Capitol Riot

More than 100 Civil Rights Groups Agree: We Don't Need New Domestic Terrorism Laws

Their letter to Congress warns about inevitable abuses against religious and racial minorities.

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Civil rights groups across the country are urging President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Congressional Democrats, not to pass new laws to address any potential threats from white nationalists emboldened by and loyal to former President Donald Trump.

In a letter dated Tuesday, 135 civil rights organizations—ranging from religious groups, immigration advocates, and LGBT organizations to the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—expressed their concerns about calls to pass new criminal laws in the wake of the riot and temporary invasion of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters:

The Justice Department (DOJ), including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has over 50 terrorism-related statutes it can use to investigate and prosecute criminal conduct, including white supremacist violence, as well as dozens of other federal statutes relating to hate crimes, organized crime, and violent crimes. The failure to confront and hold accountable white nationalist violence is not a question of not having appropriate tools to employ, but a failure to use those on hand. To date, DOJ has simply decided as a matter of policy and practice not to prioritize white nationalist crimes.

The letter is necessary because Biden and his administration came into the White House already planning to focus on domestic terrorism, and one possibility the transition team was mulling over is the Confronting Threats of Domestic Terrorism Act, H.R. 4192, which was introduced in 2019 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D–Calif.).

The act establishes new offenses whenever somebody commits a violent crime "with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government." The law covers crimes such as kidnapping, murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon, as well as property damage that "creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person."

The signatories on the letter know exactly where this kind of legislating leads. We literally just said goodbye to a president who ordered the Department of Justice to use every federal law it could against antifa protesters. The letter observes:

These bills and others with similar provisions are the wrong approach because, as we have seen, they will continue to be used as vehicles to target black and brown communities as they have done since their inception. The federal government has no shortage of counterterrorism powers, and these powers have been and will be again used to unjustly target black and brown communities, including Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities, as well as those engaged in First Amendment-protected activities. The creation of a new federal domestic terrorism crime ignores this reality and would not address the scourge of white nationalism in this country.

The letter writers are not without congressional allies. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D–Mich.) sent a lengthy letter of her own to congressional leaders, co-signed by nine other Democrats in the House (including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), warning that the federal government's national security powers should not be expanded. Tlaib writes in part:

While many may find comfort in the increased national security powers in the wake of this attack, we must emphasize that we have been here before and we have seen where that road leads. Our history is littered with examples of initiatives sold as being necessary to fight extremism that quickly devolve into tools used for the mass violation of the human and civil rights of the American people…

I took note yesterday that following the Sept. 11 attacks, many of the new authorities the federal government granted itself in order to fight terrorism ended up being used to surveil and track Americans through NSA records collections and Department of Homeland Security fusion centers. While it is a relief that many people with connections to the incoming majority see the danger of expanding federal policing authority, Biden has a lengthy history of support for harsh enforcement. What he does here will show us if he has truly changed his ways and come around on criminal justice reform.

NEXT: Saying Trump 'Provoked' the Capitol Riot With 'Lies,' Mitch McConnell Tries To Distance His Party From a Dangerous Demagogue

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  1. like it matters.

    1. @JohnBrennan: Biden intel community “are moving in laser-like fashion to try to uncover as much as they can about” the pro-Trump “insurgency” that harbors “religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists, even libertarians” pic.twitter.com/SjVXWhPhR8
      — Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 20, 2021

      1. You beat me to it. I wanted to inform the Reason staff, in particular Sullum, that all their TDS pearl clutching is not going to save them from the gulags.

        1. What’s funnier, that Privileged Liberals group Libertarian in with The Others or that Arthur L. Kirkland will be rounded-up and deprogrammed for his Libertarian thoughts.

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      2. I truly hope that before we are carted off to the gulag for voting Libertarian we get to see the Reason staff go ahead of us.

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  2. The quoted portions of that letter are very racist. They seem to be focused on skin color much more than anything else.

