Homegrown Terrorism: Bush Uses Threat Of Violence To Coerce Congress

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Homegrown Terrorism: Bush Uses Threat Of Violence To Coerce Congress

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We’ve been up to our eyeballs in a War on Terror for the past six years and we still don’t even have a good clear definition of terrorism. Fortunately, a new bill is coming to the rescue. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 defines “Homegrown Terrorism” as

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.

There are eight clauses here, each held together with the word “or”. I have numbered them for future reference.

[1] “the use, planned use, or threatened use”.
[2] “of force or violence”
[3] “by a group or individual”
[4] “born, raised, or based and operating primarily within”
[5] “the United States or any possession of the United States”
[6] “to intimidate or coerce”
[7] “the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof,”
[8] “in furtherance of political or social objectives”.

First let it be noted that clauses [4], [5], and [7] restrict the defined terrorism to that involving American targets and American terrorists. By omitting clauses [4] and [5], and removing all mention of the United States from clause [7], one could derive a slightly reasonable definition of terrorism in general:

the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual to intimidate or coerce any government, any civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

This is not an excellent definition because it leaves out one element which is necessary to distinguish terrorism from warfare. Terrorism is a crime against innocent civilians. Resistance against an attacking or occupying army can hardly be called terrorism. But this omission doesn’t impair the current analysis, so I won’t quibble at the moment.

Let it also be noted that each clause need only be satisfied once. For example, a simple threat would be sufficient to satisfy the first clause; similarly for all the other clauses.

There are many ways in which I could select one part from each of the eight clauses, and put my selections together to form a description of some variety of homegrown terrorism. My description wouldn’t cover all cases of homegrown terrorism, of course; but any incident which fit my description would be, by definition, homegrown terrorism”.

Now, look at this, from the Associated Press:

Bush Presses House on Surveillance Bill

President Bush pressured the House on Wednesday to pass new rules for monitoring terrorists’ communications, saying “terrorists are planning new attacks on our country … that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison.”

Bush said he would not agree to giving the House more time to debate a measure the Senate passed Tuesday governing the government’s ability to work with telecommunications companies to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails between suspected terrorists. The bill gives phone companies retroactive protection from lawsuits filed on the basis of cooperation they gave the government without court permission — something Bush insisted was included in the bill.

“We need the cooperation of telecommunications companies,” Bush said. “If these companies are subjected to lawsuits costing billions of dollars, they won’t participate, they won’t help us.”

It is highly fanciful to believe that if companies were held accountable for breaking the law, they wouldn’t break the law anymore. Nonetheless, it is very easy to understand that companies will break the law more readily if they know they won’t be punished for it.

And meanwhile, President Bush is without doubt

[3] “an individual”
[4] “born, raised, and based primarily within”
[5] “the United States”

The bill he’s pushing will eviscerate the rule of law — it will make anything you do legal, no matter how depraved, if the president says he wants you to do it — and that’s why he can’t drum up any support for it without invoking the fear of “new attacks on our country … that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison”.

So that’s what he’s been doing. He is invoking

[1] “the threatened use”
[2] “of violence”

And why?

About 40 lawsuits have been filed against telecom companies by people alleging violations of wiretapping and privacy laws. But the House did not include the immunity provision in a similar bill it passed last year.

The Senate passed its measure with bipartisan support, Bush said, and the House should pass it as well before the current law expires at midnight on Saturday, Bush said.

“The time for debate is over,” he said.

“Congress has had over six months to discuss and deliberate,” Bush said. “I will not accept any temporary extension. They have already been given a two-week extension.”

And what is the point of this message?

[6] “to intimidate or coerce”
[7] “a segment of the United States population”
[8] “in furtherance of political objectives”

We know from experience that there’s a double threat here. Not only has Bush threatened us all with terrorist attacks that will make 9/11 pale by comparison; he has also set up the next round of political slander: if the Democrats dare to oppose this legislation, he will say they’re “soft on terror”.

If I were a member of the House, I would say to the president, with all due respect (i.e. none):

Show me, in the Constitution or in any other federal law, the place where it says the president shall tell the Congress when and how to vote!

I would also say this:

Who are these “terrorists” who “are planning new attacks on our country … that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison”?

If you know who they are and what they’re planning, then have them arrested. Bring them to justice. You’ll be a hero. In fact, stopping them from attacking us is the only thing your administration has ever claimed to do. So bringing them to justice is not only a way to salvage some “legacy”; it’s also your job.

However, if you don’t know who they are, then how can you know what they’re planning? And if you don’t know who they are and what they’re planning, then your assertion that “terrorists are planning new attacks … that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison” was not only a deliberate lie but also a blatant act of homegrown terrorism:

[1] “the threatened use”
[2] “of violence”
[3] “by an individual”
[4] “born, raised, and based primarily within”
[5] “the United States”
[6] “to intimidate and coerce”
[7] “a segment of the United States population”
[8] “in furtherance of political objectives”

So here’s the deal, Mr. president: Either you arrest them, or we arrest you.

That’s what I would say if I were in Congress.

I would also say:

The House will pass this despicable bill before midnight Saturday over my dead body!

And then they could bury me on the Monday.
http://winterpatriot.blogspot.com/

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