People For the American Way

PFAW Calls for DHS to Publish “Rightwing Extremism” Report


Contact: Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

In the wake of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas and Stephen T. Johns at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan called for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to finalize and publish its “Rightwing Extremism” report. The report was released by DHS earlier this year, but retracted after its content became the subject of manufactured controversy from Religious Right groups.

“DHS is charged with protecting the security of all Americans,” said Keegan. “And in order to do that it needs to be working with the best available information and analysis. When the ‘Rightwing Extremism’ report was released earlier this year, rightwing groups found it politically convenient to feign outrage. Since then, the essential findings of the report have been tragically confirmed. The killings of Dr. Tiller and Mr. Johns are domestic terrorism, and they should underscore the urgency of addressing the threat of politically motivated violence. Secretary Napolitano should publicly announce the current status of the report and expedite its final release.”

Keegan sent a letter to Secretary Napolitano, which you can read below.

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June 11, 2009

Secretary Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Napolitano:

In the past two weeks, our nation has experienced two significant instances of domestic terrorism.  The murders of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider, and Stephen T. Johns, a security guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, were intended not only as horrific acts of violence directed at innocent individuals, but as efforts to terrorize and intimidate specific groups of Americans.

In April, the Department of Homeland Security released a valuable report entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”  The report was met with outrage from right wing groups, many of whose activities were not mentioned or alluded to in the report, but who found protesting the report to be a convenient political stunt.  With the support of sympathetic media outlets, these groups managed to exaggerate and distort the report’s findings.

Although the report was withdrawn with the intent of being rewritten, the events of the last two weeks show that its core findings are fundamentally correct:  “The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.” The Department of Homeland Security is charged with protecting the security of all Americans, and it is essential for the American public to have the unvarnished truth about the rise of dangerous extremism in this country.

I urge you to expedite the approval of the “Rightwing Extremism” report and release a final version as soon as possible.  Moreover, the report should offer the best available assessment of possible threats from far-right groups and individuals, no matter how politically inconvenient the findings might be to some groups.  If the report can not be released immediately, please announce publicly the current status of the report and when you expect it to be published.

Ensuring that law enforcement agents and the public have the best possible information about the threat posed by the far right is a crucial step in helping to contain the violence we are now experiencing.



Michael B. Keegan
People For the American Way

Take Action!

  • Tell the DHS to release the Right Wing Extremism Report here.