Inventing Terror at Home

by Cynthia McKinney
U.S. so-called "intelligence" agencies have always been in search of enemies, real and imagined. They are abetted in this evil enterprise by corporate media organs that spread domestic hysteria, and by a Congress that seems eager to classify all dissent as "homegrown terrorism." The author, a former congressperson and current presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket, dissects legislation that would classify as terroristic "the activities of many organizations of the civil rights era." By such definitions, "Dr. King's type of resistance to the U.S. version of apartheid could surely be considered homegrown terrorism."
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, a former congresswoman from Georgia, delivered the following remarks to the Muslim Legal Defense Fund, August 2, in San Jose, California.
"Dr. King's type of resistance to the U.S. version of apartheid could surely be considered homegrown terrorists."
Tonight, I want to talk a little bit about how a bad idea can get out of control and almost even become law, and what we all can do to prevent these things from happening.
On October 23, 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill that seeks to codify a punishment for a problem that does not even exist. At least not in the way envisioned by the bill's backers. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 received 93% of the House of Representatives vote, including support from every Member of the Congressional Black Caucus that voted, including from the only Muslim Member of the House. After securing 219 Democratic votes, H.R. 1955, introduced by California Representative Jane Harman, seemed on its way to the President's desk for signature.

Introduced in the House of Representatives on April 19, 2007, the Homegrown Terrorism Act should never have seen the light of day, but because of its author and its powerful backers, it sailed through the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile over in the Senate, Senators Susan Collins and Norm Coleman, both Republicans, introduced the Senate version of the House Bill in August 2007. With Democrats supporting it in the House and Republicans sponsoring it in the Senate, it seemed destined to become law.

The bill seeks to prevent the phenomenon that inspired its title, that is, radicalized homegrown terrorism, and expects us to accept as a fact because it says so, that the internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens. Now, how [Democratic U.S. Representative] Jane Harman could introduce this and debate it on the floor of the Congress and keep a straight face in light of CNN, FOX, and the constant bombardments from the corporate owned media has got to be a case study in comedic understatement in and of itself.

The bill goes on to define "violent radicalization" as the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change. Of course, under this definition, the activities of many organizations of the civil rights era could be characterized by a government so inclined as an organization of violent radicalization.

Homegrown terrorism is defined in the bill as the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. Since this government openly considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and spied on Martin Luther King, Jr. and played a hand in his murder, Dr. King's type of resistance to the U.S. version of apartheid could surely be considered homegrown terrorism by those unready for his vision of change.
"The activities of many organizations of the civil rights era could be characterized by a government so inclined as an organization of violent radicalization."
The bill defines "ideologically based violence" as the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

In short, the bill sets the stage for another attack on all of us, regardless of race and religion, who dare to dissent from the policies of this government, without regard to political party affiliation. As Dr. King stated, both political parties are disappointing. And the stage was set for this bipartisan bill by the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and by seven unsuspecting young black men in Florida.

Residents of Miami, Florida were shocked when they awoke to news on June 23, 2006 that law enforcement, including the FBI, had swept into town and arrested seven individuals for conspiring to commit terrorist acts, including maybe even blowing up the Sears Tower, one of the tallest buildings in North America. Residents were even more perplexed when they were told that warrants had been executed in the Liberty City area of Miami, a predominantly black and low-income area. CNN reported that residents in and around the area of the search warrants said that those in custody "called themselves Muslims and had tried to recruit young people." Now, of course, CNN is helping to establish an extremely low threshold for guilt.

CNN further reported that the suspect appeared to be in their 20s and had lived in the area for about a year. They even wore turbans - that's another of those magic words that's supposed to connote guilt--some neighbors reported. Even more perplexing though was the fact that neither weapons nor bomb-making materials were found. The announcement of the raid came on the very same date as a massive rally planned for the National Basketball Association Champions, the Miami Heat. Unnamed law enforcement sources leaked to CNN that the young people arrested were members of a radical Muslim group - there's that word again - and that at least one had taken an "al Qaeda oath" - in case Muslim alone wasn't sufficient - and had carried out surveillance of the Sears Tower. The unnamed law enforcement source indicated to CNN that the suspects thought they were dealing with an al Qaeda operative who was really a government informant and that the arrests climaxed the months-long undercover operation. And of course, the government's documents pertaining to the investigation were sealed.

Now, interestingly, on the very same day, a former director of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), the same organization recently visited by the presumptive Democratic nominee, admitted to planning terrorist acts against Cuba. Of course that admission received little or no media or law enforcement attention in Miami, or anywhere else.

Yet, the idea that the United States could be victimized by its own sons, violently radicalized by an extremist ideology, now had legs, arms, and faces. And the only thing it lacked was legislation. Legislation that would ensnare not only the useful patsies in Miami, but anyone who ran afoul of the authorities and against whom this characterization as a radicalized homegrown terrorist could be applied - just as earlier the term "enemy combatant" found its definition in U.S. citizen Yaser Hamdi, detained indefinitely as an "illegal enemy combatant" until the Supreme Court ordered his release.
"After the Liberty City Seven arrests, the characterization "homegrown terrorists" even became a part of the corporate press parlance."
Meanwhile, interestingly, in 2004 while the men behind Larry Silverstein were getting their $125 million in equity money back from the Port Authority for the World Trade Center leases, thereby giving them control over 10 million square feet of office space and no capital risk in the project, these same men were also negotiating the purchase of the Sears Tower for $840 million. The Sears Tower owners had cut rents in order to re-attract tenants after September 11th and with the news of the Liberty City Seven arrests, they faced additional challenges. And just a few weeks after the Liberty City Seven arrests, the characterization "homegrown terrorists" even became a part of the corporate press parlance.

