Did the U.S. Government Call Oliver North a ‘Right-Wing Extremist’?

The April 2009 publication of a report on right-wing radicalization among military personnel prompted retired Lt. Col. Oliver North to distort its findings for the sake of a now-scrubbed right-wing blog.

That month, North claimed that the U.S. government was personally targeting him with that study:

I am a Christian — and meet regularly with other Christians to study God’s word. My faith convinces me the prophesies in the Holy Bible are true. I believe in the sanctity of human life, oppose abortion and want to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. I am a veteran with skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. I own several firearms, frequently shoot them, buy ammunition and consider efforts to infringe on my 2nd Amendment rights to be wrong and unconstitutional. I fervently support the sovereignty of the United States, am deeply concerned about our economy, increasingly higher taxes, illegal immigration, soaring unemployment, and actions by our government that will bury my children beneath a mountain of debt.

Apparently, all this makes me a “rightwing extremist.”

As we have reported in the past the report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focused on the effort of right-wing operatives to seize on resentment following the election of President Barack Obama for recruitment purposes.

North — best known for being convicted in 1989 of obstructing Congress by covering up evidence of an arms-for-hostages scheme involving Ronald Reagan’s presidential administration and Iran — was not named in the report. The only mention of Christianity was during a section on the use of “economic hardship and extremism” as a factor in radicalization:

Antigovernment conspiracy theories and “end times” prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition, and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement.

In what would become a common right-wing refrain, North claimed that DHS’s findings indicated “bias against conservative thought, writing and communications.” But years later, the analyst who compiled the report would claim that the eventual rise of Donald Trump vindicated his findings.

“Heated political campaigning by Donald Trump in 2016 pandered to these extremists,” Daryl Johnson wrote in a 2017 op-ed for the Washington Post. “Now, right-wing terrorism has become the national security threat which many government leaders have yet to acknowledge.”

North, a fixture in right-wing media for years, became president of the National Rifle Association in May 2018 — only to be forced out and “informed” eleven months later that he would not be allowed to run for re-election after being accused of trying to extort the group’s chief executive officer Wayne LaPierre.

Update 4/27/2023, 4:04 p.m. PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. — ag