Wednesday, January 9, 2008


If you haven't been paying attention perhaps you better start doing so. This bill has been passed in the House. The bill now goes on to be voted on in the Senate. I hope that you'll take the time to read the bill for yourself. Really read it.

H.R. 1955 - THOUGHT CRIMES BILL or as it is really known as: H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

Oct 23, 2007: This bill passed in the House of Representatives by roll call vote. The vote was held under a suspension of the rules to cut debate short and pass the bill, needing a two-thirds majority. The totals were 404 Ayes, 6 Nays, 22 Present/Not Voting.

If passed into law, this bill will establish a commission and a Center of Excellence to study and defeat "thought criminals". Some critics say that with this bill the government turns its own citizens into criminals, enforcing only the thoughts, ideas, words that it approves or tolerates.

The wording of the bill itself seems pretty non-threatening. However, it still does bring up the vague notion of "thought crime" and it gives law enforcement more strength to do something about those who have certain ideas.

Just look at the definitions:

`For purposes of this subtitle:

`(1) COMMISSION- The term `Commission' means the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism established under section 899C.

`(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.

So, what will this commission decide is an "extremist belief system"? Is any idea that goes against the government considered an "extreme belief system"?
What constitutes "planned use"? Just thinking about something? Writing about something? What constitutes intimidated or coercing the US government in order to further a political or social objective? This bill is so vague that it is very dangerous.

The definition of homegrown terrorism is also pretty vague in defining thought crime. Planned use of force or violence could be interpreted as just thinking about using force or violence, and the definition is really vaguely defined here. Could rallies, meetings, marches, or small crimes fall into the category of homegrown terrorism? With this type of legislation the activities of organizations like The Sons Of Liberty (1765) and The Loyal Nine would have been deemed extremist! While I do not condone terrorism, especially Islamic terrorism, we still need the means in this country to dissent and protest and fight back if our own government becomes tyrannical. What means would we have to fight a dictatorship with laws like this in place?

This bill is also an obvious first strike on the Internet freedom that we enjoy.
The bill mentions that the Internet is a main source for terrorist propaganda! That would obviously target Internet radio networks and blogs and websites. The bill also mentions that homegrown terrorists span all ages and races - so Congress is stating in this bill that everyone is a potential terrorist. Can you also believe that Congress stated in their findings section that they should look at Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom as models to defeat homegrown terrorists! The funniest thing about this bill is that it promises not to violate the constitutional rights of citizens, yet it is plain to see that this bill is UnConstitutional because our Constitution does not allow the government to arrest people for thought crimes in the first place!
* First Amendment – Establishment clause, freedom of religion, speech, and press, and peaceable assembly as well as the right to petition the government.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

* Second Amendment – Right to keep and bear arms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

* Third Amendment – Protection from quartering of troops.

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

* Fourth Amendment – Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

* Fifth Amendment – Due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, eminent domain.

No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

* Sixth Amendment – Trial by jury and other rights of the accused.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

* Seventh Amendment – Civil trial by jury.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

* Eighth Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

* Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

* Tenth Amendment – Powers of states and people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

The Hartford Advocate carried a good story about this bill.

Roguegovernment has this article - buy hey - that's just one of those extremist belief websites.


MikeT said...

As long as there are no new police powers and such behind this, I'm not sure it's worth wasting time and money fighting. Let the government pay a few sociologists and "political scientists" to study data that will only serve to reinforce their existing left-wing biases. There are much bigger liberty concerns than a commission of eggheads with no power.

Jennifer said...

It will set a very dangerous precedent, though, Miket. If this becomes law, there will henceforth be a law defining "violent radicalization" as the mere "adoption or promotion" of beliefs the government dislikes. Do you think the matter will rest there? No, they'll use this as a precedent to pass restrictive laws with actual teeth.

Given the government's anticivil liberties behavior these past six years, I see no reason to grant them the benefit of the doubt now.