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The Government as Judge, Juror and Prosecutor of Americans in Secret Courts? No thank you!

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Message Kathryn Smith
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Dear readers:
Those of you already familiar with S. 1959 "The Homegrown Terrorist and Violent Radicalization Act" can skip past the first two paragraphs. Paragraph 3 where the plot thickens. I also have included a suggestion to appeal to Barack O'Bama, since he is on the Committee which is working on S. 1959 and part of our hope of toppling this bill, in addition to calling our own Senators,  would be to get him behind that cause.  Thank you.


A bill currently on the Senate Floor, 1959, titled “To Establish the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism, and for other purposes”, neither mentions nor defines in the text of the bill what those “other purposes” are. It sets up a Committee of government personnel to “Study” (by undefined methods) the thought models leading to terrorist activity by American citizens themselves. Sending such personnel to our college campuses, the bill claims not to “Study” any one social cross-sector yet targets the most vocal people in our nation (our college students) as “radical” citizens to be eyeballed as would-be terrorists. “Recommendations” made to the government by the Commission will likely lead to future legislation which is stacked on the unconstitutional foundation of targeted thought models. The bill identifies the Internet as a breeding ground for terrorism in the United States, using the word that to “facilitate” such homegrown terrorism would be a crime. This word “Facilitate” opens up the door to guilt by association: Any journalist or blogger who “Facilitates” violent anger against the USA---by people whose faces s/he has never seen--- with the information s/he writes could become a homegrown terrorist ringleader under the law. Goodbye to free speech. The bill makes it a crime to “Coerce” the government without defining what such “Coercion” means, leaving the doors open to individualized interpretation. Holding government officials accountable, in public, could be a form of “coercion” since there is no definition of what that word means in the text of the bill. And while the text of the bill states that the Commission “Should not” (a recommendation) discriminate against any one social cross-sector, the bill also unequivocally states that the people “Shall not” (an imperative) “Coerce” the government in these terms which are undefined. The motive to protect the government’s best interests but not that of the people is thereby confessed.

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The ACLU’s legislative director Caroline Frederickson has stated that the bill “targets thought and not action” and that even the ACLU’s first amendment rights on the Internet would be threatened by the law. Michael Ratner, attorney/director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, made a radio announcement that the bill is “So broad” and used words to the effect that it could be misconstrued to suit any one particular agenda.

The bill also establishes a government-appointed Commission which becomes its own judge, juror and prosecutor whose capabilities are to conduct trials of American citizens. This arrangement in which the government itself could prosecute Americans as “Terrorists” would bypass the power of the Judiciary and Courts to put a “check“ on random abuses of government power, and undermine government transparency:

POWERS OF THE COMMISSION: A) HEARINGS AND EVIDENCE: “The commission or, on the authority of the Commission, any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out this section, hold hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and administer such oaths as the Commission considers advisable to carry out its duties”.

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Bypassing the courts and impartial citizen jury means that government-appointed “court” hearings would be secret in nature. Government officials who would query the citizen “terrorist” or “terrorists” could not possibly be unbiased.,

Let’s connect the dots between this proposed law and the Patriot Act: Dozens of entities across the partisan spectrum---- including the ACLU, Gun Owners of America, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Center for Constitutional Rights and many more----unanimously agree that the Patriot Act’s definition of “Terrorist” is loosely worded to include religious and peace groups in its sweep. The concern therefore becomes who is to be targeted as a “terrorist” under the proposed Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorist law. The ACLU’s website is busting out the seams with statistics of ordinary law-abiding citizens, not terrorists or criminals, being queried by the FBI under the Patriot Act. Even Greenpeace, Bread not Bombs, and bird watchers have been wrongfully targeted as “Terrorists” by the FBI. A declassified FBI document on the ACLU’s website, titled “International Terrorism Matters”, investigates the Thomas Merton Center in Philadelphia PA for organizing an Iraq War peace rally and “because of practicing, among other political positions, pacifism”.

How can this be happening, and why are those people being targeted? The answer is simple: To use George W. Bush’s words, “It is either you are with us or you are against us”. It would seem a logical conclusion, based on the statistics of who is being targeted as “terrorists”, that anyone who threatens the success of the Bush Administration’s agenda and profiteering through war and oil, becomes a targeted “Terrorist”. This is further evidenced by the fact that the ACLU’s and Electronic Frontier Foundation’s websites both show overwhelming statistics of activists on no-fly lists.

Former FBI agent Mike German, now counsel to the ACLU, sent ACLU members an e-mail stating that since 9-11-01, there has only been one terrorist caught as the result of National Security Letters. These NSL’s are FBI subpoenas for private telephone, internet and medical records, carrying gag orders and a five-year jail sentence to anyone who is ordered to fork our records over to the Feds and who lets even their Significant Other know that they received the subpoena. These secrecy-shrouded NSL’s are issued by unilateral decree of the FBI agent individually, bypassing the judiciary to guarantee that nobody knows---not even Congress----- how many abuses of the system are occurring.

And those abuses are rampant. Between 2003-2005 alone, wrote Mike German, 143,000 NSL’s were issued----that’s 993 per week----53% of which were for American citizens, born and naturalized alike. The rest target racial groups and as previously, have only rightfully targeted one single terrorist since 9-11.

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The Red Cross estimates that more than 70% of Guantanamo detainees are innocent. The ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights echo each other with unremitting consistency, that many of the “Terrorists” held at Guantanamo are held (and a few of them released) “without so much as being charged with a single crime”.

So much for the war on terrorism.

Enter the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorist Act, which would coach us to think that the terrorist Americans are growing out of the woodwork. Just as the rush to war with Iraq was based on cooked intelligence, and we were similarly coached to think that Iran posed a threat which eventually popped like a soap bubble, so we now are being coached to fear our own American neighbors as “terrorists”. If such thought coaching served the purpose of leading us to war, then what purpose is served by this thought coaching when targeting our most vocal citizens-----our college students-----as homegrown terrorists?

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This quote summarizes the nature of my concerns and the content of personal experiences which stir my activism: "Necessity is the plea for every infringement on human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves". --Paul (more...)
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