DOJ looking to tweak PATRIOT Act and prosecute anti-government “extremists”
In October with little fanfare the Justice Department created a new position to emphasize the threat the government says it faces from so-called domestic extremists.
“Homegrown violent extremists can be motivated by any viewpoint on the full spectrum of hate—anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs,” John Carlin, in charge of DOJ’s national security division, told a seminar on terrorism at George Washington University. The event was hosted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Carlin said government and law enforcement now consider individuals and groups opposed to the authority of the state to be the top terrorism concern, a threat he said overshadows Muslim extremism.
Carlin’s remark designating “anarchy” as “despicable” reveals that the government considers any opposition to the state to be terrorism. The word anarchy is derived from ancient Greek word anarchia, meaning without a ruler or centralized authority.
“I can say, based on our briefings, that as I said in my opening remarks, we very much think that the domestic terrorism threat is a real and present threat that demands to be addressed in new, creative ways,” Carlin said, adding that the “Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups in this space are very important.”
In 2010 Infowars noted the Department of Homeland Security considers the SPLC to be a de facto division of the federal government. Stewart Rhodes of the patriot group the Oath Keepers uncovered a document that lists Richard Cohen as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Cohen is the president and CEO of the SPLC.
“What does the working group do? Make recommendations on training and how to use all of the local resources—police, social services, media, NGO’s, you name it—to fight ‘extremism.’ So, now no need to file a FOIA request to discover that SPLC is writing the reports naming constitutionalists as possible terrorists. Now it is in your face and the mask is off,” Rhodes explained.
In April 2009 a document produced by the Department of Homeland Security, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” characterized patriot political groups that reject “federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or [reject] government authority entirely” as domestic terrorists.
Material Support for Terrorism to be Used Against Patriots
In early February Reuters reported Justice Department officials will ask Congress for a statute “to toughen the fight against anti-government extremists.” A similar law is currently used to prosecute individuals accused of providing “material support” for Muslim terrorist groups currently on the State Department’s list of international terrorist organizations.
The PATRIOT Act codifies material support as distributing literature, political advocacy and donating money to groups and individuals the government considers terrorists. An individual does not need to be involved in violence to be prosecuted. Moreover, the government does not need to “show that any specific act of terrorism has taken place, or is being planned, or even that a defendant intended to further terrorism,” according to an ACLU white paper.
“A different standard is being applied to Muslims than to other people,” a former counterterrorism expert at the Department of Homeland Security now working as a law enforcement consultant told Reuters.
Carlin said his team at the DOJ is taking a “thoughtful look at the nature and scope of the domestic terrorism threat” and helping to analyze “potential legal improvements and enhancements to better combat those threats.”
Reuters specifically mentions as anti-government extremism the non-violent civil disobedience of the group led by Ammon Bundy at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last month.
Last week Cliven Bundy and four others were indicted by a federal grand jury in Nevada on charges related to the 2014 “standoff”at the Bundy ranch. The charges include: conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, conspiracy to impede or injure a federal officer, weapon use and possession, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal law enforcement officer, obstruction, extortion to interfere with commerce, and interstate travel in aid of extortion.
Nevada Democrat Senator and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called the Bundy family patriarch a “domestic terrorist.”
The government considers the act of civil disobedience in Nevada to be a violent act. “This indictment sends a resounding message to those who wish to participate in violent acts that our resolve to pursue them and enforce the law remains unwavering,” Nevada FBI Special Agent in Charge Laura Bucheit said.
If the government gets its wish and is permitted to use the material support statute against non-violent constitutionalists, members patriot groups and those rejecting the authority of the state over the individual, supporters of Alex Jones and Infowars—characterized by the SPLC as extremist—may eventually be prosecuted as terrorists.