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While domestic terrorism is defined in federal law, it is not criminalized as such — unlike international terrorism. Nor, significantly, does federal law prescribe a formal designation process for domestic terrorist organizations, as it does for foreign terrorist organizations. There are very good reasons for this, several of which I outlined in an NRO column during the Charlottesville mayhem.
There are federal-law processes for designating foreign and international terrorism because defending against foreign threats to national security is primarily a federal responsibility. The foreign-terrorist designation process helps the United States to deter and punish activities over which we might otherwise have no jurisdiction — including activities that occur completely or primarily outside U.S. territory (e.g., the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa and the 2000 bombing of a naval destroyer in Yemen). This is not something the states can effectively address.
It makes international terrorism saliently different from domestic terrorism, the activities of which unquestionably violate a plethora of state laws.
The designation of foreign terrorist organizations exploits the fact that their operatives do not have the same degree of constitutional protection as American citizens. Much as we revile domestic terrorists, we do not want Americans — citizens, presumed innocent, fully protected by the Constitution — treated the same way, particularly when they are easily investigated, infiltrated, prosecuted, and imprisoned under domestic law, primarily state law.
For the most part, foreign terrorists are aliens. There is a smattering of U.S. nationals among them, but because foreign terrorist organizations are deemed foreign powers, Americans who act as their agents operate in an ambit of heightened federal national-security power.
Terrorism is often bound up with dissent against our country and our government’s policies. . . . When protest is internal, when it is engaged in by Americans against the government and other groups of Americans, it often involves constitutionally protected political speech and assembly. Moreover, our regard for the privacy interests of our fellow Americans — even those who have come to hold their own country in contempt — is considerably higher than it is for foreign actors, and that limits the degree of surveillance and other police intrusion we are willing to abide. After all, the Constitution is a guarantee of the inherent rights of Americans; it does not grant those rights, and therefore the government, in upholding the Constitution, does not get to pick and choose which Americans are protected.
When it comes to national security, then, we do not want the federal government investigating the constitutionally protected activities of Americans unless there are solid grounds to believe they are serving a foreign power (including a foreign or international terrorist organization). This is not just an airy theoretical position. There is a dark history of federal-government excess in investigations of sedition. Probes involving Communist penetration of our government and violent political radicalism in our streets have infamously resulted in domestic spying against innocent Americans who, however misguided their policy preferences may have been, were neither traitors nor insurrectionists.
From a law-enforcement perspective, the best protection we have against domestic terrorism is state, city, and municipal police. They are vastly more numerous than federal law-enforcement agents. (We have, for instance, approximately 35,000 police officers in New York City alone, but fewer than 14,000 FBI agents in the entire country.) The locals have more and often better intelligence sources at the street level, where domestic terrorism occurs, than their federal counterparts. Indeed, this is why the FBI invites robust local law-enforcement participation in its Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which are designed to combat both international and domestic terrorist operations on U.S. soil.
Let’s close by getting back to the civil-rights concerns. I know this sounds crazy, but Donald Trump will not be president forever. In fact, he hasn’t been president that long . . . meaning, it was not so long ago that we were dealing with an Obama administration — and its media-Democrat pom-pom squads — that regarded limited-government conservatives, Second Amendment proponents, and many veterans returning from overseas military service as “right-wing extremists” who posed a threat of “domestic terrorism.” Someday, maybe sooner than we’d like to think, Democrats are going to be in power again. Do we really want to give them enhanced federal powers to harass ideological opponents under the guise of “designating” domestic terrorist threats?
originally posted by: TinfoilTP
They are active in other nations, making them a global terror network.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither. He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.
originally posted by: dragonridr
a reply to: Plotus
I have explained several times declaring someone a domestic terrorist doesn't effect any of their rights to a trial. They must first do something that is domestic terrorism to event be arrested. The govt can't do anything without an act of terrorism. The only thing thus changes id if an individual does something they don't have to get a court order to access their phone records and don't need a warrant to enter their property. This is done to catch coconspirators and build a case for prosecutors.
In other words thus argument is fake news because the supreme court has established all US citizens get constitutional protection. They can't be detained without charges. They have the right to an atterney. They are free from investigation until an act is committed. To be honest being called a domestic terrorist gives little benefit to the got other then building a case for prosecution.