Feds Using New Terrorism Fears to Excuse Government Snooping

Feds Using New Terrorism Fears to Excuse Government Snooping

The Biden administration uses the January 6 attack on the Capitol Building as its justification for expanding the ’s footprint.

The decision has significantly increased the number of agents assigned to “domestic terrorism investigations” and their caseloads—posing another round of government overreach in the name of national security.

Reason.com’s Brian Doherty explains why FBI Director ’s testimony on the subject before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security deserves greater scrutiny:

The events of January 6, Wray said, prove “a willingness by some to use violence against the government in furtherance of their political and social goals.” Furthermore, “the insular nature of their radicalization and mobilization to violence and limited discussions with others regarding their plans,” Wray said, “increases the challenge faced by law enforcement to detect and disrupt the activities of lone actors before they occur.”

Of course, experience shows us that when it comes to the FBI, “detect and disrupt” often means “encourage and then arrest” people who were no real threat until the FBI itself goaded them. Deciding beforehand that a set of people with certain beliefs inherently require more probing federal investigatory eyes all but guarantees a repeat of the sort of harassment of Muslims in the U.S. that followed 9/11.

Federal law enforcement officials and their allies often fret about the lack in many cases of specific “domestic terrorism” statutes that can be brought to bear when people commit certain crimes against a person or property. But in America, this is as it ought to be: Crimes against persons or property should be punished by law without worrying overmuch whether someone had a particular political thought or belief that motivated the crime.

Indeed, despite how the protests and Capitol breach on January 6 have been used as a prime example of a domestic terror threat and inspired Wray’s anxieties, the 650 arrested so far for their actions on that day have been charged just with the specific crimes they are alleged to have committed, without being formally characterized as domestic terror. For the 62 who have pled guilty already, the majority pled to “Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building” (though at least 50 of the other arrested face charges related to violent assaults on officers). That the charges for January 6 involved what the accused did and not what they believed is the right approach.

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