By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
In February, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before Congress, and according to news accounts at the time, she purposely did not use the word "terrorism" at all, especially regarding any attacks against the United States by militant Islamic extremists. At the time, the Associated Press reported that she was the first chief of Homeland Security to drop the word "terror" from remarks to Congress.
So it was a surprise yesterday when the Huffington Post published an unclassified report that Napolitano sent to local law enforcement officials around the United States, warning them that "the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks." Other parts of the report mention veterans as potential recruits to terrorist cells as well. This is the thanks they get from a grateful nation? Apparently not.
Secretary Napolitano wouldn't use the word "terrorists" to describe extremists who carried out the 9/11 attacks, but she did use it to describe returning American soldiers who have kept us all safe from terrorism. Yesterday, the head of the American Legion wrote her a letter asking for an apology on behalf of all those serving our country. She went on the morning shows this morning and downplayed the whole thing as "Washington spin." On MSNBC this morning, she agreed to take only one question on the controversy and said everyone should "take a deep breath," a phrase which always makes me feel like the person saying it thinks the rest of us are a bunch of two-year-olds. Her response came across as condescending, and she seemed annoyed at the question.
If you read the whole report, you'll see that it's full of speculation and "potential" rather than actual threats. One thought struck me while I was reading it: Why was this unclassified in the first place? It was a mistake to put this report out to local law enforcement, where it was sure to get leaked to the press. But it was an even bigger mistake to write it at all. Our vets deserve better.
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