News Release

New Domestic Terrorism Legislation “Would Make It Worse”

CHIP GIBBONS, chip@defendingdissent.org, @ChipGibbons89
Policy director at Defending Rights & Dissent, Gibbons recently wrote the piece “The Capitol Riot Was Bad Enough. New Domestic Terrorism Legislation Would Make It Even Worse” for Jacobin, which states that since 9/11, the U.S. government has erected a vast “apparatus in the name of ‘national security.’ Yet this security apparatus completely failed to thwart a plot carried out in plain sight.

“On top of that, just last summer, demonstrations against police violence and racism were repeatedly met with militarized police and wanton repression. In a country where you can’t even take expired suntan lotion past airport security, where Quakers organizing against the death penalty are surveilled in the name of ‘counterterrorism,’ and where police that resemble an occupying army — because they are literally equipped with gear from an occupying army — greet peaceful protests, it’s rational to wonder just how all of this could have happened.

“One thing is certain: the failure to prevent the Capitol attack is not because of a lack of police powers or anti-terrorism measures. Still, some people have wasted no time hijacking the moment to advocate new domestic terrorism legislation. A lawmaker in the solidly Democratic state of Maryland has proposed a state domestic terrorism statute, and others are sure to follow.

“This is not the first time in recent memory that far-right violence has sparked calls for new domestic terrorism legislation. The general uptick in violence that has plagued the Trump years, including the horrific white supremacist shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, has produced a steady drumbeat of demands for a new domestic terrorism law. Joe Biden’s campaign website put him on record as backing a new domestic terrorism law, though it’s unclear where he currently stands.”

Last year, The Intercept published Gibbon’s in-depth investigation: “FBI Opened Terrorism Investigations Into Nonviolent Palestinian Solidarity Group, Documents Reveal.”

See National Security Archives documents on FBI and NSA spying on Martin Luther King Jr.