When Do Demonstrators Become Terrorists?
by Ross Regnart
email January 8, 2001
The Anti-Terrorist Act of 1996 appears aimed at public dissent:
The ACT contains language which can charge law-abiding citizens
of being agents or affording support to terrorist organizations:
Broadly written intent to commit terrorist acts is defined:
(Appeared To Be Intended Toward Violence or Activities Which
Could Intimidate or Coerce a Civilian Population; or To Influence
the Policy of a Government). (18USC Sec. 2331):
Any picket line or demonstration, alleged by police to have
blocked or obstructed public access, could qualify as "Terrorist
Activities" to intimidate or coerce a civilian population:
Terrorist charges make it possible for police to forfeit attending
demonstrators homes used for meetings and the vehicles they used
for transportation to the event.
CONCERN: Police agencies may selectively charge a person or
organization with either a low level offense, or terrorist offense,
for the same illegal act: Example: A fist fight between union
demonstrators and persons crossing a picket line, can be upgraded
by police to charge union members with (Terrorist Activity).
The 1996 Anti-Terrorist Act, broadly-redefined "Terrorist
Acts as involving any violent act or acts dangerous to human
life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United
States or any state." The violent or physical act need not
cause bodily harm: The Act can be used by police to target any
group of persons that would dare demonstrate for or against any
U.S. ANTI-TERRORIST ACT OR ANTI-FREE SPEECH and ASSEMBLY ACT?
The 1996 Anti-Terrorist Act has wide reaching forfeiture
provisions. The Act utilizes the broad term (supporting organizations
that transcend boundaries). Any organization or group that advocates
support for a cause or organization within a U.S. jurisdiction,
or across a state line, or in another country, is considered
by U.S. Government to be (transcending boundaries). Consequently,
any environmental group or organization is vulnerable to being
charged with supporting (terrorist activity) should any member
of an organization they supported be charged by the U.S. or other
government, with having (intimidated or coerced a civilian population;
or influenced the policy of a government). Please see USC18 2991,
including additional provisions. U.S. Government can now seize
the assets of innocent organizations and/or members alleged to
have supported an organization, group, or person(s) committing
a terrorist activity. Excessive government property forfeiture
provisions are tied to the 1996 Anti-Terrorist act: U.S. Government
can forfeit SOURCE ASSETS that supported terrorist activity.
So if a person for example uses income from their business or
bank account to support an organization or persons the U.S. Government
later alleges committed or supported terrorist acts, the U.S.
Government may seize the contributor's business or bank account
as a SOURCE ASSET.
Keep in mind, intimidation may qualify as a terrorist act.
So if the press or government has criminalized an organization,
the presence of the organization's members at a demonstration
or other event may be enough for a police agency to allege the
members or their organization (intimidated a civilian population;
or influenced the policy of a government) under 18USC 2991 International
Terrorist Activities. Government may now use the 1996 Anti-Terrorist
Act to selectively eradicate any group or person which is believed
to be objectionable.
CONCERN: Police can charge lawful citizens who attend demonstrations
and other public events with affording support to demonstrators
whose activities may constitute Terrorist Activities under USC18
2991. Innocent attending demonstrators run the risk of being
charged as terrorists, then having to prove by their presence
at a demonstration, they were not supporting the illegal activities
of the alleged terrorist demonstrators.
CATCH 22: Lawful demonstrators may be convicted simply because
they did not think to leave an event where some demonstrators
were committing illegal acts. Broad provisions of the 1996 Anti-Terrorist
Act may eventually scare-off citizens from attending lawful
demonstrations and/or contributing money to progressive causes.
CONCERN: A corrupt government and/or its paid operatives,
may too easily cause the arrest of innocent demonstrators and/or
cause government forfeiture of their assets. Note: Conviction
of an activist or organization is NOT necessary for government
to forfeit an owner's property. U.S. Government may civil forfeit
a citizen's assets using only a (Preponderance of Evidence) by
showing an owners property was involved in a felony that would
make it subject to forfeiture. 200 felonies can now cause government
forfeiture of property: Republican Congressman Henry Hyde got
passed in Congress (The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of
2000) HR 1658. The statute of limitations, the time period police
have to civilly forfeit property, begin five years from the time
police claim to have learned an asset was made subject to forfeiture.
Concern: Police can claim that anytime in the future.
CONCERN: Corporate security and private intelligence companies
now work so closely with U.S. police agencies, they appear to
merge. Private security corporations by working closely with
U.S. police agencies are in a position to influence local and
federal police as to which political/environmental opponents
should be arrested, or have their assets forfeited. Note: Neither
charged defendants, nor anyone else, can use the Freedom of Information
Act to penetrate corporate information banks to learn if a corporation
illegally obtained or provided information to a police agency.
Increasingly, corporate informants work both sides of the street
when they get paid for providing police the same information
about, e.g., a political or environmental group.
It is a dangerous trend in the United States when police agencies
merge with corporate security forces, become perhaps an illegal
enterprise, to violate a persons Constitutional and civil rights.
Secret Witnesses, Secret Jurors, Secret Testimony, Hidden Evidence:
Once U.S. Government or police charge a person or organization
under 18USC 2991, (International Terrorist Activity) the U.S.
Government may use secret witnesses, secret jurors, secret testimony,
and other hidden evidence to convict a defendant and/or forfeit
their assets. All this secrecy can be invoked by U.S. Government
to protect alleged-national security, an ongoing investigation,
undisclosed witnesses and jurors.
The same police agencies involved in the investigation may
get to share in the citizen's assets after they are forfeited
by the government. This is especially dangerous since police
routinely purchase testimony. Persons charged under the 1996
Anti-Terrorist Act, may have difficulty defending themselves
even against the death penalty when they may not be allowed to
know the secret evidence against them, or cross examine government's
secret witnesses. Such Star Chamber Courts do not serve the interests
of a free society.
Had the 1996 Anti-Terrorist Act been in effect during the
days of COINTELPRO, 1960 through the 1980s, many foundations
and citizens to avoid risks such as being charged as terrorists
or losing their assets to forfeiture, would have given contributions
only to organizations that the U.S. Government approved of, not
to progressive organizations or persons who would dare question
or confront government policies or attempt to legally stop corporate
GOVERNMENT COINTELPRO RED SQUADS appear to be back. This
time the squads have in their arsenal the 1996 Ant-Terrorist Act
and new property forfeiture laws which they may use to eradicate
their political, environmental and human rights opponents.