Thursday, January 03, 2008

HR 1955: The Bill about Nothing?

HR 1955 is officially titled: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. It was voted on in Congress and passed overwhelmingly 404-6. So why can't a reporter get anyone who voted for it to talk about it on the record? 404 members of Congress and not one of them is willing to grab a microphone and say why it's necessary to have such legislation?

From the article:

“Violent radicalization,” one of the threats the bill seeks to curb, is defined there as “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.”

Acts of violence are already illegal, whether stemming from extreme beliefs or not. But “adopting” or “promoting” beliefs is supposed to be covered by the first amendment, which Kucinich said “protects freedom of speech, which should also include freedom of thought — thought usually precedes speech, unless you’re talking about Washington — this undercuts the first amendment, [because] lines like ‘ideologically based’ … says government should police ideas, not conduct.”

The whole article is here (with an oversized picture of Dennis Kucinich to go with it, you've been warned).

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1 comment:

The Swindle said...

The only conclusions that I could draw after thinking about HR 1955 is one of two options....

1) Congress is wasting its time (as it often does) by throwing their weight behind something that seems to be a no-brainer in an effort to appear like they are doing something.


2) It's laying the groundwork (as many other bills have; the military commissions act and patriot act come to mind) to curtail civil liberties. When standing on their own merits (depending on your viewpoint) each of these individual bills appears to be largely harmless, but when the notion of some sense of forethought is brought into the picture, things can get pretty scary. You can hypothesize that in our reactionary society today, someone who would advocate a "Free Iraq" may be construed to be "supporting the enemy" and thus in accordance of HR 1955 be deemed a homegrown terrorist. Well, from there, it is less than a skip and a jump to be deemed an "enemy combatant" as laid out in the Military Commissions Act, and detained indefinitely, tortured legally and eventually stand trial without being told what you are being charged with. Of course the Patriot Act plays into this because it facilitates all of it by allowing warrantless wiretaps.