Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Ideological Profiling Act of 2007

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On October 23, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 passed 404 to 6 in the House (HR 1955). Its Senate companion (S.1959) is under evaluation by the Senate Committee of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

This bill would implement an expansion of the 2002 Homeland Security Act with the creation of a National Commission authorized to study and identify individuals and groups whose social values, political associations, or religious beliefs “might” lead them to commit violent acts. However, this does not refer to CIA assassinations, police brutality, murder of unarmed civilians, or torture at secret prisons. This Commission is targeting political dissidents and social activists who are critical of U.S. foreign policy, corporate abuse, and practices that threaten the life of our planet.

These ideological epithets, “violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism” were coined by the the RAND Corporation in its 2005 monograph, “Trends in Terrorism: Threats to the United States and the Future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.” The title of the bill is taken verbatim from this monograph. RAND spokespeople testified before the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment, chaired by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who sponsored this legislation. Harman has admitted to a long and productive relationship with RAND Corporation, a California- based think-tank with close ties to the military-industrial-intelligence complex. Donald Rumsfeld was its chair from 1981 to 1986. Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, and Condoleezza Rice were trustees.

The introductory summary to this monograph highlights the “homegrown terrorists” who “pose an evolving threat to corporate interests…. In addition to the terrorist threats posed by al Qaeda and both associated and independent radical jihadists, a growing groundswell of domestically inspired radicalism has emerged that appears to be based on the spreading phenomenon of anti-globalization (AG). The AG movement has had an impact on at least three homegrown entities—all of which have demonstrated, in varying degrees, an explicit penchant for violence and civilian-directed action.

“Anarchists, who resonate with the claim that international trade and commerce are, in fact, a mask designed to hide and covertly advance U.S. global economic, cultural and political power.

“Far-right extremists, who reject the loss of individual identity associated with international movements of people, commodities and money; who oppose the concentration of power that globalization entails; and who argue that globalization is an American-led conspiracy conducted by and for the benefit of Jewish capitalists.

“Radical environmentalists, who now routinely denigrate corporate power and capitalism (and the unrestrained discretionary spending that they entail) as posing the single greatest threat to the planet and its life.

“A notable common thread in many of the trends is an increased risk for the private sector. This increase arises from the changes in the operational environment because of the Global War on Terror; the hardening of government facilities, which is shifting risk to softer targets; the rise of extremists motivated by AG and therefore hostile to corporate power; and the increased focus by al Qaeda on attacks that yield magnified economic consequences.”

This monograph appears to be a plea for more “robust” reimbursement of taxpayer-funded insurance claims by expanding the definitions of “certified terrorist attacks” to include acts committed by U.S. citizens in addition to those of foreign terrorists. (Were you aware that taxpayers are underwriting “terrorist attack” insurance claims that qualify for reimbursement if property damage is at least $5 million and capped at $100 billion, but not personal claims for homeowners, autos, or life insurance? Why are taxpayers reimbursing big business while they’re not protected themselves?)

The dragnet of individuals encompassed by RAND’s perceived “evolving threats to corporate interests” includes just about everyone who isn’t in favor of war, corporate globalization, destruction of the earth’s biosphere, and trampling human rights. In Chapter Four these homegrown terrorists are described in detail, citing the following themes as major concerns of this “radical fringe”:

  • International debt relief; civil rights; opposition to corporate power; socioeconomic and political dislocations; capitalism’s insatiable quest for profit; destruction of the world’s ecology, indigenous cultures and individual welfare; illegitimate and unjust concentrations of public, state and private power; capitalist indifference to the needs of the weak and dispossessed.
  • International trade and commerce as a mask designed to hide and covertly advance US global economic, cultural and political power.
  • Aversion to harm inflicted on animals and the biosphere; preserving ‘Mother Earth’ from rapacious degradation and exploitation; preservation of the wilderness; restoring destroyed ecosystems.
  • Corporate greed is the greatest threat to the planet and its life; multinational companies are guilty of exploitative labor practices, union busting and human rights violations in the developing world.

RAND concludes in Chapter Four: “The goal of ecological preservation is likely to fully morph with the wider imperative of anti-globalization…. Growing discontent over a variety of U.S. foreign policy decisions could lead to the emergence of a new radical left-wing fringe across American society that is jointly directed against big business, big money, corporate power and uncaring government.… Civil disobedience may be directed against global capitalism, corporate greed and conglomerate interests such as Boeing, Microsoft, and Sears.… The prevailing trends within the domestic terrorist environment have been toward AG, which carries a clear threat to private-sector corporate interests, especially large multinational businesses.… Whether the threat emerges from the Christian Patriot Militia, the Black Bloc, the ELF, or some other AG-inspired movement, all exist in much the same operational environment as al Qaeda.”

And there you have it: the subversive ideas of America’s “homegrown terrorists” are posited as equivalent to the threat from al Qaeda. But why a National Commission to defeat these networks of “dangerous radicals?” Why not the usual disinformation campaign of drivel delivered by corporate television and radio sock puppets, plus articles planted in the press and then quoted as fact, lies repeated ad nauseam, personal attacks and character assassinations, demolishing reality, framing debates with false premises, distorting language, and reversing truth?

The Internet

That brings us to one of the most insidious assertions of this bill: “The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”

This assertion presumably lays the groundwork for corporate control of the Internet, blocking out IP addresses that expose inconvenient truths, government cover-ups or corporate abuse; interrupting the momentum of groups organized around social justice while keeping the shopping lane open for corporate profit. Perhaps the 404 members of the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment who voted for the bill were bamboozled during their hearing on “Using the Web as a Weapon: the Internet as a Tool for Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism.” The hearing featured presentations from politically biased groups, including RAND’s Brian Michael Jenkins. Mark Weitzman delivered a Power Point presentation under the heading “Internet: Incubator of 9/11 Conspiracies and Disinformation” in which he juxtaposed websites showing violent militants with the website of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a compendium of scientific research conducted by scholars and supported by 800 members.

The bill also authorizes a taxpayer-funded university-based Center of Excellence “to study the social, criminal, political, psychological and economic roots of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism in the United States and methods that can be used by homeland security officials of Federal, State, local, and tribal governments to mitigate violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism… [the Center] shall assist [these law enforcement officials] through training, education, and research in preventing violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism in the United States.” Why would a university- based center coordinate its activities with law enforcement? Embedding this operation in the university system brings to mind the chilling dismissal, recently, of tenured professors in both Colorado and Utah who published research on the Internet which exposed government lies.

Given the unlawful government surveillance of innocent American citizens that has been underway since at least January 2001, this bill raises concerns about freedom of thought, free speech, freedom to associate with others, Internet freedom, and the criminalization of so-called belief systems considered politically threatening by the militant corporate conglomerate which has already subverted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, militarizing local law enforcement, privatizing public assets, and converting the U.S. into a privately held corporation.

Will this National Commission spawn another McCarthy-style inquisition to silence dissent and ruin lives, interrogating citizens about their values, condemning them for guilt by association, and accusing them of being “homegrown terrorists?” There is too much at stake to wait and see what might result from the passage of this bill. If history is any indication, Hoover’s FBI did not use its authority to eliminate Organized Crime or Ku Klux Klan violence. It used its resources to silence, eliminate, and murder civil rights leaders, progressive activists, social critics, and even visionary musicians.

This bill would more appropriately be titled The Ideological Profiling Act of 2007, a bill to criminalize expressions of social conscience that conflict with the corporate security state.


From: Z Magazine - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives
URL: http://www.zcommunications.org/zmag/viewArticle/16314

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