The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act: Time to Jail the Dissent?
When the Obama administration unveils its National Security Strategy Thursday, it will be the first time a president explicitly recognizes the threat posed to the country by radicalized individuals at home.
"For the first time since 9/11, the NSS integrates homeland security and national security," according to highlights of the plan given to CNN by a senior administration official said.
The security strategy acts as a blueprint for how the White House intends to protect Americans. In the past, it has focused mostly on international threats. But National Security Adviser John Brennan explained Wednesday that a spate of terror-related plots in the United States recently prompted the Obama administration to include homegrown terrorism in the document.
Then there is the group the Democrats love to demonize: "Rightwing extremists." Clinton built a proto-Bushian police state around fear of militias. We saw a major blow to federal habeas corpus, which liberals claim to love, when the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act passed in 1996, in response to Oklahoma City and the supposed epidemic of rightwing militias. When John Ashcroft was being confirmed as Attorney General, his very suggestion that the U.S. government could become "tyrannical" was mocked as ridiculous and extremist by Ted Kennedy and liberals nationwide.
Today, we’re seeing a return of anti-militia hysteria. Just as the federal government and its liberal defenders throughout the 1990s conflated patriotic Americans and peaceful separatists with dangerous "hate" groups and Rush Limbaugh’s listeners with Timothy McVeigh, we have the same kind of culture-war nonsense today.
The Department of Homeland Security recently circulated a report that warns against the "Rise in Right-Wing Extremism." The document is apparently unclassified but nevertheless indicates it is "not to be released to the public, the media" or others who do not "need to know."
Do you oppose the Federal Reserve? Support states rights? Hate the income tax? Support the right to bear arms? Know the Constitution better than our rulers? You are a likely suspect of a hate crime. You are in the same class as violent racists and terrorists.
Of course in reality, the policies are bipartisan. Ruby Ridge happened and Waco was planned under Republicans, and Waco was whitewashed by the Republican Danforth Report. The Homeland Security Department and the Fusion Centers going after rightwing militia were begun in the Bush era. Under Bush the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which targeted many of the same groups today targeted by Obama, won the support of the overwhelming majority of Republican Congressmen. But what changes most is the way the public reacts to state violence, and with left-liberals at the throne police brutality and massacres tend to be more tolerated by the mainstream. It is somehow politically correct when a Democratic administration cracks down on the most marginalized people in society.
The Regime has made it official that "right-wing extremism" is a threat to Homeland Security.
That political genus is divided into two species – "white supremacist and anti-government groups" – with the latter further differentiated into various sub-species, including immigration reform activists, "disgruntled military veterans," gun rights advocates, members of citizen militia groups, anti-globalists, constitutionalists, "hate groups," and others deemed politically unsuitable by the Regime.
Less than two years ago, Congress enacted – by a vote of 404–6 – the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. Its first offspring was an official commission to examine potential content-based Internet restrictions. At some point, it also begat a specialized section within the Homeland Security Department called the Extremism and Radicalization Branch (which we'll call the ERB).
This means that for the first time in American history, the federal government has a full-time intelligence organ devoted exclusively to scrutinizing the political opinions and affiliations of U.S. citizens. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this development as a milestone in our nation's apostasy from its founding as a constitutional republic.
There has been a long tradition of fear-mongering legislation in the United States directed against groups and individuals believed to threaten the established order. The first such measures were the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by Congress in 1798 during the administration of the second president of the United States John Adams. The Acts, consisting of four separate laws, made it more difficult to become a citizen, sought to control real or imagined foreign agents operating in the United States, and also gave the government broad powers to control "sedition." Sedition was defined as "resisting any law of the United States or any act of the President" punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years. It also made illegal "false, scandalous or malicious writing" directed against either the government or government officials. The next President, Thomas Jefferson declared that three out of the four laws were unconstitutional and pardoned everyone who had been convicted under them.
Early in the last century, hysterical fear of anarchists resulted in the conviction and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti 1927 despite clear evidence that the two men were innocent. A few years later, in 1934, a Special Committee on Un-American Activities was set up by Congress to monitor the activities of fascists in the United States. Ironically, the two congressmen who were most instrumental in the establishment of the committee, Samuel Dickstein of New York and Martin Dies of Texas, both Democrats, were themselves tainted by activities that might reasonably be described as Un-American. Dickstein was himself a paid agent of the Soviet NKVD intelligence agency and Dies regularly spoke at Ku Klux Klan rallies. After the Second World War, the committee was renamed the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and focused almost exclusively on communists, continuing to do so until it was incorporated into the House Judiciary Committee in 1974. Concurrent with HUAC on the Senate side, Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, a Republican, became the public face of anti-communism in the early 1950s, with his frequent claims that communists had infiltrated the US government at various levels. Few of the claims could be substantiated, however, and McCarthy eventually fell out of favor and was censured by the Senate.
More recently, there has been the post 9/11 creation of a virtual avalanche of legislation and commissions designed to protect the country at the expense of the Bill of Rights. The two Patriot Acts of 2001 and 2006 and the Military Commission Act or 2006 have collectively limited constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, freedom from illegal search, the right to habeas corpus, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom from the illegal seizure of private property. The First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments in the Bill of Rights have all been disregarded in the rush to make it easier to investigate people, put them in jail, and torture them if necessary. A recent executive order of July 17th, 2007 goes even farther, authorizing the President to seize the property of anyone who "Threatens Stabilization Efforts in Iraq." The government's own Justice Department decides what constitutes "threatening stabilization efforts" and the order does not permit a challenge to the information that the seizure is based on.
The bill raises the potential for government encroachments on civil rights in part through the way it defines some basic terms. The text of the bill says that "the term 'violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change." It gives no clue as to what would qualify, under this law, as an "extremist belief system," leaving this open to broad interpretation according to the prevailing political winds.
In addition, simply by designating the "process of adopting or promoting" belief systems as a target for government concern or control, the bill moves into dangerous territory. The director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office, Caroline Fredrickson, said in a statement on the bill, "Law enforcement should focus on action, not thought. We need to worry about the people who are committing crimes rather than those who harbor beliefs that the government may consider to be extreme."
The United States already has ample federal and state laws against violence of all kinds, and against conspiracy to commit violence. Participants in the handful of "homegrown terrorist" plots that have hatched since 9/11 are being prosecuted under these existing statutes. Certain kinds of direct incitement to violence are already illegal, as well, but within strict limits.