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Inventing Terror at Home

Cynthia McKinney | 09.08.2008 17:57 | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Terror War | London | World

U.S. so-called "intelligence" agencies have always been in search of
enemies, real and imagined. They are abetted in this evil enterprise by
corporate media organs that spread domestic hysteria, and by a Congress that
seems eager to classify all dissent as "homegrown terrorism." The author, a
former congressperson and current presidential candidate on the Green Party
ticket, dissects legislation that would classify as terroristic "the
activities of many organizations of the civil rights era." By such
definitions, "Dr. King's type of resistance to the U.S. version of apartheid
could surely be considered homegrown terrorism."

Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, a former congresswoman
from Georgia, delivered the following remarks to the Muslim Legal Defense
Fund, August 2, in San Jose, California.

"Dr. King's type of resistance to the U.S. version of apartheid could surely
be considered homegrown terrorists."

Tonight, I want to talk a little bit about how a bad idea can get out of
control and almost even become law, and what we all can do to prevent these
things from happening.
On October 23, 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed a
bill that seeks to codify a punishment for a problem that does not even
exist. At least not in the way envisioned by the bill's backers. The Violent
Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act [1] of 2007 received
93% of the House of Representatives vote, including support from every
Member of the Congressional Black Caucus that voted, including from the only
Muslim Member of the House. After securing 219 Democratic votes, H.R. 1955,
introduced by California Representative Jane Harman, seemed on its way to
the President's desk for signature.

Introduced in the House of Representatives on April 19, 2007, the Homegrown
Terrorism Act should never have seen the light of day, but because of its
author and its powerful backers, it sailed through the House of

Meanwhile over in the Senate, Senators Susan Collins and Norm Coleman, both
Republicans, introduced the Senate version of the House Bill in August 2007.
With Democrats supporting it in the House and Republicans sponsoring it in
the Senate, it seemed destined to become law.

The bill seeks to prevent the phenomenon that inspired its title, that is,
radicalized homegrown terrorism, and expects us to accept as a fact because
it says so, that the internet has aided in facilitating violent
radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism
process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant
streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens. Now, how
[Democratic U.S. Representative] Jane Harman could introduce this and debate
it on the floor of the Congress and keep a straight face in light of CNN,
FOX, and the constant bombardments from the corporate owned media has got to
be a case study in comedic understatement in and of itself.

The bill goes on to define "violent radicalization" as the process of
adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of
facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious,
or social change. Of course, under this definition, the activities of many
organizations of the civil rights era could be characterized by a government
so inclined as an organization of violent radicalization.

Homegrown terrorism is defined in the bill as the use, planned use, or
threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised,
or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession
of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government,
the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in
furtherance of political or social objectives. Since this government openly
considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and spied on Martin Luther King, Jr.
and played a hand in his murder, Dr. King's type of resistance to the U.S.
version of apartheid could surely be considered homegrown terrorism by those
unready for his vision of change.

"The activities of many organizations of the civil rights era could be
characterized by a government so inclined as an organization of violent

The bill defines "ideologically based violence" as the use, planned use, or
threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the
group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

In short, the bill sets the stage for another attack on all of us,
regardless of race and religion, who dare to dissent from the policies of
this government, without regard to political party affiliation. As Dr. King
stated, both political parties are disappointing. And the stage was set for
this bipartisan bill by the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation [2] and
by seven unsuspecting young black men in Florida.

Residents of Miami, Florida were shocked when they awoke to news on June 23,
2006 that law enforcement, including the FBI, had swept into town and
arrested seven individuals for conspiring to commit terrorist acts,
including maybe even blowing up the Sears Tower, one of the tallest
buildings in North America. Residents were even more perplexed when they
were told that warrants had been executed in the Liberty City area of Miami,
a predominantly black and low-income area. CNN reported that residents in
and around the area of the search warrants said that those in custody
"called themselves Muslims and had tried to recruit young people." Now, of
course, CNN is helping to establish an extremely low threshold for guilt.

