1.17.2008

H.R. 1955 and The Generalization of Terrorism

Yesterday I wrote a rather dismal bit about our country's downward spiral into regulated actions and thoughts and an overwhelming Orwellian State. I also said I would comment on the actual bill that inspired the doomsday post, and so, I am delivering.

According to Thomas H.R. 1955, and its related bill, S. 1959 outlines the problems of "homegrown terrorism, and radical violence". There are, and have been serious discussions among us "lefty" and even not-so-lefty bloggers and ordinary citizens. There has been an amazing amount of silence about the subject from our government, and mainstream media sources.

I touched on this bill, by reposting someone else's post about it after the bill passed the house. I want to remind everyone, that the house passed the bill, without debate on it, 404-6 with only 22 not voting. No debate! At that time, the discussion was mainly about who the bill would affect. The argument is that it only addresses violent acts , thus peaceful protesters, conscientious objectors, and ordinary bloggers like you and me would be perfectly exempt from anything having to do with the piece of crap legislation. But I would like for everyone to stop for a moment, and take a closer look at the bill. Last time, I posted someone else's words. This time, it is my own, with careful consideration, research, and of course - the overtone of my Anarchist sensibilities. I'm trying to keep this light hearted, if you can tell, because every time I read this bill, I get a little nauseous.

Let us take a look at what the government defines as "Violent Radicalization";

`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- 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.


Ok, so it consists of people using "ideological based violence" to promote their agenda. Got it. But wait! What is ideological based violence? Well, it goes on to say;

`(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.


Aha! Herein lies a great deal of the vague language that has caused such a brouhaha amongst us "lefties". "Planned use" what exactly does planning entail? How deep into planning would something have to be, in order for it to go from thought, to an act of Violent Radical Behavior? Would they need maps, weapons, and well trained militia style radicals at the ready? Or would it simply entail people gathered together to discuss what kind of actions they might want to take before actually committing to anything? And how would one prove that they have, or haven't committed to any such action? Would that thinking it through qualify as "planning" or "threatening"? Or would it fall under the category of common sense, that says you can't be guilty of a crime if you only thought about it, but never committed it?

It doesn't just address the use of violence, though. It also says "force". Who defines force? Would peaceful protesters who happen to be blocking a building or sidewalk or who refuse to vacate be considered "forceful"?

Many would say yes - and in a way, I agree that they are. However, and here is the real problem, how does a group of other wise ordinary citizens exercising their first amendment rights - albeit in a civil disobedient manner - go from protester, to terrorist?

Haven't we begun to throw "terrorist" around a little too much lately? If you listen to right-wing pundits, you might believe that anyone who opposes (a sort of "ideological force" if you will) the government on any base, is a terrorist at home. From the Department of Homeland Security's "National Strategy for Homeland Security", addresses violent radicalization, if only briefly as;

The terrorist threat to the Homeland is not restricted to violent Islamic extremist groups. We also confront an ongoing threat posed by domestic terrorists based and operating strictly within the United States. Often referred to as “single-issue” groups, they include white supremacist groups, animal rights extremists, and eco-terrorist groups, among others.


Now, I think we all agree that white supremacists are a bad lot, the antics of hard hitting animal rights groups such as PETA flirt with the line between legal and illegal actions...and...eco-terrorists? What is an eco-terrorist? From Wikipedia;

For example, a bill proposed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in Texas called the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act", begins with the description, "An act relating to criminal offenses involving acts against certain activities involving animals or involving natural resources and to civil consequences arising from convictions of those offenses." The bill defines an "animal rights or ecological terrorist organization" as "two or more persons organized for the purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in an activity involving animals or an activity involving natural resources."[5]



If the state of Texas can define terrorist actions on behalf of the environment or animals as "two or more persons organized for the purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity intended to obstruct or deter any person from participating in an activity involving [...]"

Any activity? There is no standard there for violence... Legally protected protests, sit ins, and otherwise peaceful forms of civil disobedience are activities by two or more people intended to deter (any) people from engaging in certain acts. Boycotts are a time tested form of financial obstruction or determent - aimed at companies (legally considered individual citizens) who engage in or support actions that we often oppose. Furthermore, it takes far more than two people to make it successful.

Are we to now understand that these forms of redress - a consistent form of grievance airing, social motivation, and change initiation - are acts of terrorism?!

If Texas can make it a law, our government can do the same. That legislation sets the precedent for labeling time honored traditions as acts of terrorism.

I seriously recommend that anyone concerned about our loss of rights take a look - not just at the bill on the senate's plate - but also the Homeland Security documents, and start looking into laws and bills that have the kind of language that support "ideological warfare" on "Ideological, home grown, or radical terrorists".

