The heinous bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building inOklahoma City has understandably raised public fears of terrorism.As is common after sensational crimes, some persons have revivedtheir call for a bigger federal government and a narrowerConstitution. This Policy Analysis examines various restrictions oncivil liberty which have been proposed as a response to OklahomaCity.
- There is no terrorism crisis mandating that legislation behurried through Congress without careful consideration. Accordingto the FBI, there were no terrorist crimes perpetrated in theUnited States in 1994. In the last eleven years in the UnitedStates, there has been only one violent international terroristincident.
- Both the Clinton Clinton and Dole terrorism bills define almostall violent and property crimes, no matter how trivial, as"terrorist" offenses. The bills thereby federalize virtually theentire criminal law.
- Both bills eliminate all restraints on domestic use of themilitary, as well as jurisdictional restraints on IRS, BATF, andother agencies, for action against "terrorist" offenses.
- The bills allow in certain cases trials with secretevidence.
- The bills broadly expand wiretap authority, in some caseswithout court order, and allow some illegally gathered wiretapsinto evidence.
Since draconian legislation is sometimes justified as being whatthe people demand, two points should be kept in mind. First, alarge fraction of the population, not just a tiny fringe, is afraidof the federal government. According to a recent Gallup poll, 39percent of Americans believe "the federal government has become solarge and powerful it poses an immediate threat to the rights andfreedoms of ordinary citizens." If the word "immediate" is omitted,52% of the population is afraid of the federal government.
Contrary to stereotypes about "angry white men," people fearfulof misuse of federal power tend to be female more than male, blackmore than white, and liberal more than conservative. Repressivemeasures, rather than reassuring the American public, willintensify the fears which are already widely shared.
Second, in the aftermath of a tragedy, it is not hard forinsta-polls to report large majorities in favor of variousrepressive measures, especially when described at a high level ofgenerality, with all the repressive details left out. (For example,"Should the government have more power to keep an eye on terroristgroups?" will obtain higher poll numbers than "Should thegovernment be allowed to infiltrate non-violent, non-criminaldissident groups and be allowed to use wiretaps without a courtorder"?) In the long run, public officials are expected to exercisejudgement, and not blindly rush into measures which may haveshort-term popularity. The most thorough public opinion survey ofAmericans' attitudes towards Constitutional rights included thisquestion: "Suppose the President and Congress have to violate aConstitutional principle to pass an important law the peoplewanted. Would you support them in this action?" Twenty-eightpercent said yes, "because the Constitution shouldn't be allowed tostand in the way of what the people need and want." Forty-ninepercent said no, "because protecting the Constitution is moreimportant to the national welfare than any law could possiblybe."(1)
Indeed, the precise reason for putting certain fundamentalrights in the Constitution is to protect them from transientmajorities.(2) In long-term perspective, the herding of Americancitizens of Japanese descent into concentration camps during WWIIwas a horrible human rights violation.(3) But at the time, publicopinion and the press heavily favored the concentration camps,despite the total lack of evidence that these Americans weredisloyal. And certainly national security was in far graver dangerin early 1942 than it is today.
But because terrorism, like child abuse (or Communism inprevious decades) provokes such intense concerns, there istemptation to be careless in choosing the weapons to fight theseevils. From the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 to the Palmer Raidsin 1920 to McCarthyism in the 1950s, cynical politicians who havemanipulated popular fears of aliens and radicals have donetremendous damage to the lives of innocent people and to thefundamental principles of Americanism.
Today, Congress stands poised to repeat the mistakes of thepast, as vast numbers of people are smeared with guilt by (verytenuous) association. It is not often that one sees thePresbyterian Church and the American Friends Service Committeestanding shoulder-to-shoulder with the National Rifle Associationand Americans for Tax Reform.
That such diverse groups can find common ground, along withother organizations, to warn about the dangers of proposedlegislation sharply curtailing civil liberty should indicate justhow serious is the current threat to our Constitution.(4) PresidentClinton was right to characterize the Oklahoma City bombing as "anattack on our way of life." If Oklahoma City becomes a pretext forthe constriction of the Bill of Rights, then we will have handedterrorism a victory which it could never have won for itself.
There is No Terrorism Crisis
"By enabling terrorists to appear much stronger than they reallyare, the media often find themselves working Pour le roi dePrusse," observed one historian.(5) Contrary to the imagery of someirresponsible segments of the media (and their Congressionalanalogues), there is no need to legislate an atmosphere of panicand hysteria. According to the State Department, internationalterrorist attacks are at their lowest level in 23 years.(6) In theUnited States in the last eleven years, according to the FBI, therehave been only two international terrorist incidents. (One was theWorld Trade Center bombing; the other was a trespassing incident atthe Iranian mission to the United Nations, in which five critics ofthe Iranian regime took over the mission's offices, and refused toleave.)(7)
As for incidents of domestic terrorism, there were none in theUnited States in 1994, nor were there any preventions of terroristincidents. In 1993, there were 11 incidents classified by the FBIas "terrorist." Nine of those eleven incidents took place one nightin Chicago when animal rights activists set off small incideniarydevices in four department stores that sell fur.(8)
Combining domestic and international terrorism, and alsoaccounting for suspected terrorist acts, the total terroristincident count in the United State is as follows:
Terrorist Incidents in the United States
Actual Prevented Suspected
1994 0 0 1 1993 11 7 2 1992 4 0 0 1991 5 4 1 1990 7 5 1 1989 4 716 Of these incidents, only one (the 1993 World Trade Centerbombing) was classified as international in origin.(9)
The Oklahoma City bombing was one of the most terrible singlecrimes in American history, but it was just that: an isolated,single crime. It was emphatically not part of a trend towardsincreasing terrorism.
The British Tragedy
More government secrecy, more police powers to detain people atwill, less governmental accountability, and less freedom are notnovel responses to terrorism. They are precisely the approach thathas been taken in Great Britain since the early 1970s. The Britishlesson should be a caution to American politicians who feelconfident that the only thing wrong with anti-terrorism policy isthat the Bill of Rights has been taken too far.
In 1974, Irish Republican Army terrorists bombed pubs inBirmingham, killing twenty-one people. Home Secretary Roy Jenkinsintroduced the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill.Approved without objection in Parliament, the Bill was supposed toexpire in one year, but has been renewed every year. The Billincluded a smorgasboard of civil liberties restrictions, most ofwhich are now being proposed, with some variation, in the UnitedStates.
