Concerns About New Domestic Terrorism Laws Come from Multiple Angles

Headline Roundup January 26th, 2021

New domestic terrorism laws are being discussed following the Capitol breach on Jan. 6, but concerns about government overreach are surfacing. The Biden administration announced its strategy for fighting domestic terrorism last week; White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called it "a serious and growing national security threat." A bill was also introduced in the House last week aiming to "authorize dedicated domestic terrorism offices" within government institutions. Others soon spoke out against expanding federal national security powers. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said new domestic terror laws would jeopardize civil rights and minority groups, and former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said more federal security powers would create an oligarchy and endanger personal freedoms. Government attention to the issue isn't all new; in 2019, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to "create a federal domestic terrorism crime," a move that sparked similar concerns.

Some coverage from left-rated sources focused specifically on analyzing how the proposed laws could hurt minority groups. Some reports from right-rated sources concentrated on Gabbard's comments and general concern that the laws could undermine civil liberties. Other coverage tied the issue to separate concerns about media censorship and sovereignty.

From the Left

An expanded no-fly list. New crimes put on the books. Increased use of the death penalty.

These are some of the ways that politicians, pundits and law enforcement want to head off a repeat of the 6 January attack on the Capitol. But a renewed national security push aimed at addressing domestic terrorism has civil liberties groups steeling themselves, concerned that moves to combat far-right extremism will instead redound against communities of color and leftwing activists.

Last summer’s racial justice protests jump-started a national conversation over the endurance of racism...

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From the Right

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...

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From the Center

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a co-founder of The Intercept, argued on Monday that media censorship had overstepped a line in its attempts to prevent domestic terrorism.

Appearing on Hill.TV's "Rising" on Monday, Greenwald opined that the proposed legislative response to the deadly Capitol riot on Jan. 6 was not necessary as the legal infrastructure to combat it already existed in the U.S.

Greenwald pointed to the response after the 9/11 terrorist attack where several laws expanded the definition of supporting terrorism. People, particularly Muslims, who disagreed on U.S. foreign policy and...

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