    1. Whatever gets them to do the right thing.

      1. Sadly, I have to agree with you both. It is extraordinarily racist – and is probably what is required to keep Democrats from passing some really bad and counter-productive laws.

        1. It’s also true. Laws like this always end up being used against the powerless not the powerful. I don’t necessarily think it is racist to point that out.

          It’s also just good practice to root objections to a policy in terms of how it conflicts with other policy objectives.

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      2. If you have to lie about why you’re doing the right thing, then you may not be doing the right thing. Turning everything into a problem only because it produces imbalanced racial outcomes is not a reason to protect civil liberties. Because the alternate suggestion is that if we could show the laws don’t produce imbalanced outcomes, then the invasion into our civil liberties is justified.

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  3. Except for the media and politicians whipping people up into an emotional “DO SOMETHING!” state.

    Try telling them we don’t need moar lawz.

    1. You got what you wanted buddy. These effects of the last election were well known. While you were busy creating hyperbolic strawman to attack the current president, you intentionally ignored the problems with your favorite to win. Even when you were told about Biden’s policies, you ignored it. You got the win buddy. Feel proud of yourself.

      1. Then likewise, congrats on your support of inciting a riot at the capitol which gave lawmakers the cover they needed to enact more security laws.

        1. Fucking idiot …

      2. Awoman (the word amen has been criminalized).

        1. Shit, I replied to the wrong comment. See what you made me do?

  4. Why should the Democratic leadership today care about what 100 civil rights groups want?

    1. Not a whit, because they’ve got the partisan ramrod.

      Just as the Republicans would, despite the warnings of 100 civil rights groups, use undivided government to enact their political wish list.

      This isn’t an argument over principle, since taking advantage of policy is what politicians do. It’s an argument over policy. Both teams will use the same tactics, given the opportunity.

      Don’t pretend otherwise and expect anyone to believe you.

      1. No, you’re mindless platitudes are so much more convincing

        1. Better than your links to conspiracy nonsense.

          1. not really, no

      2. You keep blaming republicans for everything today. Why? Are you capable of ever putting blame on the actors promising openly to take away your freedoms? you have no principles. Your principles allowed you to advocate for someone who was promising to erode your freedoms more than the other guy. You didn’t care. Your principles suck.

      3. ‘Just as the Republicans would, despite the warnings of 100 civil rights groups, use undivided government to enact their political wish list’

        Except they didn’t.

    2. Because they have a deep seated respect for the issue of civil liberties/rights. Obama promised to do away with the Patriot Act and he did and that is why we need this new domestic terrorist bill. They loved civil liberties so much that the Obama admin gave the traitor Snowden a full pardon and a medal of freedom. And just look at Joe’s record as a Senator allowing all those icky thugs off the hook with light sentences after seeing how harshly his own son was treated by the authorities.

      1. Except that nearly all of it was re-enacted and signed by Obama in 2015.

        1. That is the only except? My entire post was complete bullshit just like the lips service the Dems give toward civil liberties.

          1. Without the /sarc tag, it can often be impossible to tell the difference between sarcasm and actual thought processes of about half the population. Sad, I know, but that is what we have come to.

  5. And it will only be enforced on libritarian and Republicans.

  6. This is a pleasant surprise. It’s like we’re finally learning from history and it’s glorious. Now we just need to start rescinding some laws.

    Of course dems will push vast new government programs to help the needy that only end up creating more poverty and dependence. This lesson may take another cycle to make it through into public consciousness. But when it does – people will realize it’s all or nothing and demand an end to even social security and medicare.

    1. Sure they will.

  7. And this will matter why? The thing about being able to disappear what the opposition says, is you don’t have to worry about backlash for your actions.

  8. Gotta love how a massive 9/11 attack is now equivalent to the American people protesting. Good for the Democrats to finally stand up against the tyranny. I guess some do have boundaries.

