Recently, some strong criticism has been voiced about a Congressional proposal entitled "The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act." While some valid points are being made, the fervor and attention being given the bill is disproportionate in light of greater and more urgent threats to civil liberties. Moreover, there is actually a good intent behind the bill: to study the potential problem of homegrown terrorism and develop a rational response. The bill would create a study commission. Rather than opposing the bill, civil liberties advocates should work to improve it and then, if it becomes law, to show the Commission and the public why dissent is an antidote to terrorism, not a precursor to it.
Summary of the Violent Radicalization Bill
The bill that is drawing attention is H.R. 1955
, written by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who happens to be one of the most thoughtful and approachable Members of Congress on issues of national security and civil liberties. The bill passed the House on October 23, 2007, by a vote of 404 to 6. A companion bill in the Senate is S. 1959
, introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), another respected and responsible lawmaker.
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