Under the Bill, the police may stop and search without warrantany person suspected of terrorism. They may arrest any person they"reasonably suspect" supports an illegal organization, or anyperson who has participated in terrorist activity. An arrestedperson may be detained up to forty-eight hours and then for fivemore days upon the authority of the Secretary of State.
Of the 6,246 people detained between 1974 and 1986, 87 percentwere never charged with any offense. Many detainees reported thatthey were intimidated during detention and prevented fromcontacting their families.
The Prevention of Terrorism Bill also makes it illegal even toorganize a private or public meeting addressed by a member of aproscribed organization, or to wear clothes indicating support ofsuch an organization.(10)
The Act allows the Secretary of State to issue an "exclusionorder" barring a person from ever entering a particular part of theUnited Kingdom, such as Northern Ireland or Wales. Persons subjectto this form of internal exile have no right to know the evidenceagainst them, to cross-examine or confront their accusers, or evento have a formal public hearing.(11)
The European Court of Human Rights ruled the Prevention ofTerrorism Act to be in violation of Article Five, Section Three ofthe European Convention on Human Rights, which requires suspects tobe "promptly" brought before a judge.(12) Nevertheless, the Britishgovernment refuses to abandon its preventive detention policy, andevades the European Court's ruling by invoking Article 15'sprovision for countries to ignore the Convention on Human Rights"in time of war or other emergency threatening the life of thenation."(13)
One of the most important lessons from Britain is that even ahuge dose of restrictions on civil liberties, such as thePrevention of Terrorism Bill, does not long remain "sufficient" inthe eyes of the government. At least in regard to civil liberties,the Domino Theory has proven correct, as one traditionalAnglo-American freedom after another has fallen under thegovernment's assertion of the need for still more anti-terroristpowers.
In Northern Ireland the jury has been "suspended" for politicalviolence cases; judges in the Diplock courts hear the casesinstead. Confessions are admitted without corroboration.Confessions are extracted through "the five techniques":wall-standing, hooding, continuous noise, deprivation of food, anddeprivation of sleep. Convictions may be based solely on thetestimony of "supergrasses" (police informers).(14)
In 1988, the Thatcher government enacted additional lawsrestricting civil liberties. Television stations were forbidden tobroadcast in-person statements by supporters of a legal politicalparty, Sinn Fein.(15) The ban even applied to rebroadcasts ofarchive films taped many decades ago, such as footage of Eamon deValera, the first president of Ireland. A confidential BritishBroadcasting Corporation memo announced the government's intentionto keep journalists from broadcasting any statement by U.S. SenatorEdward Kennedy supporting Sinn Fein.(16) The BBC also banned PaulMcCartney's "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," and a song by anothergroup urging the release from prison of the Guildford Four(discussed below).(17)
A suspect's decision to remain silent under interrogation maynow be used against him in court. Although terrorism in NorthernIreland was the stated basis for the change, the change will alsoapply in England and Wales. No- one who has seen Great Britain'sslide down the slippery slope can feel confident that repressivemeasures introduced solely for terrorism will not eventually seepinto the ordinary criminal justice system.
Wiretaps do not even need judicialapproval.(18)
The Security Service Act of 1989 provides: "No entry on orinterference with property shall be unlawful if it is authorized bya warrant issued by the secretary of state." If committed pursuantto an order from the secretary of state, acts such as theft, damageto property, arson, procuring information for blackmail, andleaving planted evidence are not crimes.(19)
As in America, gun prohibitionists have hitched their wagon to"anti-terrorism," with little regard for an actual terrorist nexus.Although British laws regarding possession of actual firearms werealready quite severe, the Firearms Act of 1982 introducedrestrictive licensing for imitation firearms which could beconverted to fire live ammunition.(20) The sponsor of the new lawagainst imitation firearms promised that it would help stem "therising tide of crime and terrorism"--although there had never beena crime or terrorist act committed with a converted imitationweapon.(21) The first time the Prevention of Terrorism Act was usedwas after another pub bombing, in the English town of Guildford.Four people were arrested, held incommunicado in prison for a week,and coerced into false confessions by administration of drugs andby threats against their families. While the "Guildford Four" werebeing held, the police used the time to fabricate evidence againstthem.
Although members of the Irish Republican Army already in prisonconfessed to the Guildford bombings, the Guildford Four were tried,convicted, and sentenced to life in prison.
Several leading English statesmen, including Roy Jenkins, feltthat the defendants had been framed. A campaign to free themcontinued for fifteen years, until, upon discovery of police notesof fabrication of evidence, the Guildford Four were released fromprison.(22)
The Birmingham bombings that had led to the Prevention ofTerrorism Act resulted in the conviction of a group of defendantscalled the "Birmingham Six." Amnesty International charged thattheir confessions were extracted under torture. The forensicscientist whose testimony convicted the Birmingham Six lateradmitted that he lied in court. The Birmingham Six confessed whilebeing held incommunicado by the police; the various confessionswere so factually inconsistent that they could not have beentrue.
(Civil libertarians fear that the Birmingham case is only one ofmany instances of police obtaining coerced confessions.(23))
The Birmingham Six were also eventually freed.
Britain, fortunately, has no death penalty. In America, wherebefore anyone had even been indicted President Clinton announcedthat the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing should beexecuted, the federal death penalty would mean that vindication ofpersons wrongfully convicted of terrorism might be post-mortem.
To state the obvious, all the legislation has hardly immunizedBritain from terrorism. But Britain has, in two decades,eviscerated the magnificent structure of liberty and limitedgovernment that took over a millennium to construct. For centuries,"the rights of Englishmen" were proudly held up in contrast to theabsolutism of the Continent. Far from being an examplar to theworld, the modern "anti-terrorist" United Kingdom has been foundculpable of human rights violations under the European Conventionon Human Rights more often than any other member of the Council ofEuropean States.(24) To a student of Britain's magnificent historyin the story of freedom, it is a pitiful sight to see modernBritons forced to turn to Brussels and the European Court of HumanRights as the last protector of what were formerly the unquestionedrights of Englishmen.
Britain was once the freest nation in the world; today, it isone of the unfreest in Western Europe. As Britain illustrates, nomatter how great a country's tradition of freedom, freedom can belost in less than a generation if public officials, and the public,allow terrorism to destroy their traditional way of life.
Weakening Restraints on FBI PoliticalSurveillance
Within days after the Oklahoma City bombings, conservative talkshow host Rush Limbaugh began casting blame on civil libertarianssuch as former Ohio senator Howard Metzenbaum who had promotedstrict guidelines on FBI surveillance of dissident groups in theUnited States.(25) Other persons have also called for abolition ofthe remaining limitations on FBI investigations.
