Ever question capitalism, the free market, the two-party system, the American republic in general? Well, according to the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group de-classified document “Tactical Reference Guide: Radicalization into Violent Extremism,” you might be a prime suspect.
Granted, the purpose of the document is to identify red flags in American soldiers and, as noted by Wired’s Spencer Ackerman, insider threats from Afghan troops who kill their U.S. mentors. The guide’s de-classifications comes shortly after the F.E.A.R. militia incident, in which radical libertarian soldiers sought to launch a coup d’etat against Obama. If the U.S. military thought this document necessary for its soldiers, why should it not be necessary when trying to spot terrorists amongst America’s civilian population? These guidelines, in their vagary, could be mapped onto the entire country, making almost anyone suspect.
As the Asymmetric Warfare Group’s document reads: “There is no way to be 100% certain that an individual is becoming radicalized to the point that they may be considering violent action. However, recent experiences show that there are certain warning signs, or early indicators, worth review.” Do tell.
“The graphic on the left shows possible indicators of radicalization from the inception of the thought increasing up to the level of violent action,” the guide intro continues. “The indicator decision chart on the right outlines a step-by-step process for identifying, evaluating, and responding to possible indicators at each level.”
(See the guide’s three columns below.)
AWG’s three columns are titled “Observe Personal Issues,” “Flag Possible Radicalization” and “Action Prior to Violent Activity.” Most of the third column is sensible enough, but the following indicator does give pause: “Organizes protests inspired by extremist ideology.” To some liberals, the Tea Baggers are extremist. And to some conservatives, Occupy Wall Street is extremist. See: American Prosperity’s Steve Lonegan, who called OWS “a fringe element of malcontents bent on mayhem and destruction.” By Lonegan’s measurement, OWS’s activists would be prime terrorist threats under the AWG guideline.
This type of Orwellian thinking is dangerous in whatever form it manifests. It cultivates a warped perspective in which the “other,” the non-status quo, is a threat to civilization.
Just to show how vague this guideline really is, we could apply the middle column’s “Flag Possible Radicalization” to ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, whose members include conservative legislators, foundations and corporations. In the middle column AWG lists the indicator “Attends rallies for extremist causes.” Is not an ALEC meeting an extremist rally? Extremist in its conception of free-market capitalism and hatred of social democracy? By that measure, ALEC’s members might be potential terrorists.
Read the rest of the Asymmetric Warfare Group’s manual here.