Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 is a bill sponsored by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA)Harman at govtrack(accessed Dec 27,2007)] Harman's homepage] [ [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-1955 GovTrack: H.R. 1955: Text of Legislation ] ] in the 110th United States Congress. Its stated purpose is to deal with "homegrown terrorism and violent radicalization"GovTrack.us. H.R. 1955--110th Congress (2007): Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) (accessed Oct 31, 2007)] by establishing a national commission, establishing a center for study, and cooperating with other nations.

The bill was introduced to the House on April 19 2007,GovTrack.us. H.R. 1955--110th Congress (2007): Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) (accessed Oct 31, 2007)] and passed on Oct 23, 2007.HR 1955 passage date(last accessed Dec 27,2006)] It was introduced to the Senate on August 2, 2007 as S-1959.GovTrack.us. H.R. 1955--110th Congress (2007): Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) (accessed Dec 26, 2007)] The bill defines some terms including "violent radicalization," "homegrown terrorism," and "ideologically based violence,"HR 1955 Full Text. (accessed December 6, 2007)] which have provoked controversy from some quarters. Although Section 899F of HR 1955 specifically prohibits "the violation of Civil Rights and Liberties in the enforcement of the bill," critics claim its enactment would pave the way for violations of Civil Rights and Liberties.Kucinich on 1955 (accessed December 2, 2007)] Ron Paul on HR1955 'Homegrown Terror' Act an Attack on Internet Freedom? (accessed December 5, 2007)] ACLU public statement on 1955 (accessed December 6, 2007)] Why Hr 1955 Was rammed Through under Cover of Fire(accessedOctober 29, 2007)]

Summary

The bill, if enacted, would:

# Amend 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:
## 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;
## Establish or designate a university-based Center of Excellence for the Study of Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States;
## Conduct a survey of methodologies implemented by foreign nations to prevent radicalization and homegrown terrorism.
# Prohibit 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.

Defined terms

# Violent Radicalization - 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. HR 1955 Full Text. (accessed December 6, 2007)]
# Homegrown Terrorism - 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. HR 1955 Full Text. (accessed December 6, 2007)]
# Ideologically Based Violence - 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. HR 1955 Full Text. (accessed December 6, 2007)]

Co-sponsors

House

Including Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who introduced the bill to the House, it has 15 co-sponsors as of October 24, 2007:
#Rep. Christopher Carney (D-PA)
#Del. Donna Christensen (D-VI)
#Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
#Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)
#Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA)
#Rep. Al Green (D-TX)
#Rep. James Langevin (D-RI)
#Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
#Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)
#Rep. Daniel Lungren (R-CA)
#Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
#Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)
#Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
#Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)

Senate

Including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who introduced the bill to the Senate, it has 1 co-sponsor as of December 26 2007:
#Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)

Current status

House

This bill was passed in the House on October 23, 2007 with a vote of 404 to 6.DemocracyNow.org. Headlines for October 30, 2007. [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/30/1340252 House Passes Bill on "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism"] > (accessed Oct 31, 2007)] Twenty-two representatives missed the vote. The only six representatives who voted against the billGovTrack: Details on how US Representatives voted (accessed Nov 21, 2007)] were:
*Jeff Flake, R-Arizona
*Dana Rohrabacher, R-California
*Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii
*Jerry Costello, D-Illinois
*Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio
*John Duncan, R-Tennessee

Representative Ron Paul (R - TX), who was not present at the time of the vote subsequently rose on the House floor to express his opposition to the bill. [ [http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2007/cr120507h.htm Paul's comments at House.gov/paul] ]

Senate

The bill was introduced to the Senate on August 02, 2007, as Senate Bill 1959, and has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The Bill was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and has been co-sponsored by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN).

Reports that the Senate bill is supposedly dead [ [http://www.bordc.org/ Bill of Rights Defense Committee] (accessed on Jan 20, 2008):

"Thought Crime" Bill is D.O.A.
The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (H.R. 1955) is reported to be Dead On Arrival in the U.S. Senate, killed by a wildfire of grassroots opposition that blazed a trail of Internet petitions and calls to Congress. According to a well-hidden paragraph in "CQ Politics", the bill "died a quiet death in the Senate" on December 14. The sudden death of the Senate version, S 1959, has received no other media coverage, so the grassroots victory in stopping the bill has gone nearly unreported. Updates will be posted on the BORDC legislation page.
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has since corrected its coverage, and now reports, "'Thought Crime' Bill Still Threatens in Senate" ( [http://www.bordc.org/ BORDC home page] accessed Jan. 29, 2008).

