Monday, December 10, 2007

H.R. 1955 = Orwell's 1984 ?

H.R. 1955. Heard of it? Chances are, with our mainstream corporate media engaged in every bit of news except what is most important, you haven't. As Robert Weitzel writing for TRUTHOUT notes, "H.R 1955: the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of barely one sentence old before its Orwellian moment: It begins, 'AN ACT - To prevent homegrown terrorism, and for other purposes.'" The document itself reads as so vague--with its concern for "ideologically based violence" and its desire to "disrupt" radical groups--that it leaves open a wide net. Some have likened it to COINTELPRO, the Counter Intelligence Program of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI that ended up spying on peace activists, infiltrating the Black Panthers and wiretapping Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.--all in the name of securing the homeland. Others are calling it, the "Thought Crime" bill, as seemingly simply having an ideology like anarchism or the like could be deemed potentially dangerous and akin to terrorism. Most appalling is that H.R. 1955--that resembles a refined stepchild of the troubling Patriot Act--was proposed by a Democrat (Rep. Jane Harman [D-CA]) and won overwhelming support in the Democratic controlled Congress when it was passed on Oct. 23 by a vote of 404-6. It's companion now rests in the Senate. And despite calls for a reexamination of the bill by civil liberties lawyers, Constitutional scholars, activists and more, it seems to be going full steam ahead.

As noted by Jessica Lee on Indypendent Media, who has confirmed that presidential candidate Barak Obama will also endorse the bill, H.R. 1955 is troubling in its appeal to fear and the never-ending, always-expanding "war on terrorism." She quotes Alejandro Queral, executive director of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center, who has expressed concern over the bill’s vague definitions of “violent radicalization,” “homegrown terrorism,” and the terms within the definitions including “extremist belief system,” “violence” and “force.”

“This bill fits the pattern we are seeing coming out of Congress – both Republican and Democratic –," Queral said, "of a continued campaign of fear, which gets into heads of Americans that we now need to start criminalizing ideology.”

Since the corporate media has been negligent on this story now for well over a month, some stories relating to H.R. 1955 are posted below.

Bringing the War on Terrorism Home: Congress Considers How to ‘Disrupt’ Radical Movements in the United States

From the November 16, 2007 issue | Posted in National |

By Jessica Lee

Under the guise of a bill that calls for the study of “homegrown terrorism,” Congress is apparently trying to broaden the definition of terrorism to encompass both First Amendment political activity and traditional forms of protest such as nonviolent civil disobedience, according to civil liberties advocates, scholars and historians.

The proposed law, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1955), was passed by the House of Representative in a 404-6 vote Oct. 23. (The Senate is currently considering a companion bill, S. 1959.) The act would establish a “National Commission on the prevention of violent radicalization and ideologically based violence” and a university-based “Center for Excellence” to “examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically based violence in the United States” in order to develop policy for “prevention, disruption and mitigation.”

full article:

The House of Reps Vote 404 to 6 to Pass the Bill that Legalizes COINTELPRO?

by Justin Ponkow and Troy Nkrumah

November 28, 2007

One month ago a bill passed almost unanimously in the House. This bill has received no mainstream news coverage. So it must not be that big of a deal, right? It's just a bill that will soon to go to Capitol Hill and since the Democrats are in control we are all safe from further infringements up on our civil rights, right? Well, maybe that is not totally correct since this bill is a lot more than meets the eye. But indicator number one should be the title, and indicator number two should be how fast it is moving through Congress.

On October 23rd of this year, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 passed 404 to 6 in the House. This bill is proposing an expansion of Homeland Security with the objective of spying on citizens whose political or religious beliefs might lead them to commit violent acts. And we are not referring to the attack of Megan Williams or the numerous police murders of non threatening civilians. No this is solely about spying on political dissidents whose politics were shaped through a critical analysis of US Foreign or Domestic policies.

full article:

Obama Supports Homegrown Terrorism Bill

December 10, 2007 | Posted in IndyBlog |

By Jessica Lee, The Indypendent

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama says that he will support the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (S. 1959). According to the automatic email responses constituents are receiving from his office, Obama appears to be straddling the fence between preserving civil liberties and being tough on terrorism.

“The American people understand that new threats require flexible responses to keep them safe. They also insist that our responses to threats respect the constitution and do not violate the basic tenets of our democracy,” Obama’s email said. Several people who have written to Obama have posted his response on various blogs, including “Justin” who’s personal blog was picked up on

full article:

Read Copy of Bill (several versions) yourself:


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