First of all, there is at present no evidence that the FBIwanted to spy on anyone suspected in Oklahoma City bombing, but wasprevented from doing so by the current guidelines. Thus, personsdemanding the abolition of FBI guidelines are demanding a"solution" for which there is no demonstrated problem.
Second, the FBI guidelines exist for a very good reason. Beforethe guidelines were implemented, the FBI spied on literallyhundreds of thousands of Americans who were doing nothing more thanexercising their Constitutional right to question governmentpolicies. Victims of these abuses ranged from Dr. Martin LutherKing, Jr., to the Ku Klux Klan, to the Congress on Racial Equalityand the civil rights movement. The Counter-intelligence Programs(COINTELRPO) invaded the Constitutional rights of American peoplewho simply were expresssing in public what Secretary of DefenseRobert McNamara had concluded in private. Far from being confinedto a single type of dissident, or to a few years of excess, FBIabuses dated back to the 1940s and were pervasive until brought tolight by fifteen months of hearings before Senator Frank Church'sspecial committee in 1975-76. Altogether, there were 675 FBIoperations against civil rights, white supremacist, or anti-wargroups, which led to only four convictions.(26)
Even after all the public hearings, and the implementation ofguidelines, the FBI continued to abuse the rights of dissidentAmericans, through a massive surveillance of people in CISPES(Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) whoopposed to President Reagan's policy in El Salvador in themid-1980s. The CISPES investigation, justifiably regarded today asshameful, would have been lawful if the anti-terrorism billscurrent being considered had been law.
The first set of FBI guidelines were implemented by PresidentFord's attorney general Edward Levi in 1976. In 1983, the "Leviguidelines" were replaced by President Reagan's attorney generalWilliam French Smith. These "Smith guidelines" were far lessrestrictive. FBI director William Webster stated that the Smithguidelines "should eliminate any perception that actual or imminentcommission of a violent crime is a prerequisite to investigation."Thus, the recent highly-publicized claim of a former FBI official"you have to wait until you have blood in the streets before thebureau can act" is patent nonsense.(27)
In fact, the Reagan/Smith guidelines, which are still in force,nowhere require the completion of a violent crime. Rather theystate that a:
domestic security/terrorism investigation may be initiated whenfacts for circumstances reasonably indicate that two or morepersons are engaged in an enterprise for the purpose of furtheringpolitical or social goals wholly or in part through activities thatinvolve force or violence and a violation of the criminal laws ofthe United States.
Specifically, the guidelines already allow investigations basedupon mere words:
When, however, statements advocate criminal activity or indicatean apparent intent to engage in crime, particularly crimes ofviolence, an investigation under these Guidelines may be warrantedunless it is apparent from the circumstances or the context inwhich the statements are made, that there is no prospect forharm.
While the Smith guidelines would prevent infiltration of SecondAmendment groups simply because they are sharply critical ofgovernment policy, the guidelines do not now prevent infiltrationof groups which actually threaten violence. For example, inVirginia, a group of fifteen men who allegedly wanted to resist thefederal government managed only three meetings before beingarrested for weapons violations as a result of governmentinfiltrator's secret tape recordings.(28)
Rather than being obliterated, guidelines on FBI domesticsurveillance should be brought up to full strength.
A statutory version of the Levi guidelines should beenacted.
Persons who eager to "unleash" the FBI against dissident groupswho are not threatening illegal activity might first want to gothrough the mental exercise of imagining their worst nightmare asPresident. Liberals might imagine Pat Buchanen or Pat Robertson.Conservatives could imagine Dianne Feinstein or Jesse Jackson. Insuch a scenario, would we want the FBI free to spy on whomever thePresident does not like? Under Presidents Nixon, Johnson, andKennedy, who were far more moderate than Jesse Jackson or PatBuchanan, the FBI did so, with baleful results.
An official at the Treasury Department, who works closely withthe BATF, warned that there is "a tremendous potential for abuse"in administration proposals to loosen controls on the FBI.(29)
It must be remembered that many of America's greatestorganizations were, in their day, radical extremists. Theabolitionists were extremists, as were the suffragettes, the civilrights movements, and many of the opponents of the War in Vietnam.If these groups seem vindicated by history, they were bitterlyattacked in their day as radical and anti-American.
Finally, before any additional powers are granted to the FBI, itis appropriate to investigate FBI abuses of existing powers,including the events in Waco.(30) At the least, it iswell-established that the FBI used a chemical warfare agent whichis banned in international warfare, against children indoors, eventhough Army and manufacturer manuals specifically warn that theagent indoors is flammable, and can severely injure unprotectedchildren. In securing Attorney General Reno's consent, the FBIfalsely told her that the chemical warfare agent was "a mild formof teargas." The FBI also ignored the advice of its own behavioralexperts, and pressured at least one of them to reverse his advice,so as to justify an assault. This fact too was concealed from theAttorney General.
FBI Foreign Jurisdiction
It has been proposed that the FBI's foreign jurisdiction beexpanded. Firstly, the expansion is unnecessary, since the CIA canoperate overseas against terrorists. Second, allowing domesticAmerican law enforcement agents to operate on foreign soil againstforeign soil against foreign citizens creates a dangerousprecedent, and will inevitably lead to demands for reciprocity. Dowe really want the Russian secret police, or even the Mexicanfederales, operating on American soil? The Clinton bill alsoremoves most of the limitations regarding use (including overseas)of American trainers for foreign law enforcement, and removes therestriction against American tax dollars being used to pay thesalaries of foreign police.(31) Internationalizing criminal law iseven more dangerous to civil liberty than is federalizing it.
Felonizing Support for Peaceful Activities of ForeignOrganizations
Presidential Designation of "Terrorist"Groups
The Clinton and Dole bills empower the President to designate"foreign terrorist" organizations which are illegal for Americansto provide any "material support."(32) Recently, the Clintonadministration has retreated from its insistance that thePresidential designation be unreviewable. At the least, thepotential for judicial review will reduce the risk of the terroristdesignation being used against domestic dissident groups. (Sincethey would be able to show in court that they were not foreign.)But it should be remembered that American courts have historicallybeen extremely deferential to Presidential foreign policydecisions. If there were even a scintilla of evidence in favor ofthe President's designation of a foreign group as "terrorist," thenit is virtually certain that courts would not overturn thedesignation.
Again, the reader might consider imagining this legislation inthe hands of one's worst political nightmare.
