House Passes Thought Crimes Bill and No One Notices?

I try to stay on top of what Congress is doing but this one escaped me. And, since I'm not seeing much about it in the news or on blogs, I'm not the only one.

On the same day last week that the House passed the Ammonium Nitrate bill, it also passed HR 1955, titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. The vote on this bill was 404 to 6. Meaning even progressive Democrats voted for it.

This is a thought-crimes bill, aimed at preventing domestic terrorism by judging the thoughts, including those expressed on the Internet, of American citizens.

If passed into law, it will also establish a co.mmission and a Center of Excellence to study and defeat so called thought criminals. Unlike previous anti-terror legislation, this bill specifically targets the civilian population of the United States and uses vague language to define homegrown terrorism.


.... take a look at the definitions of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism as defined in Section 899A of the bill. The definition of violent radicalization uses vague language to define this term of promoting any belief system that the government considers to be an extremist agenda. Since the bill doesn't specifically define what an extremist belief system is, it is entirely up to the interpretation of the government.

About that Center of Excellence:

Essentially, this will be a Department of Homeland Security affiliated institution that will study and determine how to defeat thought criminals.

What gives? There's probably no chance the Senate won't also pass it, and Bush will be thrilled to sign it into law, but this shouldn't be happening with so little public discourse.

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    Directed against Declaration of Independence (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Andreas on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 01:20:36 AM EST
    The Declaration of Independence states:

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    Irony (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Edger on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 07:27:36 AM EST
    Section 899A is one of the best descriptions of the neocon/pnac agenda:
    'violent radicalization' means 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.
    and the Bush/Cheney administration:

    'homegrown terrorism' means 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.
    that I've ever seen.

    And the obvious joke here is:

      Thought Crimes?

      Wingnuts won't have much to worry about from this bill, will they?

    If this is accurate..... (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by kdog on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:13:25 AM EST
    The definition of violent radicalization uses vague language to define this term of promoting any belief system that the government considers to be an extremist agenda

    It's been a pleasure gang, see ya in Gitmo!

    Well, I suppose the only (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Electa on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 09:22:17 AM EST
    religions allowed in America will be Anglo Christianity and Judaism.  All others will fall under the category of "facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change."  According to Bill O'Reilly we'll be labeled cultural insurgents and charged with descrating the ideological teachings of the Church.  Off with their heads!

    oh, like most anything they're doing (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by po on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 10:04:26 AM EST
    This could come back to haunt them.  One decade's conventional wisdom can become extremist beliefs overnight.  Let's look at say the neocon view of preemptive military strikes in violation of international law.  Apparently an extremely popular and widely held belief in the US a few years ago; now, not so much.  

    I can't wait to see the new commission's logo.  

    scary stuff (none / 0) (#1)
    by tnthorpe on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 01:12:42 AM EST
    from the Congressional findings of the act:
    `(2) The promotion of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security.
    Are we awash in homegrown terrorists?  This could be anything from anti-war, to ecological, labor, medical marijuana, immigrant, or any other non-officially sanctioned group you can think of. If Congress is so worried about homegrown fanatics, why not put some of the good folk at Southern Poverty Law Center to work in the DOJ?

    "The criminal law is a blunt instrument, and too many of our young people are already being pushed out of our schools and into our prisons," he told the committee. "A far wiser course than increasing federal prosecutions would be increasing federal investment in services designed to soothe the racial and ethnic tensions simmering in our nation's schools and to respond promptly when hate crimes occur."

    Cohen said Congress should consider increasing the size of the Justice Department's Community Relations Service, a program created more than 40 years ago to foster peaceful relations in communities where those relationships are threatened. He noted that as the country has grown more diverse, the service has actually shrunk in size.

    the def. of ideologically based violence is nutty:
    `(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means 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.

    What then is a street march without permits? a spontaneous gathering in a public place? a sit in? traffic disruption (ACT-UP used to do "die-ins" in the street in their early days pressing the gov't to respond to AIDS)? During one such event in the Castro in the 1980s, riot police with weapons and shields occupied the street, beat the protesters, and refused to let my restaurant patrons out onto the street. Lying down in the street and drawing chalk outlines = riot, don't you see? Is it now terrorism?

