Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Senate moves to suppress dissent

By Libby

Beware of unintended consequences. Jeralyn raises the alarm on a new Act that purports to be combating terrorism but is couched in such broad language that it could well suppress formerly constitutionally protected dissent.

Action Alert: Contact your Senators today and urge them to refuse to pass the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. As I wrote a month ago, it's a thought crimes bill aimed at preventing domestic terrorism by judging the thoughts, including those expressed on the Internet, of American citizens. [...]

"Ideologically based violence" is defined in the bill as 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." Thus, "force" and "violence" are used interchangeably. If a group of people blocked the doorway of a corporation that manufactured weapons, or blocked a sidewalk during an anti-war demonstration, it might constitute the use of "force" to promote "political beliefs."

This is another bait and switch bill. Just as the Patriot Act was used to expand the war on some drugs and the FISA surveillance programs were used to excuse wide net surveillance of all Americans, this bill is destined to be used to suppress political dissent. Taken in the context of the abolition of habeas corpus and posse comitatus, the growth of Blackwater, the media as it is currently exemplified by Joe Klein and the contracts made for 'immigrant emergency' detention centers, Naomi Klein's arguments resonate with me.

As we've seen with this latest agreement between Bush and Maliki for a permanent US presence in Iraq, last week's conspiracy theory becomes this week's reality. Better to err on side of Naomi's warnings than on the side of Clueless Joe Klein's muddled assurances. Democracy isn't going to save itself you know. Please contact your senator and tell them to vote no on the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.

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