An organization which provides support to the government ofIsrael or to the Israeli Defense Forces (which are considered"terrorist" in some political circles) could be outlawed, as could(by a different President) a group which provides support toPalestinian refugees.
Current federal law appropriately forbids the providing ofmaterial support to any foreign terrorist organization.(33) The lawforbids investigations of people for violating this law unlessthere is some reasonable suspicion that they have violated or mayviolate the law.
The restriction should of course be retained; targetting peoplefor FBI investigations when there is not a scintilla of suspicionis not only an invitation to harassment of dissidents, it is awaste of law enforcement resources.
One important distinction between the Clinton and Dole bills isthat the Dole creates an explicit exception to the "materialsupport" statute: "`Material support'...does not includehumanitarian assistance to persons not directly involved in suchviolations."(34) Thus, sending a Christmas food package to anI.R.A. or A.N.C. prisoner would constitute material support, butgiving money to a fund which assisted the orphaned children ofI.R.A. or A.N.C.
members would not be, under the Dole approach.
Under the Clinton bill, however, the donor to the I.R.A.orphanage would be a federal felon, subject to ten years in prison,as would be a person who spent five dollars to attend a speech of avisiting lecturer from the African National Congress.
When pressed about this fact at recent Congressional hearings, aClinton administration spokesperson acknowledged that minor supportfor the A.N.C.'s peaceful activities could have been felonized, butthat the American people should simply trust the President not toabuse the immense power which President Clinton was requesting.
But as President Lyndon Johnson put it: "You do not examinelegislation in light of the benefits it will convey if propertyadministered but, in light of the wrongs it would do and the harmsit would cause if improperly administered."
The "terrorism" bills' overbreadth is astonishing. The PalestineLiberation Organization is permanently defined as a terroristorganization by the proposal, no matter what its futureconduct.(35) Thus, if the P.L.O. should live up the peace treatythat it signed with Israel, President Clinton would be guilty ofproviding "material support" to a terrorist organization should heinvite Yassir Arafat to the White House and give him a free mealand a night's lodging.
Theoretically, a license can be procured allowing humanitariancontributions to the blacklisted group. The licensing procedure is,however, very difficult to comply with. Not only does recipientgroup have to open its books to the Treasury Department, so doesthe donor. In other words, if a person wants to make a $50contribution to buy clothes for Palestinian orphans, the personmust make his financial records open for inspection, and be able toshow "the source of all funds it receives, expenses it incurs, anddisbursements it makes."(36) There is no limitation that thecomplete accounting of receipt, expenses, and disbursements belimited to the charitable donation. Virtually no-one in the UnitedStates keeps such detailed records. Knowing that a charitabledonation to a politically blacklisted group would expose the donorto a nightmare audit, few donors would be courageous or foolishenough to give anyway.
In addition to criminal penalties of up to ten years in prison,civil fines of $50,000 per offense may be imposed, and in civilprosecutions, the government may, upon approval of the court,introduce secret, classified evidence which remains hidden from thedefendant.(37) (The Clinton and Dole bills grant similar authorityto use secret evidence in proceedings under the InternationalEmergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the President unilateralauthority to regulate or prohibit all foreign exchangetransactions, all imports and exports of securities and currencyand foreign currency transactions, and all banking transactionsinvolving foreigners.(38))
The Constitutional View
The Constitution mandates that if a person is to be punished forassociation with a group which has unlawful objectives, thegovernment must prove that the individual specifically intended tofurther the unlawful objectives.(39) What the Clinton/Dole billspropose is a return to practices which the Supreme Court outlawedover half a century ago.
Then, the Immigration and Naturalization Service attempted todeport labor organizer Harry Bridges because of his affiliationwith the Communist party. Bridges had supported only lawfulCommunist activities, rather than the party's unlawful ends. TheINS argued that if an organization had unlawful purposes, the factthat a supporter had supported only lawful purposes was irrelevant.The Supreme Court disagreed, and dismissed the case.(40)
More recently, the Court declared unconstitutional a law thatwas "a blanket prohibition of association with a group having bothlegal and illegal aims." Unless there was proof that the defendantspecifically intended to support the group's illegal aims, theprohibition was a violation of "the cherished freedom ofassociation protected by the First Amendment."(41)
Defining Everything as "Terrorism"
Current federal law already provides a comprehensive, realisticdefinition of "terrorist activity."(42) Some proposals definevirtually any crime as "terrorism." For example, the Clinton andDole "terrorism" bills define as "terrorism" virtually everyviolent or property crime, whether or not related to actualterrrorism. The bills impose a prison terms of up to twenty-fiveyears (for property damage, more for violent crimes) for"terrorist" offenses which are defined as follows: any assault witha dangerous weapon, assault causing serious bodily injury, or anykilling, kidnapping, or maiming, OR any unlawful destruction ofproperty.(43) Snapping someone's pencil, breaking someone's arm ina bar fight, threatening someone with a knife, or burning down anouthouse would all be considered "terrorist" offenses. Any attemptto perpetrate any of these terrorist crimes would be subject to thesame punishment as completed offense.
Even a threat to commit the offense (i.e. "One of these days,I'm going to snap your pencil.") is a felony subject to ten yearsin federal prison.(44) Again, the extra federal power granted bythe legislation is superfluous to genuine anti-terrorism. It isalready a serious federal felony to make a real terrorist threat,as by threatening to set off a bomb, or to assassinate thePresident.(45)
In order for the offense to be considered "terrorism," all thatwould be necessary would be jurisdictional predicate that wouldcover almost every crime. The jurisdictional predicate requires oneof any of the following: the crime "affects commerce in any way"(not necessarily interstate commerce); the criminal used "anyfacility used in any manner in commerce"; the victim was "travelingin commerce" (again, not necessarily interstate); the victim was afederal employee, or the property damaged was federal; the victimwas not an American national; or any of the offenders "travels incommerce."(46) If anyone involved in the crime meets thejurisdictional predicate, then jurisdiction is invoked for theentire crime.(47)
Finally, in order for a prosecution to take place, the AttorneyGeneral must certify in writing that the offense "transcendednational boundaries" and was intended to intimidate a foreigngovernment or "a civilian population, including any segmentthereof."(48) There is no provision for review of whether theAttorney General's certification was even remotely accurate. Nor isthere any requirement that there be an actual international bordercrossing.
