A huge problem with claiming the government can violate rights or expand the power to stop unique threats of “terorrism” is that the term is meaningless. It is a word that is often stretched and twisted to justify violating the rights of anyone.

In the United States I have heard the term expanded to justify drug war activities against “narco-terrorists,” going after environmental activists labeled “eco-terrorists,” and aggressive actions against hackers who are now getting called “cyber-terrorists.”

Using terrorism as an ever expanding catch-all to justify action is quickly becoming an international phenomenon since the United States decided to create the precedent that rules don’t really apply once you invoke the “T” word. Just this week we have two examples. In the Ukraine, the corrupt president is going to shut down the protesters as part of an “anti-terrorist operation.” From LA Times:

In the wake of violence that claimed 25 lives and left hundreds injured, the Ukrainian government declared Wednesday that it was launching “an anti-terrorist operation” that some feared would escalate its conflict with pro-Western demonstrators.

“What is happening today is a conscious use of violence by way of arson, murder, hostage-taking and intimidation … for the sake of pursuing criminal goals,” the country’s security agency chief, Alexander Yakimenko, said in a statement published on the agency’s website. “All of that with the use of firearms. These are not just signs of terrorism but concrete terrorist acts.

Similarly, in Venezuelan a main opposition leader was just arrested on murder and terrorism charges.

If you start creating special rights-violating exceptions for “terrorists,” it won’t be long before people in power figure out a way to frame everything as terrorism.

Photo by victius under Creative Commons license

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at