What am I talking about? That would be H.R. 1955 aka `Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007'.
The act, which apparently passed the House of Representatives on October 23, 2007, seeks to establish a commission within the legislative branch. This commission will
Examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States, including United States connections to non-United States persons and networks, violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in prison, individual or `lone wolf' violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence, and other faces of the phenomena of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence that the Commission considers important.So they want to establish a commission which will look at what people are advocating on the internet. The commission's membership will be composed of
Qualifications- Individuals shall be selected for appointment to the Commission solely on the basis of their professional qualifications, achievements, public stature, experience, and expertise in relevant fields, including, but not limited to, behavioral science, constitutional law, corrections, counterterrorism, cultural anthropology, education, information technology, intelligence, juvenile justice, local law enforcement, organized crime, Islam and other world religions, sociology, or terrorism.Alright, now I am not a defender of Islamic terrorists, but reading that language seems to indicate they are looking at possible threats being "organized crime" and "Islam and other world religions". That just strikes me as seeking people who want to go after gangsters and members of non-Christian religions. But maybe that is just me being too paranoid.
How will commission carry out its mission? That is covered in subsection (j) of the bill. There it states,
- `(1) IN GENERAL-
- `(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.
`(B) CONTRACTING- The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to discharge its duties under this section.
- `(A) IN GENERAL- The Commission may request directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the Government, information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purposes of this section. The head of each such department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality shall, to the extent practicable and authorized by law, furnish such information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the Commission, upon request made by the Chair of the Commission, by the chair of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or by any member designated by a majority of the Commission.
`(B) RECEIPT, HANDLING, STORAGE, AND DISSEMINATION- The Committee and its staff shall receive, handle, store, and disseminate information in a manner consistent with the operative statutes, regulations, and Executive orders that govern the handling, storage, and dissemination of such information at the department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality that responds to the request.
But the first thought I had when I read the bill, was "Oh, wait a second, I've seen this committee before, it was Joe's."
With such a commission being proposed, why has the mainstream media not picked up on this story? Oh, that's right, I needed to know that some starlet with boobs spent 84 minutes in jail on DUI arrest.
One of the few mainstream news providers that has run a story, even though its only an op-ed piece, is the Baltimore Sun. There, wrote,
The proposed commission is a menace through its power to hold hearings, take testimony and administer oaths, an authority granted to even individual members of the commission - little Joe McCarthys - who will tour the country to hold their own private hearings. An aura of authority will automatically accompany this congressionally authorized mandate to expose native terrorism.
Ms. Harman's proposal includes an absurd attack on the Internet, criticizing it for providing Americans with "access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda," and legalizes an insidious infiltration of targeted organizations. The misnamed "Center of Excellence," which would function after the commission is disbanded in 18 months, gives the semblance of intellectual research to what is otherwise the suppression of dissent.
While its purpose is to prevent terrorism, the bill doesn't criminalize any specific conduct or contain penalties. But the commission's findings will be cited by those who see a terrorist under every bed and who will demand enactment of criminal penalties that further restrict free speech and other civil liberties. Action contrary to the commission's findings will be interpreted as a sign of treason at worst or a lack of patriotism at the least.
Since no one was watching, the only places left to stop this travesty masquerading as a well-though out proposal to actual do something about our national security, it is up to the Senate to kill it. If it passes there, it goes to the White House for signing. Part of me hopes that Bush will be able to recognize this for what it is. On the other hand, the President has yet to veto any sort of legislation which would inhibit our civil liberties...