Just because the law allows it, the federal government probablywill not prosecute every Canadian tourist who snaps a policeman'spencil or everyone who scratches anti-war graffiti on post officetables. The proponents of these bills may expect that theessentially limitless discretion granted to the federal governmentwill not be abused. But a fundamental principle of American law hasalways been that the law should control the government; citizensshould not be at the mercy of the good judgement of governmentofficials. As the Supreme Court put it, "It could certainly bedangerous if the legislature could set a net wide enough to trapall possible offenders, and leave it to the courts to step insideand say who could rightfully be detained, and who should be set alarge."(49)
The justification for federalizing all of the criminal law isthat such federalization is necessary to make sure that everypossible terrorist crime is covered. For example, it is assertedthat the bombing of a Jewish hospital in, for example, St. Louis,might not be covered by current federal law. In fact, the federalarson statute has successfully been applied to the burning of atrailer that was hooked up to a power system which was part of theinterstate electricity grid.(50) Thus, the fact that the hospitaldrew power from the same electrical grid would justify applicationof the current federal arson law, without the need for a newstatute. Even if it is possible to imagine some bizarrehypothetical crime that would not be covered by the (veryexpansive) interpretation of current federal criminal statutes,every conceivable terrorist crime is subject to severe punishmentunder current state criminal laws.
The dangers posed by the hidden federalization of the entirecriminal law (all the way down to petty vandalism) become all thegreater when coupled with the bill's other provisions to make theoverbroad federal RICO,(51) money laundering,(52) and wiretappinglaws(53) applicable to "terrorist" offenses and to authorize use ofthe military in domestic law enforcement for "terrorism."(54) Nobail is allowed even if it is uncontroverted that the accused willnot flee and will pose no danger to anyone.(55)
Likewise, mandatory prison sentences, with no possibility ofprobation, are required for "terrorist" crimes, no matter what thecircumstances.(56)
Having used state law definitions to define petty propertycrimes as "terrorism," the bills then forbid defendants frominvoking state constitutional law protections of the state wherethe alleged offense took place.(57)
Turning every state and local petty property crime (or even alocal violent crime) into a federal felony may be unconstitutional,as the Supreme Court recently ruled in the Lopez"gun-free-school-zones" case. Putting aside questions ofConstitutionality, it is inappropriate that the draconianfederalization of state crimes be pushed through Congress under themask of anti-terrorism.
Resisting Foreign Dictatorships
Solicitude for foreign governments should not blind us to thefact that most governments in the world are dictatorships. Underthe principles on which America is based, governments without theconsent of the governed have no legitimacy, and it is the right ofthe people of that nation to overthrow the dictatorship.
Yet the Clinton and Dole bills define as "terrorism" any actwhich plans the destruction of government property in foreignnation with which the United States is "at peace."(58) Thus, ifChinese refugees living in the United States planned a jailbreak toliberate political prisoners in China, they would be guilty of"terrorism." If Americans in 1940 had plotted the destruction ofrailways leading to Nazi concentration camps, they too would havebeen guilty of "terrorism." And so would the countless AmericanJews who smuggled firearms to the Jewish resistance movement inPalestine in the 1940s, making possible the eventual establishmentof the state of Israel. Had such a "terrorism" law been universalin 1776, the Dutch, French, and other private citizens who providedmaterial assistance to the American Revolution (even though theirgovernments were at peace with the British Empire) would have been"terrorists" too. It ill becomes a nation which was born in violentrevolution with foreign assistance to felonize the very types ofcharity which allowed our own nation to become free. Resistance todictatorships and empires is not terrorism.
Various proposals have been offered to expand dramatically thescope of wiretapping. For example, the Clinton bill defines almostall violent and property crime (down to petty offenses belowmisdemeanors) as "terrorism" and also allow wiretaps for"terrorism" investigations.(59)
Other proposals would allow wiretaps for all federal felonies,rather than for the special subet of felonies for which wiretapshave been determined to be especially necessary. Notably, wiretapsare already available for the fundamental terrorist offenses: arsonand homicide. Authorizing wiretaps for evasion of federal vitaminregulations, gun registration requirements, or wetlands regulationsis hardly a serious contribution to antiterrorism, but amounts to abait-and-switch on the American people.
Currently, FBI wiretapping, bugging, and secret break- ins ofthe property of American groups is allowed after approval from aseven-member federal court which meets in secret.(60) Of the 7,554applications which the FBI has submitted in since 1978, 7,553 havebeen approved.(61)
Making the request for vast new wiretap powers all the moreunconvincing is how poorly wiretap powers have been used in thepast. Terrorists are, of course, already subject to beingwiretapped. Yet as federal wiretaps set new record highs everyyear, wiretaps are used almost exclusively for gambling,racketeering, and drugs. The last known wiretap for a bombinginvestigation was in 1998. Of the 976 federal electroniceavesdropping applications in 1993, not a single one was for arson,explosives, or firearms, let alone terrorism. From 1983 to 1993, ofthe 8,800 applications for eavesdropping, only 16 were for arson,explosives, or firearms.(62) In short, requests for vast newwiretapping powers because of terrorism are akin to a carpenterasking for a pile driver to hammer a nail, while a hammer liesnearby, unused.
Even more disturbing than proposals to expand the jurisdictionalbase for wiretaps are efforts to remove legal controls on wiretaps.For example, wiretaps are authorized for the interception ofparticular speakers on particular phone lines. If the interceptiontarget keeps switching telephones (as by using a variety of payphones), the government may ask the court for a "roving wiretap,"authorizing interception of any phone line the target is using. Yetwhile roving wiretaps are currently available when the governmentshows the court a need, the Clinton and Dole bills allow rovingwiretaps for "terrorism" without court order.(63) (Again, rememberthat both bills define "terrorism" as almost all violent orproperty crime.)
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) providesprocedures for authorizing wiretaps in various cases. Theseprocedures have worked in the most serious foreign espionagecases.(64) Yet the Clinton and Dole bills would authorize use ofevidence gathered in violation of FISA in certain deportationproceedings.
Warrantless Data Gathering
Proposals have also been offered to require credit cardcompanies, financial reporting services, hotels, airlines, and buscompanies to turn over customer information whenever demanded bythe federal government.(65) Document subpoenas are currentlyavailable whenever the government wishes to coerce a company intodisclosing private customer information. Thus, the proposals do notincrease the type of private information that the government canobtain; the proposals simply allow the government to obtain theinformation even when the government cannot show a court that thereis probable cause to believe that the documents contain evidence ofillegal activity.(66)
Similar analysis may be applied to proposals to increase the useof pen registers (which record phone numbers called, but do notrecord conversations, and thus do not require a warrant). If aphone company has a high enough regard for its customers' privacyso as to not allow pen registers to be used without any controls,the government may obtain a court order to place a pen register.Business respect for customer privacy ought to be encouraged, notoutlawed.
