Monday, October 29, 2007

U.S. Congress Innovates to Grow Terror Pool!

Unhappy with the small domestic selection of Islamic jihadists, the House of Representative decided it needed to grow the pool of scary characters right before Halloween by passing H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.

The bill sets up a committee, funds a study and enables a university center of excellence to be established around the issue of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. It seems the New York University Center for Law's report on the small number of Islamic terrorist cases prosecuted and convicted since 9-11 caused Congress to look for more scary figures inciting violence.

For my parents who believe a Democratic victory in 2008 will reduce our country's march toward fascism, they only need look at the bill's sponsor, Jane Harman D-CA. The final vote was 404-6. A look at some of the language in the bill is instructive:

`(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.

`(3) 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.

`(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.

Obviously, it's not a problem for a country to engage in such acts. The United States has a rich history of using explicit and underhanded force to further political and economic change. After reading Mickey Weinstein's book on the Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military could be viewed as implementing its religious beliefs in American conflicts with other countries. But, let's set aside the heavy power of the state vs. the shrinking power of an individual or group.

What did one Founding Father think about an individuals right to speak freely, even to foment revolution? Thomas Jefferson clearly took a stand in this area.

"An enlightened people, and an energetic public opinion... will control and enchain the aristocratic spirit of the government." --Thomas Jefferson to Chevalier de Ouis, 1814. ME 14:130

"It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782. ME 2:224

What happens when the above situations are no more?

"...when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:429

"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." --Thomas Jefferson: his motto.

"If ever there was a holy war, it was that which saved our liberties and gave us independence." --Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:430

"The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:548

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

By quoting Thomas Jefferson has this graduate of his university committed "ideologically based violence"? It's impossible to know given the definition above. The country hangs it head in shame over the pummeling given to the word "torture". What can this administration do to three words with its track record abusing just one? That gives me the opportunity to return to another Jefferson quote in light of the Bush administration's priorities.

"Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, habeas corpus, and a representative legislature... I consider as the essentials constituting free government, and... the organization of the executive is interesting as it may insure wisdom and integrity in the first place, but next as it may favor or endanger the preservation of these fundamentals." --Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1815. ME 14:255

"[In order to ensure] a successful reformation of government,... I [would urge] most strenuously an immediate compromise to secure what the [present] government was now ready to yield, and trust to future occasions for what might still be wanting,... [if it] would grant... 1. Freedom of the person by habeas corpus. 2. Freedom of conscience. 3. Freedom of the press. 4. Trial by jury. 5. A representative legislature, [with:] 6. Annual meetings. 7. The origination of laws. 8. The exclusive right of taxation and appropriation. And 9. The responsibility of ministers. And with the exercise of these powers they would obtain in future whatever might be further necessary to improve and preserve their constitution." --Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821. (*) ME 1:139

In light of Mr. Jefferson's teachings I found this portion of the bill somewhat ironic:


`(a) In General- The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents. (If the right to hold a revolution is inalienable, how can the government take it away?)

`(b) Commitment to Racial Neutrality- The Secretary shall ensure that the activities and operations of the entities created by this subtitle are in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security's commitment to racial neutrality. (This is ironic in light of the not so domestically widespread "Islamic terrorism" cited by many elected leaders. However, it is worrisome that Congress needs to grow the pool of dangerous people wide enough that it could include any colored neighbor.)

What steers our country in such a vile direction? Another quote from Thomas Jefferson provides insight:

"The moderation and virtue of a single character [i.e., George Washington] have probably prevented [the American] Revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish." --Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1784. ME 4:218, Papers 7:106

We are currently ruled by George Washington's opposite...