

A survey last year of state and local law enforcement officers listed sovereign citizen terrorists, ahead of foreign Islamists, and domestic militia groups as the top domestic terror threat.

However, only three incidents are listed -- and CNSnews, which apparently tried to obtain the source documents reports:

CNSNews.com contacted the DHS and asked if and when its report might be made available to the public, and why it apparently was released solely to CNN. DHS spokesman Sy Lee in an e-mail response said "the report you are referring to is not public" and would not be made available to the public.

There is, therefore, no obvious supporting evidence for the 24-event claim -- in fact, Cynics might be entirely justified in imagining that the other 21 violent incidents barely rose beyond the mouthing off level.

More tellingly, the report on the survey whose results CNN quotes contains this:

This research used a purposive sample, therefore there is selection bias; however, it was intended. Comparatively few law enforcement officers have worked with the intelligence process. Even fewer have experience with the newest standards and guidelines. Using a random sample of a broad population of law enforcement officers, generally, would provide no valuable results. As a result, use of this sampling frame provided access to a population wherein the research team knew the respondents had been exposed to both law enforcement intelligence and the current standards and practices. Persons in both the MIPT and MSU samples had received training using the same national standards and programs. Moreover, both training programs were funded by the Department of Homeland Security which had exacting standards for training course content and approval as well as a requirement that training programs had to be delivered in a manner that was consistent.

In other words. the survey reports the views of only those law enforcement officers who had recently attended DHS-sponsored training events hyping right-wing extremism -- so the one thing we can reasonably deduce from the fact that the perceived threat from right-wing extremism barely beat out its competitors -- rating a 3.2 on a four point scale vs 2.9 for Islamic Jihadists -- is that the seminars the survey graded them on must have been laughably unconvincing.

On the surface the story seems to have been intended to provide something for the Obamacon media to focus the public's attention on while the blogosphere frothed about the absence of key people like FBI director James Comey from the list of White House advisors on the domestic terror threat. The problem, however, goes much deeper because “right-wing extremism” has been an expensive Obamacon bogeyman since 2008, but doesn't actually pose a serious national security threat; and, the Sovereign Citizen crazies, in particular, aren't right wingers -- they are extremist Democratic Libertarians who demand American rights and entitlements while refusing to consider themselves committed to the American constitutional agreement and thus bound to obey laws enacted under it.