Curtailing First Amendment Rights of ComputerUsers
For some government agencies, the Oklahoma City tragedy hasbecome a vehicle for enactment of "wish list" legislation that hasnothing to do with Oklahoma City, but which it is apparently hopedthe "do something" imperative of the moment will not examinecarefully.
One prominent example is legislation to drastically curtail theright of habeas corpus.(67) Although Supreme Court decisions inrecent years have already sharply limited habeas corpus,(68)prosecutors' lobbies want to go even further. Two obvious pointsshould be made: First, habeas corpus has nothing to do withapprehending criminals; by definition, anyone who files a habeascorpus petition is already in prison. Second, habeas corpus hasnothing to do with Oklahoma City in particular, or terrorism ingeneral.
A second example, of piggybacking irrelevant legislationdesigned to reduce civil liberties are current FBI efforts tooutlaw computer privacy.
If a person writes a letter to another person, he can write theletter in a secret code. If the government intercepts the letter,and cannot figure out the secret code, the government is out ofluck. These basic First Amendment principles have never beenquestioned.
But, if instead of writing the letter with pen and paper, theletter is written electronically, and mailed over a computernetwork rather than postal mail, do privacy interests suddenlyvanish? According to FBI director Louis Freeh, the answer isapparently "yes."
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about OklahomaCity, director Freeh complained that people can communicate overthe internet "in encrypted conversations for which we have noavailable means to read and understand unless that encryptionproblem is dealt with immediately."(69) "That encryption problem"(i.e. people being able to communicate privately) could only besolved by outlawing high quality encryption software like PrettyGood Privacy".
First of all, shareware versions of Pretty Good Privacy areubiquitous throughout American computer networks. The cat cannot beput back in the bag. More fundamentally, the potential that acriminal, including a terrorist, might misuse privatecommunications is no reason to abolish private communications perse. After all, people whose homes are lawfully bugged cancommunicate privately by writing with an Etch-a-Sketch".(70) Thatis no reason to outlaw Etch- a-Sketch.
Although Mr. Freeh apparently wants to outlaw encryptionentirely, the Clinton administration has been proposing the"Clipper Chip." The federal government has begun requiring that allvendors supplying phones to the federal government include the"Clipper" chip. Using the federal government's enormous purchasingclout, the Clinton administration is attempting to make the ClipperChip into a de facto national standard.(71)
The clipper chip provides a low level of privacy protectionagainst casual snoopers. But some computer scientists have alreadyannounced that the chip can defeated. Moreover, the "key"--whichallows the private phone conversation, computer file, or electronicmail to be opened up by unauthorized third parties--will be held bythe federal government.
The federal government promises that it will keep the keycarefully guarded, and only use the key to snoop when absolutelynecessary. This is the same federal government that promised thatsocial security numbers would only be used to administer the socialsecurity system, and that the Internal Revenue Service would neverbe used for political purposes.
Proposals for the federal government's acquisition of a key toeveryone's electronic data, which the government promises never tomisuse, might be compared to the federal government's proposing toacquire a key to everyone's home.
Currently, people can buy door locks and other security devicesthat are of such high quality that covert entry by the governmentis impossible; the government might be able to break the door down,but the government would not be able to enter discretely, place anelectronic surveillance device, and then leave. Thus, high-qualitylocks can defeat a lawful government attempt to bug someone's home,just as high-quality encryption can defeat a lawful governmentattempt to read a person's electronic correspondence or data.
Similarly, it is legal for the government to search throughsomebody's garbage without a warrant; but there is nothing wrongwith privacy-conscious people and businesses using paper shreddersto defeat any potential garbage snooping. Even if high-qualityshredders make it impossible for documents to be pieced backtogether, such shredders should not be illegal.
Likewise, while wiretaps or government surveillance of computercommunications may be legal, there should be no obligation ofindividuals or businesses to make wiretapping easy. Simply put,Americans should not be required to live their lives in a manner sothat the government can spy on them when necessary.
Thus, although proposals to outlaw or emasculate computerprivacy are sometimes defended as maintaining the status quo (easygovernment wiretaps), the true status quo in America is thatmanufacturers and consumers have never been required to buyproducts which are custom-designed to faciliate governmentsnooping.
The point is no less valid for electronic keys than it is forfront-door keys. The only reason that electronic privacy invasionsare even discussed (whereas their counterparts for "old-fashioned"privacy invasions are too absurd to even be contemplated), is thetendency of new technologies to be more highly restricted than oldtechnologies. For example, the Supreme Court in the 1920s beganallowing searches of drivers and automobiles that would never havebeen allowed for persons riding horses.
But the better Supreme Court decisions recognize that theConstitution defines a relationship between individuals and thegovernment that is applied to every new technology. For example, inUnited States v. Katz, the Court applied the privacy principleunderlying the Fourth Amendment to prohibit warrantlesseavesdropping on telephone calls made from a public phone booth--even though telephones had not been invented at the time of theFourth Amendment.(72) Likewise, the principle underlying freedom ofthe press-- that an unfettered press is an important check onsecretive and abusive governments--remains the same whether apublisher uses a Franklin press to produce a hundred copies of apamphlet, or laser printers to produce a hundred thousand. Privacyrights for mail remain the same whether the letter is written witha quill pen and a paper encryption "wheel," or with a computer andPretty Good Privacy.
Efforts to limit electronic privacy will harm not just the FirstAmendment, but also American commerce. Genuinely secure public-keyencryption (like Pretty Good Privacy) gives users the safety andconvenience of electronic files plus the security features of paperenvelopes and signatures. A good encryption program canauthenticate the creator of a particular electronic document--justas a written signature authenticates (more or less) the creator ofa particular paper document.
Public-key encryption can greatly reduce the need for paper.With secure public-key encryption, businesses could distributecatalogs, take orders, pay with digital cash, and enforce contractswith veriable signatures--all without paper.
Conversely the Clinton administration's weak privacy protection(giving the federal government the ability to spy everywhere) meansthat confidential business secrets will be easily stolen bybusiness competitors who can bribe local or federal law enforcementofficials to divulge the "secret" codes for breaking into privateconversations and files, or who can hack the clipper chip.
