Social Issues

So·cial iss·ues: of or pertaining to the life, welfare, and relations of human beings in a community; of or pertaining to humans associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes, esp. as a body divided into classes according to status. Posts in this category pertain to matters of human social interaction, classification, and association.

HR3200: You Will Lose Your Current Insurance

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Health/Nutrition, HR3200, ObamaCare

HR3200 - Reading The Bill: You Will Lose Your Current Insurance

I'm really getting sick of supporters of ObamaCare admonishing those who oppose it to read the bill. So, I'm starting a series in which I do just that, framing my opposition to the bill by referencing the actual wording of the proposed legislation.

Up first: Obama's claim that "if you like your current plan, you can keep it."

This claim is a bald-faced lie, and one that I will demonstrate using the wording of the bill itself. Whatever your private insurance coverage is today, whether or not you are satisfied with it, you will be forced to move to another plan by 2018.

First, some background. Page 14 defines "Y1" through "Y5" as years 2013 and following. So, anything in the bill that takes place in Y1 takes place in 2013, and Y5 in 2017.

Now, let's get into the heart of the matter. Start with this statement from Page 19, lines 1-5:

IN GENERAL.—Individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-participating health benefits plan.

We can establish thus far that, as of January 1, 2013, all health insurance plans must be either a) an "Exchange-participating" benefits plan, or b) a grandfathered plan.

An "Exchange-participating" benefits plan is, essentially, any plan that is "qualified" under HR 3200, according to qualification rules that will be determined and implemented by the government.

So, what is a "grandfathered" plan? From the rhetoric coming from Obama, one would assume that all currently existing plans would be "grandfathered". Not so.

According to Page 16, lines 3-26, Section 102, PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT COVERAGE:

GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:

(1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.

(B) DEPENDENT COVERAGE PERMITTED.—Subparagraph (A) shall not affect the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an individual who is covered as of such first day.

(2) LIMITATION ON CHANGES IN TERMS OR CONDITIONS.—Subject to paragraph (3) and except as required by law, the issuer does not change any of its terms or conditions, including benefits and cost-sharing, from those in effect as of the day before the first day of Y1.

See that? Not all pre-existing plans will be considered as "grandfathered"; but rather only those that meet two very important conditions. To be considered "grandfathered", a plan must:

  1. Exist prior to January 1, 2013,
  2. Not enroll any new members on or after January 1, 2013 (except for adding dependents to existing plans, and
  3. Not change any of its terms or conditions on or after January 1, 2013

Now, how tenable are those requirements? Not very.

Are you insured through your employer? Do you think that your company will hire any new employees on or after January 1, 2013? Do you think that your employer will want to add those new employees to the company insurance plan? Do you think that your company might want to negotiate new or better coverage, or changes to deductibles, or make any other routine changes to your plan?

Of course. And if so, your insurance plan will no longer be grandfathered. Once it is no longer grandfathered, it will be subject to government control and subject to the requirements and qualifications for "Exchange-participating" plans.

However, let's make the extreme assumption that such a plan will exist, and will remain viable. You're in the clear, right? You'll be able to keep that coverage for as long as your grandfathered plan doesn't change and doesn't enroll any new members, right?

Wrong.

According to page 17, lines 11-19, Sec. 102(b), GRACE PERIOD FOR CURRENT EMPLOYMENT
9 BASED HEALTH PLANS
:

IN GENERAL.—The Commissioner shall establish a grace period whereby, for plan years beginning after the end of the 5-year period beginning with Y1, an employment-based health plan in operation as of the day before the first day of Y1 must meet the same requirements as apply to a qualified health benefits plan under section 101, including the essential benefit package requirement under section 121.

Now, what is "an employment-based health plan in operation as of the day before the first day of Y1"? You guessed it: an otherwise "grandfathered" plan.

This clause clearly indicates that "grandfathered" plans are only truly grandfathered for the first five years (2013-2017). After this "grace period", all pre-existing employment-based health plans will be subject to government control and subject to the requirements and qualifications for "Exchange-participating" plans.

Thus, we have indisputably established that, according to the wording of HR 3200, you will be forced into a different health coverage plan from the one you have today, by 2018.

For reference and context, below is TITLE I—PROTECTIONS AND STANDARDS FOR QUALIFIED HEALTH BENEFITS PLAN Subtitle A—General Standards, pages 14-19 of HR 3200:

Page 14 •HR 3200

14 TITLE I—PROTECTIONS AND
15 STANDARDS FOR QUALIFIED
16 HEALTH BENEFITS PLANS
17 Subtitle A—General Standards
18 SEC. 101. REQUIREMENTS REFORMING HEALTH INSUR
19 ANCE MARKETPLACE.
20 (a) PURPOSE.—The purpose of this title is to estab
21 lish standards to ensure that new health insurance cov
22 erage and employment-based health plans that are offered
23 meet standards guaranteeing access to affordable cov
24 erage, essential benefits, and other consumer protections.

Page 15 •HR 3200

1 (b) REQUIREMENTS FOR QUALIFIED HEALTH BENE
2 FITS PLANS.—On or after the first day of Y1, a health
3 benefits plan shall not be a qualified health benefits plan
4 under this division unless the plan meets the applicable
5 requirements of the following subtitles for the type of plan
6 and plan year involved:
7 (1) Subtitle B (relating to affordable coverage).
8 (2) Subtitle C (relating to essential benefits).
9 (3) Subtitle D (relating to consumer protec
10 tion).
11 (c) TERMINOLOGY.—In this division:
12 (1) ENROLLMENT IN EMPLOYMENT-BASED
13 HEALTH PLANS.—An individual shall be treated as
14 being ‘‘enrolled’’ in an employment-based health
15 plan if the individual is a participant or beneficiary
16 (as such terms are defined in section 3(7) and 3(8),
17 respectively, of the Employee Retirement Income Se
18 curity Act of 1974) in such plan.
19 (2) INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP HEALTH INSUR
20 ANCE COVERAGE.—The terms ‘‘individual health in
21 surance coverage’’ and ‘‘group health insurance cov
22 erage’’ mean health insurance coverage offered in
23 the individual market or large or small group mar
24 ket, respectively, as defined in section 2791 of the
25 Public Health Service Act.

Page 16 •HR 3200

1 SEC. 102. PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT
2 COVERAGE.
3 (a) GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COV
4 ERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of
5 this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable cov
6 erage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health
7 insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance
8 coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the
9 first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:
10 (1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT.—
11 (A) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in
12 this paragraph, the individual health insurance
13 issuer offering such coverage does not enroll
14 any individual in such coverage if the first ef
15 fective date of coverage is on or after the first
16 day of Y1.
17 (B) DEPENDENT COVERAGE PER
18 MITTED.—Subparagraph (A) shall not affect
19 the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an
20 individual who is covered as of such first day.
21 (2) LIMITATION ON CHANGES IN TERMS OR
22 CONDITIONS.—Subject to paragraph (3) and except
23 as required by law, the issuer does not change any
24 of its terms or conditions, including benefits and
25 cost-sharing, from those in effect as of the day be
26 fore the first day of Y1.

Page 17 •HR 3200

1 (3) RESTRICTIONS ON PREMIUM INCREASES.—
2 The issuer cannot vary the percentage increase in
3 the premium for a risk group of enrollees in specific
4 grandfathered health insurance coverage without
5 changing the premium for all enrollees in the same
6 risk group at the same rate, as specified by the
7 Commissioner.
8 (b) GRACE PERIOD FOR CURRENT EMPLOYMENT
9 BASED HEALTH PLANS.—
10 (1) GRACE PERIOD.—
11 (A) IN GENERAL.—The Commissioner
12 shall establish a grace period whereby, for plan
13 years beginning after the end of the 5-year pe
14 riod beginning with Y1, an employment-based
15 health plan in operation as of the day before
16 the first day of Y1 must meet the same require
17 ments as apply to a qualified health benefits
18 plan under section 101, including the essential
19 benefit package requirement under section 121.
20 (B) EXCEPTION FOR LIMITED BENEFITS
21 PLANS.—Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to
22 an employment-based health plan in which the
23 coverage consists only of one or more of the fol
24 lowing:

Page 18 •HR 3200

1 (i) Any coverage described in section
2 3001(a)(1)(B)(ii)(IV) of division B of the
3 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
4 of 2009 (Public Law 111–5).
5 (ii) Excepted benefits (as defined in
6 section 733(c) of the Employee Retirement
7 Income Security Act of 1974), including
8 coverage under a specified disease or ill
9 ness policy described in paragraph (3)(A)
10 of such section.
11 (iii) Such other limited benefits as the
12 Commissioner may specify.
13 In no case shall an employment-based health
14 plan in which the coverage consists only of one
15 or more of the coverage or benefits described in
16 clauses (i) through (iii) be treated as acceptable
17 coverage under this division
18 (2) TRANSITIONAL TREATMENT AS ACCEPT
19 ABLE COVERAGE.—During the grace period specified
20 in paragraph (1)(A), an employment-based health
21 plan that is described in such paragraph shall be
22 treated as acceptable coverage under this division.
23 (c) LIMITATION ON INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE
24 COVERAGE.—

Page 19•HR 3200

1 (1) IN GENERAL.—Individual health insurance
2 coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance
3 coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered
4 on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-par
5 ticipating health benefits plan.
6 (2) SEPARATE, EXCEPTED COVERAGE PER
7 MITTED.—Excepted benefits (as defined in section
8 2791(c) of the Public Health Service Act) are not
9 included within the definition of health insurance
10 coverage. Nothing in paragraph (1) shall prevent the
11 offering, other than through the Health Insurance
12 Exchange, of excepted benefits so long as it is of
13 fered and priced separately from health insurance
14 coverage.

Chronicling The Lies of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Academia, Racism

Previously, I wrote about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. At the time that I wrote that post, I was unaware of the absolute fabrications of and lies about the events surrounding his arrest, first by Gates' lawyer, and later by Gates himself.

This American Spectator article (h/t Lucianne) thoroughly discusses Gates' two most egregious lies: that Gates was not yelling and that Crowley racially profiled Gates due to the 911 call reporting a possible break-in by two black males. However, upon reading the source material, I discovered that Gates' fabrications went even further.

In the spirit of this "teachable moment", let us consider each of these fabrications, in turn.

First, Gates lies about the condition of the front door of his house:

We flew back on a direct flight from Beijing to Newark. We arrived on Wednesday, and on Thursday I flew back to Cambridge. I was using my regular driver and my regular car service. And went to my home arriving at about 12:30 in the afternoon. My driver and I carried several bags up to the porch, and we fiddled with the door and it was jammed. I thought, well, maybe the door’s latched. So I walked back to the kitchen porch, unlocked the door and came into the house. And I unlatched the door, but it was still jammed.

Two paragraphs later, Gates :

It looked like someone’s footprint was there. So it’s possible that the door had been jimmied, that someone had tried to get in while I was in China. But for whatever reason, the lock was damaged. My driver hit the door with his shoulder and the door popped open. But the lock was permanently disfigured. My home is owned by Harvard University, and so any kind of repair work that’s needed, Harvard will come and do it. I called this person, and she was, in fact, on the line while all of this was going on.

Gates feigns surprise at and ignorance of the condition of the door, but according to the police report (page 2 of the Smoking Gun post), Gates knew that the door was damaged in a previous break-in attempt:

I then asked Gates if he would like an officer to take posession of his house key and secure his front door, which he left wide open. Gates told me that the door was un securable [sic] due to a previous break-in attempt at the residence.

