"Homegrown Terrorism" Bill ~ News and Opinion Round-Up

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vc77.jpgYes, the FISA debate is still upon us and I hope you've written like mad to your Senators.

But we must not forget about S1959, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. (Too much of a mouthful? Follow ReasonableCitizen's lead and call it the AQ (or Anti-Quaker) Bill.) Below you'll find all the latest news as well as highlights of oppositional outcry from Sacramento to Atlanta.
Remarkably, in an apparent reaction to vast and sustained criticism, the Committee on Homeland Security released this Fact Sheet in December. (The Center for Constitutional Rights has a Fact sheet of its own here.  After reading it you can sign the anti- petition if it will make you feel better.)

Some folks seemed to think the bill was dead, but it clearly is not. I do think we have some time before it hits the Senate floor, however. My Senator, who is on the Homeland Security Committee, wasn't familiar with it when we spoke last week. If your Senator is also on that Committee, The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is asking you to meet with his or her aides.

And now, many smart reasons to fight this bill as though our Constitutional rights depended on it (Oh wait... They do...):
James Ridgeway and Jean Casella provide excellent, in-depth coverage in Mother Jones:

What the Homegrown Terrorism bill does is bring back into the equation not just violent actions, and not just violent plots, but the words and ideas that may (or may not) inspire or encourage them somewhere down the road. It moves toward designating people as terrorists based not on what they do, but on what they say and what they think.

Other red flags appear in the bill's initial "findings"—among them, the charge that "the Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens." "If Congress finds the Internet is dangerous, then the ACLU will have to worry about censorship and limitations on First Amendment activities," says the ACLU's Fredrickson. "Why go down that road?"

The Nation tells us that aspects of the bill have been funded despite not having passed in the Senate yet and are already impacting college campuses:

DHS has founded and funded six of its very own "Centers of Excellence," research facilities that span dozens of universities from coast to coast. The latest is a Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism, the funding for which cleared the House in October. The center is mandated to assist a national commission in combating those "adopting or promoting an extremist belief system...to advance political, religious or social change."

Opinion from Bob Barr in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

That a Martin Luther King Jr. easily could have been — indeed almost certainly would have been — swept within the absurdly broad definitions in the homegrown terrorism act apparently matters little to the hundreds of Democrat and Republican House members who blithely voted "aye."

David Clark in The Tennessean:

In the six years since 9/11, we have seen the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Patriot Act and now the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. It makes me wonder not what the terrorists are doing to us, but what are we doing to ourselves?

John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute:

The danger is the legislation’s vague definitions of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism and the commission’s power to label individuals and groups as possible terrorists.

Sacramento Bee Editorial:

Harman's bill is labeled as an act to "prevent homegrown terrorism," and undefined "other purposes." This makes her bill eerily similar to the bill creating the House Un-American Activities Committee, which began in 1938 as a vehicle for investigating Nazi propaganda "and certain other propaganda activity."

The abuses of that committee, including its harassment of civil rights groups, are well documented. The Senate should kill Harman's bill and give the $22 million to local law enforcement, protecting the nation's citizens without ensnaring political activities as homegrown terrorism.

Hear, hear.


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Douglas Schwartz said:

It is surprising how quickly people in government forget the injustices of the Blacklist era and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. It hasn't even been a century since the Smith Act attempted to regulate our thoughts about Communism.

Kyeann said:

I agree, Douglas! We have a very short historical memory. I knew about the HUAC but do not know about the Smith Act. Will read about it now!

Tyler said:

It's as if the book 1984 was only a few decades off. Judging by the direction this bill would take us.

Jared Lorz said:

Hmm an interesting point but I'm not sure if I agree with you.

Jared Lorz

Theo said:

Douglas: I disagree. I think not only they perfectly remember it, but they long for the return of that era.

They simply don't see it as an injustice. For some people out there in the government, M.L. King actually was a terrorist, an enemy of their interest. Don't forget he was killed. Malcolm X too.

concerned said:

History has shown that efforts to forcefully impose civility/law and order do more to encourage combative attitudes and militant organizations than to prevent their rise. (ex. Black Panthers, SDS, The weathermen and others) I think that the more this issue is pressed, the non-violent opponents and supporters of free speech will become more violent, and regular everyday people will be reduced to the clichés and stereotypes that they are trying to fight. Look at Kent State. It is our own government's fear and the fear it is disseminating to us that is driving irrational and tyrannical policy and action. If we fear terrorism, we have already lost. The free and open society that many of the eastern groups are opposing is slowly digressing into a society that is neither free nor open. To continue down this road is to betray all of those that have fought and bleed for freedom. A simple "aye" in response to this matter, coats your own hands in the blood of those whose sacrifices we should be upholding. The government should know that if it continues down this road, it will make enemies of us all, and no power can contend with that of the people, but in this process unnecessary loss of life is great and it is the last thing that we would want to wish upon ourselves.

Vote Ron Paul '08

S. Dogood said:

I can't believe it, the terrorists have succeeded in destorying the American way of life. The catch is the terrorist were able to engineer it so that the government's own paranioa caused the downfall of the American way life, you know like the freedom to express our own views on politics and religion, and not the terrorists themselves.

abibtniys said:

This legislation looks like it could also be use of outlaw strikes -- union busting -- and create more poverty.

Mike said:

Sadly, the terrorists have won. Our leadership has been outsmarted and outmaneuvered at every turn by the "ignorant terrorists". Now our civil liberties are in shambles, the rule of law is a joke, our economy is on the brink of collapse and the terrorists are laughing openly.

Oh well, I guess this administration HAS managed to bleed the middle class white while funneling BILLIONS into the hands of the ultra-wealthy, so they've succeeded in answering the bidding of their corporate masters. The war on terror has been nothing but a distraction and a cat's paw.

Kyeann said:

I don't think it's too late for us. So many Americans are heartbroken by this most recent chapter of civil liberties abuses and criminal behavior in the White House. But I have faith that our despair can lead to a renewal of active citizenship. Maybe the Bush administration's extremes are helping many of us truly understand the value of democracy? Really, we have no choice but to fight (nonviolently) for it.

Twisted Jon said:

Tis sad to see all the people on this site blaming the terrorists for the state of America. Sadly the terrorists cannot change our Bill of Rights, alter the Constitution or declare martial law (it's coming). Things have been beyond saving since 9/11 happened, we just did not know the extent of the damage. Corruption has riddled the halls of power for way too long for us to just hope it out now. There have been laws passed that state the Commander in Chief, i.e. Bush can declare martial law if there are ANY attacks on the U.S. or ANY of our territories. Laws like this do not get passed so quickly unless they are going to be used. Please, I beg you all to wake up and take action while you can to protect your families for it is far too late to save the country. The enimies of our freedom, of our free speech and thought are already in power, they just need an excuse to make it absoulte.

You have some really good posts on here, however it took me a while to find this blog, why dont you promote this blog more often?

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Six Hours A Week Is:

A coping strategy, advocacy outlet, and form of protection. My life has been nearly destroyed by the unconstitutional practices of politically/socially-motivated private intelligence contractors and the corruption and cronyism that allow them. Apparently because I speak out in ways that prioritize the little guy and human and environmental health above gargantuan profit margins, and believe that facts are as important as PR spin, I was someone who had to be completely discredited. In 2007, after a few months of a surreal and relentless invasion of privacy and dignity, I started to spend six hours each week researching, communicating about, and advocating legal and ethical responses to assaults on our shared democratic and republican ideals. For most of that time I was writing from the perspective of someone whose life was manipulated into a constant state of terror and emergency. In 2010, many of the array of entrapment attempts seem to have failed and it seems no longer possible to get away with such excessive, obvious harassment and overt interference. As we take more practical steps to address what has been allowed to happen to my family, we do expect to see some more harassment and intimidation. But I should be able to chronicle it from a more measured perspective, rather than that of someone in constant fear. Part of me would like to go back and delete earlier posts, because even I find them hard to relate to in some ways. But this blog has been one of our only forms of protection as everyone in any official capacity ignored the truth and tried to spin and frame us into the troublemakers and perpetrators of one form or another. So I leave it up as a form of protection, a record of what has occurred, and (with luck) the account of our way back to credibility and some form of legitimate justice. All content on this site is property of Kyeann Sayer. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyeann published on January 30, 2008 1:34 AM.

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