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

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Domestic spying

Brian Doherty | 9.22.2021 1:43 PM

After the pro-Trump demonstrations and breach of the Capitol on January 6, the Biden administration is promising a new era of FBI snooping, harassment, and provocateuring.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in a statement released on Tuesday that his FBI "has surged resources to our domestic terrorism investigations in the last year, increasing personnel by 260 percent." Those remarks are bad news for anybody who is worried about federal overreach.

The events of January 6, Wray said, prove "a willingness by some to use violence against the government in furtherance of their political and social goals." Furthermore, "the insular nature of their radicalization and mobilization to violence and limited discussions with others regarding their plans," Wray said, "increases the challenge faced by law enforcement to detect and disrupt the activities of lone actors before they occur."

Of course, experience shows us that when it comes to the FBI, "detect and disrupt" often means "encourage and then arrest" people who were no real threat until the FBI itself goaded them. Deciding beforehand that a set of people with certain beliefs inherently require more probing federal investigatory eyes all but guarantees a repeat of the sort of harassment of Muslims in the U.S. that followed 9/11.

As reported in The Huffington Post:

The FBI has more than doubled its domestic terrorism caseload in little more than a year and a half…"from about 1,000 to around 2,700 investigations," Wray said….The Biden administration is seeking more than $100 million in new Justice Department spending to address "emerging domestic terrorism threats," including $45 million for the FBI to add more than 80 new special agents and nearly 100 new FBI positions to help "detect and disrupt domestic terrorism (DT) threats nationwide."

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........

© Reason.com

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