Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Rep. Harman Takes Swipe at ACLU Over Terrorism Bill
Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. took a shot at the American Civil Liberties Union today over its opposition to a terrorism-related bill.
The legislation in question, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (H.R. 1995). would set up a commission to examine the root cause of terrorism.
It is the bill’s reference to “homegrown terrorists” that irked the civil liberties group, which says the law could be used to crack down on free speech in the United States.
Not so, says Harman, chair of the Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence, in her sharply worded letter to Caroline Fredrickson, the ACLU’s top lobbyist.
The bill, which has already passed the House, “is not about interfering with speech or belief – the hearing record makes that abundantly clear” Harman wrote.
She then questioned why the ACLU bothered to write to her with suggested revisions when Fredrickson made it clear that it wouldn’t support the bill even if the requested changes were made.
“This makes me wonder why you took the time to suggest changes … and, frankly, whether anything I and committee members have been saying for months is being heard,” Harman added.
She concluded: “it seems counterproductive to invest more time in further meetings or negotiations when you have announced your steadfast opposition in advance.”
The ACLU responded by saying it still has concerns about the legislation.
“Law enforcement should focus on action not thought,” Fredrickson said. “We need to worry about the people who are committing crimes, rather than those who harbor beliefs that the government may consider to be extreme.”