The New Star Chamber
Although the United States has suffered exactly one alienterrorist attack in the last eleven years, special harsh rules foraliens are at the top of the "antiterrorism" agenda. The mostominous proposals are those that allow secret evidence fordeportation cases in which the government asserts that secrecy isnecessary to the national security.(73) Georgetown University LawProfessor David Cole calls the secret court the new "Star Chamber,"since its powers resemble those of the inquisitorial court whichthe British monarchy, in violation of the common law, used toterrorize dissident subjects. Star Chamber was one of the mosthated abuses of the British government.
Modern Star Chamber proceedings are to be before a special court(one of five select federal district judges)(74), after a an exparte, in camera showing that normal procedures would "pose a riskto the national security of the United States."(75) Based uponfurther ex parte, in camera motions, evidence which the governmentdoes not which to disclose may be withheld from the defendant, whowill instead be provided a general summary of what the evidencepurports to prove. In other words, secret evidence may be used.(76)Of course any of the "showings" that the government makes in cameraand ex parte may be based on allegations regarding the unreviewableclaims of a secret informant.
Wiretap evidence is usable even if it was illegallyobtained.(77) Normal procedural rules allowing for disclosure ofcircumstances relating to illegally obtained evidence areabolished.(78)
Legal aliens do not, of course, have the full scope ofConstitutional rights guaranteed to American citizens; for example,they cannot exercise rights associated with citizenship, such asvoting, or serving on a jury. But it is well-settled that legalaliens enjoy the same right to freedom of speech as do citizens.Likewise, legal aliens have always been accorded the same dueprocess protections in criminal cases. After all, the FifthAmendment's guarantee of Due Process protects "all persons," notjust "all citizens."(79)
Procedures like those proposed in the Clinton and Dole billshave already been found unconstitutional. As the District ofColumbia Court of Appeals, put it:
Rafeedie--like Joseph K. in The Trial--can prevail before the[INS] Regional Commmissioner only if he can rebut the undisclosedevidence against him, i.e., prove that he is not a terroristregardless of what might be implied by the government'sconfidential information. It is difficult to imagine how evensomeone innocent of all wrongdoing could meet such aburden.(80)
The argument for allowing secret evidence in deportationproceedings is that otherwise the identity or operational mode of aconfidential informant might be jeopardized. First of all, the verypurpose of the Constitution's Confrontation Clause is to preventpeople's lives from being destroyed by the type of secretaccusations which had characterized the European justicesystems.
Moreover, the argument against endangering the secrecy ofconfidential accusers in deportation cases proves too much. Thevery same argument applies in every other case, including criminalviolence or drug sales cases. Obeying the Confrontation Clause inthose cases may likewise impede the short-term interests of lawenforcement. But the Constitution has conclusively determined thata criminal justice system without a right of confrontation poses afar greater long-term risk to public safety than does requiring thegovernment to disclose the reason why it wants to imprison,execute, or deport someone.
Simply put, confidential informants often lie.
Informants are rarely good citizens who come forward to helpprevent a crime. Rather, informants are criminals who have beencaught, and have turned informant in order to protect themselvesfrom prosecution; informants have every reason to lie and falselyaccuse people.(81)
Confidential informants who are not professional criminals mayhave other reasons for lying. The type of miscarriage of justicethat can occur based on confidential informants was illustated in1950 case, in which the Supreme Court held that secret evidencecould be used to prevent an alien from entering the UnitedStates.(82) (She was married to an American.) When the alien wasgranted a hearing, it was discovered that the confidentialinformant was her husband's angry ex-girlfriend.
Some persons who would oppose Star Chamber proceedings forcriminal trials might approve of such procedures in deportationhearings since deportation is, under most circumstances, a lesssevere sanction than prison. Yet if the alien cannot find a countrythat wants to take him (or if the State Department can quietlyconvince other countries not to take him), then the alien may beimprisoned for the rest of his life in the United States, at thesole discretion of the Attorney General, without even the right toask for a writ of habeas corpus based on governmental violation ofstatutes.(83)
Finally, some persons may accept Star Chamber for legal residentaliens under the presumption that such procedures would never beused against American citizens. Yet if there is anything theexperience of Great Britain proves, it is that special, "emergency"measures implementented in a limited jurisdiction (such as NorthernIreland) soon spread throughout the nation. Cancers always startsmall. If one international terrorist incident in eleven years is asufficient interest to justify a Star Chamber for certain terrorismsuspects, then it is hard to resist the logic that crimes whichactually are widespread (such as homicide, rape, or drugtrafficking) should be entitled to their own Star Chamber.
One of the reasons that many people are so frightened of thefederal government is how it already uses informants to attempt toinfiltrate suspicious organizations. One of the most notoriouscases which helped create the militia movement was started by theattempt to creat an informant.
Randy Weaver was a white separatist who lived with his family ina remote cabin in northern Idaho. There was no indication that hehad ever advocated or participated in illegal violence. When he wasapproached by federal agents who wanted him to infiltrate violentwhite supremacist groups and serve as an informer, he refused. Hewas later entrapped (a jury later found) by repeated pestering fromundercover agents into selling undercover BATF agents two shotgunswhose barrels had been shortened (at the request of the undercoveragents) to a fraction of an inch below the 18" legal limit. Weaverfailed to appear for a court hearing resulting from the illegalfirearms sale; as it later turned out, the order to appear whichhad been mailed to him gave an incorrect date for the hearing. Afugitive arrest warrant was issued for Weaver.
United States Marshals showed up one day in August 1992. TheWeavers' three dogs (two collies and a labrador) began barking, andRandy Weaver, his friend Kevin Harris, and Weaver'fourteen-year-old son Sammy grabbed their guns to run andinvestigate.
The Marshals, wearing camouflage and carrying silenced machineguns, did not identify themselves or their purpose, but they didshoot one of the dogs. Sammy Weaver returned fire, and was promptlyshot by a Marshal. Sammy turned and fled, with his nearly severedarm flopping as he ran. Sammy was promptly shot in the back.Nearby, Kevin Harris concluded that if he fled, he too would beshot; Harris fired his rifle in the direction of the marshal whohad shot Sammy; the bullet killed the marshal who had shot SammyWeaver.
Randy Weaver had only heard the shooting, but had not seen whathad happened. "Come on home, Sam. Come home," he yelled over andover. At last, Sammy called "I'm coming, Dad." Those wereapparently the last words Sammy Weaver said before he died.
Harris's shot had disordered the Marshals, and Weaver and Harrisused the opportunity to retreat to their cabin.
Later that day, Randy Weaver and his wife Vicki picked upSammy's dead body and carried it to a building near the cabin,where they prepared their son's body for burial.
