A new version of the Red Scare might hit the nation again if the Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 is signed into law. It has already passed in the House of Representatives with a 404-6 vote on Oct. 23 with 23 members abstaining.
The new act HR 1955 will create a commission of 10 members whose job would be to stop homegrown terrorism before it starts.
The National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism will consist of four Republican and four Democratic members and two members each chosen by President George W. Bush and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. They will study radical ideologies of legal U.S. citizens and propose legislation to deal with possible threats.
The first red flag is the realization that the plan is not targeted at those who are committing terrorist acts, but those who the commission presumes to have radical ideologies based on violence. Its purpose is to stop homegrown terrorism before it begins, but doing so might necessarily involve monitoring citizens’ beliefs and political involvement. Unfortunately the bill’s definition of a radical ideology is unclear.
Definitions of the terms “homegrown terrorism” and “violent radicalization” are given in the act, but they are broad, which leaves their meanings open for interpretation. Sometimes protesters are deemed as being violent because they are causing a scene, but that does not mean they are going to attack the nation.
The members of the commission have been given the right to judge and accuse those they determine to be possible threats. The bill does not clearly define the criteria that classifies a terrorist, so a wides spectrum of political beliefs can fall into this category.
This commission is being compared to the McCarthy Commission which investigated any American who was thought to be part of a Communist group during the 1940s and 1950s. It was referred to as the second Red Scare, casting suspicion on any possible threats, ruining lives and reputations and instilling fear into every citizen.
Another issue with the bill is that it is unclear how the commission will collect the information. The bill identifies the Internet as a tool of radicalization. Does this mean the commission will step up the monitoring of everyone’s use of the Internet?
Opening that door could lead to the opening of many more.
It seems like the government is trying to implement as many ways as possible to limit our freedom by finding more excuses to invade it.
Monitoring the Internet is only the first step in limiting our freedom. If the Commission finds that stopping terrorists through the World Wide Web is helpful, than there is nothing stopping them from tapping phone lines or hiding secret police on the street.
It sounds ridiculous but think about the Red Scare and McCarthyism. The initial plan was to stop Communists before they took over, but fear caused their helpful efforts to turn into mayhem.
Because the nation is in the middle of a war and Sept. 11 is only a few years behind us, any minor sign of “radicalization” will cause a national alert and give the Commission the right to get involved.
People are also afraid that another attack may happen, so they may begin to start helping the Commission find terrorists. That is going to lead to paranoia and finger pointing.
The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 is too broad and unclear to be passed. It needs to inform citizens of exactly what the Commission is doing and how they will be collecting information to find terrorists.
It should not be in depth, but it should tell us more about what they are doing.
The bill will be sent to the Senate next and if it passes, it will be sent to Bush to be signed into law.
If it becomes law it will be interesting to see the effects it will have on the community.