The following is not legal advice. Rebuilding Rome and the author do not provide legal advice or services.
The Capital Building storming has seen widespread outrage that crosses the political divide. One of the largest questions raised by this incident at the heart of the Capital is how could this occur?
Another crucial question was what could be done to prevent anything like the storming occurring again or a worse incident. This saw Joe Bidens inauguration have the largest military presence in the capital even including the American Civil War. The entire city was placed into a lockdown even more extreme then the Covid19 ones that have been occurring. Yet another large push has been heard from many leftist politicians and media figures for laws to make sure that these events and other negative right wing actions are brought back into line. Some called it the new Patriot Act. The first bill that is likely to be pushed through or used heavily for inspiration, is Bill S.894.
The reason that this bill should be viewed as important is due to it being one of the few ones that are currently public. Other bills are already being created that will boost powers however due to them not yet being presented we are left to rumours and limited public statements. Bill S.894 allows us to look directly at what is trying to be done and understand the mindset that future bills are coming from. Also crucially this bill contains the seeds to destroy American counter terrorism efforts and expose American citizens to a higher degree of risk.
Bill Primary Reference: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/894/text (We use the PDF version to provide page references)
The purpose of the bill initially appears that it can be found at the very start.
“To authorize dedicated domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to analyze and monitor domestic terrorist activity and require the Federal Government to take steps to prevent domestic terrorism.” 1S.894 pg 1 However without even reading more of the bill it is clear that this does not appear to be a good answer. The United States Federal Government already has numerous laws to deal with and monitor domestic terrorism. The bill cites other laws that are already in existence and the Patriot Act 2https://www.congress.gov/bill/107th-congress/house-bill/3162/text is well known for targeting these actions. Yet reading on from this bill you can find that the focus and purpose is different to that stated at the very start. It is much more focused and how it is approached adds important meaning to this bill.
The other way that this purpose section is not including other information will be detailed below.
This section details the numerous individuals that are part of creating this. (Mr. DURBIN(for himself, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Mr. BOOKER, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. COONS, Ms. DUCKWORTH, Ms. HARRIS, Mr. KAINE, Ms. KLOBUCHAR, Mr. MARKEY, Mr. WHITEHOUSE, Mr. SANDERS, Mr. SCHATZ, and Mr. REED) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary ) 3S.894 pg 1 However media support for this bill has started to increase. It was reference when the push towards creating new laws occurred.
The findings section of the bill details the evidence of right wing extremism mixed with Nazi and White Supremist violence4S.894 pg 2 . While this section is not unique the fact that the bill often jumps between what its focus is should be noted. This occurs throughout the rest of the bill. The numerous claims in this section are not something that we are going to go through. However one claim does catch the eye.
‘[F]atalities resulting from attacks by far right wing violent extremists have exceeded those caused by radical Islamist violent extremists in 10 of 1 the 15 years, and were the same in 3 of the years since September 12, 2001. Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 412, 2001, far right wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 7(27 percent).’’ 5S.894 pg 2-3
This sounds quite impressive and is used as evidence that right wing violent extremism is more of a threat. However is a flawed comparison. Right Wing means numerous different things depending on the data set. Catholic, Anglican or Baptist Christians could do these attacks along with atheistic elements of the right. Islamist is a smaller base group for any measurement. This offers a manipulated result as a religion is compared to a much larger group. On top of this it should be noted that the number of Islamic people in the United States is much smaller then other individuals who are right wing. 6https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/03/new-estimates-show-u-s-muslim-population-continues-to-grow/
With the fact that not an entire group is extremist you would expect the raw numbers to show that a larger group and larger numerical group would commit more acts. This claim is not presented in an honest way.
With the fact that this claim was presented in a dishonest way we recommend other look carefully at the rest of the Findings section of this bill 7S.894 pg 2-7 If one of these points seems to be telling a manipulated result for an argument then the rest of the evidence used to support the argument deserves a closer look.
