Senator: Recent domestic unrest lesser than threat posed by foreign terrorists

The head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that several domestic threats against the government are "real" but not as great as dangers posed by foreign terrorists.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) emphasized that the government is taking seriously the arrest of militia members and threats to lawmakers and governors but cautioned that people should not "overstate" them.

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"I would not overstate this threat, it is not as significant as the threat of Islamist extremism," he said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "But it is real."

The recent spat of domestic unrest has sparked a debate between Republicans and Democrats over who is responsible for them.

Some liberals and Democratic lawmakers have blamed Republicans and right-wing media of fueling such anger. They cite the federal sting against the anti-government Hutaree milita in the Midwest and threats against supporters of the healthcare law to argue that the GOP was fueling anger in the public.

Other Democrats have called on Democrats to not place partisan blame for threats to lawmakers. Many Republicans have said that Democrats have created a divisive atmosphere in Washington that has created anger amongst the public but others have also have refrained from blaming Democrats.

"The threat has definitely escalated and all the conditions that you mentioned are there to encourage it," Lieberman said citing "extreme and incendiary discourse" on both sides of the aisle.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscored the seriousness of the recent threats, saying that the militia group was considering using al Qaeda-like tactics against law enforcement officials.

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