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Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

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The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 was a bill sponsored by Rep. Jane Harman
Jane Harman
Jane Margaret Lakes Harman is the former U.S. Representative for , serving from 1993 to 1999, and from 2001 to 2011. She is a member of the Democratic Party....

 (D-CA) in the 110th United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. Its stated purpose is to deal with "homegrown terrorism
Homegrown terrorism
Homegrown terrorism is commonly associated with an international organization rather than being a ‘lone wolf’ act committed by isolated and disturbed individuals. It constitutes terrorist attacks from within the target nation, often Western...

 and violent
Violence
Violence is the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes. violence, while often a stand-alone issue, is often the culmination of other kinds of conflict, e.g...

 radicalization
Radicalization
Radicalization is the process in which an individual changes from passiveness or activism to become more revolutionary, militant or extremist. Radicalization is often associated with youth, adversity, alienation, social exclusion, poverty, or the perception of injustice to self or others.-...

" by establishing a national commission, establishing a center for study, and cooperating with other nations.

The bill was introduced to the House on April 19, 2007, and passed on Oct 23, 2007. It was introduced to the Senate on August 2, 2007 as S-1959.
The bill defines some terms including "violent radicalization," "homegrown terrorism," and "ideologically based violence," which have provoked controversy from some quarters. (accessed December 2, 2007) The bill failed to become law during the 110th congress.

Summary


The bill would have:
  1. Amended the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to add provisions concerning the prevention of homegrown terrorism (terrorism by individuals born, raised, or based and operating primarily in the United States).
  2. Directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to:
    1. Establish a grant program to prevent radicalization (use of an extremist belief system for facilitating ideologically-based violence) and homegrown terrorism in the United States;
    2. Establish or designate a university-based Center of Excellence for the Study of Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States;
    3. Conduct a survey of methodologies implemented by foreign nations to prevent radicalization and homegrown terrorism.
  3. Prohibited the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically-based violence and homegrown terrorism from violating the constitutional and civil rights, and civil liberties, of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Defined terms

  1. Violent Radicalization - 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.
  2. Homegrown Terrorism - 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.
  3. Ideologically Based Violence - 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.

House


In addition to Rep. Jane Harman
Jane Harman
Jane Margaret Lakes Harman is the former U.S. Representative for , serving from 1993 to 1999, and from 2001 to 2011. She is a member of the Democratic Party....

 (D-CA), who introduced the bill to the House, it had 15 co-sponsors as of October 24, 2007:
  1. Rep. Christopher Carney (D-PA)
  2. Del. Donna Christensen (D-VI)
  3. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
  4. Rep. Charlie Dent
    Charlie Dent
    Charles "Charlie" Dent is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party.The district includes all of Northampton County, most of Lehigh County, and small parts of Berks and Montgomery Counties....

     (R-PA)
  5. Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA)
  6. Rep. Al Green
    Al Green (politician)
    Alexander N. "Al" Green is the U.S. Representative from Texas' 9th congressional district . The district includes most of southwestern Houston, including most of that city's share of Fort Bend County. It also includes most of Missouri City.-Early life and career:Green was born in New Orleans,...

     (D-TX)
  7. Rep. James Langevin
    James Langevin
    James R. Langevin is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2001. He is a member of the Democratic Party.-Early life and education:Langevin was born in Providence, Rhode Island...

     (D-RI)
  8. Rep. Zoe Lofgren
    Zoe Lofgren
    Zoe Lofgren is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1995. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is based in San Jose.-Early life, education, and early career:...

     (D-CA)
  9. Rep. Nita Lowey
    Nita Lowey
    Nita Melnikoff Lowey is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She previously represented the 20th district from 1989 to 1993.-Early life, education and career:...

     (D-NY)
  10. Rep. Daniel Lungren (R-CA)
  11. Rep. Ed Perlmutter
    Ed Perlmutter
    Edwin George "Ed" Perlmutter is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party.- Early life, education and career:...

     (D-CO)
  12. Rep. Ted Poe
    Ted Poe
    Lloyd "Ted" Poe is a Republican politician currently representing Texas's 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. The district includes most of northern Houston, as well as most of the Beaumont-Port Arthur metropolitan area. He is the first Republican to ever...