The "CQ Politics" report was not corrected:

Radical: Legislation to create a “National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism” (HR 1955) died a quiet death in the Senate last week. Much maligned here as a $22 million boondoggle, the idea to create yet another government entity to study an overblown threat already addressed by the $44 billion-a-year U.S. intelligence community, not to mention countless think tanks and authors, was the brainchild of Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. A few years ago local police and the FBI broke up a prison-based plot to bomb synagogues in the name of jihad in her district. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced a companion measure, but it was doomed by a lack of specificity on who the commission’s targets were, among other problems.
("Backchannel Chatter" section of [http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?docID=hsnews-000002643554 "CQ Politics" "Who can you believe in the torture wars?"] , dated Dec. 14, 2007, accessed Jan. 29, 2008)
] are unsubstantiated [A Homeland Security Committee staffer at the office of its chairman, Sen. Joe Lieberman, indicated that S.1959 is still in committee and is expected to remain there for some time. (Phone call, Jan. 22, 2008)Sen. Susan Collins' office also confirmed that S. 1959 is in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. (Phone call, Jan. 29, 2008)] .

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_william__080123_s_1959_is_still_in_c.htm January 23, 2008 at 12:29:42

Timeline

House

*Introduced: April 19 2007
*Scheduled for Debate: August 1 2007
*Passed House [details] : October 23 2007

Senate

*Introduced: August 2, 2007
*Scheduled for Debate: -
*Voted on in Senate: -
*Signed by President: -

Criticism and reaction

Points of criticism

The bill has provoked controversy on several fronts.

One is the perceived overly broad and vague definitions of "force", “home grown terrorism” and “violent radicalization” (section 899A). Critics charge that the vagueness in these definitions would permit the government to classify many types of venerated American political activity, such as civil disobedience, as terrorism. Critics frequently cite Section 899A which reads, in part: "The use, planned use, or threatened use, of force ...to coerce the ..government, (or) civilian population ..in furtherance of political or social objectives",HR 1955 section 899A(accessed December 8, 2007)] as particularly problematic. They argue that major societal reforms which are now accepted but were perceived at the time as threatening to the government, such as civil rights, suffrage, and others, would be classified as terrorism. editorial from Baltimore Sun and others(accessed December 21, 2007)] Reporter Justin Mohn for Maneater] Columnist Matt Renner for truthout(accessed December 12, 2007)] Reporter Don Williams for Knoxville Voice (accessed December 12, 2007)]

Another source of concerns centers around a series of “Congressional findings” (Section 899B) from a House Subcommittee held on November 6, 2007 and chaired by Rep. Jane Harman, the bill's sponsor. C-SPAN video of House Subcommittee hearings.(accessed December 19, 2007) ] The Subcommittee heard testimony which equated the 9/11 "truth movement" with terrorist propaganda Internet: Incubator of 9/11 Conspiracies and Disinformation (accessed December 19, 2007)] and the committee's findings specify, among other things, that terrorism exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security, (item 2), that the Internet has aided in facilitating home grown terrorism (item 3) and that preventing home grown terrorism cannot be accomplished through traditional law enforcement efforts. (item 6).HR1955 Section 899B (accessed December 12, 2007)] Erik Larson for opednews (accessed December 12, 2007)]

'Bill of Rights Defense Committee' describes common concerns:

Much maligned as 'Joe McCarthy rides again', a $22 million boondoggle, the idea to create yet another government entity to study an overblown threat already addressed by the $44 billion-a-year U.S. intelligence community, not to mention countless think tanks and authors, was the brainchild of Rep. Jane Harman , D-Calif. A few years ago local police and the FBI broke up a prison-based plot to bomb synagogues in the name of jihad in her district. Sen. Susan Collins , R-Maine, introduced a companion measure, but it was doomed by a lack of specificity on who the commission’s targets were, among other problems.http://www.bordc.org/threats/legislation/index.php#intelligence

Political reaction

Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has said he believes the bill is "unconstitutional" and has referred to the bill as a "thought crime bill". [ [http://www.indypendent.org/2007/12/02/kucinich-on-hr-1955/ Kucinich on 1955] , December 2, 2007.]

Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), [ [http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2007/cr120507h.htm Remarks on Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act ] ] [ [http://www.antiwar.com/paul/?articleid=12015 'Homegrown Terror' Act an Attack on Internet Freedom?] , December 7, 2007.] addressed the bill in he House on Dec. 5, 2007 saying:"This seems to be an unwise and dangerous solution in search of a real problem. Previous acts of ideologically motivated violence, though rare, have been resolved successfully using law enforcement techniques, existing laws against violence, and our court system," despite the fact that this bill does not "solve" anything and enacts no new laws of or pertaining to speech in the United States.