The only ostensible reason for this fabrication is to establish that Gates would be entirely unsuspecting of a police officer being at his door, much less investigating a reported break-in at his residence.

In between the above two paragraphs, Gates fabricates a racially motivated 911 call:

My driver is a large black man. But from afar you and I would not have seen he was black. He has black hair and was dressed in a two-piece black suit, and I was dressed in a navy blue blazer with gray trousers and, you know, my shoes. And I love that the 911 report said that two big black men were trying to break in with backpacks on. Now that is the worst racial profiling I’ve ever heard of in my life. (Laughs.) I’m not exactly a big black man. I thought that was hilarious when I found that out, which was yesterday.

As we now know, thanks to the release of the 911 recording, the caller, Lucia Whalen, never indicated in the 911 call that either of the two men she witnessed was black. Further, thanks to what little of the police radio communication recordings that have been released, we know that Crowley neither knew nor assumed the race of the two men reported by Whalen.

Even in these first few paragraphs, Gates' lies demonstrate an attempt to direct the narrative to one in which Gates was the innocent, unsuspecting victim who was racially profiled by Sgt. Crowley. Unfortunately, this narrative completely falls apart in light of the actual facts of the situation.

Gates then lies about his initial interaction with Sgt. Crowley:

I’m saying ‘You need to send someone to fix my lock.’ All of a sudden, there was a policeman on my porch. And I thought, ‘This is strange.’ So I went over to the front porch still holding the phone, and I said ‘Officer, can I help you?’ And he said, ‘Would you step outside onto the porch.’ And the way he said it, I knew he wasn’t canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, ‘No, I will not.’

My lawyers later told me that that was a good move and had I walked out onto the porch he could have arrested me for breaking and entering. He said ‘I’m here to investigate a 911 call for breaking and entering into this house.’ And I said ‘That’s ridiculous because this happens to be my house. And I’m a Harvard professor.’ He says ‘Can you prove that you’re a Harvard professor?’ I said yes, I turned and closed the front door to the kitchen where I’d left my wallet, and I got out my Harvard ID and my Massachusetts driver’s license which includes my address and I handed them to him. And he’s sitting there looking at them.

Once again thanks to the police report, we know that the initial exchange was significantly different in some very important ways:

As I turned and faced the front door, I could see an older black male standing in the foyer of 47 Ware Street. I made this observation through the glass paned front door. As I stood in plain view of this man, later identified as Gates, I asked if he would step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied, "No, I will not." He then demanded to know who I was. I told him that I was "Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police" and that I was "investigating the report of a break-in in progress" at the residence. While I was making this statement, Gates opened the front door and exclaimed, "Why? Because I'm a black man in America?"

First, note that Sgt. Crowley clearly and immediately identified himself. (Later, as you will see, Gates lies about Crowley never identifiying himself, despite Gates' repeated requests.) Second, note the disparity between what Gates claims he said, and what Crowley reports that Gates said:

"That’s ridiculous because this happens to be my house. And I’m a Harvard professor."

- vs -

"Why? Because I'm a black man in America?"

These two statements might appear to be a he-said, she-said scenario; however, unfortunately for Gates, the several witnesses of the event observed Gates repeating a variation on the theme, that "this is what happens to black men in America."

The most plausible reason for this fabrication is to obfuscate the fact that Gates was the one who was initially belligerent, that Gates was the one who initially assumed a racial motive, and that it was Gates who initially escalated the situation.

Note also, Gates' assertion that his lawyers advised Gates that it was a good move not to step out onto the porch initially, as Crowley "could have arrested [him] for breaking and entering." This statement, aside from having dubious credibility, serves no purpose other than to further the narrative that Gates found himself in a hostile situation.

As I stated in my previous post, Sgt. Crowley has stated – and police officers across the country have corroborated – that during a possible break-in in progress, it is standard operating procedure to ask the homeowner to come outside of the home, in order to ensure that the person is not being held against his will and can speak freely and openly. Further, Sgt. Crowley was the first – and lone – initial respondent to the reported break-in, for which the caller reported not one, but two persons involved. It was for Sgt. Crowley’s own safety that he requested the unidentified occupant to come outside onto the porch.

Thus, once again, Gates' narrative falls apart in light of the facts.

Gates then projects, out of whole cloth, a racial motivation upon Sgt. Crowley:

Now it’s clear that he had a narrative in his head: A black man was inside someone’s house, probably a white person’s house, and this black man had broken and entered, and this black man was me.

The irony in this statement is palpable. Thus far, the only person to interject race into the situation was Gates himself. Since, as has been demonstrated, Gates' narrative of the situation was entirely false, Gates' analysis could only have been clear to Gates if he himself racially profiled Sgt. Crowley.

Having established an utterly false narrative, Gates unveils further fabrications:

So he’s looking at my ID, he asked me another question, which I refused to answer. And I said I want your name and your badge number because I want to file a complaint because of the way he had treated me at the front door. He didn’t say, ‘Excuse me, sir, is there a disturbance here, is this your house?’—he demanded that I step out on the porch, and I don’t think he would have done that if I was a white person.

But at that point, I realized that I was in danger. And so I said to him that I want your name, and I want your badge number and I said it repeatedly.

That other question, which Gates refused to answer, was, according to the police report, whether there was anyone else in the residence:

I then asked Gates if there was anyone else in the residence. While yelling, he told me that it was none of my business and accused me of being a racist police officer. I assured Gates that I was responding to a citizen's call to the Cambridge Police and that the caller was outside as we spoke. Gates seemed to ignore me and picked up a cordless telephone and dialed an unknown telephone number. As he did so, I radioed on Channel 1 that I was off in the residence with someone who appeared to be a resident but very uncooperative.

Obviously, it was entirely Crowley's business, in the conduct of an investigation of a report of a possible break-in by two men, to know if Gates was the only known person in the residence. Gates didn't simply "refuse to answer" the question, but rather, further acted belligerent in in his refusal.

Note also - as corroborated by the now-released radio communications, that Crowley indicated his belief that Gates was a resident. This one point entirely refutes Gates' fantasyland narrative from above.

Further, according to the police report, Gates' revelation that he was a Harvard professor didn't take place when Crowley initially asked Gates to step out onto the porch, but after Crowley asked Gates for identification to prove that he resided at the location:

I then overheard Gates asking the person on the other end of his telephone call to "get the chief" and "what's the chief's name?" Gates was telling the person on the other end of the call that he was dealing with a racist police officer in his home. Gates then turned to me and told me that I had no idea who I was "messing" with and that I had not heard the last of it. While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me. I asked Gates to provide me with photo identification so that I could verify that he resided at 47 Ware Street and so that I could radio my findings to ECC. Gates initially refused, demanding that I show him identification but then did supply me with a Harvard University identification card. Upon learning that Gates was affiliated with Harvard, I radioed and requested the presence of the Harvard University Police.

Once again, Gates' synopsis of the events obfuscate his own indignation, belligerence, and lack of cooperation.

The interviewer then lofts a softball to Gates, who responds with yet more fabrication:

TR: How did this escalate? What are the laws in Cambridge that govern this kind of interaction? Did you ever think you were in the wrong?

HLG: The police report says I was engaged in loud and tumultuous behavior. That’s a joke. Because I have a severe bronchial infection which I contracted in China and for which I was treated and have a doctor’s report from the Peninsula hotel in Beijing. So I couldn’t have yelled. I can’t yell even today, I’m not fully cured.

Once again, unfortunately for Gates, both the radio communication recordings and the eyewitness accounts corroborate that Gates was yelling.

This fabrication is obviously intended to support Gates' assertion that the police report was "false" and "the police report was an act of pure fiction. One designed to protect him, Sgt. Crowley, from unethical behavior."

And yet again, the facts of the situation - corroborated by the police, the eye-witnesses, and the radio communication recordings - entirely refute that assertion.

Gates then continues his fabrications, in explaining how the situation escalated:

It escalated as follows: I kept saying to him, ‘What is your name, and what is your badge number?’ and he refused to respond. I asked him three times, and he refused to respond. And then I said, ‘You’re not responding because I’m a black man, and you’re a white officer.’ That’s what I said. He didn’t say anything. He turned his back to me and turned back to the porch. And I followed him. I kept saying, “I want your name, and I want your badge number.”

As stated above, the second thing Crowley said to Gates was that he was:

"Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police" and that I was "investigating the report of a break-in in progress" at the residence.

Gates claims that Crowley "didn't say anything" and that he "turned his back to [him] and turned back to the porch." Unfortunately for Gates, the police report (as corroborated by Officer Figueroa) refutes that claim:

With the Harvard University identification in hand, I radioed my findings to ECC on channel two and prepared to leave. Gates again asked me for my name which I began to provide. Gates began to yell over my spoken words by accusing me of being a racist police officer and leveling threats that he wasn't someone to mess with. At some point during this exchange, I became aware that Off. Figueroa was standing behind me. When Gates asked a third time for my name, I explained that I had provided it at his request two separate times. Gates continued to yell at me. I told Gates that I was leaving the residence and that if he had any other questions regarding the matter, I would speak with him outside the residence.

As I began walking through the foyer toward the front door, I could hear Gates demanding my name. I again told Gates that I would speak with him outside. My reason for wanting to leave the residence was that Gates was yelling very loud and the acoustics of the kitchen and the foyer were making it difficult for me to transmit pertinent information to ECC and other responding units. His reply was, "ya [sic], I'll speak with your mama outside." When I left the residence, I noted that there were several Cambridge and Harvard University police officers assembled on the sidewalk in front of the residence. Additionally, the caller, Ms. Walen and at least seven unidentified passers-by were looking in the direction of Gates, who had followed me out of the residence.

Thus, Gates' narrative that Crowley was uncooperative and unresponsive falls apart. Gates insists that he requested Crowley's identification several times but was never answered. In reality, Crowley answered Gates' requests twice, and then indicated that he had provided the information twice already. Further, Gates continued to escalate the situation, with his childish references to Crowley's mother.

Also, far from turning and leaving without a word, Crowley indicated that he was leaving.

Note, very importantly: the entire situation could have ended at this exact moment - and it would have ended, had Gates not followed Crowley outside of the house. Gates was responsible for any escalation up to this point, and was responsible for the escalation that followed.

Gates then once again fabricates out of whole cloth the events surrounding his actual arrest:

It looked like an ocean of police had gathered on my front porch. There were probably half a dozen police officers at this point. The mistake I made was I stepped onto the front porch and asked one of his colleagues for his name and badge number. And when I did, the same officer said, ‘Thank you for accommodating our request. You are under arrest.’ And he handcuffed me right there. It was outrageous. My hands were behind my back I said, ‘I’m handicapped. I walk with a cane. I can’t walk to the squad car like this.’ There was a huddle among the officers; there was a black man among them. They removed the cuffs from the back and put them around the front.

A crowd had gathered, and as they were handcuffing me and walking me out to the car, I said, ‘Is this how you treat a black man in America?’

