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Is This Bill Discriminatory?

September 21, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Included in an authorization bill that the Senate Homeland Security Committee is marking up today is a provision that would require DHS to take special measures to counter violent domestic extremism, particularly among communities that practice a certain religion. Here’s the language:

(b) Designation of Official- Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall designate an official of the Department to coordinate efforts to counter violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism as identified in the 9/11 Commission Report.

[…]

(d) Report- Not later than 90 days after the date on which the Secretary designates an official under subsection (b), official designated shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives a report detailing—

(1) the strategy and activities of the Department to counter violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism as identified in the 9/11 Commission Report;

(2) which offices of the Department have significant responsibilities for countering violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism as identified in the 9/11 Commission Report;

(3) the number of employees of the Department employees whose time is fully or partially dedicated and the amount of funding dedicated by the Department to countering violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism as identified in the 9/11 Commission Report;

(4) the type of Department-sponsored activities and training for States and local governments, including products and activities associated with State and major urban area fusion centers, for countering violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism as identified in the 9/11 Commission Report;

(5) the metrics used to measure the effectiveness of programs or activities of the Department or sponsored by the Department aimed to counter violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism as identified in the 9/11 Commission Report; and

(6) the work of the Department to ensure that its activities to counter violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism as identified in the 9/11 Commission report, are in compliance with civil rights and civil liberties under applicable law.

This language is included in the bill despite the fact that the vast majority of domestic terrorist threats are unrelated to Islamic terrorism. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, " the FBI has reported that roughly two-thirds of terrorism in the United States was conducted by non-Islamic American extremists from 1980-2001; and from 2002-2005, it went up to 95 percent."

Pictured above is Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT], the sponsor of the bill. 

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