A 2009 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report warned that a depressed economy and the election of Barak Obama were factors in the sudden rise of radical right-wing groups and an increase in their recruitment efforts. It noted that ex-military men were a notable factor. It warned of an increase in violence from the radical Right, and this proved to be accurate.
The Republican Right tried to hide the report fearing a voter backlash. Republican House Speaker John Boehner went so far in misreading the report that he said it cast [all] veterans as "potential terrorists." In response to the political pressure the DHS soon reduced the staff working on the right-wing terror angle, the associated training, and publications also.
This political pressure served not only to hide a real threat, but gave more power to the one-sided fear mongering of people like Brooklyn's Representative Peter King and Michele Bachman who seek to paint all of Islam as a terrorist gang and all Muslims as terrorists. As a result, the scrutiny of Muslims was increased despite their considerably lesser role in domestic terrorism. From 1990 to 2010 there were 145 murderous attacks from America's Right Wing extremists and only 25 from Muslim extremists.
The skewed focus extends beyond the DHS. Since coming under Republican control in 2010, the House Homeland Security Committee has held five hearings on Muslim radicalisation, and none on right-wing threats.
The New York City police department created a spy-on-Muslims section with a single focus on Muslim terrorism. Its secret Demographics Unit spent $135 million dollars on cars, agents, devices, database work, etc. For 6 years these secret police spied on Muslims; in Mosques, colleges, social events, stores, coffee shops, and wherever else they could be found.
The result: zero arrests, zero plots uncovered, zero leads pursued. The FBI has characterized the effort as harmful and a waste of money. The Muslim American threat to American lives was exaggerated. In fact while the Right extremist incidents increased, the plots and indictments of radicalised Muslim Americans fell sharply this past year. From 2008 to 2011 the number of anti-government "Patriot" groups grew from 131 to 1,274. The Marine Corps Command recognises the ex-military linkage and expresses "significan concern and alarm" in its training material.
Anecdotal evidence we uncovered (from an admittedly small sample) reveals a harmful consequence of this spying. Muslims in and around New York City have lost faith in the local police and feel that they are not partners in keeping the Muslim community safe, but rather they have become persecutors who are not to be trusted nor cooperated with. This is a dangerous isolation of a community and the city fabric will suffer from it.
Let's admit that the Radical Right is a much greater danger than the American Muslim population. Let's admit that not all ex-military personnel are a danger, but they do account for a significant number of domestic terrorist acts.
And let's stop persecuting all American Muslims because of irrational fears nurtured by hate mongering publicity seekers.