Michael Chertoff: Risk Of Homegrown Militia Groups Mimicking al Qaeda


Interesting exchange on Meet the Press yesterday regarding the increase in “revolutionary talk” around the country in the aftermath of the health care vote. In a discussion about home grown terror and the level of incendiary rhetoric plaguing parts of Washington, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) noted that one of the most troubling things about the Hutatree Militia’s plans was that they were “going to import the terror tactics used by al-Qaeda and other groups.”

They were going to use IEDs to blow up the funeral procession for these law enforcement officers…the point is that not all terror groups are Muslim groups, and not all of them are al-Qaeda-related. This is a global problem; and, domestically, we have a growing problem of homegrown terrorism, not just from Muslims.”

Which I think is the first official comparison I’ve heard made between al Qaeda and the milita group, despite an FBI joint-terrorism task force being called in to make the arrests. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff concurred that the fear of home grown terrorists mimicking the tactics of al Qaeda is a concern.

Well, you know, you always get fringe groups on both sides of the spectrum, going back, as you say, to Waco and Ruby Ridge in the early ’90s, and that culminated, of course, in the Oklahoma City bombing. And then that depressed this a little bit. But it always lurks in the background. And we see it also with some of the extreme anti-globalization and animal rights people on the left. So I think we’ve learned how to manage this. I agree with Senator Lieberman, this is not of the order of magnitude of what we see with global terrorism. But, look, the fact that people can get on the Internet, and they can see the tactics that are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan creates a risk that those will be copycatted here. And, frankly, we’ve seen that in Mexico. In northern Mexico, the criminal groups, which are not politically motivated, actually have adopted beheadings and other tactics of terrorism as part of pushing their agenda against President Calderon.

It’s a fascinating change in rhetoric. And an important one. For the former Sec of Homeland Security to compare homegrown militias — and Timothy McVeigh’s name came up in this conversation, too — even loosely to the sort of terrorism we associate with the Middle East is to place them in the realm of the unforgivable. It is to say that by participating in these sort of homegrown militias you are an enemy of the state, an evil-doer, and deserve to be treated as such, which is a very very different ball game than simply being anti-government. Very different. One wonders if it will also go some way to changing to the tone of the debate over the tea party rallies as well as the pro-gun demonstrations planned for April 19. Video below.

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