Media reaction

As of January 2008, the mainstream press appears to be ignoring this issue; exceptional coverage did occur in "The Brattleboro Reformer", Brattleboro VT (Jan. 4,2008, Nov. 28, 2007), "Madison Capital Times", Madison, Wis. (Jan 4, 2008), and "The Salt Lake Tribune" Salt Lake City, UT (Oct. 28). Other exceptions are noted below:

The "Baltimore Sun" published an opinion article by Professor Emeritus Ralph E. Shaffer and R. William Robinson, titled "Here come the thought police." [ [http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/baltsun/access/1385044871.html?dids=1385044871:1385044871&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Nov+19%2C+2007&author=Ralph+E.+Shaffer&pub=The+Sun&desc=HERE+COME+THE+THOUGHT+POLICE Here Come The Thought Police ] ]

The "Pioneer Press" published an article by Professor Peter Erlinder, pointing out disturbing parallels to the House Un-American Activities Committee. [Peter Erlinder, [http://www.twincities.com/opinion/ci_7762617 Giving birth to a son of HUAC? Inherent powers, ignoble history make new idea anything but innocuous] , December 20, 2007; also [http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/12/20/5920/ reprinted at commondreams.org] and other sites]

Conservative commentator Devvy Kidd writes: "Since the bill doesn't specifically define what an extremist belief system is, it is entirely up to the interpretation of the government.... Essentially they have defined violent radicalization as thought crime." [Devvy Kidd, [http://www.newswithviews.com/Devvy/kidd318.htm Why Hr 1955 Was Rammed Through under Cover of Fire] , October 29, 2007]

In an interview aired on Democracy Now, Academic and author Ward Churchill said: "HR 1955, as I understand it, provides a basis for subjective interpretation of dissident speech...."

Kamau Franklin of the Center for Constitutional Rights said that the bill "concentrates on the internet as a place where terrorist rhetoric or ideas have been coming across into the United States and to American citizens.” [ [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/20/1458214 Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act Raises Fears of New Government Crackdown on Dissent] , Democracy Now! interview, November 20, 2007.]

The "Hartford Advocate", noting that all of Connecticut's Representatives had voted for the bill, sought to interview one of them, but reported that none of them would comment on the record, personally or through a spokesperson, about their reasons for voting in favor. The "Advocate" concluded that the problem with the bill was "not that the bill threatens anything specific, but that it’s far too vague." [Jennifer Abel, [http://www.hartfordadvocate.com/article.cfm?aid=5068 "The Thought Crime Law"] , "Hartford Advocate", January 3, 2008]

Institutional reaction

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a statement saying:, "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." [cite web |url= http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/32886prs20071128.html|title= ACLU Statement on the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007|accessdate=2008-01-08 |date= 2007-11-28|author= ACLU]

The National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers issued a joint statement opposing the Bill:"The National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers strongly urge the Senate to refuse to pass the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007."Details about their objections can be read [http://nlg.org/news/index.php?entry=entry071127-093332 here] .

The Center for Constitutional Rights opposes the bill and issued this [http://ccrjustice.org/learn-more/faqs/factsheet%3A-violent-radicalization-and-homegrown-terrorism-prevention-act-2007 Fact Sheet] .

The John Birch Society wrote in an Action Alert: "the legislation could attack First Amendment rights by mandating the government to clamp down on free speech online, among other things." [JBS Staff, [http://www.jbs.org/node/6474 Action Alert: The Senate Could Vote on the "Thought Crimes" Bill Soon!] , [http://www.jbs.org/ John Birch Society] , November 29, 2007.]

Responses to criticism

Harman replied by letter to criticisms from the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's legislative office. Caroline Fredrickson asserted "the bill should read 'intentionally aiding and abetting' violent radicalization, 'because otherwise you’re really looking at what someone’s thought processes are, what their ideology is, and not what they’re doing.'" Harman defended the resolution, saying: “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.” [Mat Korade, [http://www.cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=5&docID=hsnews-000002633756 Harman, ACLU Exchange Barbs Over Terrorism Commission] , November 28, 2007.]

Harman chaired a [http://homeland.house.gov/hearings/index.asp?ID=102 November 6, 2007 hearing] of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment on “Using the Web as a Weapon: the Internet as a Tool for Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism.” In her statement before the hearing Harman tied its subject to Resolution 1955. [* [http://homeland.house.gov/SiteDocuments/20071106144335-82077.pdf A statement of Chair Jane Harman] , Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing & Terrorism Risk Assessment, “Using the Web as a Weapon: the Internet as a Tool for Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism," November 6, 2007.]

In December 2007 the United States House Committee on Homeland Security released a "fact sheet" entitled " [http://homeland.house.gov/sitedocuments/hr1955factsheetpdf.pdf Understanding HR 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007] " [Committee on Homeland Security Fact Sheet(accessed December 21, 2007)] which elaborates on the rationale and purpose of the bill and includes a "Myth vs. Fact" section offering rebuttals to the perception that the bill would "criminalize constitutionally-protected behavior" or "lead to Internet censorship".

References

See also

*Alien and Sedition Acts
*House Un-American Activities Committee

External links

* [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?tab=main&bill=h110-1955 An overview] of the bill from GovTrack.US
* [http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/10/25/18456040.php An article] on the bill from Indymedia
* [http://www.roguegovernment.com/news.php?id=4682 An article] on the bill from RogueGovernment.com
* [http://www.newswithviews.com/Devvy/kidd318.htm An article] on the bill from NewsWithViews.com
* [http://critterology.blogspot.com/2007/10/declaration-of-war-vs-people.html An article] on the bill from Critterology
* [http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7243 An article] on the bill from GlobalResearch.ca


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