Is Homeland Security watching the McVeighs?

On the tenth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, House Democrats say the Department of Homeland Security is still ignoring threats from right-wing groups.

Published April 20, 2005 8:10PM (EDT)

Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the most deadly act of domestic terrorism on U.S. soil. The U.S. has marshaled unprecedented resources toward preventing foreign and domestic acts of terrorism in years since the attack. But a recently uncovered document from the Department of Homeland Security indicates that the country's security watchdogs may be letting partisanship impair their judgment of potential domestic threats. According to the Associated Press, Homeland Security's internal list of possible terror threats focuses on certain left-wing extremist groups but does not include any radical right-wing organizations.

House Democrats said on Tuesday that the list identifies certain militant Islamic groups and the left-wing extremist Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front organizations as potential terror threats. The FBI believes that ALF and ELF, as the groups are known, are guilty of hundreds of acts of arson across the U.S. On the other hand, none of these alleged acts have killed anyone. By contrast, said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., the Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people. Three right-wing groups commemorated the anniversary of the attack by sending Homeland Security a list of violent threats.

Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse didn't make much of a case in the department's defense, emphasizing only that the document was never intended to be seen by the public, and assuring Congress that "other classified threat and vulnerability assessments that guide our day-to-day operations and planning are more specific and identify more detailed information."

Rep. Thompson didn't seem impressed by the promise of other assessments and wondered why Homeland Security is letting "right-wing hate groups" like abortion-clinic bombers, violent militia organizers and white supremacists off the hook: "If your responsibility is to protect the homeland from these domestic terrorists, then you have an obligation to identify all of them -- not just some of them," Thompson said.

By Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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