Unfortunately for Gates, that "ocean of police" were witnesses, and corroborated Crowley's version of the events, which are as follows:

As I descended the stairs to the sidewalk, Gates continued to yell at me, accusing me of racial bias and continued to tell me that I had not heard the last of him. Due to the tumultuous manner Gates had exhibited in his residence as well as his continued tumultuous behavior outside the residence, in view of the public, I warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly. Gates ignored my warning and continued to yell, which drew the attention of both the police officers and citizens, who appeared surprised and alarmed by Gates' outburst. For a second time I warned Gates to calm down while I withdrew my department issued handcuffs from their carrying case. Gates again ignored my warning and continued to yell at me. It was at this time that I informed Gates that he was under arrest. I then stepped up the stairs, onto the porch and attempted to place handcuffs on Gates. Gates initially resisted my attempt to handcuff him, yelling that he was "disabled" and would fall without his cane. After the handcuffs were properly applied, Gates complained that they were too tight. I ordered Off. Ivey, who was among the responding officers, to handcuff Gates with his arms in front of him for his comfort while I secured a can for Gates from within the residence.

As is now usual, Gates' comments are at odds with reality. Gates was not arrested simply for stepping onto the porch. He was not told, "Thank you for accommodating our request. You are under arrest." Rather, Gates was arrested for continuing to act in a disorderly manner, after repeated warnings that he would be arrested if he did not calm down.

After a question and answer regarding his experience in jail, the interview follows up with this question and answer, with more of Gates' specious assertions:

TR: How has this resonated within the academic community at Harvard? I know that Larry Bobo and Charles Ogletree, also black men, have expressed dismay. President Barack Obama has talked about how difficult it is to hail a cab, even as an elected official. Is there an irony to your notoriety and the incident?

HLG: There is such a level of outrage that’s been expressed to me. I’ve received thousands of e-mails and Facebook messages; the blogs are going crazy; my colleagues at Harvard are outraged. Allen Counter called me from the Nobel Institute in Stockholm to express his outrage. But really it’s not about me—it’s that anybody black can be treated this way, just arbitrarily arrested out of spite. And the man who arrested me did it out of spite, because he knew I was going to file a report because of his behavior.

He didn’t follow proper police procedure! You can’t just presume I’m guilty and arrest me. He’s supposed to ask me if I need help. He just presumed that I was guilty, and he presumed that I was guilty because I was black. There was no doubt about that.

Where to begin? I'll leave aside Gates' Obama-esque name-dropping and "it's not about me" song-and-dance. Gates' comments here about Sgt. Crowley border on libelous. Gates says:

He didn’t follow proper police procedure!

When in reality, Crowley followed proper police procedure, to the letter.

Gates says:

You can’t just presume I’m guilty and arrest me. He’s supposed to ask me if I need help. He just presumed that I was guilty, and he presumed that I was guilty because I was black. There was no doubt about that.

When in reality, Crowley assumed that Gates was innocent (of the potential break-in at the residence):

I radioed on Channel 1 that I was off in the residence with someone who appeared to be a resident but very uncooperative.

...

While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was quite surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me.

So what are the options? Is Gates paranoid? Is Gates himself a racist, profiling Sgt. Crowley because he is a white police officer? Is Gates a race-baiter, taking advantage of the situation to create a racial incident where not existed?

I'll let his own words speak for him:

TR: Does this put to rest the idea that America is post-racial?

HLG: I thought the whole idea that America was post-racial and post-black was laughable from the beginning. There is no more important event in the history of black people in America than the election of Barack Obama. I cried when he was elected, and I cried at his inauguration, but that does not change the percentage of black men in prison, the percentage of black men harassed by racial profiling. It does not change the number of black children living near the poverty line. Which is almost a similar percentage as were under poverty when Martin Luther King was assassinated.

There haven’t been fundamental structural changes in America. There’s been a very important symbolic change and that is the election of Barack Obama. But the only black people who truly live in a post-racial world in America all live in a very nice house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

And so, the truth comes out in the end. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is nothing more than a racist and a race-baiter, living in an America perverted by his own racial prejudices, insistence on living in the past, and failure to grasp that which makes America great: the ability of anyone regardless of race or circumstance, to make of his life whatever he is willing to dream big enough, and to work hard enough, to make of it.

That his prejudice and bigotry have so distorted his view of this situation would be pitiable, were he not in a position to influence ostensibly our best and brightest young people. Sadly, the only people for whom America isn't post-racial are race-baiters like Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (and Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al), and those who are brainwashed by the hatred, defeatism, and victim mentality they teach.

In the words (H/T: Lucianne comments thread) of Booker T. Washington (My Larger Education, Being Chapters From My Experience, 1911):

There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do do not want to lose their jobs.

Henry Louis Gates: Racist

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Racism

I've not commented yet on the Gates race-baiting story, and I've also not done a good fisking in a long time, so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone by taking on Andrew Sullivan's alleged attempt at impartiality regarding the story.

What do you call a black man with a PhD? The answer begins with an “n”. Yes, it’s an old and bitter joke about the resilience of racial bias in America, but it got a new twist last week. The black man with a PhD was Henry Louis Gates Jr, one of the most distinguished scholars of African-American history and culture at Harvard. His unexpected tormentor was a local policeman called James Crowley, a white, well-trained officer called to investigate a possible break-in.

Sullivan underlies his article with an unfounded and ill-argued assumption: that the incident represents a "new twist" on the resilience of racial bias in America - specifically, anti-black racial bias. To prove the point, Sullivan equates Gates with the maligned punchline of the "old and bitter joke", and calls Sgt. James Crowley his "tormenter".

Sullivan's entire point of view in his article depends upon this assumption: that anti-black racial bias played a role in the situation. As I will show, and unfortunately for Sullivan's argument (and for Gates, for that matter), the facts of the matter seem to disprove that assumption rather thoroughly.

Next:

The facts we know for sure are as follows. Ten days ago Gates got home from China in the afternoon to find his front door jammed. He forced it open with the help of his cab driver, another black man. A white woman in the area called the police to report a possible burglary. Crowley showed up and saw a black man in the hallway of the house through the glass door. He asked Gates to step out onto the porch and talk to him. Gates refused.

The police report — written by Crowley — says he told Gates he was investigating a break-in in progress and Gates responded furiously: “Why? Because I’m a black man in America?” Gates tried to place a call to the local police chief, while telling Crowley he had no idea who he was “messing” with. The interaction quickly degenerated. After Gates had shown his Harvard identification, Crowley said he would leave. Gates then followed him to his front door, allegedly yelling that Crowley was racist. On his own porch, at his own property, Gates was arrested for “disorderly conduct”, handcuffed and booked in at a local station.

These two paragraphs represent perhaps the most objective, un-biased statements in the entire article. Unfortunately, they don't represent even the entire story as is available in the police report itself (which was written by both Sgt. Crowley and Officer Carlos Figueroa). To wit:

  • Gates didn't come home "to find his front door jammed"; he knew beforehand that it was jammed. Gates' residence - by his own admission - had been the target of a previous break-in attempt (the reason for the door being jammed).
  • After talking to the woman who reported the possible break-in, Crowley radioed to request additional backup.
  • Crowley's first communication with Gates was to ask him to step onto the porch to talk to him, to which Gates responded, "no, I will not."
  • Gates then demanded to know Crowley's identity,' to which Crowley responded, "Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police," and that he was "investigating the report of a break-in in progress" at the residence.
  • Gates' immediate response to Crowley's explanation was, "Why? Because I am a black man in America?"
  • Crowley attempted to proceed with his investigation, amidst continued yelling and accusations of racism by Gates. Crowley asked if anyone else was in the residence, to which Gates replied that it was none of Crowley's business.
  • Crowley requested that Gates show him photo identification to prove that he resided at the location. Gates initially refused, demanded identification from Crowley, and then complied with Crowley's request by producing a Harvard identification card.
  • Upon learning that Gates was affiliated with Harvard, Crowley radioed to request the presence of Harvard police.
  • As Crowley prepared to leave, Gates continued yelling at him, issuing racist accusations at him, told him that Gates wasn't "someone to mess with", and asked him a second and third time for Crowley's name.
  • Officer Figueroa arrived at some time near this point, and overheard much, of the incident.
  • Crowley then told Gates that he was leaving the residence, and that if he had anything further to say, that he could say it outside. According to Crowley, Gates' tirade was so loud in the kitchen and foyer that Crowley had difficulty transmitting pertinent information via his radio.
  • Gates responded, "Yeah, I'll speak with your mama outside."
  • Crowley exited the residence to find several Cambridge Police officers, Harvard Police officers, the original caller, and approximately seven unidentified onlookers.
  • Gates followed Crowley outside of the house.
  • As Crowley descended the steps to the sidewalk, Gates continued yelling at Crowley, hurling racial accusations at him, and telling him that Crowley had not heard the last of Gates.
  • Crowley warned Gates not once, but twice, that his behavior had become disorderly, and to calm down.
  • Gates ignored Crowley's warnings, and continued his outburst.
  • It was at this point, after two warnings, that Crowley placed Gates under arrest.
  • Gates was initially handcuffed with his hands behind his back, but immediately complained that the handcuffs were too tight, and that he was "disabled" and would fall without his cane.
  • Crowley immediately had Officer Ivey handcuff Gates with his hands in front, while Crowley found Gates' cane inside his house.
  • Crowley asked Gates if he would be comfortable with letting one of the police officers secure the front door of the house, which was open. Gates responded that the door could not be secured, having been damaged during a previous break-in attempt at the house.

I will refer to these points of fact as I address Sullivan's article. However, these facts already refute the picture painted by Sullivan, of a black man tormented by a white police officer.

Next:

The incident clearly struck a nerve. Boston has a fraught racial history. Gates, of course, is no underclass black man but among the country’s elite, friends with the president, chums with Oprah Winfrey, a man given a small fortune by Harvard to build one of the best departments of African-American studies in the world.

The affair got another lease of tabloid life when President Barack Obama was asked for his reaction to the incident and said that while Gates was a friend and he did not know the full facts, the police acted “stupidly” by arresting someone when there was proof he was in his own home.

And of course, Obama's statement has proven to be as unpopular as it was ignorant and inflammatory. Regardless of the facts - which place Obama squarely in the wrong - issuing a judgement statement based on a situation about which one admits to being ignorant of the facts regarding that situation is patently foolish. For the President to do so - especially when doing so incites a racial issue - is downright dangerous. (Would that Obama considered commenting on the incident to be "above his pay grade".)

Next:

So was this an example of excessive racial grievance on the part of Gates or excessive racial insensitivity on the part of Crowley — or a little bit of both? Such moments are fully understood only by the individuals involved — and even then the truth is murky in such emotional circumstances. But it is indeed unusual to arrest someone for “disorderly conduct” when he is on his own property.

It is most certainly not unusual to arrest someone for disorderly conduct while that person is on his own property. Does Andrew Sullivan not watch Cops? Those who are belligerent with police officers, and who would otherwise not subject themselves to problems with those officers, are often arrested for such disorderly conduct. Note that not one of the witnesses - Officer Figueroa inside the residence, the many Cambridge and Harvard Police officers outside the residence, the woman who called in the suspected break-in, or the seven onlookers - not one has refuted the facts of the case as stated in the police report. Gates' conduct was disorderly.

Next:

Massachusetts law defines the perpetrators of “disorderly conduct” thus: “common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female, common railers and brawlers, persons who with offensive and disorderly acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behaviour, idle and disorderly persons, disturbers of the peace, keepers of noisy and disorderly houses and persons guilty of indecent exposure”. Apparently Gates’s loud accusations of racism on a street in Cambridge at one o’clock in the afternoon in front of at most seven passers-by and neighbours was a qualification for the charge. It’s no big surprise that it was swiftly dropped.

Apparently, Sullivan has a reading comprehension issue, if he does not understand Gates' behavior to be fully in line with this definition of "disorderly."