The language is vague enough to allow room for further restrictions, some of what I have read is downright scary in the sense that it already eradicates the need for actual violence to occur, or even for "planned violence" to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The worst part about all of this is the end game. If person has been labeled a "terrorist", American citizen or otherwise, they can be locked up indefinitely because their right to Habeas Corpus no longer exists. In fact, if I am not mistaken, our country is prepared to take away all constitutional rights for suspected terrorists. Suspected terrorists.

Still yet, if our country were to initiate Martial Law because of some disaster, then this bill, H.R. 1955/S. 1959 would only be strengthened - and our country to lock up anybody who starts gathering in groups, for any purpose if they so decide.

Make no mistake, the Homeland Security department has this bill now, is reviewing it, revising it, and it will probably end up with some different language in it when it finally gets back to the senate. I wouldn't be surprised if it was more inclusive, like the bill from Texas. Many people will still say "It could never happen here." or "They would never..." or proclaim that they trust the government to act in an appropriate manner with this sort of power. I am revisiting this issue because it is of the utmost importance that we not ignore the potential here. Take a look around, there has been no country, no citizen throughout history who hasn't be deceived, enslaved, or outright betrayed by their government in the cruelest manner. Governments have a nasty habit of turning on it's people.

Humans have not progressed to the point of eradicating this type of power hungry behavior - look at world events, it is still occurring today! Are we so naive to think that it would never happen to us? The only way to prevent it from happening here, is to actively fight to prevent it. To blindly trust in a government with our freedoms, liberties and personal safety is to make a grave mistake. Isn't it time we learned to see the slippery slope before we are pushed down it?

Think I am an alarmist? Read it for yourselves, then take a look through your history books, and pay close attention to other countries who have gone through a similar metamorphosis. Read the end of their chapter, to see what our future could hold.


{For your consideration: The links provided to the Thomas page will ask you to resubmit your query. It is time sensitive, so search for the bill by it's number H.R. 1955 and reference it with (110th) to make sure you have the right bill. Or you can just google it. The Department of Homeland security link is a PDF for those of you who hate PDF's, this is your warning! The Wikipedia link is for eco-terrorism, but the texts are sourced on that page.}

You can also view this post at Truthnews.us

8 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

I'm afraid of that law considering the Republican Convention will be near my home.

Connecticut Man1 said...

In the USA of past, these laws would be stricken down based on the Constitutionally protected rights of the people. We can no longer count on the courts to uphold the Constitution given their ideological makeup through years of right wing radical judges being appointed by these power hungry politicians.

Rafael said...

Step 1:

Make "terrorism" a special crime, by which you don't need trials, can be tortured at will and you have no chance to petition the goverment or seek legal redress.

Step 2:

Define "terrorism" as you see fit.

Step 3:

Drain the Rubicon.

Dave Dubya said...

Thanks for bringing this one up. This atrocity on freedom is almost unbelievable. Almost. Then you realize none of the jellyfish in congress would dare oppose a bill with the word "terrorism" in it.

I'll bet most of them didn't even read it beyond the title. It was labeled HR1955, the `Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007'

Ironically, it is worded so that the president and vice president have already violated this act. Look how numbers 2, 3, and 4 all describe Bush, Cheney, and the neo-cons as they lied us into war.


SEC. 899A. DEFINITIONS.
`For purposes of this subtitle:
`(1) COMMISSION- The term `Commission' means the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism established under section 899C.
`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- 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.
`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
`(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs

"Belief system" will be what the government says it is. Not what you personally believe. If you are noticed reading politically incorrect literature, or visiting the “wrong” web site, they may say you are adopting an "extremist belief system".

Someone could be charged with “Homegrown Terrorism” simply by being accused of thinking about it, as in "planned use".

We know that peaceful protest, and the right to assemble, and petition the government for a redress of grievances are not terrorism, but they will have the law to say what they want it to say. This will give them power to silence any opinion, or person, they dislike.

"Thoughtcrime" from the book 1984 has now made the transition from fiction to fact.

an average patriot said...

Anok
I don't know what happened? I just came by to see what has transpired since my comment and it isn't here. In a nutshell 1955 is to be used against us as we are Bush's enemy, terrorists are merely the tool to prosecute his new order. Here is HR 1955 though you must have it and I may have missed it here. Sadly this is only a small part of the laws to be used against us and we have discussed them many times. Good one Anok!

Anok said...

Thank you, everyone for commenting! Jim, i don't know what happened to your post - I think blogger has some bugs to work out. I have noticed on several blogs comments popping up and disappearing only to pop back up in duplicate. I remembered reading something though...did you post it on another post?

Blogger has been acting wonky anyway.