    Now if they’d just honor the U.S. Constitution by keeping their governing “plans” more local (out of the federal) this nation just might correct itself.

    1. https://reason.com/2021/01/18/carjacker-beaverton-mom-kid-waiting/#comment-8710844
      Model TJJ2000 Dictatorbot believes that the USA already is (and should be) a 1-party dictatorshit! That the USA HAS BEEN a 1-party dictatorshit for some 200 years!!! There is NO point in trying to persuade the Model TJJ2000 Dictatorbot of ANYTHING! Almost ALL of the circuits of the Model TJJ2000 Dictatorbot have gone kaput, big-time!

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      1. dafuq?

        go back to peddling your skin flute nonsense.

  9. The act establishes new offenses whenever somebody commits a violent crime “with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government….” The law covers crimes like kidnapping, murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon, as well as property damage that “creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person.”

    Well, that about wraps it up for BLM if this passes.

    1. …and if it’s enforced impartially.

      How likely does that seem?

      1. What are you talking about Joe and Kamala love locking up minorities?

        1. They have repented and seen the light…though they reserve the right to unsee the light if the polls so indicate.

    2. They’ve served their use.

  10. “the scourge of white nationalism in this country”

    So, no new laws, but use the existing laws to pursue “white nationalists.”

    A term which describes some actually existing people and groups, though I anticipate they’ll broaden the term to mean “someone we don’t like” or “someone who isn’t woke enough, or who misses the most recent woke trend” or “someone who isn’t a Democrat.”

    1. Exactly. Fuck these people. They can’t even make a cogent argument about civil liberties without frontloading it with TO BE SURES(tm).

    2. Or, inevitably, “anyone white.”

      1. Not to mention Uncle Toms, Oreos, etc.

    3. They should call it the Jeff Foxworthy Law:
      If you have ever said the Pledge of Allegiance, you may be a white nationalist.
      If you have ever said “Merica!”, you may be a white nationalist.
      If the sight of Old Glory fills you with pride, you may be a white nationalist.
      If you object to destroying statues to Lincoln and Columbus, you may be a white nationalist.
      … and so on.

  11. Too bad what we think no longer matters.

  12. Biden has already made his position on free speech clear
    The ldt way, or the highway.

    https://thefederalist.com/2021/01/20/read-the-1776-report-on-america-joe-biden-deleted-the-instant-he-became-president/

    1. Not sure where that typo came from – – –
      ldt = dem

  13. Most blacklisting plaintiffs – victims of legitimate Cointelpro felony crimes – are stopped at the Appeals Court level. We vitally need legislation to waive most court fees for “constitutional lawsuits” challenging unconstitutional authority. There is a loophole where plaintiffs aren’t poor enough to qualify for legal aid but too poor to risk an appeals court case (especially in pro se constitutional lawsuits). There is no indication Congress will enforce Cointelpro felony crimes by rogue federal officials.

    For example: a victim of Cointelpro felony crimes, perpetrated by federal officials, can start a pro se lawsuit for about $500. The lower level federal court deems it a credible case and allows an appeals court challenge. If the pro se plaintiff loses the appeals court case, the plaintiff could be charged $11,000 in court fees. This loophole is why there has never been any accountability for disloyal homeland security officials in nearly 20 years.

  14. Why would they bother with laws when they can just text the silicon valley oligarchs and have the suspect disappeared without the bother of an arrest and trial?

  15. “The failure to confront and hold accountable white nationalist violence is not a question of not having appropriate tools to employ, but a failure to use those on hand. To date, DOJ has simply decided as a matter of policy and practice not to prioritize white nationalist crimes.”

    So, it is not that they are against laws readily lending themselves to government abuse, they are just ticked off that these laws are not being adequately used to effect the mass arrest white people …. er, nationalists.

    The entire article makes it seem like these self-proclaimed “civil rights” groups are taking a principled stand, when in fact they are simply cheerleading for government encroachment provided the people on the chopping block are white …. er, nationalists.

