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Law Enforcement Taking a Closer Look at Domestic Extremists

By Matthew Yglesias on April 14, 2009 at 11:42 am

"Law Enforcement Taking a Closer Look at Domestic Extremists"

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Via Spencer Ackerman, a nice scoop by Eli Lake about the Department of Homeland Security urging state and local law enforcement to be vigilant about the possibility of right-wing extremist violence fueled by the combination of Barack Obama and a grim economic situation:

The nine-page document was sent to police and sheriff’s departments across the United States on April 7 under the headline, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” It says the federal government “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months” to gather information on “rightwing extremist activity in the United States.”

I’ll say two things about this. One is that this seems like an eminently reasonable thing to be doing. If you don’t believe that, you need to see Dave Weigel’s reporting from the machine gun show this militia stuff and Dave Neiwert‘s stuff.

At the same time, I think it’d be great if some non-insane conservatives were to be a bit bothered by this. Legitimate concerns about security really can serve as a cover for abuses or misconduct. This was the problem with the surveillance organized by the Bush administration, and it’s a very real problem even with Barack Obama in the White House. As long as Bush was president, folks on the right seemed curiously blasé about this whole thing.

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