Hmm. I have a few things to look at, then I will be back to comment in depth!

Again, thank you for reading - please spread the word about this hideous piece of legislation. As you all know I don't do jack for "copyright" protection - you are free to copy and paste as you see fit. I just ask for common courtesy, and nothing more.

I'll be back with more to say!

Anonymous said...

Something I came across that might be of interest:


Myths vs. Facts
Understanding H.R.1955 / S.1959:
The “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007”

------------------------------

Myth: “S. 1959 does not affect thought or speech. There is no reason to call it a ‘thoughtcrime’ bill.”

FACTS: The bill’s definitions are extremely broad: “violent radicals” are those who “promot(e) an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ... the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence ... to advance political, religious, or social change” — which includes Americans who have not committed any crimes but who have thoughts that might lead to “force or violence.”

“Extremist belief system” is undefined; it can mean whatever the members of the National Commission created by the bill want it to mean.

A “homegrown terrorist” can be any American who plans or threatens to “intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population... or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” — which can include organizers of a demonstration which happens to block a sidewalk.

------------------------------

Myth: “S. 1959 does not restrict constitutionally-protected behavior such as political association.”

Myth: “Law-abiding Americans have nothing to fear from S. 1959. This bill only examines the roots of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism.”

Myth: “S. 1959 will not lead to ‘witch hunts’ of peaceful activists.”

FACTS: The bill creates a National Commission mandated to uncover Americans whom the commissioners think might be “extreme” and/or potentially violent in pursuit of “political or social” objectives, whether or not they have committed any crimes.

Any member of a non-mainstream political party, certain political and social action groups, and many mosques and other religious groups — or any American who might know such people — can expect to be summoned by the commission. Anyone who refuses to testify can be held in contempt of Congress; anyone who gives “wrong answers,” such as honestly not knowing any “extremists,” can be charged with perjury; in either case facing up to 10 years in prison.

This exactly parallels the history of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which between 1938 and 1975 sent hundreds of people to jail.

S. 1959 would also legitimize additional Federal laws targeting broadly-defined “violent radicals” or “homegrown terrorists,” just as the establishment of HUAC was quickly followed by Federal laws targeting anyone who was deemed “subversive” on the basis of beliefs or past associations.

------------------------------

Myth: “S. 1959 will not lead to Internet censorship.”

FACTS: The bill characterizes the Internet as providing access to “broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens,” instead of recognizing the Internet as a medium where people express the full spectrum of political, religious, and social beliefs. S. 1959 thus views the Internet as a hostile subversive medium, not a public forum of free speech. This is like declaring books to be hostile and subversive, just because Hitler published Mein Kampf.

------------------------------

Myth: “S. 1959 does not alienate any particular race, ethnicity, or religious group.”

Myth: “S. 1959 protects the civil rights and civil liberties of Americans, ensuring that the government abides by the rights and safeguards guaranteed by our Constitution.”

FACTS: This is wishful thinking. Oversight would be by the Department of Homeland Security, whose record in regards to Americans’ civil rights and civil liberties is abysmal. In one well-known incident, a group of American citizens returning from Toronto were interrogated, photographed, fingerprinted, and unlawfully detained overnight near Buffalo, New York, simply because they were Muslim and had attended a religious conference.

The current administration has a proven record of ignoring inconvenient provisions of the law, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

This will be of concern long after the inauguration of the next President in 2009. The House Un-American Activities Committee was established in 1938, and was later made a permanent standing committee. It was not abolished until 1975, nearly forty years later.

Additionally, if history is any guide, S. 1959 will in effect endorse and give effect to private biases against members and associates of “suspect” groups. Public and institutional fear of “violent radicals” and “homegrown terrorists” can quickly lead to the sort of blacklisting seen during the McCarthy era, ruining the careers of innocent Americans who may have been merely called to testify before the commission.

------------------------------

Myth: “S. 1959 is necessary because there is no other way to effectively combat the threat of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism in the U.S.”

FACTS: Effective laws against conspiracy, and effective, legal investigative tools already exist. America can be safe and free without opening the door to “neo-McCarthyist” witch hunts.

------------------------------

(For more information, see “Giving birth to a son of HUAC? Inherent powers, ignoble history make new idea anything but innocuous,” Prof. Peter Erlinder, Pioneer Press, December 20, 2007.)

Anok said...

Anony, I was thinking along the same lines, and just before I read your comment, I was gathering my source citations for an essay on HUAC and how it is the precedent for thought crime bills on large scale.

CTman, thanks for dropping by! Be sure to check out "Red, White and Bruised" to expound on whether or not this really would have flown in this country years ago.

Jim, Dave Dubya, as always, I couldn't agree more!