Right-wing Extremism Memo Controversy
Napolitano was the subject of controversy after a Department of Homeland Security threat assessment report, one of two reports, the other focused on left wing extremism that was issued in January without any controversy, entitled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," was made public in April 2009. The report suggested several factors, including the election of the first black or mixed race President in the person of Barack Obama, perceived future gun control measures, illegal immigration, the economic downturn beginning in 2008, the abortion controversy, and disgruntled military veterans' possible vulnerability to recruitment efforts by extremist groups as potential risk factors regarding right-wing extremism recruitment.
Napolitano made multiple apologies for any offense veterans groups had taken at the reference to veterans in the assessment, and promised to meet with those groups to discuss the issue. The Department of Homeland Security admitted a "breakdown in an internal process" by ignoring objections by the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to an unnamed portion of the document.
While the American Legion reportedly criticized the assessment, Glen M. Gardner Jr., the national commander of the 2.2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars, defended it generally, saying it "should have been worded differently" but served a vital purpose. "A government that does not assess internal and external security threats would be negligent of a critical public responsibility," he said in a statement.
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