CNN further reported that the suspect appeared to be in their 20s and had
lived in the area for about a year. They even wore turbans - that's another
of those magic words that's supposed to connote guilt--some neighbors
reported. Even more perplexing though was the fact that neither weapons nor
bomb-making materials were found. The announcement of the raid came on the
very same date as a massive rally planned for the National Basketball
Association Champions, the Miami Heat. Unnamed law enforcement sources
leaked to CNN that the young people arrested were members of a radical
Muslim group - there's that word again - and that at least one had taken an
"al Qaeda oath" - in case Muslim alone wasn't sufficient - and had carried
out surveillance of the Sears Tower. The unnamed law enforcement source
indicated to CNN that the suspects thought they were dealing with an al
Qaeda operative who was really a government informant and that the arrests
climaxed the months-long undercover operation. And of course, the
government's documents pertaining to the investigation were sealed.

Now, interestingly, on the very same day, a former director of the Cuban
American National Foundation (CANF), the same organization recently visited
by the presumptive Democratic nominee, admitted to planning terrorist acts
against Cuba. Of course that admission received little or no media or law
enforcement attention in Miami, or anywhere else.

Yet, the idea that the United States could be victimized by its own sons,
violently radicalized by an extremist ideology, now had legs, arms, and
faces. And the only thing it lacked was legislation. Legislation that would
ensnare not only the useful patsies in Miami, but anyone who ran afoul of
the authorities and against whom this characterization as a radicalized
homegrown terrorist could be applied - just as earlier the term "enemy
combatant" found its definition in U.S. citizen Yaser Hamdi [3] , detained
indefinitely as an "illegal enemy combatant" until the Supreme Court ordered
his release.

"After the Liberty City Seven arrests, the characterization "homegrown
terrorists" even became a part of the corporate press parlance."

Meanwhile, interestingly, in 2004 while the men behind Larry Silverstein
were getting their $125 million in equity money back from the Port Authority
for the World Trade Center leases, thereby giving them control over 10
million square feet of office space and no capital risk in the project,
these same men were also negotiating the purchase of the Sears Tower for
$840 million. The Sears Tower owners had cut rents in order to re-attract
tenants after September 11th and with the news of the Liberty City Seven [4]
arrests, they faced additional challenges. And just a few weeks after the
Liberty City Seven arrests, the characterization "homegrown terrorists" even
became a part of the corporate press parlance.

U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta stated in the Department of Justice press
release that the Liberty City group "had the intent and took several steps
toward fulfilling their plan" but "the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task
Force successfully performed its mission to prevent terrorism by
identifying, disrupting and prosecuting these individuals before they posted
an immediate threat to our nation." FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole
remarked in the same press release that the arrests marked "yet another
important victory in the war on terrorism," underscoring "the need for
continued vigilance and cooperation."

So, the government sets up young people in Florida with a paid informant,
and then busts them when nothing happens and proclaims victory and
prosecutes the kids.

That was 2006. In the intervening two years, the Liberty City Seven have had
two mistrials and our government promises to prosecute these hapless kids a
third time. And while H.R. 1955 and its companion bill, S.B. 1959 have been
delayed, we cannot yet claim victory that they have been denied.

It was the concerted effort of activists who saw the bills and read them -
Henry Waxman's excuse for supporting the bill was that he hadn't read it -
and challenged every one of the Members of Congress who voted yes.

"We all are being manipulated in this so-called War on Terror."

Average, ordinary citizens, enlightened by the outright lies of an
Administration and disappointed by a complicit Congress agreed to serve on
juries. People are becoming involved in their government. The only way, in
fact, we can become a government of, by, and for the people is for the
people to participate - like we've never participated before. In every
aspect; in every way, to take our government back.