    Not so much (none / 0) (#3)
    by roy on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 01:24:03 AM EST
    It's not a crime bill at all.  It just directs various people to write reports.  They don't even get subpoena power.  I doubt Bush would even care; the Commission's homework isn't due until after he's out of office.

    Also, Lee Rogers appears to be a bit of a nutter.

    thanks (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by tnthorpe on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 02:09:57 AM EST
    I'm not a lawyer, so I appreciate the clarification. Still, the findings section of the bill is just bizarre. I don't see why Congress needs to be working on such bills that have phrases like "Individuals prone to violent radicalization" in them. Who exactly are they and what exactly is that? This is frankly a fishing expedition. It does seem a preliminary step to criminalizing certain kinds of public discourse. The SPLC quote was meant to show that there are actually alternatives out there now to this sort of GWOT-rhetoric ridden mess. Congress could do all this bill purports to without this legislation through its standing committees and other processes.

    Kabuki (none / 0) (#5)
    by scarshapedstar on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 02:39:20 AM EST
    A bill like this has one purpose. One purpose only.

    To give CYA and retroactive justification for some seriously illegal sh*t. In other words, it's the latest manifestation of the Constitutional Doctrine Of We Get To Do Whatever The F*ck We Want.

    Mark my words.


    thought crimes (none / 0) (#7)
    by diogenes on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:04:56 AM EST
    I guess all those "hate crime" laws are just as absurd.

    What we have here, is a failure to comunicate..... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Rojas on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:14:49 AM EST
    The marginalization and criminalization of opposition to the status quo has been standard operating proceedure since the days of the abolitionist movment. It's a bit ironic that the so-called civil rights generation has embraced these tactics with such zeal. Reminds me of the evangelical snake handlers...
    The clintons were masters of disaster in this regard and now hillary is being pimped as the new hope of progressive reform. Only in a nation where there is no sense of history, of how we got here, the individuals steemrolled in the process and of course nutcases like the shrub.

    Your Declaration of Independence has no place here. The ideas were bigger than the men. There is only one rule to remember, those with the gold will make the rules.

    Hmm? (none / 0) (#10)
    by scarshapedstar on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 08:48:46 AM EST
    It's a bit ironic that the so-called civil rights generation has embraced these tactics with such zeal.

    I wasn't aware that a bunch of old Nixon hands qualified as the "civil rights generation".


    Not surprising the breakdown on the voting (none / 0) (#13)
    by scribe on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 02:45:37 PM EST
    against it:
    Abercrombie (Hawaii)(D)
    Flake (Ariz.)(R) - retiring
    Kucinich (Ohio)(D)
    Duncan (Tenn.)(R)

    Nor is it surprising who sponsored it:
    Harman (Calif.)

    Yes.  Her.

    I guess she couldn't figure out why it is she keeps getting primaried.  

    It's stuff like this, stupid.

    Now, she'll have given her primary opponent another reason for it.

    i've been screaming my head off (none / 0) (#14)
    by profmarcus on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 03:26:40 PM EST
    since i found out about this on the 27th... i've posted about it on at least a half-dozen sites as well as my own blog... three diaries on kos elicited virtually no response... i submitted it as a question to the wapo online forum... nothing... i put something on chris dodd's blog... nothing... i wrote jane harman, the bill's sponsor... nothing... WTF...?? this is at LEAST as big as the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Protect America Act, Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directives NSPD-51 and HSPD-20, and the FISA bill with its provision for granting telecom immunity... i don't get it...

    And, yes, I DO take it personally

    Not as ignored as previously thought (none / 0) (#15)
    by jailhouselawyer on Thu Nov 01, 2007 at 04:17:46 PM EST
    "And, since I'm not seeing much about it in the news or on blogs, I'm not the only one".

    I only had to Google this "US Congress passes Thought Crime Bill" to discover 1,800,000 entries. I originally found a reference to this post in the Best of the Web section of the Guardian on line. I think we can safely assume that it is more widespread than previously thought?

    In any event, it is a frightening development and reminds me of the McCarthy era.

    I hope this (none / 0) (#16)
    by Eureka Springs on Sun Nov 04, 2007 at 03:55:37 PM EST
    will be something you have an opportunity to cross post at fdl and elsewhere. Thank you Jeralyn