Over 300 government agents, led by the FBI "Hostage Rescue Team"descended on Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where Weaver's two-story cabin waslocated. Commanding the FBI at Ruby Ridge was Richard M. Rogers,who would later serve as a field commander at Waco.(84)
The FBI rules of engagement allow use of deadly force only whennecessary to protect an innocent person from imminent peril. But onthe plane out to Idaho, Rogers wrote new rules of engagement forRuby Ridge. The new rules allowed FBI snipers to shoot any adultwho was armed. Since virtually everyone besieged in Idaho wentoutside armed (in full compliance with the laws of Idaho, and ofmost other states, because the armed people were on their ownproperty) everyone was a target outside the cabin.
At Weaver's trial in 1993, HRT Director Rick Rogers was unableto cite any authority allowing the FBI, in violation of state law,to shoot people who were posing no threat to anyone. (A provisionin the 1994 federal crime bill, removed during the bill's finalmovement through Congress, would have immunized federal agents fromstate criminal prosecution for crimes committed while on thejob.)
As at Waco, a siege ensued, with the "Hostage Rescue Team"surrounding the residence of people who, far from being heldhostage, simply wanted to be left alone.
At about six p.m. the next day, sixteen-year-old Sarah Weaver,her father Randy, and Kevin Harris walked out to the nearby shed topay their last respects to Sammy. They were carrying firearms.Standing by the open door was Mrs. Vicki Weaver, holding her 10month old daughter Elisheba.
FBI sniper Lon T. Horiuchi said that he could hit a quarter at200 yards. Horiuchi fired, and hit Randy Weaver in the shoulder.Horiuchi later testified that Weaver was shot to keep Weaver fromshooting at a helicopter overhead.
At the subsequent trial, Associate Marshal Service DirectorWayne Smith testified that no helicopter was over the Weaver cabinthat day, and the judge threw out the charge that Weaver had aimeda firearm at a helicopter. Sarah Weaver, Randy Weaver, and KevinHarris fled back towards the cabin.
Sniper Horiuchi fired again, this time at a person he said hethought was Kevin Harris. (Although Harris was not even alleged tohave raised any gun at any helicopter.) Horiuchi later testifiedthat he could not identify his target clearly because he could notsee through the curtains of the door. After Horiuchi had testified,the government (illegally late) turned over Horiuchi's officialreport of the shooting; the drawing showed two figures standing inan open door.(85)
The FBI sniper's .308 slug crashed into Vicki Weaver's head withsuch force that skull bone fragments ricocheted into Harris, as theslug exited her body and entered his.(86) Vicki Weaver's body fellto its knees, and her head came to rest on the floor, like a personat prayer. Randy Weaver took baby Elisheba from her arms, andlifted his wife's head; half her face had been blown away. Her deadbody was laid out on the cabin floor, and covered with ablanket.
An FBI psychological profile, prepared before the attack, calledVicki Weaver the "dominant member" of the family, thus implyingthat if she were "neutralized" everyone else mightsurrender.(87)
During the next week, "the FBI used the microphones to taunt thefamily. `Good Morning Mrs. Weaver. We had pancakes for breakfast.What did you have?' asked the agents in at least one exchange.Weaver's daughter Sarah, 16, said the baby, Elisheba, often wascrying for its mother's milk when the FBI's messages wereheard."(88)
Bo Gritz, a highly-decorated American soldier in Vietnam, who isnow a talk-show host and a right€wing political figure,offered to try to negotiate with Weaver.
Eight days after Vicki Weaver was shot, Gritz succeeded inconvincing Weaver to surrender based on a promise that Weaver couldmeet with famed criminal defense attorney Gerry Spence.
Spence agreed to take the case pro bono, and in April 1993,Kevin Harris went on trial for murder, with Randy Weaver chargedwith conspiracy to commit murder.(89) As with the Branch Davidians,the government attempted to portray Weaver as a political andreligious zealot who prophesied and then sought to create a holywar with federal agents, even though his clear goal had been toavoid government agents.(90) Weaver and Harris claimed self-defense, and that the government unjustifiably fired first.
With no defense evidence even introduced, the jury acquitted theaccused of all charges of criminal violence, and the court finedthe federal government for falsifying evidence, for withholdingevidence, and for lying.(91) Weaver was convicted only of hisfailure to appear for the court hearing growing out of the BATFsting.(92)
The Justice Department conducted an internal review of theincident which strongly condemned governmental actions, andrecommended criminal prosecution. The report has never beenreleased the public. Its recommendations were over- ruled byhigh-ranking Justice Department officials.
Instead, trivial sanctions were imposed. For example, LarryPotts, the supervisor of the siege, who had approved the"shoot-to-kill" rules of engagement was given a censure, the samepunishment inflicted on FBI Director Louis Freeh for losing hisportable phone. Potts was then promoted to the second-rankingposition at the FBI. The new training center for US Marhsals in NewOrleans was named the "William F.
Degan" center, in honor of the marshal who had killed SammyWeaver.
If President insists that wishes to convince the tens ofthousands of Americans who belong to militia, the millions whosupport the patriot movement, and the 39 percent who told theGallup poll that they think the federal government is an immediatethreat to their liberty, then the President should stop thegovernment from acting like a terrorist organization, and thenslapping itself on the wrist. Rather than encouraging more use ofinformants, Congress should create a special prosecutor toinvestigate homicides perpetrated by the federal government,starting with the Weaver case.
Preserve Our National Commitment to Freedom of Speech Manypeople, particularly people who abhor "right-wing" politicalviewpoints, have asserted that talk show hosts, commentators, andothers who speak strongly about the need to restrain the federalgovernment are indirectly responsible for the events in OklahomaCity. Such claims are disgraceful.
When President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, somepeople attempted to link the assassination to the climate of "hate"which characterized the intense Southern opposition to PresidentKennedy's legislative program, including civil rights. But quiteplainly, Southern segregationsists, wrong as they were on policymatters, had nothing to do with the President's murder.
In 1970, anti-war radicals blew up a math building at theUniversity of Wisconsin. These radicals lived in an "Amerika" whereimportant intellectual, political, and media voices proclaimed thatthe Vietnam war was immoral, illegal, and imperialist, and theAmerican government was guilty of crimes against humanity. Theyoung Bill Clinton enunciated some of these views. Yet it would beimproper to blame the opponents of the Vietnam war, including youngMr. Clinton, for the criminal acts of the Wisconsin bombers.
Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) di