     (R-TX)
  13. Rep. Dave Reichert
    Dave Reichert
    David George Reichert is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2005. He is a member of the Republican Party. He previously served as Sheriff of King County, Washington.-Early life, education and career:...

     (R-WA)
  14. Rep. Bennie Thompson
    Bennie Thompson
    Bennie G. Thompson, is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1993, and the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security since 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party....

     (D-MS)

Senate


In addition to Sen. Susan Collins
Susan Collins
Susan Margaret Collins is the junior United States Senator from Maine and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the Senate in 1996, she is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs...

 (R-ME), who introduced the bill to the Senate, it had 1 co-sponsor as of December 26, 2007:
  1. Sen. Norm Coleman
    Norm Coleman
    Norman Bertram Coleman, Jr. is an American attorney and politician. He was a United States senator from Minnesota from 2003 to 2009. Coleman was elected in 2002 and served in the 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses. Before becoming a senator, he was mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota, from 1994 to 2002...

     (R-MN)

House


This bill was passed in the House on October 23, 2007 with a vote of 404 to 6. Twenty-two representatives missed the vote. The only six representatives who voted against the bill

were:
  • Jeff Flake
    Jeff Flake
    Jeffrey Lane "Jeff" Flake is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 2001. He is a member of the Republican Party. He was featured in the documentary series How Democracy Works Now: Twelve Stories....

    , R-Arizona
  • Dana Rohrabacher
    Dana Rohrabacher
    Dana Tyron Rohrabacher is the U.S. Representative for , and previously the 45th and 42nd, serving since 1989. He is a member of the Republican Party...

    , R-California
  • Neil Abercrombie
    Neil Abercrombie
    Neil Abercrombie is the 7th and current Governor of Hawaii. He was the Democratic U.S. Representative of the First Congressional District of Hawaii which comprises urban Honolulu. He served in Congress from 1986 to 1987 and from 1991 to 2010 when he resigned to successfully run for governor...

    , D-Hawaii
  • Jerry Costello
    Jerry Costello
    Jerry Francis Costello is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1988. He is a member of the Democratic Party and the dean of Illinois's 21-member Congressional delegation. The 12th district includes the St. Louis area suburb cities and stretches to deep Southern Illinois.-Early life,...

    , D-Illinois
  • Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis John Kucinich is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1997. He was furthermore a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections....

    , D-Ohio
  • John Duncan, R-Tennessee


Representative Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

 (R - TX), who was not present at the time of the vote, subsequently rose on the House floor to express his opposition to the bill.

Senate


The bill was introduced to the Senate on August 2, 2007, as Senate Bill 1959, and has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The Bill was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Susan Collins
Susan Margaret Collins is the junior United States Senator from Maine and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the Senate in 1996, she is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs...

, and has been co-sponsored by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Norm Coleman
Norman Bertram Coleman, Jr. is an American attorney and politician. He was a United States senator from Minnesota from 2003 to 2009. Coleman was elected in 2002 and served in the 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses. Before becoming a senator, he was mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota, from 1994 to 2002...

.

The Senate bill was reported dead by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
The Bill of Rights Defense Committee is a national grassroots organization that educates and mobilizes people from all walks of life to defend the Constitution in their local communities all across the country...

 and CQ Politics.
A staffer to Sen. Joe Lieberman
Joe Lieberman
Joseph Isadore "Joe" Lieberman is the senior United States Senator from Connecticut. A former member of the Democratic Party, he was the party's nominee for Vice President in the 2000 election. Currently an independent, he remains closely affiliated with the party.Born in Stamford, Connecticut,...

, indicated that the bill was not dead.

House

  • Introduced: April 19, 2007
  • Scheduled for Debate: August 1, 2007
  • Passed House [details]: October 23, 2007

Senate

  • Introduced: August 2, 2007
  • Scheduled for Debate: -
  • Voted on in Senate: -
  • Signed by President: -

Points of criticism


The bill has provoked controversy on several fronts.

