"War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength."- '1984'
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls present controls the past." – '1984'
"The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed—would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper—the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you." — '1984'
"It was curious to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same—everywhere, all over the world, hundreds or thousands of millions of people just like this, people ignorant of one another's existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same—people who had never learned to think but were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world." — '1984'
Story below the fold…
What I'm about to tell you could get me thrown in jail; by association anyone who contributes in the diaries, who comments, or who even has passively registered an account could be subject to scrutiny.
In George Orwell's '2007' Thought Police roamed the country searching for anyone who had a dissenting thought about the "Party" to prevent an opposition. History was revised to fit the policies of the "Party." People who dissented became "unpersons" and "telescreens" flashed propaganda of the "Party" 24/7 and allowed "Big Brother" to see and hear everything. The Party was divided into an "Inner Party" that controlled the upper eschelons of the Government and the "Outer Party" did the dirty work "Newspeak" was the language. Everyone was suspect and nothing was private.
Wait?! Did I say "2007?" I meant "1984," although considering the recent news [quoted below], the years are interchangeable. More importantly, thought crimes. While the "pro-family" groups constantly say we're going after their civil liberties of freedom of association, freedom of speech, and freedom of thought with our simple demands for equality and physical protection from those who would hurt us because of our sexual orientations, the truth of the matter is the real threat comes not from the religious right or the secular left. Instead it comes from the authoritarian and increasingly fascist version of our 'elected' officials drunk on ever increasing power. Remember the old saying "Absolute power corrupts absolutely?"
One would have thought that the systematic dismantling of the Constitution of the United States would have been enough to satisfy even the most Jacobin neoconservative, but there is more on the horizon, and it is coming from people who call themselves Democrats. The mainstream media has made no effort to inform the public of the impending Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. The Act, which was sponsored by Congresswoman Jane Harman of California, was passed in the House by an overwhelming 405 to 6 vote on October 24th and is now awaiting approval by the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is headed by Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. It is believed that approval by the committee will take place shortly, to be followed by passage by the entire Senate.
Harman's bill contends that the United States will soon have to deal with home grown terrorists and that something must be done to anticipate and neutralize the problem. The act deals with the issue through the creation of a congressional commission that will be empowered to hold hearings, conduct investigations, and designate various groups as "homegrown terrorists." The commission will be tasked to propose new legislation that will enable the government to take punitive action against both the groups and the individuals who are affiliated with them. Like Joe McCarthy and HUAC in the past, the commission will travel around the United States and hold hearings to find the terrorists and root them out. Unlike inquiries in the past where the activity was carried out collectively, the act establishing the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Commission will empower all the members on the commission to arrange hearings, obtain testimony, and even to administer oaths to witnesses, meaning that multiple hearings could be running simultaneously in various parts of the country. The ten commission members will be selected for their "expertise," though most will be appointed by Congress itself and will reflect the usual political interests. They will be paid for their duties at the senior executive pay scale level and will have staffs and consultants to assist them. Harman's bill does not spell out terrorist behavior and leaves it up to the Commission itself to identify what is terrorism and what isn't. Language inserted in the act does partially define "homegrown terrorism" as "planning" or "threatening" to use force to promote a political objective, meaning that just thinking about doing something could be enough to merit the terrorist label. The act also describes "violent radicalization" as the promotion of an "extremist belief system" without attempting to define "extremist."
As currently envisioned, the Commission will not operate in perpetuity. After the group has done its work, in eighteen months' time, a Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism will be established to study the lessons learned. The center will operate either out of the Department of Homeland Security or out of an appropriate academic institution and will be tasked with continuing to monitor the homegrown terrorism problem and proposing legislation and other measures to counter it.
As should be clear from the vagueness of the definitions, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act could easily be abused to define any group that is pressuring the political system as "terrorist," ranging from polygamists, to second amendment rights supporters, anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, and peace demonstrators. In reality, of course, it will be primarily directed against Muslims and Muslim organizations. Given that, there is the question of who will select which groups will be investigated by the roving commissions. There is no evidence to suggest that there will be any transparent or objective screening process. Through their proven access both to the media and to Congress, the agenda will undoubtedly be shaped by the usual players including David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, and Frank Gaffney who see a terrorist hiding under every rock, particularly if the rock is concealing a Muslim. They and their associates will undoubtedly find plenty of terrorists and radical groups to investigate. Many of the suspects will inevitably be "anti-American" professors at various universities and also groups of Palestinians organized against the Israeli occupation, but it will be easily to use the commission formula to sweep them all in for examination.
Another aspect of this heinous Bill is that the Bill declares in Section B, Paragraph 3 "The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens." [Full text] Considering all of the above, blogs, political organizations, religious organazations that post information on the Internet are all subject to being deemed terrorists. We can even be deemed terrorists by virtue of association.
The Violent Radicaization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act passed in the house October 23rd at 5:06pm. The vote was 404 to 6. It's expected to pass by a large majority in the Senate.