The DHS has decided that folks who think the Federal government is too powerful or taxes are too high represent a threat to society. Groan. However, the DHS also unwittingly makes the case for higher taxes - with their current budget they are unable to perform simple Google searches and are presenting as "open source" analysis stories that were debunked years ago. One wonders what else these DHS analysts believe that is simply not so.
But before we dive in, Captain Ed captures the sense of outrage; Andrew Sullivan chooses to miss the point and savor an "I told you so moment", exulting in his criticism of Bush's shredding of the Constitution and expansion of the "Surveillance State". Uh huh - the problem with this DHS study is not that they are threatening extra-Constitutional surveillance and interrogation of people; it is that they are coming very close to attempting to criminalize non-violent political dissent. That is deeply problematic even if they do it with all the proper warrants.
— (U) In April 2007, six militia members were arrested for various weapons and explosives violations. Open source reporting alleged that those arrested had discussed and conducted surveillance for a machinegun attack on Hispanics.
— (U) A militia member in Wyoming was arrested in February 2007 after communicating his plans to travel to the Mexican border to kill immigrants crossing into the United States.
The militia story from April 2007 represents a ridiculous failure by the "open source" analysts at DHS, who are presenting a discredited story. Maybe Google can help.
Back in April 2007 the Alabama Free Militia was busted, to much hoopla:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This morning in DeKalb, Marshall and Jefferson Counties, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) spearheaded the execution of four federal search warrants at the homes of members of a group called "The Free Militia." During the search warrants, ATF, along with state and local law enforcement recovered 130 grenades, an improvised rocket launcher with live rounds, a grenade launcher, a machine gun, a short barreled shot-gun, two silencers, numerous other firearms, 2500 rounds of ammunition, explosive components, approximately 70 Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), and commercial fireworks. Also recovered was enough ammunition to fill a U-Haul trailer, and over 120 Marijuana plants. While executing the search warrants, officers encountered booby traps at one location.
"Deadly explosives have been removed from these communities due to outstanding investigative efforts," stated Alice H. Martin, United States Attorney. "All evidence developed will be presented quickly to a federal grand jury. We will also ask that those arrested be detained without bond."
The defense attorney poo-poohed it, as well he might:
Even prosecutors say the ragtag group called the Alabama Free Militia had no intended target and was simply stockpiling munitions, said Boudreaux, who plans to meet this weekend with his client, Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46, of Collinsville, a supposed major in the paramilitary group.
"Frankly, I don't think that's a big deal," said Boudreaux. "It seems to be much ado about nothing."
Other reports were also a bit subdued:
Investigators said the DeKalb County-based group had not made any specific threats or devised any plots, but was targeted for swift dismantling because of its heavy firepower.
But at the bail hearing shortly thereafter, testimony from a Federal agent made the headlines that found their way into the DHS report two years later. From the AP:
Machine-gunning down hapless Mexicans? Pretty serious stuff. Odd that wasn't mentioned to the defense attorney or in the initial press reports. The Southern Poverty Law Center, not a group that is naturally sympathetic to this sort of behavior, picks up the story:
But there is no mention of any specific plan to kill Mexicans in the search warrant affidavits or any other court document related to the Alabama Free Militia defendants, and the ATF says Nesmith's testimony was misconstrued. [ATF regional director] Cavanaugh told the Intelligence Report that Nesmith did not mean to suggest that the defendants plotted to machine-gun Mexicans. What Nesmith meant to convey, Cavanaugh said, is that the militia members were planning to steal machine guns from Mexicans in Remlap — not to shoot the Mexicans with machine guns. "The purpose of the [reconnaissance] trip described by the agent in the testimony was to go to those Latinos and take their machine guns, which the militia believed them to possess," Cavanaugh said.
Stealing guns from criminals - the humanity! Or maybe the Mexicans owned them legally? One begins to understand the resentments of an oppressed white guy who is barred from owning machine guns himself and is reduced to stealing illegal guns from illegal immigrants.
