The Virginia State Police attempt to justify their existence by painting the Hampton Roads area (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Chesapeake–historically centers of slightly to the right of center moderation, making them “liberal” by Virginia standards) as a hotbed for potential terrorist recruitment because (gasp!) it has colleges and military. (Including two “historically black” colleges and Regents University, which hasn’t been around long enough to be historically anything, but was created by Pat Robertson.)
Yeah. Right. Paranoia based on prejudice does not make for security.
It (the report–ed.) also cites the region’s “diverse population due to the strong military presence.” In addition, it mentions Regent University, an evangelical Christian school in Virginia Beach, and a Chesapeake-based anti-abortion group.
The report acknowledges that none of the Virginia groups it singles out has engaged in any violent activity and says there is no intelligence indicating that terrorists are planning attacks in the state.
Nevertheless, it adds: “In order to detect and deter terrorist attacks, it is essential that information regarding suspected terrorists and suspicious activity in Virginia be closely monitored and reported in a timely manner.”
The ACLU is on the case:
“What is clear is that these abusive intelligence reports do nothing to improve security. Sharing misleading information about the ideologies and activities of nonviolent groups only undermines public support for law enforcement.”
The report contains little or no explanation of its methodology – for instance, why it singles out Regent and the historically black schools.
Addendum, Wednesday, April 29, 2009:
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Tuesday that he has ordered an investigation into how a unit of the Virginia State Police arrived at its conclusion that the state’s colleges and universities are potential breeding grounds for terrorism.
The 2009 Virginia Terrorism Threat Assessment, produced by the Virginia Fusion Center, described Virginia campuses as “a radicalization node for almost every type of extremist group.” The report singled out the state’s historically black schools and Regent University, a Christian school in Virginia Beach, for special mention.
“Virginia is especially proud to be home to a number of faith-based and historically black colleges and universities,” Kaine said Tuesday in a statement issued by his office.
The Fusion Center report “could be read to suggest a connection between terror or extremist groups and these universities,” Kaine said. “This report is required by law and was illegally distributed to the public. However, I find the depictions in the report misleading and believe it improperly implicates these fine academic institutions.”
It’s actually pretty simple. If you tell a bunch of persons whose jobs depend on finding threats to find threats, they will find threats.