Democrats’ War on Due Process and Terrorist Fearmongering Long Predate Orlando

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Democrats’ War on Due Process and Terrorist Fearmongering Long Predate Orlando

"Just spend a moment pondering how creepy and Orwellian [the phrase 'potential terrorist'] is in the context of government designations," writes Greenwald. (Photo: Rex Features via AP)

Before the bodies were removed from the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last week, Democrats began eagerly exploiting that atrocity to demand a new, secret “terrorist watchlist”: something that was once the domestic centerpiece of the Bush/Cheney war-on-terror mentality. Led by their propaganda outlet, Center for American Progress (CAP), Democrats now want to empower the Justice Department — without any judicial adjudication — to unilaterally bar citizens who have not been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime from purchasing guns.

Worse than the measure itself is the rancid rhetoric they are using. To justify this new list, Democrats, in unison, are actually arguing that the U.S. government must constrain people whom they are now calling “potential terrorists.” Just spend a moment pondering how creepy and Orwellian that phrase is in the context of government designations.

What is a “potential terrorist”? Isn’t everyone that? And who wants the U.S. government empowered to unilaterally restrict what citizens can do based on predictions or guesses about what they might become or do in the future? Does anyone have any doubt that this will fall disproportionately on certain groups and types of people?

The Democrats’ most extreme attack on due process comes, unsurprisingly, from that party’s supremely authoritarian Terror Warrior, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose bill would “give the attorney general the discretion to block a sale to a given individual suspected of involvement of some kind in terrorism.” In their effort to exploit Orlando and other recent mass shootings, Feinstein and the Democrats encountered a serious problem: Neither Omar Mateen, nor the racist Charleston killer Dylann Roof, nor numerous other mass shooters, were on any terrorist watchlist (Mateen was investigated by the FBI, which — rightly — closed its file on him in 2014 after it found no evidence of wrongdoing). So Feinstein wrote a special provision in her bill to obviate this objection, one empowering the attorney general to put anyone on the banned list “who has been investigated in the last five years for ‘conduct related to a Federal crime of terrorism’” — even if they were ultimately found to have done nothing wrong.

Read the full article at The Intercept.

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Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, constitutional lawyer, commentator, author of three New York Times best-selling books on politics and law, and a staff writer and editor at First Look media. His fifth and latest book is, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to his collaboration with Pierre Omidyar, Glenn’s column was featured at Guardian US and Salon.  His previous books include: With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the PowerfulGreat American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican PoliticsA Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, a George Polk Award, and was on The Guardian team that won the Pulitzer Prize for public interest journalism in 2014.

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