Inquiry into controversial DHS report sought
By Reid Wilson
May 6, 2009
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and his GOP colleagues want answers about a Department of Homeland Security report that suggested veterans could become targets of recruitment by homegrown terrorist organizations.
The New York Republican on Wednesday introduced a resolution of inquiry into the controversial report, which suggested veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could be susceptible to recruitment by extremist organizations. Most Republicans who hold ranking member positions on the Homeland Security Committee joined King, the full committee's top GOPer.
The resolution comes after several members sent letters to Homeland Security Committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) requesting a full hearing on the report with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano has apologized for a section in the report that suggested a growing movement of extremist organizations could turn to veterans returning from the two wars to fill out their ranks. After outrage over the report led to several Republicans calling for Napolitano's resignation, the secretary met with the head of the American Legion to offer an explanation and an apology.
The report went on to cite a growing movement of white supremacist groups, as well as several organizations dedicated to single issues, like stopping immigration, abortion and any new gun-control laws. Democrats pointed out that the report was factual, and that it was commissioned by the Bush administration.
Still, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) said in a statement, the apology does not answer questions as to why veterans were included in the report to begin with.
"Although the Secretary apologized to veterans’ groups for the offensive language, her statement does not begin to address why this document specifically targeted the men and women who are sacrificing their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting actual terrorists and the groups who seek to harm our nation," Dent said. He called the report an "egregious product."
Thompson has said his committee will hold a hearing on the report, though none has been scheduled.
In a letter to Thompson, Napolitano said the department had instituted new guidelines to be met before future reports are released.
"It's clear that the message in the assessment could have been made more directly and succinctly, and that there was a breakdown in the clearance process before its distribution," Napolitano wrote.