Even as progressive lawmakers sound the alarm, new threats to American civil liberties are looming.
Months after the riot on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol, calls are increasing amongst politicians and media outlets for new legislation to tackle domestic terrorism akin to existing laws that target foreign terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.
After the devastating attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush immediately declared a global “War on Terror” campaign, telling world leaders: “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.”
This rhetoric and fear of more terrorist attacks after the events on 9/11 resulted in the USA PATRIOT Act, which flew through Congress in merely three days and radically expanded government surveillance powers, even over U.S. citizens.
Congressional leaders reacting to the riot on Jan. 6 have used similar rhetoric as Bush and other lawmakers after 9/11, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has said “you’re either with the people, or you’re with that mob.”
President Joe Biden referred to the rioters as “domestic terrorists” while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson have called for any individual at the Capitol riot to be put on the TSA “no-fly list.”
Media outlets and pundits have similarly called for legislation against domestic terrorism.
“Other countries have domestic spy agencies to fight extremists at home. Does America need one, too?,” reads a title from the Daily Beast. “Lack of domestic terrorism law creates an imbalance,” says USA today. An article from CNN read, “The law enforcement effort after the riots at the US Capitol earlier this month is still in its beginning stages, having fanned out across the country in the largest domestic terrorism investigation since 9/11.”
President Biden has said he plans to make passing a law against domestic terrorism a priority. He has been urged to create a White House post to oversee the fight against ideologically-inspired violent extremists and increasing funding to combat them.