Next:

Crowley gave an interview on Thursday after Obama’s remarks, refusing to apologise. When asked what he thought of the president’s comments, he smiled, paused and said: “I didn’t vote for him.” The way he said it, the contempt in his voice and pride in his actions, helped to illuminate for me why Gates might have perceived racism. But the second police report — from an officer called Carlos Figueroa — testified that Gates initially refused to provide Crowley with any identification, yelling, “No, I will not!” and, “This is what happens to black men in America!” and, “You don’t know who you’re messing with.”

How Sullivan could be illuminated regarding why Gates might have perceived racism, simply by observing Crowley's response to a question regarding Obama's comments, is beyond me. Crowley was absolutely justifed in being proud of his actions. He responded to a broadcast of a reported break-in in progress, handled the situation by the book, and conducted himself with utmost professionalism throughout the incident. Further, he is absolutely justified in contempt toward a President who interjected himself into the issue, having admitted to being ignorant of the facts, and accused Crowley of acting "stupidly" and implying that his actions were racially motivated.

And therein lies the problem with Sullivan's article: Crowley did absolutely nothing wrong. Gates was the sole instigator, antagonist, and escalator in the situation. As such, any racial motivation in the matter lies squarely with Gates - not Crowley.

Next:

Gates is not a merchant of racial grievance. He is a scholar who has won wealth and fame and respect for his work and who tends to eschew the kind of bald racial accusations he made that day. Maybe he was exhausted after a long trip and irritated by being unable to get into his home; to be confronted by an officer of the law asking if he was a burglar may well have been the last straw. He lost his cool. A black man should never lose his cool with a white policeman in America. Obama explained in his autobiography the unwritten code for black men in such situations: no sudden moves.

Unfortunately for Sullivan's article, more and more evidence is being broght to light that refutes Sullivan's claim that Gates "is not a merchant of racial grievance" and that he "tends to eschew the kind of bald racial accusations he made that day."

Exhibit A: As a student, Gates wrote the following in his application to Yale University:

"As always, whitey now sits in judgment of me, preparing to cast my fate. It is your decision either to let me blow with the wind as a nonentity or to encourage the development of self. Allow me to prove myself."

Exhibit B: 19 1994, Gates lauded Malcolm X's anti-white racial bias:

...[I]n 1959 we were watching Mike Wallace's documentary called "The Hate that Hate Produced." It was about the Nation of Islam and I couldn't believe -- I mean, Malcolm X was talking about the white man was the devil and standing up in white people's faces and telling them off. It was great.

Exhibit C: In 1996, Gates gave a speech slandering Clarence Thomas as a racial hypocrite:

The only reason we have so many people doing so well - the only reason - is because of ...the civil rights movement and its child affirmative action. Without affirmative action we would never have been able to integrate racist historically white institutions in society. And to me, the first issue we have to address is how to protect, defend, and expand affirmative action.

...because of racism I never would have been allowed to compete on a more or less level terrain with white boys and white girls. And for me, for someone who has benefitted so much from the opportunities from affirmative action, to stand at the gate and try to keep other black people out, would to me to be as hypocritical as Clarence Thomas.

Exhibit D: Earlier this year, Gates expressed that he was horrified to learn that, genetically, he is 57% white:

This past March 29th, Professor Henry Louis Gates was being interviewed in front of a small group by Walter Isaacson on C-SPAN's Book TV. Thirty-three minutes into the discussion about his new book on Lincoln, Professor Gates began a detailed account of his own genealogy. He said that in doing so he had discovered he was about "50% white". He said that this was quote, "To my astonishment and horror...".

He continued by saying that he had subsequently sent his DNA off to be tested. This time, upon finding out he was "57% white", he said again, "to my horror .... I was becoming more white by the minute".

Sullivan tries to excuse Gates' behavior by attempting to explain it. Unfortunately, no rational or logical explanation exists for Gates' behavior, other than racial motivation. Given that Gates knew beforehand that his door was jammed - and jammed because of a prior break-in attempt, he had no excuse or reason whatsoever to lose his temper with Sgt. Crowley or to assume that Crowley's investigation was racially motivated.

Also, what of Sullivan's statement that a "black man should never lose his cool with a white policeman in America"? Why is it that it is always liberals who are injecting race where race need not be injected? The statement "a man should never lose his cool with a policeman in America" is entirely appropriate here. Whether black, white, or otherwise, no one should ever lose his cool with a policeman - again, whether black, white, or otherwise - in America. Sullivan also further demonstrates Obama's own race-baiting, with Obama's statment that the "unwritten code for black men in such situations" is "no sudden moves." One, when has Obama ever been in such situations? (Perhaps when we was being issued his dozens of unpaid-for-decades Harvard parking tickets?) Two, the very-well-known rule for anyone in the middle of a police investigation is "no sudden moves." Once again, a liberal injects race where race is entirely inapplicable.

Next:

Would this have happened to a white man? That requires some unpacking. A white man seen breaking through the front door into a house in an affluent section of Cambridge, Massachusetts, might not have prompted a police call. Any suspected break-in, though, could justify a call to the local police station.

And in what circumstance would a witnessed, suspected break-in (such as two men with backpacks throwing their shoulders into the front door of a house, attempting to force the door open) not justify a call to the local police station?

Next:

More importantly, a white man seeing a policeman call him onto his porch for identification would probably not have exploded the way Gates allegedly did. Nor, one might add, would a poor black man arrested on the streets of the largely African-American neighbourhood of Roxbury in Boston raise such a ruckus about “racism”. Gates’s response was a classic example of how successful black men in America feel when treated by the police in a manner used in the ghetto. That was also perhaps the reason for Obama’s solidarity. What do you call a black man with a PhD again? Equally, I’d wager that if the policeman had seen an older white man wielding a cane through the glass door of a posh house, he would not have demanded that the man come out onto his porch and identify himself. He would have knocked, explained the reason for his visit and instantly accepted a white man’s explanation. Is this racism? If it has never happened to you, no. If it has, yes.

First, what does Andrew Sullivan - a man about as black as I am, which is to say not at all - know about how successful black men in America feel about anything? Second, how was Gates' situation in any way comparable to the police's (ostensible) manner in the ghetto?

It is interesting to note that Crowley's actions in the situation far more closely resembled Sullivan's hypothetical scenario of a cop's treatment of an older white man (Crowley knocked, explained the reason for his visit, and accepted the man's explanation - once given), than Sullivan's interpretation of what actually happened (Crowley did not demand Gates come out onto the porch and identify himself).

Sgt. Crowley has stated - and police officers across the country have corroborated - that during a possible break-in in progress, it is standard operating procedure to ask the homeowner to come outside of the home, in order to ensure that the person is not being held against his will and can speak freely and openly. Further, Sgt. Crowley was the first - and lone - initial respondent to the reported break-in, for which the caller reported not one, but two persons involved. It was for Sgt. Crowley's own safety that he requested the unidentified occupant to come outside onto the porch.

Given that Sullivan's interpretation of the events is exactly opposite of what actually happened, his argument is specious and his conclusion is therefore invalid. Crowley treated Gates exactly the way Sullivan presupposes Crowley would have treated a white man in the same situation, and yet Gates, entirely unprovoked by Crowley, still over-reacted.

It would appear that the germane question is not, "what do you call a black man with a PhD?" but rather, "what does a racist black man call a white police officer?"

Also, about that oft-mentioned cane: we don't know whether or not Gates was "weilding" his cane while inside his house. The first mention of it came after Gates was handcuffed. Gates may in fact be "disabled" and need the cane for walking; however, he obviously didn't need the cane in order to follow Crowley out of the house in order to keep yelling at and berating him. Otherwise, if Gates had used his cane to walk out of the house, Crowley would not have had to go back inside the house to find the cane. Further, I find highly implausible the prospect that Gates was "wielding" his cane while he was attempting to force his front door open with his shoulder.

Next:

On the web, the comments sections on various blogs and stories were the most honest. Here is one view: “Butt the hell out Obama. You don’t know the facts of the case, you weren’t there, you’re friends with the douchebag, you’re black. Taking Obama’s word is the same as judging a criminal by a jury of his fellow gangster peers.”

Here is another: “Professor Gates might not have been arrested if he’d been more submissive — let the cop win the masculinity contest. Every brotha has played that game as well: you don’t look the popo in the eye, you do say ‘sir’ a lot and maybe you won’t get locked up. Then you go home and stew in the stuff that gives African-American men low life expectancy.”

Yes, America has a black president. But some things haven’t changed that much, have they?

Indeed, some things haven't changed that much. Some people - including Professor Gates - are still racist. Democrat politicians - including President Obama - are still race-baiters. And Liberal pundits - including Andrew Sullivan - still can't tell the difference.

You can listen to the 911 call recording here, and the incident radio transmissions here and here.

A Critical Look at the DHS Report on Rightwing Extremism

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Democrats, Military, Republicans, War on Terror

I know I'm a few days late in responding to this story, but it has taken me a while to put my response together.

Mere weeks after the MIAC terrorism report came to light (and was subsequently rescinded due to public outrage), The Liberty Papers and Roger Hedgecock broke the story about an eerily similar report out of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, titled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment (PDF report from Michelle Malkin).

Generally speaking, the issues with the Rightwing Report, which the DHS has confirmed and stands behind, can be grouped as follows:

  1. Overly broad definition of "rightwing extremism" (RWE) that conflates right-wing ideology/socio-political views with extremism/violence (i.e. MIAC II)
  2. Failure to identify RWE groups or individuals, identify any evidence of risk of impending rightwing extremist violence, or specify/quantify assessments
  3. Downplaying the differentiation between mainstream rightwing groups and lone wolf fringe extremists, and the relative risk of each
  4. Conflation of militia movement with extremism/voilence (i.e. MIAC II)
  5. Conflation of disagreement with liberal policy changes with racism
  6. Conflation of racism (and anti-semitism) and "rightwing extremism"
  7. Conflation of racist beliefs with anti-government beliefs
  8. Conflation of economic downturn/poverty with rightwing radicalization
  9. Failure to cite sources for assessments/assertions

Each of these points will be addressed at length, below.

Very quickly, the story exploded on the right, including Michelle Malkin, Red State (including Moe Lane, Warner Todd Huston, and Hogan), WorldNetDaily, The Anchoress, Legal Insurrection, HotAir, and PowerLine (to whose post I will return shortly).

The outrage hasn't been limited to the blogosphere. This Ain't Hell, Michelle Malkin, and Gateway Pundit reported on the American Legion's response to the report's implications toward returning military veterans. Likewise, Michelle Malkin and RedState (including Warner Todd Huston and E Pluribus Unum) report that seven U.S. Senators have sent a letter to Janet Napolitano demanding that she produce the evidence used as the basis for the report. Also, Designated Conservative reports that the Thomas More Law Center has filed a request with the DHS challenging the report.

Apparently, though, some don't seem to understand the problem. Charles Johnson of LGF has deemed outrage at the report to be the stuff of the "black helicopter" crowd. Informed Speculation (the erstwhile Decision '08) fails to understand the indignation. Strata-sphere calls the response "hemming and hawing", and "shrillness." Likewise, "moderates" are dismissing the outrage.

The primary argument of those who dismiss this outrage is that DHS has issued similar reports regarding leftwing extremism. The secondary argument appears to be that DHS should be concerned with potential acts of violence, whether they originate from the left or from the right. The final - and most particularly asinine - argument is that the report originated with the Bush Administration.

