CBS Fears ‘Right Wing Extremism May Increase’ After Obama Election

On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith highlighted a recent report by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center claiming a recent surge in hate groups in the United States: "The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report found 926 active hate groups in the country. That's up more than 50% from just 2000...And they say part of it is because of the election of President Obama. Other part of the responsibility goes to the deteriorating economy." An on-screen graphic read: "Rising Tide of Hatred? Report: Right Wing Extremism May Increase." [audio available here]

Smith talked to Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees about the report as well as a similar report by the Department of Homeland Security: "Your report dovetails with a brand new report from the Department of Homeland Security claiming basically the same thing...Do these -- do you feel like your report and their report sync up?" Dees declared:

I think they sync up pretty much. The report from the Department of Homeland Security should be taken very seriously. What we've found in our intelligence project we've run for a number of years here is the political climate, the election of Obama, the immigration issues that have faced the United States over the last five to ten years, and now especially the economy, is almost causing a resurgence of what we saw in the days of Timothy McVeigh. Almost a militia movement that's being reborn in the United States.

Dees later went on to claim: "I think that an American person is much more likely to be harmed by a domestic terrorist extremist group than by one from abroad." He also pointed to the United States military as a source of hate group membership: "And also, we have to look at the returning veterans from -- coming back from Iraq, the war, that probably was ill-conceived-" Smith interjected: "...this Department of Homeland Security says these guys are being particularly targeted and recruited to some of these groups." Dees agreed: "Well there's no question, because they have training in military explosives, like McVeigh did...there are active duty extremist members in the military and some of these people have been removed by the Department of Defense."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:13AM TEASE:

JULIE CHEN: Still to come, the government says hate groups may be on the rise. So what is fueling the resurgence? We're going to tell you.

7:17AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: There is a disturbing new trend we can report this morning. Two new reports out document an alarming rise in the number of hate groups in the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report found 926 active hate groups in the country. That's up more than 50% from just 2000. Morris Dees is the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, he joins us from Montgomery, Alabama. Good morning, sir.

[HEADLINE ON SCREEN: RISING TIDE OF HATRED? REPORT: RIGHT WING EXTREMISM MAY INCREASE]

MORRIS DEES: Good morning.

SMITH: Your report dovetails with a brand new report from the Department of Homeland Security claiming basically the same thing. And they say part of it is because of the election of President Obama. Other part of the responsibility goes to the deteriorating economy. Do these -- do you feel like your report and their report sync up?

DEES: I think they sync up pretty much. The report from the Department of Homeland Security should be taken very seriously. What we've found in our intelligence project we've run for a number of years here is the political climate, the election of Obama, the immigration issues that have faced the United States over the last five to ten years, and now especially the economy, is almost causing a resurgence of what we saw in the days of Timothy McVeigh. Almost a militia movement that's being reborn in the United States.

SMITH: What do you think the potential is for this to translate into?

DEES: Well, I think that an American person is much more likely to be harmed by a domestic terrorist extremist group than by one from abroad. The death of the three police officers in Pittsburgh about two weeks ago was committed by a guy who shot these three officers, by a person who was an adherent to the hate websites and their belief that the United States government is evil, going to take away our rights, going to take away our guns. And also, we have to look at the returning veterans from -- coming back from Iraq, the war, that probably was ill-conceived-

SMITH: Yeah, because -- right. Well, but -- because this Department of Homeland Security says these guys are being particularly targeted and recruited to some of these groups.

DEES: Well there's no question, because they have training in military explosives, like McVeigh did. And actually, we at Poverty Law Center have reported to the Department of Defense that there are active duty extremist members in the military and some of these people have been removed by the Department of Defense. It's a serious issue, especially with a lot of these guys coming back with post-traumatic stress syndrome, coming back to a failing economy, inability to buy a home, get a job, and get credit. It's a serious matter that reflects, I think, -- I think it reflects well on the Department of Homeland Security that they're taking domestic terrorism seriously.

SMITH: Wow, Morris Dees we do thank you for your time this morning. Thank you, sir.

DEES: You're more than welcome. Thank you.

SMITH: Appreciate it, right. For more information on hate groups go to our website, that's earlyshow.cbsnews.com.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC