Federal intelligence officials issued a forewarning to police departments across the country in April 2009.

“Right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat,” Homeland Security experts wrote. “These skills and knowledge have the potential to increase the ability of extremists to carry out violence, including lone wolves or small terrorist cells.”

It was one of the Department of Homeland Security’s most explicit mentions of homegrown terrorists since 9/11, and it had a direct connection to the military.

The call to action, however, was effectively buried after powerful Republican politicians and their media allies launched broadsides against President Barack Obama’s administration and Democrats, alleging that they had disrespected the men and women of the United States military while attempting to surveil and silence conservatives. The backlash shifted the debate away from addressing the threat and into yet another partisan public spectacle.

While the federal government, including the FBI, continued to gather intelligence, the episode, according to former senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security, turned the topic of right-wing extremism into political poison, impeding any serious public discussion about how to deal with this emerging threat. According to officials, the agency disbanded the unit that wrote the report and failed to focus adequately on white supremacy and domestic terrorism for years afterward.

According to experts, Donald Trump’s rhetoric and refusal to clearly condemn white supremacists and other hate groups during his presidency only encouraged what analysts predicted 12 years ago. Then, in one of his final acts as president, Trump claimed repeatedly that the election was stolen from him, and thousands of supporters marched on the Capitol to prevent the results from being certified. The ensuing riot killed five people, including a police officer.

It was a humiliation for federal intelligence officials who had failed to prevent violence that had been predicted online for months. The aftermath has renewed national attention to the threat of right-wing extremism and crystallized the warnings in the Department of Homeland Security’s 2009 intelligence report – including explicit concerns about veterans.

According to a USA TODAY review of court filings, news reports, and other public records, at least 76 current or former members of the military are among the more than 820 people charged in connection with the Capitol riot, including 30 Marines and 25 Army veterans. Several others have been charged with being members of extremist organizations, including a Navy veteran and alleged leader of the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government paramilitary organization, who prosecutors say coordinated an attack on the Capitol.

President Joe Biden, who said he decided to run for president after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, promised to crack down on white supremacists in his inaugural address. Last week, he directed law enforcement and intelligence officials, including those at DHS, to look into the possibility of domestic terrorism.

But his administration is already facing criticism similar to that leveled in 2009, this time from Republicans and some of their media supporters.

Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., described Biden’s speech as “thinly veiled innuendo” directed at Republicans. “Calling us white supremacists, racists, calling us every name in the book,” he said in a different Fox News segment last week.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the Defense Department’s decision to conduct additional background checks on National Guardsmen deployed to Biden’s inauguration “offensive.” “No one should ever question the Texas National Guard’s loyalty,” he tweeted. The following day, Pentagon officials announced that the review had discovered 12 people who needed to be removed from the detail, including two who had allegedly made extremist statements.

According to Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, politicians’ skepticism 12 years ago about what he and other experts knew to be “patently, undeniably true” about right-wing extremism helped set the tone for the past two administrations. Sean Smith, the former assistant secretary for public affairs for then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, called the reaction at the time “part of a deliberate attempt to create pseudo-scandal.”