The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) bill contains some controversial language that codifies the detention of anyone, including U.S. citizens, who is suspected of being a terrorist or supporting terrorists.
To be fair, the language of the bill specifically targets terrorists connected to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces. (But what does associated forces mean?)
Still, many citizens and advocacy groups are concerned that the U.S. government is increasingly using the label of terrorism to violate civil liberties. Of particular concern are the civil liberties that protect against indefinite detention without trial, seizure of assets without hearing and being monitoring (i.e. spied on) without warrant.
Moreover, the people targeted under the terrorism label are often only suspected (i.e. not proven) of terrorism or even suspected of only supporting terrorists.
For example, the language of the Patriot Act on domestic terrorists is broad enough to encompass the activities of several prominent activist campaigns and organizations like Greenpeace, Operation Rescue, WTO protesters and the Environmental Liberation Front, according to the ACLU.
Critics have also argued that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006 was written in such a way as to have a chilling effect on the exercise of the constitutional rights of protest, in the words of Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
So who does the U.S. government label as terrorists (aside from violent Islamic extremists)?
The FBI labels sovereign citizen extremists, who reject U.S. state and federal laws, as terrorists.
The FBI considers eco-terrorists and animal rights extremists to be one of the most serious domestic terrorism threats in the U.S. today. It specifically named the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
(As an aside, the FBI boasted that changes in law made after 9/11 has carried over into our investigations of... terror committed in the name of the environment.)
Another group labeled terrorists by the FBI is anarchist extremists. Specifically, the FBI cited those who rioted in the 1999 WTO meeting in Seattle.
One more group deemed terrorists by the FBI are the militia extremists. On this group's beliefs, the FBI wrote:
Many militia extremists view themselves as protecting the U.S. Constitution, other U.S. laws, or their own individual liberties. They believe that the Constitution grants citizens the power to take back the federal government by force or violence if they feel it's necessary. They oppose gun control efforts and fear the widespread disarming of Americans by the federal government.
The FBI noted that espousing the beliefs stated above is not a crime; however, advancing it through force or violence is.
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