    1. This argument didn’t work for gun control either

  16. “The entire article makes it seem like these self-proclaimed “civil rights” groups are taking a principled stand, when in fact they are simply cheerleading for government encroachment provided the people on the chopping block are white …. er, nationalists.”
    And somehow Scott didn’t notice.

  17. Off subject but just saw John brennan said the war on domestic terrorist will include not just proud boys and kkk and even libertarians. Reason is now a terrorist organization. Sleep with dogs and you will get bit. Hahahaha you fools authoritarians always shoot those who supported them. They cant be trusted

    1. Reason’s in no danger there. Seen the headlines over the past year? Notice the lack of any article on the recent Twitter/Facebook purge? They are in good standing with the Party.

    2. How do you upvote comments on this site?

  18. “The act establishes new offenses whenever somebody commits a violent crime “with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government.” The law covers crimes such as kidnapping, murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon, as well as property damage that “creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to any other person.”

    After a whole summer of doing just this, there is no way this law, which would be properly used against BLM/Antifa, will possibly pass.

  19. Civil liberty groups need to factor this fact into their remedies, without violating the First Amendment:

    Years ago there were basically 4 television news channels (NBC, CBS, ABC and PBS). Those 4 networks were required to comply with the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine” and “Equal Time” guidelines. Right-wing radio was essentially “Paul Harvey” who never practiced vicious demogagary of his fellow Americans. Even the most violent prone Americans were receiving real “fair & balanced” news coverage, unlike today’s media. Most of the older generation were receiving American “Civics Education” in school, explaining debate, compromise and checks & balances to prevent absolute power.

    Today we can view news channels that only agree with us, listen to radio shows that only agree with us and according to recent surveys many high-school students can’t even identify the three branches of government or even understand how the American system works. Or that it requires a “constitutional amendment” to change the meaning of the “constitutional rule of law”.

    Simply getting rid of Trump accomplishes nothing. In fact Trump is likely to follow G. Gordon Liddy’s career path into talk radio. In 2024, Trump could incite his supporters even more.

    How do we solve this crisis without violating the First Amendment and Bill of Rights?

    1. How do we solve this crisis without violating the First Amendment and Bill of Rights?

      Admit the truth. The left is fascist.

  20. If they didn’t want this, why’d they work so hard to defeat the guy who stood in the way of it?

  21. Only the beginning. Reason wanted it, Reason gets it. How’s it going sullum?

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  23. President Biden called out racism and white supremacy and of course a GOPer was offended and insisted to the Fox propagandists that Biden was calling GOPers white supremacists.

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  25. Wouldn’t Schiff’s law, as it’s worded have applied to the groups at UC Berkley who threatened to riot unless a speech by Ben Shapiro (having been invited by another group on campus) was cancelled?

  26. You, at Reason, got what you wanted and should have been smart enough to see that it would be much worse than an abrasive POTUS

  27. Civil liberties groups are currently a joke. They are merely parrots of the prevailing leftist dogma like most every other organization, including this site. They are without principles. They are religious zealots without seeing it.

  28. We should be worried about inevitable abuses against individuals rather than against [insert Collective Here].

  29. This might actually be a good opportunity to moderate the progressive/socialist wing of the Democrats. They’re worried about civil rights for minorities, but surely they realize these kinds of laws affect all of us. Maybe they can be taught that the very same big government that violates our civil liberties isn’t the best avenue for creating their conception of a more equitable economy either.

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  31. “More than 100 Civil Rights Groups Agree: We Don’t Need New Domestic Terrorism Laws”

    Democratic majority

    “Go fuck yourself, and white people who sign this kind of pledges are white supremacists”

  32. Those laws for domestic retaliation and retribution will have little to know effect when the dollar collapses and the economy with it.

  33. It sounds like a mockery, but let’s see what comes of it.

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