"Homegrown Terrorism" Bill ~ News and Opinion Round-Up
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...):
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:
John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute:
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?
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.
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