I was wandering around in Blogdom and came across an interesting blog called Time Goes By, and found a post about HR 1955, which recently passed the House of Representatives while no one was watching.
This bill, called the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007," would establish a commission to:
"(1) Examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States, including United States connections to non-United States persons and networks, violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in prison, individual or `lone wolf' violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence, and other faces of the phenomena of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence that the Commission considers important.
`(2) Build upon and bring together the work of other entities and avoid unnecessary duplication, by reviewing the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of--
`(A) the Center of Excellence established or designated under section 899D, and other academic work, as appropriate;
`(B) Federal, State, local, or tribal studies of, reviews of, and experiences with violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence; and
`(C) foreign government studies of, reviews of, and experiences with violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence."
(quote is from GovTrack website, linked above).
Go check out "Time Goes By" for more information. There are two (at least) really scary things about this bill:
1) First of all, it passed while no one was watching, during the middle of the California wildfires, and I have not been able to find a single link to a mainstream media news source about this bill. Why is no one writing about this? Where is the New York Times? The Washington Post?
2) The second thing is that the vagueness of the wording would mean the commission could define "homegrown terror" any way they want. If this bill passes, it's going to give the administration (or any administration to follow) the right to decide what is terrorism, what is free speech and what isn't.
Ronni of "Time Goes By" explains it well:
"This is the first terrorism-related legislation that specifically targets U.S. citizens and the vagueness of the wording is a dangerous threat to the First Amendment and to each of us in ways that have not been attempted before in the United States. The definitions in the bill hold the frightening keys to the undermining of our most basic liberty - to speak freely: (blue color indicates quote from "Time Goes By.")
'VIOLENT RADICALIZATION - The term ‘violent radicalization' means process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.' (red color indicates quote from the HR 1955 bill).
The difficulties here are that “extremist belief system” means anything the government wants it to mean as does the word “facilitating.”
'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.'
Again, this refers not just to violence, but to thought and speech for any undefined “political or social objectives”. In other words, it could mean universal healthcare, equal rights, abortion or anything at all about which you or I might want to make our views known that the government objects to. And, it establishes U.S. citizens as the targets of this legislation.
'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.'
This repeats legislative intolerance of speech and thought.
If you find this as alarming as I do, write to your representatives and senators to protest this legislation. I was very disappointed to find out that here in New Jersey our representatives all voted for this bill. In fact, only 6 House representatives voted against it.
You can find more information at Ronni's site. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on this.