(Ed Morrissey and Michelle Malkin smack down the latter argument. Napolitano was in such a hurry to get the report out that she failed to address internal civil liberties concerns regarding wording of the report's definition of "rightwing extremism.")

Since the story first broke, the Leftwing Extremism report has surfaced: Leftwing Extremists Likely to Increase Use of Cyber Attacks over the Coming Decade (PDF report from FOX News). Unfortunately, the Leftwing Extremism report in no way resembles the Rightwing Extremism report, as I will address shortly. Also, a reading of the two reports provides the response to the latter argument. Real, hard evidence of past and continued leftwing extremist violence exists and provides the basis and support for the Leftwing Extremism report; however, baseless conjecture provides the basis and support for the Rightwing Extremism report, which even states that no evidence whatsoever exists that rightwing extremist violence represents a current threat.

(Note: The Rightwing Extremism report was prepared by the Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division and coordinated with the FBI. The Leftwing Extremism report was prepared by the Strategic Analysis Group, Homeland Environment and Threat Analysis Division.)

Rather than the mere existence of a Leftwing Extremism report quelling the expressed concern regarding the Rightwing Extremism report, a reading of the Leftwing Extremism report actually confirms much of that concern:

First, the Leftwing Extremism report provides a very narrowly focused definition of leftwing extremism, including in the definition not just ideology but also that such extremists display a willingness to violate the law to acheive their objectives.

Second, the Leftwing Extremism report specifically names the extremist groups to which the report applies. The report differentiates between animal/environmental rights extremists and anarchist extremists. The report lists by name such animal/environmental groups as Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, elements of Animal Defense League, and Earth First; and such anarchist groups as Crimethinc, the Ruckus Society, and Recreate 68.

Note: oddly, the report includes not merely "anti-government" but also the following ideologies under "anarchist": anticapitalist, antiglobalization, communist, and socialist, anti-Western-government, and anti-large-business. Regardless of the "anarchist" designation for these ideologies, the report - rightly so - includes them as leftwing (further putting the lie to the Rightwing Extremism report that attempts to lump some of these ideologies under rightwing extremism).

Rather than imagining some perceived risk or threat of violence where no supporting evidence exists, the report identifies concrete examples of recent leftwing extremist violence, and bases its assessments on those examples.

Third, rather than implying that all ideologically similar groups fall under the extremist definition, the report clearly states in its definition of Leftwing Extremists that these such groups tend to be composed of lone wolves, small cells, and splinter groups, rather than being hierarchally organized.

Fourth, the Leftwing Extremism report provides a source summary statement, explaining its methodology and sourcing of information from which the report's assessments are derived.

Each of these points is in direct, stark contrast with the Rightwing Extremism report, as I will explain. (Related: Jonah Goldberg posts quite a few reader comments making similar points comparing and contrasting the two reports.

The critical point that the nay-sayers appear to be missing is that such a report has consequences. Already, (via Liberty Papers) the report has led to tea party protesters in southern Maryland being labeled as a potential concern. And as the NRO Corner points out, the report is part of a pattern for Obama.

Now, on to the report itself. Here are my issues with the report, point by point.

#1 Overly broad definition of "rightwing extremism" (RWE) that conflates right-wing ideology/socio-political views with extremism/violence (i.e. MIAC II)

Unlike the Leftwing Extremism report, which differentiated between ideology and proclivity toward acts of violence, the Rightwing Extremism report makes no such differentiation.

A footnote on page 2 of 9 of the report provides the report's definition of "rightwing extremism":

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

This definition of "rightwing extremism" is the foundation for the report, and the assessments made thereafter reflect this foundation - including its inherent problems and incorrect conflations. Both this definition and the report itself incorrectly conflate racism (including anti-semitism) with rightwing extremism, racist beliefs with anti-government beliefs, the militia movement with extremism/violence, right-wing ideology/socio-political views with extremism/violence, and disagreement with liberal policy changes with racism. In so doing, both this definition and the report itself fail to identify RWE groups or individuals and fail to offer any specification or quantification of the assessments made.

Later, having implicated the "militia movement" and white supremacists as falling within its definition of "rightwing extremists", the report identifies the ideological issues of these entities. Under Revisiting the 1990s on page 4 of 9 of the report:

Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement's opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists' longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage.

The report's definition of RWE also includes the following:

Rightwing extremism in the United States ...may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

Of course, the report takes a page from the MIAC report - and typical liberal obfuscation - by claiming rightwing opposition to "immigration", when in fact rightwing ideology is opposed not to immigration but rather to illegal immigration. Opposition to illegal immigration is generally a rightwing issue; however, xenophobia - which is far more likely to lead to anti-immigrant (illegal or otherwise) violence - is by no means a rightwing ideology.

Anti-abortionism is clearly a rightwing ideology, and abortion clinic bombing and other similar acts of violence are rightly considered to be rightwing extremism. Oddly, the report neither discusses the past trends in, nor assesses the future risk of, such anti-abortion extremism.

Thus, putting together all of the above, all of the following ideologies are included as potentially related to "rightwing extremism":

  • hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups
  • antigovernment
    • rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority
    • rejecting government authority entirely
  • abortion
  • (illegal) immigration
  • opposition to gun control efforts
  • criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico)
  • "perceived" government infringement on civil liberties
  • inter-racial crimes
  • and same-sex marriage.

This definition of "rightwing extremism" is so overly broad that it actually includes leftwing ideology. The report frequently references and discusses racism and white supremacists; however, white supremacists (National Socialists, Aryan Nation, etc.) generally adhere to socialist - i.e. leftwing - ideology. Likewise, most criticism of free trade agreements has come from not from the right but rather from the left.

Worse, having made an overly broad definition of "rightwing extremism", the report later asserts that "rightwing extremists" are, as a group, mutually exclusive from "law-abiding Americans". On page 6 of 9, under Judicial Drivers, the report states:

Open source reporting of wartime ammunition shortages has likely spurred rightwing extremists - as well as law-abiding Americans - to make bulk purchases of ammunition. These shortages have increased the cost of ammunition, further exacerbating rightwing extremist paranoia and leading to further stockpiling activity. Both rightwing extremists and law-abiding citizens share a belief that rising crime rates attributed to a slumping economy make the purchase of legitimate firearms a wise move at this time.

Not once, but twice in the same paragraph, the report indicates that "rightwing extremists" are not law-abiding Americans.

Whether intentional or unintentional, the implication being made by the report is unmistakable: rightwing extremism is defined by ideology devoid of proclivity toward violence, and rightwing extremists are by definition not law-abiding citizens.

#2 Failure to identify RWE groups or individuals, identify evidence of risk of impending rightwing extremism violence, or specify/quantify assessments

Unlike the Leftwing Extremism report, which explicitly names the leftwing groups to which the report applies, the Rightwing Extremism report fails to identify any rightwing groups explicitly. Further, unlike the Leftwing Extremism report, which identifies explicit acts of violence committed by leftwing extremists (as well as communications indicating intent to continue such acts) and bases its assessments on those acts, the Rightwing Extremism report indicates that no evidence exists that rightwing extremists are intending to commit any acts of violence - and then proceeds to assert baseless speculation of an increased risk of rightwing extremists committing acts of violence. The Rightwing Extremism report consistently references "extremist groups" and "militia members", but likewise consistently fails to identify any such groups or militias by name. The report identifies only two entities by name: Timothy McVeigh, and Christian Identity.

On page 2 of 9, under Key Findings, the report states:

The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.

The report asserts that "rightwing extremists" may be gaining new recruits, but fails to identify any such groups. Nor does the report offer any statistics on increase in numbers of recruits.

The first bullet point under this paragraph indicates:

Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts.

Again, the report apparently has some specific knowledge of some sort of rhetoric, yet fails to identify the groups for which this rhetoric is known.

The second bullet point makes a similar assertion:

Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.

Once again, the report apparently has some specific knowledge of some groups capitalizing on the election of the first African American president, yet fails to identify any such groups.

On page 3 of 9, under Exploiting Economic Downturn, the report states:

Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures.

Again, the report apparently has some specific knowledge of extremist Internet "chatter", yet fails to identify the source of or the groups participating in such chatter.

On the same page, under Historic Presidential Election, the report states:

Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.

Again, the report apparently has some specific knowledge of RWEs harnessing the election as a recruitment tool, yet fails to identify any such groups. Nor does the report offer any statistics on increase in numbers of recruits.

The subsequent bullet point states:

Most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical, expressing concerns about the election of the first African American president, but stopping short of calls for violent action.

Again, the report apparently has some specific knowledge of some sort of rhetoric, yet fails to identify the groups for which this rhetoric is known.

The bullet point continues:

In two instances in the run-up to the election, extremists appeared to be in the early planning stages of some threatening activity targeting the Democratic nominee, but law enforcement interceded.

And again, the report references specific incidents, yet fails to identify the involved parties (much less, any group to which they may have belonged).

On page 5 of 9, under Illegal Immigration, the report states:

Over the past five years, various rightwing extremists, including militias and white supremacists, have adopted the immigration issue as a call to action, rallying point, and recruiting tool.

Again, the report apparently has some specific knowledge of militias and white supremacists adopting the illegal immigration issue, yet fails to identify any such groups. Nor does the report offer any statistics on increase in numbers of recruits.

On page 5 of 9, under Legislation and Judicial Drivers, the report states:

Many rightwing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms and in response have increased weapons and ammunition stockpiling, as well as renewed participation in paramilitary training exercises.

Once again, the report apparently has some specific knowledge of groups increasing weapons and ammunition stockpiling and renewing participation in paramilitary training exercises, yet fails to identify any such groups. Nor does the report offer any statistics on increase weapons/ammunition stockpiling.

The report offers the same treatment of so-called disgruntled military veterans; however, this discussion is addressed previously and not repeated here.

On page 8 of 9, under Outlook, the report states:

  • Following the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, the militia movement declined in total membership and in the number of organized groups because many members distanced themselves from the movement as a result of the intense scrutiny militias received after the bombing.
  • Militia membership continued to decline after the turn of the millennium as a result of law enforcement disruptions of multiple terrorist plots linked to violent rightwing extremists, new legislation banning paramilitary training, and militia frustration that the "revolution" never materialized.
  • Although the U.S. economy experienced a significant recovery and many perceived a concomitant rise in U.S. standing in the world, white supremacist groups continued to experience slight growth.

And once again, the report apparently has some specific knowledge of a decline in number of militia groups as well as a decrease in militia group membership rolls, yet fails to identify the groups or offer any statistics on that decline. Likewise, the report offers no statistics on the asserted slight growth in white supremacist groups and fails to identify those groups. Perhaps most interestingly, the report asserts both that militia membership has been in decline for more than a decade, and may now be increasing - yet offers no statistics whatsoever to support either assertion.

#3 Downplaying the differentiation between mainstream rightwing groups and lone wolf fringe extremists, and the relative risk of each

The report consistently references (and maligns) militias as "rightwing extremist" groups, and associates a risk of potential violence with such groups; however, the report downplays its conclusion that the greatest risk comes not from militia groups, but rather from "lone wolves" and "small terrorist cells". Even worse, the report actually concludes that the greatest risk comes not from militia members at all, but rather from white supremacists.

From a sidebar titled Lone Wolves and Small Terrorist Cells on page 7 of 9, the report states:

DHS/I&A assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist cells have shown intent - and, in some cases, the capability - to commit violent acts.

  • DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy - separate from any formalized group - which hampers warning efforts.
  • Similarly, recent state and municipal law enforcement reporting has warned of the dangers of rightwing extremists embracing the tactics of "leaderless resistance" and of lone wolves carrying out acts of violence.
  • Arrests in the past several years of radical militia members in Alabama, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania on firearms, explosives, and other related violations indicates the emergence of small, well-armed extremist groups in some rural areas.

On the same page, under Disgruntled Military Veterans, the report conflates the risk of lone wolves and small terrorist cells with militias:

[Returning veterans' military training and combat] skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists - including lone wolves or small terrorist cells - to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

If the real threat comes from lone wolves and small terrorist cells, why does so much of the report focus on the militia movement and militia groups - groups that have repeatedly and consistently repudiated the extremist viewpoints and ideologies of those lone wolves and cell groups?

#4 Conflation of militia movement with extremism/voilence (i.e. MIAC II)

In a near carbon-copy of the MIAC report, the DHS report conflates militias and the militia movement with extremism and violence. Going even further, the report implies that militias are part of the "domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups" designation. To wit, on page 2 of 9, under Key Findings, the report indicates:

The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when rightwing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers.

  • During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors.
  • Growth of these groups subsided in reaction to increased government scrutiny as a result of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and disrupted plots, improvements in the economy, and the continued U.S. standing as the preeminent world power.

This assessment under Key Findings does not specifically address or identify militias; however, the Key Findings section is a summary of findings that are further discussed and elaborated in the rest of the report. Compare that summary statement with the following assessment found on page 8 of 9 of the report, under Outlook:

A number of law enforcement actions and external factors were effective in limiting the militia movement during the 1990s and could be utilized in today's climate.

  • Following the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, the militia movement declined in total membership and in the number of organized groups because many members distanced themselves from the movement as a result of the intense scrutiny militias received after the bombing.
  • Militia membership continued to decline after the turn of the millennium as a result of law enforcement disruptions of multiple terrorist plots linked to violent rightwing extremists, new legislation banning paramilitary training, and militia frustration that the "revolution" never materialized.

Comparing these two assessments clearly indicates that the report is implying that DHS considers the "militia movement" as (at least part of) the "domestic rightwing terroriswt and extremist groups" that saw a decline in membership as a result of increased government scrutiny following the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing.

Having established this implication, the report then uses the possible correlation of issues of concern in order to conflate even further militias and extremism/violence. Under Revisiting the 1990s on page 4 of 9 of the report:

Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members. Prominent among these themes were the militia movement's opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists' longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage. During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks,and infrastructure sectors.

The report asserts that, somehow, the militia's issues of concern (gun control, free trade agreements, government infringement of civil liberties) relate to white supremacists' issues (abortion, inter-racial crimes, same-sex marriage - though why abortion and same-sex marriage would be issues for white supremacists I have no idea). Having made this assertion, the report then makes the blanket statement that "these issues contributed to the growth in number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors."

Lest any pretense remain, the report then directly calls militias "rightwing extremists." Under Illegal Immigration on page 5 of 9 of the report:

Over the past five years, various rightwing extremists, including militias and white supremacists, have adopted the immigration issue as a call to action, rallying point, and recruiting tool.

And again, under Outlook on page 8 of 9:

DHS/I&A assesses that the combination of environmental factors that echo the 1990s, ...as well as several new trends, ...may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements.

Having thus grouped militias (as a whole) under the "rightwing extremist" designation, the report then attempts to correlate militia membership with violence/extremism. Under the same Illegal Immigration section, the report lists three examples of violence directed toward illegal immigrants, two of which involve militia members:

  • 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.
  • 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 problem, of course, is that (once again) the report fails to demonstrate an understanding of the principle that correlation does not prove causation. As with the MIAC report, the DHS report fails to address whether or not the militias of which these criminals were members sponsored or condoned their criminal actions. Further, the report fails to indicate that such occurrences are not the norm, but rather the extreme exception for militias and militia members. Oh, and JustOneMinute (h/t Transterrestrial Musings) uses some "open source reporting" of his own to debunk both points.

The report goes on to conflate further the actions of fringe extremists with militias. On page 6 of 9, under Perceived Threat from Rise of Other Countries, the report indicates:

  • Fear of Communist regimes and related conspiracy theories characterizing the U.S. Government's role as either complicit in a foreign invasion or acquiescing as part of a "One World Government" plan inspired extremist members of the militia movement to target government and military facilities in past years.
  • 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.

(Note that the first bullet point includes the report's only reference thus far to a potential differentiation between militias and extremists.)

Once more, in a sidebar titled "Lone Wolves and Small Terrorist Cells" on page 7 of 9 of the report:

Arrests in the past several years of radical militia members in Alabama, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania on firearms, explosives, and other related violations indicates the emergence of small, well-armed extremist groups in some rural areas.

Again, in all cases, the report still gives no indication of whether or not any militia sponsored or condoned such extremist activities.

However, perhaps the most insulting assertion in the report's conflation of militias with extremism and violence is the report's association with military veterans with extremism and violence. On page 7 of 9, under Disgruntled Military Veterans, the report states:

DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists - including lone wolves or small terrorist cells - to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

  • After Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991, some returning military veterans - including Timothy McVeigh - joined or associated with rightwing extremist groups.
  • A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that "large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces."
  • The FBI noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups.

Allow me to digress for a moment, on the matter of Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh - rightly so - is the poster child for extremist violence and domestic terrorism. He is not, however, an example of rightwing extremism. Timothy McVeigh associated primarily with neo-Nazis. The book that influenced his bombing, The Turner Diaries, was written by a neo-Nazi. Neo-Nazis - that is, National Socialists - are leftwing, not rightwing. Socialism is a leftwing ideology (an issue that I will address in a later post). McVeigh was not a member of any militia, nor did any militia support, endorse, or condone his actions. Even the ADL - no friend of militias - admits frankly that Timothy McVeigh was not connected to the militia movement:

No, [Timothy McVeigh] was not [connected with the militia movement]. He was not really connected to any particular movement. On the "hate" side, he obviously loved "The Turner Diaries" by William Pierce and read The Spotlight, the publication of the extremist and anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby. On the "anti-government" side, he attended a couple of militia meetings and half-heartedly attempted to start a militia group in Arizona, which came to nothing. He never really joined anything, either as a card-carrying member or even an explicit endorsement. This is also one reason why there was little support for McVeigh, simply because no one viewed him as one of "their own."

Also, as Gateway Pundit points out, McVeigh was military trained not as a bomb-maker, but as a gunner. He did not get his terrorist training in the U.S. military.

It is striking to note that, in a report released in 2009, the only (and, ostensibly, best) example of a military veteran/militia member/terrorist is someone who committed a terrorist attack almost fifteen years ago and one whose alleged militia association has been thoroughly disproven. As the American Legion points out, Timothy McVeigh is one of several million military veterans of contemporary warfare.

I could address these obvious insults to our military veterans, but the American Legion and others did a much better job already.

Also, the good folks at PowerLine (linked above) have already addressed and debunked the source information to which the report alludes, regarding extremists joining the military and returning veterans joining extremist groups.

On the report's assertion that "large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now
learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces" [emphasis mine, links in original]:

The "prominent civil rights organization" is the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center. But what support is there for SPLC's assertion that there are "large numbers" of "white supremacists" serving in the armed forces--as opposed to, say, a "tiny handful"? The SPLC's full report is entirely anecdotal; the closest thing to data is this:

[Scott] Barfield, who is based at Fort Lewis, said he has identified and submitted evidence on 320 extremists there in the past year.

But even this alleged statistic appears to be false. Barfield was a gang investigator, and what he actually said was: "I have identified 320 soldiers as gang members from April 2002 to present." So we now have the Department of Homeland Security defaming our servicemen on the basis of a press release by a left-wing pressure group that misrepresented the principal empirical support for its claim. Nice.

On the report's assertion that "[the] FBI noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups" [emphasis mine, link in original]:

So, how many are "some"? You can read the FBI report, titled "White Supremacist Recruitment of Military Personnel since 9/11," here. Notwithstanding the deliberate vagueness of the Homeland Security document, the FBI was actually very specific:

A review of FBI white supremacist extremist cases from October 2001 to May 2008 identified 203 individuals with confirmed or claimed military service active in the extremist movement at some time during the reporting period. This number is minuscule in comparison with the projected US veteran population of 23,816,000 as of 2 May 2008, or the 1,416,037 active duty military personnel as of 30 April 2008. ...

According to FBI information, an estimated 19 veterans (approximately 9 percent of the 203) have verified or unverified service in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There you have it: a whopping 19 actual or alleged veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan have joined the "extremist movement." (The FBI notes that some of these "may have inflated their resumes with fictional military experience to impress others within the movement.")

#5 Conflation of disagreement with liberal policy changes with racism

The report's definition of "rightwing extremism" includes "those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups)". The first paragraph under Key Findings (page 2 of 9) lists "the election of the first African American president" as a "unique [driver] for radicalization and recruitment." The first bullet point under this paragraph references "white supremacists" as one group of such RWE.

On pages 3 and 4 of 9, under Historical Presidential Election, the report states:

Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use. Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them a drivers for recruitment. From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.

The bullet point that immediately follows (on page 4 of 9) states:

Most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical, expressing concerns about the election of the first African American president, but stopping short of calls for violent action. In two instances in the run-up to the election, extremists appeard to be in the early planning stages of some threatening activity targeting the Democratic nominee, but law enforcement interceded.

The problem with conflating racism with RWE is that racism, bigotry, and other "hate-oriented" ideologies are not a right-or-left political matter. The right/left political spectrum involves the level of government involvement in and control over the life of the individual. The right favors individualism/federalism and the left favors socialism/statism. One can adhere to an ideology of bigotry while ascribing to a right or left political viewpoint.

Right-wing ideological groups do not inherently support or condone racism. With respect to racism against "African Americans", it was the right that led the abolitionist movement, fought for an end to slavery against the southern Democrats (figuratively in the legislature and literally in the Civil War), issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and introduced the Equal Rights Amendment. With anti-Hispanic racism and violence, the issue is mostly apolitical and manifests in inner-city/gang violence between "African Americans" and Hispanics.

Consider also that the report defines not only racists as "rightwing extremists", but applies the broad "hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial, or ethnic groups)" description. Much of this type of bigoted ideology belongs to leftwing extremists.

On page 5 of 9, under Illegal Immigration, the report "notes that prominent civil rights organizations have observed an increase in anti-Hispanic crimes over the past five years."

The problem with this statement is that the "prominent civil rights organization" is (once again) the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the SPLC's "observation" is an intentional misrepresentation of FBI crime statistics. As this press release from FAIR (h/t 24Ahead) explains:

When examined responsibly, the FBI hate crime data show a dramatically different story than the one the SPLC portrays. First, in order to suggest an artificially large increase in the raw number of hate crimes, the SPLC selects 2003 as its base year, one of lowest years on record for hate crimes against Hispanics. If one compares the number of hate crimes between 1995 (the earliest report available on the FBI's website) and 2006 (the most recent statistical year available), one would see that the number of hate crimes has increased only 17 percent.

But even this is not the whole story. The SPLC conveniently forgets to index the raw hate crime data with the population, a step always taken by the FBI to more accurately depict an increase or decrease in crime. Thus, when one indexes a 17 percent increase in hate crimes against Hispanics with a 67 percent increase in the Hispanic population between 1995 and 2006, it becomes clear that the rate of hate crimes against Hispanics has in fact dropped dramatically -- by about 40 percent.

