U.S. Needs Law Against Domestic Terrorism: Expert

No terrorism charges can be filed in the Charlottesville, Va., violence. Expert David Schanzer says, “These crimes do more in terms of the impact on the community, creation of fear, intimidation, than other crimes. That should be acknowledged.”

The criminal charges in Charlottesville, Va., last month include murder, discharging a firearm, and malicious wounding. Terrorism is not mentioned. The U.S. doesn’t have a domestic terrorism charge that can be lodged against individuals or organizations that operate wholly within the country, McClatchy Newspapers reports. The FBI doesn’t have a unit dedicated to tracking the violent extreme right. This month, the Justice Department’s State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) program, which has trained 142,000 law enforcement officers in how to deal with domestic terrorists, will run out of funding. Congress could pass a law against domestic terrorism. David Schanzer of Duke University, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, says, “These crimes do more in terms of the impact on the community, creation of fear, intimidation, than other crimes. That should be acknowledged.”

After the Charlottesville attack, the House Homeland Security Committee said it planned hearings “on the threat of domestic terrorism.” President Trump has made a point of defining terrorism in terms of “radical Islamic terror.” Law enforcement can use the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 in some domestic terror attacks. The law, which covers the rights of victims to seek reparations from foreign nations and has a section on bomb materials, applies only to the most deadly attacks. It leaves law enforcement with far fewer options than they have in domestic terrorism cases with international ties. It is impossible to treat domestic terrorism in the same way U.S. law enforcement treats international terrorism. “If an American gives money to the Islamic State, that’s a crime,” Schanzer said. “If a violent neo-Nazi gives money to a violent neo-Nazi organization in the United States, that’s constitutionally protected free speech. That won’t change, and it shouldn’t.”

from https://thecrimereport.org