With overwhelming bipartisan support, Rep. Jane Harman’s “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act” passed the House 404-6 late last month and now rests in Sen. Joe Lieberman’s Homeland Security Committee. Swift Senate passage appears certain.
Not since the “Patriot Act” of 2001 has any bill so threatened our constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Ms. Harman, a California Democrat, thinks it likely that the United States will face a native brand of terrorism in the immediate future and offers a plan to deal with ideologically based violence.
But her plan is a greater danger to us than the threats she fears. Her bill tramples constitutional rights by creating a commission with sweeping investigative power and a mandate to propose laws prohibiting whatever the commission labels “homegrown 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.
Such an affront to democracy should be thoroughly debated in the public domain. Instead, most mainstream journalists are little better than stenographers.