National Security / Opinion / Politics

No Need to Pass Another Law; Agencies and Laws Already Exist That Makes it Illegal to Be a Terrorist

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WASHINGTON, DC, Apr 15 — How bad must a piece of proposed legislation be to split the Democrats’ majority in Congress and to get a “don’t go there” message from the left-leaning ACLU?  Even AOC, the darling of the progressive/socialist cabal, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, disapproves of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021 [HR 350].

The legislation targets “white supremacists” and “far-right extremists.”  But the Cato Institute says, “it has the potential to spawn expanded domestic surveillance activities by law enforcement and intelligence elements of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.”

The riot in the nation’s capitol on January 6 created a momentum that put a new focus on so-called domestic terrorism and renewed calls for HR 350.  Opponents point out that there are numerous terrorism-related laws on the books already — more than 50, according to the DOJ; there is no reason to create new ones — especially new ones that increase “the power of unaccountable bureaucrats who will investigate U.S. citizens,” says Rep. Lauren Boebert [R-CO].

It poses an invasive threat to the rights of individuals — American citizens, according to organizations such as The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights with its membership of more than 200 human rights organizations.  In a message to Congress, the organization explained that “The failure to confront and hold accountable white nationalist violence is not a question of not having appropriate tools to employ, but a failure to use those on hand.  To date, DOJ has simply decided as a matter of policy and practice not to prioritize white nationalist crimes.  Congress should use its oversight and appropriations authorities to ensure that law enforcement appropriately focuses investigative and prosecutorial resources on white nationalist crimes.”

A new domestic terrorism law would be redundant, at best.  The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are supposedly on top of any such threat.  The FBI is already authorized to investigate domestic wrongdoing on the part of individuals and organized hate groups.  As the Cato Institute points out, such a law could frustrate its intent due to the new layers of bureaucracy it would create.

Brian Michael Jenkins is a noted terrorism expert and a senior adviser to the RAND Corporation president.  In a recent blog, he offered a less costly and more effective way of dealing with domestic terrorism: “Instead of a new domestic terrorism law, this moment calls for rigorous and equal enforcement of existing law, treating offenders as ordinary criminals, and avoiding legislation that may undermine Americans’ rights and create labels that deepen the current political divide.”

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