#6 Conflation of racism (and anti-semitism), anti-government beliefs, and "rightwing extremism" (RWE)

On page 3 of 9, under Current Economic and Political Climate, the report indicates that "the historical election of an African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for rightwing extremist recriutment and radicalization." As an example of this threat, the report references the recent Pittsburgh police shootings, and stating (among other things) "The alleged gunman's reaction reportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernment conspiracy theories related to ...a Jewish-controlled 'one world government.'" On the same page, under Exploiting Economic Downturn, the report states, "Anti-Semitic extremists attribute [U.S. job] losses to a deliberate conspiracy conducted by a cabal of Jewish 'financial elites.'"

With respect to anti-semitism, this ideology is found predominantly on the left.

Returning to the report's definition of "rightwing extremism":

Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.

The report conflates hate-based groups, movements, and adherents with antigovernment groups, movements, and adherents, without offering any reasoning whatsoever for why these two ideologies should be grouped together. The only example offered of such reasoning is the previously mentioned Philadelphia police shooting incident. According to the report, "[t]he alleged gunman's reaction reportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernment conspiracy theories related to gun confiscations, citizen detention camps, and a Jewish-controlled "one world government." The report conflates the ideologies but fails to observe the fundamental concept that correlation does not prove causation.

In reality, leftwing extremist groups (including white supremacist groups) tend to be racist, anti-Christian, and anti-government, and tend to favor violent opposition to and overthrow of government. The militia movement - from which rightwing extremism ostensibly comes (and with scant evidence to support the assertion, at that) - tends to be race-agnostic, Christian, and vigilant toward government, and tend to favor defensive readiness in case of government oppression.

Note also that for leftwing white supremacist groups extremism is the norm, while for rightwing militia groups extremism is the (incredibly rare) exception.

#7 Conflation of economic downturn/poverty with rightwing radicalization

The report asserts that economic downturn and poverty is a driver for rightwing radicalization. On page 3 of 9, under Current Political and Economic Climate, the report states:

DHS/I&A assesses that a number of economic and political factors are driving a resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity.

Further on the same page, under Exploiting Economic Downturn, the report states:

Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures. Anti-Semitic extremists attribute these losses to a deliberate conspiracy conducted by a cabal of Jewish "financial elites." These "accusatory" tactics are employed to draw new recruits into rightwing extremist groups and further radicalize those already subscribing to extremist beliefs. DHS/I&A assesses this trend is likely to accelerate if the economy is perceived to worsen.

(Strange, but I don't remember the G-20 protesters being particularly rightwing; quite to the contrary, such protesters have been traditionally leftwing.)

On page 4 of 9, under Economic Hardship and Extremism, the report states:

Historically, domestic rightwing extremists have feared, predicted, and anticipated a cataclysmic economic collapse in the United States. Prominent antigovernment conspiracy theorists have incorporated aspects of an impending economic collapse to intensify fear and paranoia among like-minded individuals and to attract recruits during times of economic uncertainty.

On the same page, in a sidebar titled Perceptions on Poverty and Radicalization, the report states:

Scholars and experts disagree over poverty's role in motivating violent radicalization or terrorist activity. High unemployment, however, has the potential to lead to alienation, thus increasing an individual's susceptibility to extremist ideas. According to a 2007 study from the German Institute for Economic Research, there appears to be a strong association between a parent's unemployment status and the formation of rightwing extremist beliefs in their children - specifically xenophobia and antidemocratic ideals.

Oddly, the unemployment lines and welfare rolls swell with people who generally adhere to leftwing ideologies. Further, 50 years of welfare state have led to a class of citizens who adhere to and who vote for candidates who adhere to leftwing ideologies. If poverty and unemployment were drivers for formation of rightwing extremist beliefs, then our major metropolitan areas and inner cities would not be the liberal bastions that they have become.

On page 5 of 9, under Illegal Immigration, the report states:

Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages. They also opposed free trade agreements, arguing that these arrangements resulted in Americans losing jobs to countries such as Mexico.

Later, under Perceived Threat from Rise of Other Countries, on page 6 of 9, the report states:

Rightwing extremist views bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and have recently focused on themes such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India, Russia's control of energy resources and use of these to pressure other countries, and China's investment in U.S. real estate and corporations as a part of subversion strategy.

The report obfuscates the issues of illegal immigration and domestic job losses to illegal immigrants with the issues of free trade agreements and domestic job losses due to outsourcing. The former are indeed rightwing issues, and have led to almost no extremist activity or violence; however, the latter are generally leftwing issues, and have led to several instances of extremist activity and violence. Further, given recent news, it is clearly no longer merely a perception that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from American citizens.

#8 Failure to cite sources for assessments/assertions

The report repeatedly asserts potential outcomes (things that may happen, or are likely to happen, etc.), and fails to cite even one source.

The most significant of such assertions may be the first sentence of the report (page 2 of 9) [emphasis added]:

The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.

Summarizing other such assertions, page by page, starting with page 2 of 9 [emphasis added]:

Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn - including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit - could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.

The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

Page 3 of 9 [emphasis added]:

Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of rightwing extremist groups, as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government.

DHS/I&A is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.

DHS/I&A assesses this trend is likely to accelerate if the economy is perceived to worsen.

Page 5 of 9 [emphasis added]:

DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremist groups' frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence. If such violence were to occur, it likely would be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets.

Such activity, combined with a heightened level of extremist paranoia, has the potential to facilitate criminal activity and violence.

Page 6 of 9 [emphasis added]:

It is unclear if either bill will be passed into law; nonetheless, a correlation may exist between the potential passage of gun control legislation and increased hoarding of ammunition, weapons stockpiling, and paramilitary training activities among rightwing extremists.

Open source reporting of wartime ammunition shortages has likely spurred rightwing extremists - as well as law-abiding Americans - to make bulk purchases of ammunition.

Weapons rights and gun-control legislation are likely to be hotly contested subjects of political debate in light of the 2008 Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Court reaffirmed an individual's right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but left open to debate the precise contours of that right.

Because debates over constitutional rights are intense, and parties on all sides have deeply held, sincere, but vastly divergent beliefs, violent extremists may attempt to co-opt the debate and use the controversy as a adicalization tool.

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.

Page 7 of 9 [emphasis added]:

DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.

These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists - including lone wolves or small terrorist cells - to carry out violence.

Page 8 of 9 [emphasis added]:

DHS/I&A assesses that the combination of environmental factors that echo the 1990s, ...as well as several new trends, ...may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the white supremacist and militia movements.

To the extent that these factors persist, rightwing extremism is likely to grow in strength.

Unlike the earlier period, the advent of the Internet and other informationage technologies since the 1990s has given domestic extremists greater access to information related to bomb-making, weapons training, and tactics, as well as targeting of individuals, organizations, and facilities, potentially making extremist individuals and groups more dangerous and the consequences of their violence more severe.

Of the few statistics to which the report alludes, sources are referenced but not cited properly or even named specifically. To wit:

On page 5 of 9, under Illegal Immigration, the report states [emphasis added]:

DHS/I&A notes that prominent civil rights organizations have observed an increase in anti-Hispanic crimes over the past five years.

On page 6 of 9, under Legislative and Judicial Drivers, the report states [emphasis added]:

Open source reporting of wartime ammunition shortages has likely spurred rightwing extremists - as well as law-abiding Americans - to make bulk purchases of ammunition.

On page 7 of 9, under Disgruntled Military Veterans, the report states [emphasis added]:

The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.

After Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991, some returning military veterans - including Timothy McVeigh - joined or associated with rightwing extremist groups.

A prominent civil rights organization reported in 2006 that "large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the [U.S.] armed forces."

The FBI noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups.

And as was shown previously, failure to disclose sources for such statistics prevents the reader from discerning any potential bias in the source material. Considering that one of the "prominent civil rights groups" referenced in the report is the Southern Law Poverty Center, a well-known liberal activist group, conclusions drawn from such a source must be buffered against the inherent bias of the source. Likewise, failure to cite the specific FBI report facilitates the report's out-of-context use of the source to mis-construe its results.

Missouri Rescinds Terrorism-Militia Report

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Missouri

Under intense pressure of citizen outrage, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has rescinded the MIAC report that linked the threat of domestic terrorism to the modern militia movement, conservative political beliefs, and (right-wing) third-party political candidates.

From the KC Star report:

The Missouri Highway Patrol this week retracted a controversial report on militia activity and will change how such reports are reviewed before being distributed to law enforcement agencies.

The Highway Patrol also will open an investigation into the origin of the report, which linked conservative groups with domestic terrorism and named former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin.

The Highway Patrol’s announcement followed a news conference in which Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, suggested putting the director of public safety on administrative leave and investigating how the report was produced.

More 'sphere coverage: Lew Rockwell, St. Louis Council of Conservative Citizens, Doctor Bulldog, AnnaZ, The Blue Eye View, Webster's Blogspot, WorldNetDaily, Visionary Womanhood

(H/T: Drudge, Lucianne)

George Orwell’s Missouri

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Missouri

Scary; truly scary.

Via Gateway Pundit (with h/t to American Thinker), the Missouri Information Analysis Center - part of the Missouri State Police - has compiled a report ostensibly intended "to help Missouri law enforcement agencies identify militia members or domestic terrorists". According to this report, yours truly now fits the profile of a potential extremist.

Here is a PDF scan of the report: The Modern Militia Movement

So what are my issues with this report? First, the report conflates the so-called "militia movement" with both "right-wing" ideology and domestic terrorism; second, the report socially and politically profiles potential terrorists according to its conflation of the "militia movement" and domestic terrorism. In so doing, the report libels and falsely accuses innocent Americans as being potential terrorists.

The report indicates that, at its peak, the "militia movement" included some 850 groups; yet, it identifies only 10 "noteworthy" militia events between 1995 and 1999, 8 "noteworthy" militia events between 2000 and 2008, and indicates that only 60 "rightwing extremist" plots were uncovered between 1995 and 2005.

Clearly, such plots represent not the mainstream of such groups, but rather the extreme. Therefore, the conflation of the "militia movement" with any risk of domestic terrorism is clearly unjustified. Thus, the report doesn't even have standing for the specious correlation-causation profiling of militia members as potential terrorists.

By comparison, compare the 60 militia plots uncovered between 1995 and 2005 with worldwide Islamic terrorism since September 11, 2001:


Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

(Further diminishing the report's faulty conflation, two of the "noteworthy" incidents aren't applicable: the 1996 bombing of Atlanta Olympic Park by lone-acting Eric Rudolph, and the 2008 mailing of anti-New World Order propaganda to National Guard/Reserve facilities, with which the report fabricates a whole-cloth connection to hoax-anthrax mailings to state governors' offices.)

The report then proceeds to detail various "militia" causes and ideologies as potential motivators, as well as training and communication/recruitment methods.

  • Causes include ammunition registration, the potential economic collapse of the US, a possible Constitutional convention, national sovereignty (a "North American Union", and presumably NWO), a compulsory national service program, and mandated human RFID.
  • Ideologies include Christian Identity, White Nationalist, Sovereign Citizen, militant anti-abortionism, tax resistors, and anti-(illegal-) immigration.
  • Training methods of the "militia movement" include Military Simulation training and survival training.
  • Means of communications implicated include short-wave radio, internet (forums, groups, blogs, social networking sites, websites), and talk radio, and various recruitment venues including gun shows.