U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta stated in the Department of Justice press release that the Liberty City group "had the intent and took several steps toward fulfilling their plan" but "the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force successfully performed its mission to prevent terrorism by identifying, disrupting and prosecuting these individuals before they posted an immediate threat to our nation." FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole remarked in the same press release that the arrests marked "yet another important victory in the war on terrorism," underscoring "the need for continued vigilance and cooperation."

So, the government sets up young people in Florida with a paid informant, and then busts them when nothing happens and proclaims victory and prosecutes the kids.

That was 2006. In the intervening two years, the Liberty City Seven have had two mistrials and our government promises to prosecute these hapless kids a third time. And while H.R. 1955 and its companion bill, S.B. 1959 have been delayed, we cannot yet claim victory that they have been denied.

It was the concerted effort of activists who saw the bills and read them - Henry Waxman's excuse for supporting the bill was that he hadn't read it - and challenged every one of the Members of Congress who voted yes.
"We all are being manipulated in this so-called War on Terror."
Average, ordinary citizens, enlightened by the outright lies of an Administration and disappointed by a complicit Congress agreed to serve on juries. People are becoming involved in their government. The only way, in fact, we can become a government of, by, and for the people is for the people to participate - like we've never participated before. In every aspect; in every way, to take our government back.

I hope it's clear that from innocent individuals caught up in government intrigue to high-sounding legislation introduced in Congress, we all are being manipulated in this so-called War on Terror. Innocent lives are made to pay an enormous price in defiance of truth, honesty, and justice. And because the defendants have no money of their own, public defenders are taking the case to the court over and over and over again-until justice is done.

At the same time that the government was losing its case against The Holy Land Foundation, it was also losing its case against the Liberty City Seven. And just as the War on Terror has actually wreaked terror on the lives of the innocent young men in Florida, so too is the situation with the case of the Holy Land Foundation that has wreaked terror on and yet brought hope to an entire community and its supporters.

There is no need for any further prosecution in the Holy Land Foundation case. In addition to the jury's findings, government misconduct is clear. When the government has to resort to cheating in order to present its case to an unrigged jury, then the government has no case. It is clear that the government thought that it could wave the word "Muslim" around, and in this climate of hyper fear, created by the corporate media, that was supposed to have been enough. The intonation of what the government called "foreign sounding names" was to strike xenophobia into the hearts and minds of the jury and render a guilty verdict a certainty.
"When the government has to resort to cheating in order to present its case to an unrigged jury, then the government has no case."
But it didn't work in Texas just as it didn't work in Florida. The Holy Land Foundation struck back because the Muslim Legal Fund of America responded quickly with skillful use of the law and your money. Unfortunately, the Holy Land Foundation case is just one of hundreds of cases that have been processed by the MLFA. But the MLFA is winning. And I know I'm strong when the MLFA is strong.

Today, while being profiled, discriminated against, and targeted by the government, Muslims in this country have to watch as both corporate political parties support missile diplomacy against other Muslim countries: bombs in Somalia, threatened bombs in Iran, incursions into Pakistan, occupation in Iraq, expanded war in Afghanistan, and silence in the face of death and destruction in Palestine.

Oftentimes I'm approached by members of the community, shocked by what they are witnessing in this country. And what I remind them of is this:

This country was founded on the genocide of another people. It accumulated wealth and power from the enslavement of an entire race. It expanded its empire by theft and chicanery, and saved itself from military defeat by exploding two nuclear devices on an Asian country. It has maintained its geo-strategically superior positioning by inflicting drug addiction on its perceived enemies abroad and by disabling dissent with drug addiction at home. It has blatantly murdered its perceived enemies and found every demographic measure on which to build division. Yet, it wants you to believe that while no other entity can be trusted, it still should be.

But when the Muslim Legal Fund of America puts its team in the courtroom and wins repeatedly, it becomes clear to individuals, almost in a simultaneous moment of enlightened consciousness, that the emperor really does not have on any clothes. And it is at this moment of critical analysis that the people can achieve real victory. The victory of the Liberty City 7; the victory of the MLFA in the Holy Land Foundation struggle - despite the failure of the government even to pay the public defenders - is testimony to the idea that the people, united, can win, even over the most oppressive forces.

As we speak, the people of Mexico are voting in a non-binding referendum that the government vowed would not happen, but the people are showing their power and voting anyway, saying no to U.S. efforts to steal their oil and electricity through privatization. Even while struggling under a massive international occupation and high-level U.S. insider corruption aiding and abetting the theft of Haiti's resources, including suspected off-shore oil deposits, Haitians are standing up for themselves every day and fighting back with people power and the power of the vote. Even as the U.S. Fourth Fleet heads south, the democratically-elected governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Nicaragua represent a dramatic and necessary turn away from domination by the north, all done with people power and the power of the vote.

What we do tonight, to harness the power of the people to protect all our rights, is the necessary work. However, our work here also helps people-powered revolutions for justice and dignity all over the world. Thank you for donating to the Muslim Legal Fund of America. Thank you for allowing us to make our stand inside this country. Thank you for believing enough in the struggle so that justice can prevail.

Green Party presidential candidate McKinney can be contacted through her website,