Allen B. West

What Congress is About to Pass Could Shut Down My Website

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We’ve recently brought to your attention two instances of nebulous language: the comments of retired General Wesley Clark about putting extremists in internment camps, and the new order making parts of our immigration naturalization oath optional for certain “religious” groups.

Words have meaning, and when they’re not specific, they’re left to interpretation. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has demonstrated such by redefining the taxing authority of the Congress, as well as what a State means when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. And now we have yet another example of dangerously nebulous language emanating from Capitol Hill.

If you’ve not read House Bill 2899, you should. This legislation would authorize the creation of a new government agency in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — as if we needed another. Incredibly enough, this new agency is being sponsored by the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Mike McCaul (R-Tx). The agency is charged with Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). Here are the troubling excerpts from the text of the bill:

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a) Establishment.—There is in the Department an Office for Countering Violent Extremism. The head of the Office shall be the Assistant Secretary for Countering Violent Extremism, who shall be appointed by the Secretary. The Secretary shall also appoint a career Deputy Assistant Secretary for Countering Violent Extremism. 

(b) Assignment Of Personnel.—The Secretary shall assign or hire, as appropriate, permanent staff to the Office for Countering Violent Extremism. In carrying out this subsection, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, seek to assign to or hire for the Office an individual who has a demonstrated background in technical matters, on and offline media, or marketing. 

(d) Responsibilities.—The Assistant Secretary for Countering Violent Extremism shall be responsible for the following:

(1) Coordinating the Department’s efforts to counter violent extremism across all the components and offices of the Department that conduct strategic and supportive efforts to counter violent extremism. Such efforts shall include the following:

(A) Identifying risk factors that contribute to violent extremism in communities in the United States and potential remedies for Government and non-government institutions.

(B) Identifying populations targeted by violent extremist propaganda, messaging, or recruitment.

(C) Managing the outreach and engagement efforts of the Department directed toward communities at risk for radicalization and recruitment for violent extremist activities.

(D) Ensuring relevant information, research, and products inform efforts to counter violent extremism.

(E) Developing and maintaining a Department-wide strategy guiding policies and programs to counter violent extremism. Such strategy shall, at a minimum, address each of the following:

(i) The Department’s counter-messaging program pursuant to paragraph (2), including a plan to leverage new and existing Internet and other technologies and social media platforms to counter violent extremism, as well as the best practices and lessons learned of other Federal, State, local, tribal, territorial, and foreign partners engaged in similar counter-messaging efforts.

(ii) The Department’s countering violent extremism-related engagement efforts.

(iii) The use of cooperative agreements with State, local, tribal, territorial, and other Federal departments and agencies responsible for efforts relating to countering violent extremism.

(iv) Ensuring all activities related to countering violent extremism fully respect the privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties of all Americans.

(F) Identifying and recommending new research and analysis requirements in coordination with the Under Secretary for Science and Technology and the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis and ensure the dissemination of information and methods for Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial countering violent extremism practitioners, officials, law enforcement, and non-governmental partners to utilize such research and analysis.

(G) Assessing the methods used by violent extremists to disseminate propaganda and messaging to communities at risk for radicalization and recruitment.

(2) Establishing a counter-messaging program to craft strategic counter-messages to the propaganda and messaging referred to in subparagraph (G) of paragraph (1) which shall—

(A) explore ways to utilize relevant Internet and other technologies and social media platforms; and

(B) maximize other resources available to the Department.

(3) Serving as the primary representative of the Department in coordinating countering violent extremism efforts with other Federal departments and agencies and non-governmental organizations.

(4) Serving as the primary Department-level representative in coordinating with the Department of State on international countering violent extremism issues.

(5) In coordination with the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, providing guidance regarding the use of grants made to State, local, and tribal governments under sections 2003 and 2004 under the allowable uses guidelines related to countering violent extremism.

(g) Violent Extremism Defined.—In this section, the term ‘violent extremism’ means ideologically motivated terrorist activities.

Here’s what I take issue with in this legislation: what, exactly, is violent extremism? Who will determine what actually qualifies as violent extremism?

Let’s be very honest here, the liberal progressive left has been very adept at defining as extremists and extremism anyone or anything that doesn’t agree with them. I’ve been called an extremist. Members of the House of Representatives have been referred to as extremists. Constitutional conservatives have been referred to as extremists. Veterans returning from overseas contingency operations — that is how the left redefined combat — have been referred to as extremists by the Department of Homeland Security under Janet Napolitano. Funny, the Obama administration held a conference on Countering Violent Extremism and invited groups related to the Muslim Brotherhood and certain Islamic clerics — but no Christian pastors.

This is a dangerous bill, and the vague language here is almost Orwellian with what could be severe ramifications.

Now, let me share with you the inside-the-beltway procedural issue. This legislation is supposed to be brought to the House floor under what is called, suspension of the rules. That means it’ll be a basic coming back to town roll-call vote with two-thirds majority. Everyone who knows House procedures realizes that you bring up legislation under suspension procedure because you believe that way, it won’t have major opposition. There is little to no committee vote and deliberation, and certainly not much House floor deliberation and debate. So, all of a sudden, the American people will awaken to learn there’s a new agency in the DHS to “counter violent extremism” — which, as you can see, is defined by a single lackluster sentence.

Someone tell me, what is “ideologically motivated”? Could it be construed that conservatism is ideologically motivated? No, I am not a conspiracy theorist. But I find this rather interesting in that President Obama cannot bring himself to say Islamic terrorism, Islamic jihadism, Islamism, or Islamo-fascism. Paragraph (g) is truly left open to anyone’s interpretation. What about environmental terrorists? What about the Occupy Wall Street crew or anarchists?

Why is there even a necessity to create another government agency — don’t we have an FBI responsible for such activities? Perhaps this just exists to allow this administration to target any belief system not willing to cow to their “fundamental transformation” of America. So, could this website even be considered violent extremism?

The is the last week for the House to be in session before recess adjournment in August. My recommendation is that you contact the House Homeland Security Committee and the House GOP leadership and share your concerns about this legislation. My issue is that “violent extremism” is just too vague. Consider this: the actions of Nidal Hasan — as well as the beheading of a woman in Moore, Oklahoma — wouldn’t even fit into this categorization, since the administration declared it “workplace violence.” Matter of fact, the Obama administration is even struggling to condemn the Islamic terrorist attack in Chattanooga as “violent extremism” — certainly President Obama has not said so.

Ladies and Gents, U.S. House of Representatives Bill 2899 (HB 2899) should not see the light of day; it must be killed. We do not need another agency in the DHS. Moreover, we certainly don’t need to give the government carte blanche to declare “ideological” enemies in such a nebulous manner.

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