NBC News reports that Trump has tweeted he will designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.
President Donald Trump said Sunday that he will designate Antifa as a terrorist organization after Democratic and Republican officials pointed to extremist groups and out of town demonstrators as responsible for violent episodes at protests in major cities across the country.
Trump and Attorney General William Barr had earlier pointed to anti-fascist organizers and anarchists as culprits behind the mayhem following the death of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police. Others said right-wing extremists such as Boogaloo followers, who hope to bring about a second Civil War, were pushing for such uprising in the protests.
In a Sunday statement, Barr said the Justice Department is taking aim at “apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law.”
The attorney general said that “to identify criminal organizers and instigators,” federal law enforcement officials are utilizing “our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces.”
“Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed,” Barr added. “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”
There is no domestic terrorism statute and legal authority for the U.S. to designate any domestic organization as a terrorist group, as the Justice Department’s domestic terrorism coordinator has said publicly on multiple occasions in recent years.
“As this tweet demonstrates, terrorism is an inherently political label, easily abused and misused,” American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi said in response to Trump’s post. “There is no legal authority for designating a domestic group. Any such designation would raise significant due process and First Amendment concerns.” (source)
Politico pointed out in September 2017 that previously unreported FBI and Department of Homeland Security studies found that “anarchist extremist” groups like Antifa have been the “primary instigators of violence at public rallies” going back to at least April 2016 when the reports were first published.
But the question is: what does this mean in terms of response?
Is this a license to use deadly force?
Likewise, as one person noted in a tweet you can see here, “Why is the Attorney General of Minnesota holding a terrorist handbook?”, referring to an Antifa handbook, for regardless of one’s position on the group, that a man in the position of power that he is in would have a public photo of him with this book undoubtedly raises many questions .
Just like with the riots, there are more questions than answers being given here, and no way to answer the questions.
Likewise, another legitimate question raised by Glenn Beck’s The Blaze (of all places) is that:
There are federal-law processes for designating foreign and international terrorism because defending against foreign threats to national security is primarily a federal responsibility,” McCarthy explained, because foreign operatives have fewer civil rights protections than American citizens and that the best weapon against domestic terror is local law enforcement, not federal. (source)
In other words, since there is no class of law really existing to deal with “domestic terror” groups, how does one go about developing one into which to place Antifa, if this is such the desire?
Ted noted yesterday, citing articles from various sources, that it appears there are right-wing provocateurs instigating the already tense situation. Likewise, Shoebat.com also noted the presence of what appear to be police officers fomenting violence as well.
One may recall in 2001 that the September 11th terrorist attacks were used to usher in a series of very repressive laws in the name of “patriotism”.
The curious circumstances of these riots- the fact that they are taking place all around the country, that there seems to be clear organization and coordination of the riots, that police appear to be “standing down” in multiple cities, that there is little actual military response from the government to deal with them as would be in other cases, that there appears to be people provoking violence tied to the police or right-wing groups, makes one wonder if what we are seeing here is another “9/11” type event except in that these riots are going to be used as a pretext for legitimizing the concept of creating a legal category for “domestic terror groups” and as such eventually placing groups of people who are considered socially undesirable into them. This would also reflect the continued trend of “federalizing” local or state affairs, especially as it pertains to law enforcement, which while existing in decades prior had an immediate and sharp increase following the passage of the Patriot Act of 2001 that has not since abated but merely continues to increase.
I cannot prove any of this. It is not something that I would like to see happen. However, there are many question that one cannot answer because there are so many ambiguities right now.
What I can say definitively that any desire to “rush” a response would be a horribly destructive thing because reactions to problems made in the moment, when one is in a heightened state of emotions, usually are done poorly and have bad consequences.
I can also say that the slow evisceration of civil liberties, which has been taking place for a long time, is only getting worse. Laws are meant to serve a purpose, just as police, but power must always be watched with great care, for power is easily abused and seldom ceded except by way of force, which is always an uncomfortable thing, and the example of history attests to this.
This is not about police. Rather, this is about how a particular incident with the police officer and the late George Floyd has spiraled seemingly into something much greater than the presented matter at hand, with potentially grave consequences that will likely long outlive even the memory of said riots.
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