Well. It appears that for all their bluster the militia in Alabama don't remember the Alamo:
So that is the story of the militia which plotted a "machinegun attack on Hispanics". I'm disappointed that the DHS was not able to unearth any of this with their open source, or even closed source, research. My goodness, a phone call to the BATF could have spared them this embarrassment. Our tax dollars at work.
Let's glance at the last case described by the DHS sleuths:
A militia member in Wyoming was arrested in February 2007 after communicating his plans to travel to the Mexican border to kill immigrants crossing into the United States.
Richard Serafin sounds like a loathsome fool who can stay behind bars, but... the reporting on the death threats is a bit more blurry at both the AntiDefamation League and SPLC sites.
In their sentencing story, the ADL writes that:
During the original investigation, Serafin told an undercover Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent that he is the leader of a tiny militia group called the 45th Battalion, 44th Field Force (Central Wyoming Militia), and of his alleged personal plans to move to the Arizona/ Mexico border to assist in killing immigrants.
However, that has changed from their trial coverage, where they wrote:
However, that has changed from their trial coverage, where they wrote:
Serafin told an undercover U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent, to whom he also sold an illegal rifle, that he planned to travel to the Arizona-Mexico border and help border vigilante groups keep out immigrants.
In the ADL arrest story, "Serafin
allegedly told an undercover law enforcement officer that he was
relocating to the Arizona-Mexican border to harm illegal immigrants."
In the ADL arrest story, "Serafin allegedly told an undercover law enforcement officer that he was relocating to the Arizona-Mexican border to harm illegal immigrants."
And here is how the SPLC treated it:
I'll bet as much as a cup of coffee that Serafin used the phrase "kick ass", which has subsequently been paraphrased into a plan to harm immigrants. As to boasting that there will be fewer immigrants, well, that would be the point of his mission, but it could be accomplished by scaring people back across the border and discouraging others from attempting to enter. Here is one last account from the courtroom:
In January, Serafin said he intended to travel to the Mexican border and harm illegal immigrants after drug runners allegedly burned down his brother's house in Arizona, McFarland wrote. "He added that he has a 'bad feeling' about what might happen in Arizona, once he gets there. Serafin also said there may be fewer illegal Mexicans coming into the U.S. after he is there."
Geez, for a guy planning mass murder, Serfin sure is bashful about actually saying "kill" or "cap 'em with a nine", or anything a bit more specific. Serafin has "a bad feeling" about what he might do? I have a bad feeling about this DHS effort - I think they are editorializing with this report, and if there are fewer such reports going forward, that would be all to the good.
MORE: Although DHS went 0-2 on actual evidence of militias orgainizing against Hispanics, hate crimes against Hispanics have risen from 2003 to 2007, as compiled by the FBI: 529 offenses in 2003 versus 775 in 2007. For blacks, there were 3,032 offenses in 2003 versus 3,275 in 2007. And I didn't even have to check with "prominent civil rights organizations" to glean that.
WORTH CHECKING: From the DHS report:
(U//FOUO) Rightwing extremist paranoia of foreign regimes could escalate or be magnified in the event of an economic crisis or military confrontation, harkening back to the “New World Order” conspiracy theories of the 1990s. The dissolution of Communist countries in Eastern Europe and the end of the Soviet Union in the 1990s led some rightwing extremists to believe that a “New World Order” would bring about a world government that would usurp the sovereignty of the United States and its Constitution, thus infringing upon their liberty. The dynamics in 2009 are somewhat similar, as other countries, including China, India, and Russia, as well as some smaller, oil-producing states, are experiencing a rise in economic power and influence.
— (U//FOUO) Law enforcement in 1996 arrested three rightwing militia members in Battle Creek, Michigan with pipe bombs, automatic weapons, and military ordnance that they planned to use in attacks on nearby military and federal facilities and infrastructure targets.
In April 1997, Carter allegedly told the undercover agent his objective was "to attack, create chaos and hold on for three to four days, at which time the entire country would rise up against the government."