The report goes on to describe the various organizational methods of the militia, and in so doing, implies that even the most open and public of militias that claim to exist solely to assist local law enforcement and service organizations act to encourage underground and otherwise subversive activity.

Then, under "Implications for Law Enforcement", the report states that all militia organizations operate under a "Law Enforcement is the Enemy" philosophy.

Then, perhaps most chilling of all, the report identifies various symbols and forms of political speech associated with the militia:

Political Paraphernalia: Militia members most commonly associate with 3rd party political groups. It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitutional Party, Campaign for Liberty, or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate: Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr.

Anti-Government Propaganda: Militia members commonly display picture, cartoons, bumper stickers taht contain anti-government rhetoric. Most of this material will depict the FRS, IRS, FBI, ATF, CIA, UN, Law Enforcement, and "The New World Order" in a derogatory manor (sic). Additionally, Racial, anti-immigration, and anti-abortion, material may be displayed by militia members.

Militia Symbols: Gadsden Flag [ed: "Don't Tread On Me"]: created by General Christopher Gadsden and utilized in colonial America. This is the most common symbol displayed by militia members and organizations.

Literature and Media Common to the Militia: Zeitgeist the Movie and America: Freedom to Fascism.

Interestingly, note that the report includes the UN and NWO as organizations subject to "anti-government propaganda", as well as racist, anti-(illegal-)immigration, and anti-abortion material.

Throughout, the report belies an obvious left-wing bias. (Note the ample references to "right-wing", the mis-identification of anti-illegal-immigration beliefs as "anti-immigration", and the report relies heavily upon information from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).) The report also falsely associates all causes and ideologies, universally, to "right-wing" extremists. In fact, the socialist and anti-semitic beliefs of the referenced White Nationalist group are clearly left-wing ideologies.

Most critically, this report to law enforcement has conflated many perfectly innocent and inherently constitutionally protected viewpoints with the terrorist actions of some extremist militia groups, putting adherents of those viewpoints at risk by endangering their relationship and interaction with law enforcement.

To the extent that this report is internalized by Missouri Law Enforcement, lawful militia members will be assumed "armed and dangerous", and innocent Missouri citizens will be (at a minimum) under suspicion simply for exercising their constitutionally protected rights with respect to various social and political causes.

More on the report: Smoking Argus Daily, Lucianne, Libertoad, Bob McCarty, Justbkuz, Bungalow Bill (with a follow-up), Kayak2U, Rip On Politics, Lew Rockwell, Red Pills, Right Side News (will update to add more as I find them).

Nancy Pelosi: Un-American

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Democrats

These statements should be an impeachable offense - or at the very least, subject to Congressional censure:

Via Lucianne and Michelle Malkin, Nancy Pelosi tells a partially illegal-immigrant comprised crowd that enforcement of US immigration laws is "un-American":

"Who in this country would not want to change a policy of kicking in doors in the middle of the night and sending a parent away from their families?" Pelosi told a mostly Hispanic gathering at St. Anthony's Church in San Francisco.

"It must be stopped....What value system is that? I think it's un-American. I think it's un-American."

...

Referring to work site enforcement actions by ICE agents, Pelosi said, "We have to have a change in policy and practice and again ... I can't say enough, the raids must end. The raids must end.

And to add insult to injury, Pelosi called those who are in our country illegally patriotic:

"You are special people. You're here on a Saturday night to take responsibility for our country's future. That makes you very, very patriotic."

And no, the claim that these statements should be an impeachable offense are not hyperbole. Please refer to the Congressional Oath of Office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

Calling enforcement of duly enacted Federal law "un-American", and actively calling for that enforcement to be stopped, is clearly dereliction of duty for a US Representative, and clearly demonstrates a failure to uphold the oath of office to which that Representative has sworn.

Nancy Pelosi: you are un-American.

The Vatican and Stem Cells: A Tale of Two Headlines

Filed in Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The Vatican recently issued a statement on bioethical issues, entitled Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of the Person), which serves as the authoritative ruling for the Catholic Church in condemning, among other things, embryo-destructive stem-cell research and human cloning.

The foundational tenet for the ruling is, as astute readers may surmise, the inherent dignity of the human being. The statement makes this point explicit in its opening sentence (pg. 1 of 23):

The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death.

The statement attempts to differentiate between human dignity, which has inherent moral value, and scientific research, which does not have inherent moral value apart from the moral implications of the applications of that research. The statement goes so far as to reiterate the church's support for and participation in such research (pg. 2 of 23):

The church therefore views scientific research with hope and desires that many Christians will dedicate themselves to the progress of biomedicine and will bear witness to their faith in this field.

Having made clear this differentiation, the statement lays out the foundation of its ruling: 1) all human life has inherent dignity and moral worth, 2) life begins at conception, therefore 3) human life at the embryonic stage of development deserves all the dignity and respect due human life at all other stages of development (pg. 3 of 23):

The body of a human being, from its very first stages of development, can never be reduced merely to a group of cells. The embryonic human body develops progressively according to a well-defined program with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby.

It is appropriate to recall the fundamental ethical criterion expressed in the Instruction Donum Vitae in order to evaluate all moral questions which relate to procedures involving the human embryo: 'Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say, from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life.'

From this foundational position, the statement makes the logical conclusion that embryo-destructive pursuits (including embryonic stem cell research) are immoral.

So, given this position, I would expect a headline such as "Vatican document condemns cloning, stem cell research", just as a matter of course. But how do the ostensibly upstanding journalists at the Honolulu Advertiser portray the ruling? Why, "Vatican condemns modern science research", of course.

Contrast that gem of journalistic integrity with the (Minneapolis/St. Paul) Star-Tribune's take: "'Dignity of a person' reinforced in Vatican bioethics document."

Well now, that sounds just a little bit more accurate.

Ninth Circuit: All Your Laptop Are Belong To Us

Filed in Social IssuesTags: Constitutional Rights, Judiciary

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday reversed a lower court's decision that laptop searches by border agents are a violation of the Fourth Amendment. From the WSJ law blog:

The backstory: In July of 2005, Michael Arnold, who was 43 at the time, was pulled aside for secondary questioning upon arriving at LAX from the Philippines. Customs agents checked out his laptop and, according to the ruling, found “numerous images depicting what they believed to be child pornography.”

Arnold was later charged with possessing and transporting child porn and with traveling to a foreign country with the intention of having sex with children. But lower court Judge Dean Pregerson of Los Angeles suppressed the evidence after finding that customs agents didn’t have reasonable suspicion to search the contents of Arnold’s laptop.

The Ninth Circuit, in an opinion penned by Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, reversed on Monday, holding that “reasonable suspicion is not needed for customs officials to search a laptop or other personal electronic storage devices at the border.”

In reading the decision, my initial reaction is that while the conclusion is ultimately wrong (opening files on a laptop without reasonable suspicion is clearly a violation of the Fourth Amendment, regardless of what precedent rulings exist), the defendant chose an absolutely absurd defense. It is that absurd defense that is the basis of the court's decision.

Arnold based his defense on two arguments: one, that the laptop is an extension of the human body (since it contains data in the same way that the human mind contains ideas) and thus is protected from unreasonable searches, and two, that the laptop is analogous to a person's "home" (due to the capacity of the data storage and thus is protected from undue damage or destruction during a search.

Given the two prongs of this defense, I can understand how the Ninth Circuit would reverse.

I'm no lawyer, but in my opinion, a much more sound defense would have been that viewing personal data without cause or suspicion is an unreasonable search, even at the border. The Ninth Circuit's decision references United States v. Tsai (border searches of briefcases) and United States v. Ickes (border searches of vehicles, and electronic devices contained therein) as precedent that the defendant was not subject to unreasonable search.

Recall the words of the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Apparently, the courts have ruled that "searches made at the border...are reasonable simply by virtue of the fact that they occur at the border", under the justification that "...the United Stats, as Sovereign, has the inherent authority to protect, and a paramount interest in protecting, its territorial integrity" (United States v. Flores-Montano). Similarly, the Supreme Court (United States v. Ramsey) has held that:

The authority of the United States to search the baggage of arriving international travelers is based on its inherent sovereign authority to protect its territorial integrity. By reason of that authority, it is entitled to require that whoever seeks entry must establish the right to enter and to bring into the country whatever he may carry.

The issue, however, is that these searches are not appropriately bounded. While it is reasonable for a border agent to require a passenger to turn on a laptop to ensure that all its components are legitimately part of a laptop (e.g. the battery is not actually some sort of bomb), it is in no way reasonable for that border agent to rummage through the files contained on that laptop without reasonable cause.

Essentially, the justification by the courts here is that, since some things are illegal in the US but are legal elsewhere, any traveler could have legally obtained something that is illegal in the US, thus everything is subject to search at the border, and that the search takes place at the border establishes that such searches are reasonable.

Basically, this justification completely guts the Fourth Amendment. It is as if the courts are saying, "check your Constitution at the border."

Arnold should have challenged the unconstitutionally broad application of conferring reasonableness on searches simply by virtue of their occurrence at a border entry.

Another reasonable argument would have been the court's equation of a laptop to a traveler's luggage. The contents of luggage is in no way inherently analogous to the contents of a laptop (or of an MP3 player, a digital camera, or camcorder).

Oh, and as others have said: TrueCrypt. Either encrypt your entire drive, or put all private data inside an encrypted partition. If the courts won't uphold the Fourth Amendment, then perhaps the Fifth Amendment will still apply, and you'll still be protected from being forced to divulge your password for your encrypted data.

Volokh Conspiracy has a lot of interesting commentary. Dailybreeze also covers the story.

(H/T: PCWorld)

Scalia KOs Stevens

Filed in Politics, Social IssuesTags: Judiciary

The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision in Baze v. Rees, confirmed that lethal injection does not violate the 8th Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment.

As relieved as I am to note that SCOTUS has not lost all common sense (it does not take a Constitutional Law degree to come to the conclusion that a) the Constitution explicitly permits the death penalty, and b) lethal injection is neither cruel nor unusual, therefore c) lethal injection does not violate the 8th Amendment), I was particularly impressed by Justice Scalia's takedown of Justice Stevens' concurring opinion, in which he argues that in his experience the death penalty has not benefited society and that the death penalty is unconstitutional. Here's an excerpt of Scalia pointing out Stevens' judicial activism and illogic:

But actually none of this really matters. As JUSTICE STEVENS explains, “ ‘objective evidence, though of great importance, [does] not wholly determine the controversy, for the Constitution contemplates that in the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment.’ . . . I have relied on my own experience in reaching the conclusion that the imposition of the death penalty” is unconstitutional."

Purer expression cannot be found of the principle of rule by judicial fiat. In the face of JUSTICE STEVENS’ experience, the experience of all others is, it appears, of little consequence. The experience of the state legislatures and the Congress—who retain the death penalty as a form of punishment—is dismissed as “the product of habit and inattention rather than an acceptable deliberative process.” The experience of social scientists whose studies indicate that the death penalty deters crime is relegated to a footnote. The experience of fellow citizens who support the death penalty is described, with only the most thinly veiled condemnation, as stemming from a “thirst for vengeance.” It is JUSTICE STEVENS’ experience that reigns over all.

I take no position on the desirability of the death penalty, except to say that its value is eminently debatable and the subject of deeply, indeed passionately, held views—which means, to me, that it is preeminently not a matter to be resolved here. And especially not when it is explicitly permitted by the Constitution

God bless Justice Scalia!

(H/T: RedState, which you should read for the full, color commentary.)