I hope it's clear that from innocent individuals caught up in government
intrigue to high-sounding legislation introduced in Congress, we all are
being manipulated in this so-called War on Terror. Innocent lives are made
to pay an enormous price in defiance of truth, honesty, and justice. And
because the defendants have no money of their own, public defenders are
taking the case to the court over and over and over again-until justice is

At the same time that the government was losing its case against The Holy
Land Foundation, it was also losing its case against the Liberty City Seven.
And just as the War on Terror has actually wreaked terror on the lives of
the innocent young men in Florida, so too is the situation with the case of
the Holy Land Foundation that has wreaked terror on and yet brought hope to
an entire community and its supporters.

There is no need for any further prosecution in the Holy Land Foundation
case. In addition to the jury's findings, government misconduct is clear.
When the government has to resort to cheating in order to present its case
to an unrigged jury, then the government has no case. It is clear that the
government thought that it could wave the word "Muslim" around, and in this
climate of hyper fear, created by the corporate media, that was supposed to
have been enough. The intonation of what the government called "foreign
sounding names" was to strike xenophobia into the hearts and minds of the
jury and render a guilty verdict a certainty.

"When the government has to resort to cheating in order to present its case
to an unrigged jury, then the government has no case."

But it didn't work in Texas just as it didn't work in Florida. The Holy Land
Foundation struck back because the Muslim Legal Fund of America responded
quickly with skillful use of the law and your money. Unfortunately, the Holy
Land Foundation case is just one of hundreds of cases that have been
processed by the MLFA. But the MLFA is winning. And I know I'm strong when
the MLFA is strong.

Today, while being profiled, discriminated against, and targeted by the
government, Muslims in this country have to watch as both corporate
political parties support missile diplomacy against other Muslim countries:
bombs in Somalia, threatened bombs in Iran, incursions into Pakistan,
occupation in Iraq, expanded war in Afghanistan, and silence in the face of
death and destruction in Palestine.

Oftentimes I'm approached by members of the community, shocked by what they
are witnessing in this country. And what I remind them of is this:

This country was founded on the genocide of another people. It accumulated
wealth and power from the enslavement of an entire race. It expanded its
empire by theft and chicanery, and saved itself from military defeat by
exploding two nuclear devices on an Asian country. It has maintained its
geo-strategically superior positioning by inflicting drug addiction on its
perceived enemies abroad and by disabling dissent with drug addiction at
home. It has blatantly murdered its perceived enemies and found every
demographic measure on which to build division. Yet, it wants you to believe
that while no other entity can be trusted, it still should be.

But when the Muslim Legal Fund of America puts its team in the courtroom and
wins repeatedly, it becomes clear to individuals, almost in a simultaneous
moment of enlightened consciousness, that the emperor really does not have
on any clothes. And it is at this moment of critical analysis that the
people can achieve real victory. The victory of the Liberty City 7; the
victory of the MLFA in the Holy Land Foundation struggle - despite the
failure of the government even to pay the public defenders - is testimony to
the idea that the people, united, can win, even over the most oppressive

As we speak, the people of Mexico are voting in a non-binding referendum
that the government vowed would not happen, but the people are showing their
power and voting anyway, saying no to U.S. efforts to steal their oil and
electricity through privatization. Even while struggling under a massive
international occupation and high-level U.S. insider corruption aiding and
abetting the theft of Haiti's resources, including suspected off-shore oil
deposits, Haitians are standing up for themselves every day and fighting
back with people power and the power of the vote. Even as the U.S. Fourth
Fleet heads south, the democratically-elected governments in Venezuela,
Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Nicaragua represent a dramatic and
necessary turn away from domination by the north, all done with people power
and the power of the vote.

What we do tonight, to harness the power of the people to protect all our
rights, is the necessary work. However, our work here also helps
people-powered revolutions for justice and dignity all over the world. Thank
you for donating to the Muslim Legal Fund of America. Thank you for allowing
us to make our stand inside this country. Thank you for believing enough in
the struggle so that justice can prevail.

Green Party presidential candidate McKinney can be contacted through her


Cynthia McKinney
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