Thursday, November 29, 2007

ACLU and H.R. 1955: "Serious Concerns"

Yesterdays' press release from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) states that they continue to have "serious concerns regarding the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" a.k.a. H.R. 1955.

This measure, sponsored by Congresswoman Jane Harman (D) of California, reads in summary:

Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to add provisions concerning the prevention of homegrown terrorism (terrorism by individuals born, raised, or based and operating primarily in the United States).
Directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to: (1) establish a grant program to prevent radicalization (use of an extremist belief system for facilitating ideologically-based violence) and homegrown terrorism in the United States; (2) establish or designate a university-based Center of Excellence for the Study of Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States; and (3) conduct a survey of methodologies implemented by foreign nations to prevent radicalization and homegrown terrorism.
Prohibits the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically-based violence and homegrown terrorism from violating the constitutional and civil rights, and civil liberties, of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
The ACLU has been sparring over the language of the measure with Representative Harman with the ACLU suggesting that the language be more specific. The ACLU feels that the current language is too vague and too reminiscent of "thought police."

As ACLU legislative director Caroline Fredrickson has pointed out, the measure, as currently written, implies that what "you’re really looking at [is what] someone’s thought processes are, what their ideology is, and not what they’re doing."

Harman has dismissed the ACLU's concerns as unfounded. Her counterpoint is, "HR 1955 is not about interfering with speech or belief. The hearing record makes that abundantly clear. Radical speech, as I have said repeatedly, is protected under our Constitution."

Well, Jane Harman, the people are disagreeing with you and we are concerned...

John Nichols, associate editor at the Capital Times, writes that

"H.R. 1955 would establish the framework for an Orwellian network charged with policing not the actions but the thoughts and statements of Americans. It would establish a commission with broad investigative powers and an official charge to propose legislation and regulatory moves to bar whatever thoughts or words the commission identifies as "homegrown terrorism."

Philip Giraldi, Huffington Post, also questions H.R. 1955 saying that it could be used as a tool to target specific groups such as Muslims. He feels that this is unquestionable as certain groups of people within America "see a terrorist hiding under every rock, particularly if the rock is concealing a Muslim."

Bill Haymin writes that the signing of H.R. 1955 at the time of the California fires "was no accident" as the government runs in fear from its own people as it has brought Americans to the "brink of financial ruin." He also writes that it is due to "the push for a new, unbiased investigation into 911 [which] is turning into an unmanageable situation for the shadow government."

The ACLU's, my and John Nichols, Philip Giraldi and Bill Haymin, concern should be everyone's concern as this measure imposes restrictions on free speech, thought and belief.

It's McCarthyism all over again! And Americans are being targeted as terrorists for not buying into the official "party line" on any subject our overzealous and misdirected officials have been shoving down our throats especially since 9/11.

I think we need to start flooding our elected officials offices with a copy of the Bill of Rights. It seems that they forgot what was on it...

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