One is the perceived overly broad and vague definitions of "force", “home grown terrorism” and “violent radicalization” (section 899A). Critics charge that the vagueness in these definitions would permit the government to classify many types of venerated American political activity, such as civil disobedience, as terrorism. Critics frequently cite Section 899A, which reads, in part: "The use, planned use, or threatened use, of force ...to coerce the ..government, (or) civilian population ..in furtherance of political or social objectives", as particularly problematic. They argue that major societal reforms, which are now accepted but were perceived at the time as threatening to the government, such as civil rights, suffrage, and others, would be classified as terrorism. (accessed December 12, 2007)

Another source of concerns centers around a series of “Congressional findings” (Section 899B) from a House Subcommittee held on November 6, 2007 and chaired by Rep. Jane Harman, the bill's sponsor. The Subcommittee heard testimony, which equated the 9/11 Truth Movement with terrorist propaganda and the committee's findings specify, among other things, that terrorism exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security, (item 2), that the Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 has aided in facilitating home grown terrorism (item 3) and that preventing home grown terrorism cannot be accomplished through traditional law enforcement efforts. (item 6).


The Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) has tracked the bill carefully.

Old bill language includes: Legislation to create a “National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism” (HR 1955) died a quiet death with the conclusion of the last Congress. Much maligned reports (BORDC) as a $22 million boondoggle, the idea to create yet another government entity to study an overblown threat already addressed by the $44 billion-a-year U.S. intelligence community, not to mention countless think tanks and authors, was the brainchild of Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. A few years ago local police and the FBI broke up a prison-based plot to bomb synagogues in the name of jihad in her district. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced a companion measure, but it was doomed by a lack of specificity on who the commission’s targets were to be, among other problems. The internet has become suspect as "part of the problem" according to the bill. It remains unclear whether Rep. Harman will reintroduce a similar bill in the new Congress.

Political reaction


Then-presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich
Dennis John Kucinich is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1997. He was furthermore a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections....

 said he believed the bill to be "unconstitutional" and has referred to the bill as a "thought crime bill".

Representative Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

 (R-TX),
addressed the bill in the House on Dec. 5, 2007 saying:
"This seems to be an unwise and dangerous solution in search of a real problem. Previous acts of ideologically motivated violence, though rare, have been resolved successfully using law enforcement techniques, existing laws against violence, and our court system."


In North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Republican Congressional candidate BJ Lawson has made the bill a theme in his campaign against Democrat David Price
David Price (American politician)
David Eugene Price is a professor and the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1997 and previously from 1987 to 1995. He is a member of the Democratic Party...

, who voted in favor of the bill.

Media reaction


The Baltimore Sun published an opinion article by Professor Emeritus Ralph E. Shaffer and R. William Robinson, titled "Here come the thought police.";

The Pioneer Press published an article by Professor Peter Erlinder
Peter Erlinder
C. Peter Erlinder is an American lawyer, originally from Chicago, who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he teaches at William Mitchell College of Law...

, pointing out disturbing parallels to the House Un-American Activities Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

.

Conservative commentator Devvy Kidd wrote: "Since the bill doesn't specifically define what an extremist belief system is, it is entirely up to the interpretation of the government.... Essentially they have defined violent radicalization as thought crime."

In an interview aired on Democracy Now, academic and author Ward Churchill
Ward Churchill
Ward LeRoy Churchill is an author and political activist. He was a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 1990 to 2007. The primary focus of his work is on the historical treatment of political dissenters and Native Americans by the United States government...

 said: "HR 1955, as I understand it, provides a basis for subjective interpretation of dissident speech...."

Kamau Franklin of the Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Constitutional Rights
Al Odah v. United States:Al Odah is the latest in a series of habeas corpus petitions on behalf of people imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The case challenges the Military Commissions system’s suitability as a habeas corpus substitute and the legality, in general, of detention at...

 said that the bill "concentrates on the internet as a place where terrorist rhetoric or ideas have been coming across into the United States and to American citizens.”

