Friday, January 18, 2008

H.R. 1955 and The Generalization of Terrorism

Good article on H.R. 1955 and it's dastardly ramifications from a fellow blogger. Many of us have the same thoughts on this subject but just say it a bit differently. Also, there are good articles that should be circulated and this is one of them. And sometimes it's just easier to let other people take the podium...

Indentity Check


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.}

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1 comment:

Anok said...

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