Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reading the Tea Leaves: Hats Off and a Plea to Bennie Thompson

Hats off to Mississippi Democrat Congressman and head of the House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson, who yesterday questioned how Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security, could have ever allowed her Report on Rightwing Extremism to be released. The fact that it emerged one day before yesterday's anti-government Tea Parties, in concert with carefully planted newspaper articles calling the protest "insane," is in the words of the UK's Telegraph "little more than a mud-slinging exercise designed to brand anyone who doesn't think Barack Hussein Obama is the greatest thing since sliced bread as some kind of closet neo-Nazi."

Thomson, a civil rights advocate with a reputation as a no-nonsense problem solver, wrote in a letter addressed to Secretary Napolitano, "This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans -- including war veterans. As I am certain you agree, freedom of association and freedom of speech are guaranteed to all Americans -- whether a person's beliefs, whatever their political orientation, are 'extremist' or not." Even the leftist Rolling Stone notes, "It [the Report] irresponsibly conflates murderous hate-crime-committing white supremacists and homegrown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh with run of the mill rightwingers who, God love ‘em, have every right to vehemently oppose the federal government, abortion, and immigration."

Yesterday, in an action emphasizing her unfitness to remain as the head of Homeland Security, Secretary Napolitano stood behind her report. We urge Congressman Thompson to push for her resignation quickly, before damage control becomes unmanageable. Thompson has the ability to work quietly behind the scenes to achieve this in a way that will not embarass the Obama administration who has made a clear mistake with this choice. He should do so.


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