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September 22, 2021

'Domestic Terrorism' Fears Will Be Used To Justify Increased Snooping and Harassment
By Brian Doherty

Federal law enforcement officials and their allies often fret about the lack in many cases of specific "domestic terrorism" statutes that can be brought to bear when people commit certain crimes against a person or property. But in America, this is as it ought to be: Crimes against persons or property should be punished by law without worrying overmuch whether someone had a particular political thought or belief that motivated the crime. Indeed, despite how the protests and Capitol breach on January 6 have been used as a prime example of a domestic terror threat and inspired Wray's anxieties, the 650 arrested so far for their actions on that day have been charged just with the specific crimes they are alleged to have committed, without being formally characterized as domestic terror. For the 62 who have pled guilty already, the majority pled to "Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building" (though at least 50 of the other arrested face charges related to violent assaults on officers). That the charges for January 6 involved what the accused did and not what they believed is the right approach. Still, increased law enforcement focus on domestic terrorism predates January 6 and the Biden administration. America already saw in fiscal year 2020, as reported by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), "183 domestic terrorism prosecutions filed by U.S. Attorneys' offices around the country—the highest total since government tracking began a quarter of a century ago. This compares with 69 such prosecutions in fiscal 2017, the first year of the Trump Administration, 63 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2018, and 90 such prosecutions during FY 2019."

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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