The start of this section starts off with the boring but needed clarification. It highlights that domestic terrorism is different to foreign ones. Further it links to other laws that exist that are focused around extremism 8S.894 pg 8
The goal is to create a new agency or part of an agency, the bill is unclear. However it will then need to deliver a report that will be mostly public. The purpose of this is reference is so that the public could see progress it appears. 9S.894 pg 9-10
An interesting element of this report is what it must contain and what the focus is. It will just need to provide an assessment of the threat of white supremacist and neo nazis. 10S.894 pg 11 This does not mean it cannot contain other groups but it does not need to include this. Why other extremist groups are not including in this mandatory is an unusual choice. Yet then it goes further to demand just, neo nazi and white supremacist infiltration of the United States government. 11 S.894 pg 11
Once again it does not to look into other extremist groups and their infiltration of the government. It is interesting that this bill seems to support the belief that certain ideological groups can get power and position in all levels of the government. Perhaps even push policy that is hidden away from the general population.
Then it demands that reports are made for the past events that have occurred. 12 S.894 pg 12-13 However what it is seeking appears like something that would already be existing. Terrorism is something that Federal Offices have a keen awareness of especially in the post 9/11 world. Information such as how many incidents and attempted incidents would certainly already be collected and it seems odd/lazy to want it to be presented in a forced way.
It then moves onto looking at hatecrimes. It wants this new group to try and work out if any of the hate crimes that did not have terrorism related prosecutions should be included in the count. This is an interesting statement as it would inflate the number of terrorist related incidents and how they would determine something that legally did not meet the requirements to be terrorism but to include it in a terrorist count seems impossible. 13 S.894 pg 13-14
The bill states that information to the largest possible extent should be made public. This would easily be got around under existing protections for secrecy. This bill does not have the authority to go above that. 14S.894 pg 14 Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations have to post this report on their website 15 S.894 pg 14
Establishment of the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee:
This is the very important element of the bill. This appears to have been hidden away this is a very powerful section of the bill. The first element of this is that it must not meet less then 4 times a year (it calls this regular) 16 S.894 pg 15 This will then coordinate with United States Attorneys and other key officials across the country to combat domestic terrorism. It does not detail if they will be forced and what level of authority this Committee will have.
Focus on the greatest threat however highlights a massive jump in power of the bill. It would focus resource on the largest numerical amount of incidents. That is deeply concerning!
This means that it no longer would be focused on the severity of incidents but instead to focus on just the largest number of incidents. This is a major mistake and would leave America more vulnerable and misses the true danger of these attacks. 17S.894 pg 15
Training To Combat Domestic Terrorism:
This details how resources should be given to all levels of the government to be able to deal with domestic terrorism. However notably it only allows investigations into White Supremacists and Neo Nazi infiltration. All other extremism infiltration appears to not be investigated. 18 S.894 pg 16 What exactly the focus is on will be determined by the report that was mentioned earlier in the bill. This training that occurs when then be put into another report including all the material and also the names of who has done the training. This has to be done within 1 year of the bill being passed. 19 S.894 pg 16-17
Combating Domestic Terrorism Through Joint Terrorism Task Forces and Fusion Centres
This appears to be giving the new group that they established above the real power. This makes the committee able to;
“(1) share intelligence to address domestic terrorism activities;
(2) conduct an annual, intelligence-based assessment of domestic terrorism activities in their jurisdictions; and
(3) formulate and execute a plan to address and combat domestic terrorism activities in their jurisdictions.”20S.894 pg 18
This means that other groups appear to be force to work with this new committee and also at the end of this it once again uses the flawed logic of numerical amounts of incidents instead of severity. 21 S.894 pg 18
Inter agency Task Force:
This once again hyper focuses on just White Supremacist and Neo Nazi Infiltration of the uniformed services. It would make the Attorney General, Director, Sectary, and Sectary of Defence be forced to establish a task force to just deal with that. 22 S.894 pg 19 Once again it seems strange that those two groups are focused on and others are not.
At the end of the bill it provides a blank check to any relevant authorities to use what funds are necessary. 23 S.894 pg 19
This bill follows the standard tactics to hide the worse and most powerful elements by burying them deeper in the bill. While this bill did fail to pass there is a large amount of talk about pushing it through with the new president.
This strange focus on just white supremist violence (which is deeply concerning and should be dealt with) weakens what it is trying to do. A focus on numerical attacks instead of severity will ultimately cripple American counter terrorism responses. It is these ideological bills that do not factor in their consequences to score cheap points that hurt the United States.
It should be expected that more bad political bills will attempted to be passed. This need to be exposed and then challenged before their harm occurs. By just focusing on the political point scoring the end consequences do not vanish. Lawmakers need to understand this.