The Hartford Advocate, noting that all of Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

's Representatives had voted for the bill, sought to interview one of them, but reported that none of them would comment on the record, personally or through a spokesperson, about their reasons for voting in favor. The Advocate concluded that the problem with the bill was "not that the bill threatens anything specific, but that it’s far too vague."

An op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

, discussed HR 1955 in the context of the Homeland Security concept of Endgame. The article garnered several hundred readers comments when it was originally published. "HR 1955 is an important topic that continues to be largely absent from mainstream media as of Nov 23, 2008. President elect Obama, served on Lieberman's Homeland Security committee in the US Senate wherein the Senate bill version Titled: S-1959 continues to be discussed, absent mainstream scrutiny, but has garnered widespread internet-web scrutiny." (accessed on Nov 23, 2008)
"

The New York Times editorialized that "The Internet is simply a means of communication, like the telephone, but that has not prevented attempts to demonize it — the latest being the ludicrous claim that the Internet promotes terrorism." (accessed on Jan 2, 2009).
"

The internet, if considered to be "new media
New media
New media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. For example, new media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community...

" includes this offering by OpenCongress.org, a project of the Sunlight Foundation and PDF. All 26 comments about S. 1959 dating from 2008. "

Institutional reaction


The American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 (ACLU) issued a statement saying: "Law enforcement should focus on action, not thought. We need to worry about the people who are committing crimes rather than those who harbor beliefs that the government may consider to be extreme."

The National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild
The National Lawyers Guild is an advocacy group in the United States "dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system . ....

 and the Society of American Law Teachers issued a joint statement opposing the Bill:
"The National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers strongly urge the Senate to refuse to pass the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007."

The Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Constitutional Rights
Al Odah v. United States:Al Odah is the latest in a series of habeas corpus petitions on behalf of people imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The case challenges the Military Commissions system’s suitability as a habeas corpus substitute and the legality, in general, of detention at...

 opposes the bill.

The John Birch Society
John Birch Society
The John Birch Society is an American political advocacy group that supports anti-communism, limited government, a Constitutional Republic and personal freedom. It has been described as radical right-wing....

 wrote in an Action Alert: "the legislation could attack First Amendment rights by mandating the government to clamp down on free speech online, among other things."

Responses to criticism


Harman replied by letter to criticisms from the director of the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

's legislative office. Caroline Fredrickson asserted "the bill should read 'intentionally aiding and abetting' violent radicalization, 'because otherwise you’re really looking at what someone’s thought processes are, what their ideology is, and not what they’re doing.'" Harman defended the resolution, saying: “HR 1955 is not about interfering with speech or belief. The hearing record makes that abundantly clear. Radical speech, as I have said repeatedly, is protected under our Constitution.”

Harman chaired a November 6, 2007 hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment on “Using the Web as a Weapon: the Internet as a Tool for Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism.” In her statement before the hearing Harman tied its subject to Resolution 1955.

In December 2007 the United States House Committee on Homeland Security
United States House Committee on Homeland Security
The U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress. Its responsibilities include U.S...

 released a "fact sheet" entitled "Understanding HR 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" which elaborates on the rationale and purpose of the bill and includes a "Myth vs. Fact" section offering rebuttals to the perception that the bill would "criminalize constitutionally-protected behavior" or "lead to Internet censorship".

See also

  • Alien and Sedition Acts
    Alien and Sedition Acts
    The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the 5th United States Congress in the aftermath of the French Revolution's reign of terror and during an undeclared naval war with France, later known as the Quasi-War. They were signed into law by President John Adams...

  • House Un-American Activities Committee
    House Un-American Activities Committee
    The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

  • Sedition Act of 1918
    Sedition Act of 1918
    The Sedition Act of 1918 was an Act of the United States Congress that extended the Espionage Act of 1917 to cover a broader range of offenses, notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds...

     / Espionage Act of 1917
    Espionage Act of 1917
    The Espionage Act of 1917 is a United States federal law passed on June 15, 1917, shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. It has been amended numerous times over the years. It was originally found in Title 50 of the U.S. Code but is now found under Title 18, Crime...

  • Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950 (McCarran Internal Security Act)
  • NSPD-51
  • REX-84

External links