Opinion Lack of domestic terrorism law creates an imbalance
Trump changed how the U.S. assigns the label ‘terrorist’ Can the Biden administration change it back?
Trump changed "designation" from a foreign policy tool to one aimed at influencing American public opinion. Presumably, the outgoing president was trying to tie the Biden administration’s hands in its future foreign policy. To understand how, and the consequences of last week’s decision, it is important to understand what “designation” is in the first place.
A domestic terrorism law, one that is narrowly tailored and fused with accountability and oversight safeguards that ensure civil liberties are preserved, is necessary. While there is a, prosecutors generally can’t charge individuals for the federal crime of terrorism unless there is an international nexus.
This creates an imbalance — one where the United States myopically focuses on charging individuals for providing material support to State Department-designated, like Somalia-based al-Shabab. There have been multiple prosecutions in America where Black Muslim men, hailing from places like Minneapolis, have been sentenced to for .
Marjorie Taylor Green, guns and domestic terrorism
Members of Congress should never be among those who espouse conspiracy theories, oppose all common-sense gun safety laws and foment the kind of hatred that may motivate acts of domestic terrorism. Instead, Congress should move forward with legislation addressing background checks, red-flag laws and domestic violence - among other factors - that will prevent gun deaths.Thomas Hixon is the vice president of the nonprofit Chris Hixon Athletic Scholarship Fund. He served as a Marine Corps officer.
In contrast, take the example of Jan. 6 when you have hundreds of politically motivated people, the bulk of whom are white, who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Those individuals, even those who committed violent acts, are going to spend far less time behind bars and never have the terrorist label affixed to them.
There are many examples, of course, that predate the Jan. 6 insurrection. There is the example of, the politically and racially motivated white supremacist who killed nine Black Americans while they were worshipping in a South Carolina church. Roof was never charged with an act of terrorism. You also have the case of , a white supremacist who was on the precipice of carrying out a major terrorist attack. Hasson was never charged with terrorism, and he’ll be walking the streets again. If the government had a domestic terrorism law, Hasson’s stay behind bars would have been longer.
Biden looks to FEMA to help combat domestic terrorism in wake of Capitol attack
The Biden administration is leaning on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help state and local authorities combat domestic extremism in the United States. © PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images The Department of Homeland Security logo is seen at the new ICE Cyber Crimes Center expanded facilities in Fairfax, Virginia July 22, 2015. The forensic lab combats cybercrime cases involving underground online marketplaces, child exploitation, intellectual property theft and other computer and online crimes. AFP HOTO/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J.
On both sides of this domestic terrorism law debate, there are clear racial equity issues. Federally protected groups of people are being killed but the murderers, often white people, are never charged for committing an act of domestic terrorism. The data is overwhelming. According to the, most acts of terrorism in the United States between 2008-18 have been perpetrated , which includes white supremacist-motivated violence. And the targets of this violence have been disproportionately directed at Black, Jewish, LatinX and the LGBTQ communities.
A domestic terrorism law won’t be a panacea, but it can help level the playing field that has too long been tipped in the wrong direction.
Jason M. Blazakis is a professor of practice at theand a senior research fellow at the . Follow him on Twitter:
Make domestic terrorism a federal crime: FBI Agents Association
Opposing View: Target acts of violence that have no place in the political discourse secured by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Law enforcement agencies are already authorized to investigate allegations and incidents of domestic terrorism. However, prosecutors can’t charge domestic terrorism the same way they’d charge kidnapping or bank robbery, because there is no penalty. Prosecutors are left searching for related violations where penalties exist, like weapons or narcotics violations. Calling out domestic terrorism for what it is promotes deterrence.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Why labeling domestic extremists 'terrorists' could backfire .
It is not clear that an official designation of domestic extremists as terrorists would confer additional benefits that would outweigh potential risks to U.S. civil liberties. Rather, it could exacerbate existing group tensions and grievances. Alternatively, a combined government effort that facilitates mitigation strategies to preempt violence by hate-groups, while also actively stemming the flow of online disinformation, may be a good first step in reducing homegrown extremism.David Stebbins is a senior policy analyst focusing on national security issues at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation.