Target: Leftist Groups

Per Paul’s post below, one of the most chilling aspects of the rejection of Specter’s amendment guaranteeing Habeas Corpus is, as I previously mentioned, that the underlying legislation allows “foreign civilians in the United States or even U.S. citizens” to be deemed enemy combatants and thusly “arrested and held without charge indefinitely on grounds that they supported hostilities against the United States.”

And lest there be any question that the administration is fixing to recognize any and all dissenters as enemy combatants, the recently declassified NIE report had a deeply disturbing tidbit tucked in at its end identifying terrorist threats other than the primarily discussed radical Islam: "Anti-U.S. and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint… We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train and obtain logistical and financial support."

Glenn Greenwald points out (via Echidne):

That this claim about "leftist" terrorist groups made it into the NIE summary is particularly significant in light of the torture and detention bill that is likely soon to be enacted into law. That bill defines "enemy combatant" very broadly (and the definition may be even broader by the time it is enacted) and could easily encompass domestic groups perceived by the administration to be supporting a "terrorist agenda."

Similarly, the administration has claimed previously that it eavesdrops on the conversations of Americans only where there is reasonable grounds (as judged by the administration) to believe that one of the parties is affiliated with a terrorist group. Does that include "leftist" groups that use the Internet to organize? This NIE finding gives rise to this critical question: Are "leftist" groups one of the principal targets on the anti-terrorism agenda of the Bush administration, and if so, aren't the implications rather disturbing?
Um, yeah.

In addition to the nebulous definition of “enemy combatant,” so too is the definition of “leftist group” entirely vague. Does a blog community qualify as a leftist group? Are only groups that have the means and intent to organize going to be targets of scrutiny? Does organizing a peace protest qualify? Is wielding a “leftist” idea going to be considered as hostile to the United States as wielding a weapon?

These are all questions to which we don’t have answers. (Although recent history of government agents infiltrating peace groups surely points in the worst possible direction.) What we do know is that if the answer to any of them is “yes,” those of us who are summarily identified as enemy combatants will not be guaranteed the right to have a federal court review the legitimacy of our imprisonment on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.

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