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Terrorism



All Reason.com articles with the "Terrorism" tag.



Published: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 11:25:25 -0400

 



Breaking: Van Plows Into Barcelona Crowd. Fatalities Reported (UPDATE: 13 Reported Dead, 50 Injured)

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 12:58:00 -0400

(image) Police and witnesses in Barcelona are reporting that a van crashed at high speed into a crowd into a tourist-oriented part of the city.

Initial details are obviously very sketchy. BBC has been able to talk to witnesses to the crash and is updating information minute-by-minute live here. Police have reported fatalities and injuries but the numbers have not been released. Police are hunting for the driver. BBC also passed along a report that two gunmen have entrenched themselves in a bar.

As always, be very careful about accepting early reports as factual. We'll update this post as facts become available, if necessary. Catalan Police are saying the attack was terrorism.

UPDATE 1 p.m.: Local media outlets are saying there are 13 dead.

UPDATE 1:15: Catalonia Police so far are acknowledging one dead and 32 injured, 10 seriously.

UPDATE 1:50: Spanish public radio reports that one suspect has been arrested. We still do not have anything resembling an official casualty count.

UPDATE 2:30: A Catalonian official affirms that there are 13 dead and 50 injured. Police say they do have a suspect in custody and they're treating him as a terrorist.

UPDATE 3:20: Police have released a picture of the suspect they've arrested. Local media has identified him as Driss Oukabir, of Morocco:

(image)

Update 3:50 p.m.: An Islamic State (ISIS) group is claiming responsibility for the attack.




Illinois Legislators Urge Cops to Designate Neo-Nazis as Terrorists. They Should Be More Concerned With White Supremacists in Police Ranks.

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 16:15:00 -0400

The Illinois legislature has passed a nonbinding resolution urging the state's police departments to designate neo-Nazi and other white nationalist groups as terrorist organizations. If they're really interested in combating white supremacy in Illinois, they'd do better to start with the white supremacists in those police departments. A 2015 classified FBI counterterrorism policy obtained by The Intercept noted that terror investigations focused on white supremacists "often have identified active links to law enforcement officers." And of course many officers are independently racist, without ties to outside groups. In Illinois specifically, a decades-long secret torture program in Chicago exclusively targeted African-Americans, with the cops involved regularly using explicitly racist language during their torture sessions. Whether they join white supremacist groups or not, such officers are doing the violent work of white supremacy—and the government is enabling their work. After the car attack in Charlottesville, cops from at least two states took to social media to mock the victims. They are being "investigated" internally for their posts, but it's highly unlikely anything will happen to them, given the broad employment protections that police officers have. Their lack of a filter as government employees in making controversial comments on public platforms reveals how little accountability they are used to having. A white supremacist in a police uniform is more dangerous than the member of any organization Illinois legislators might want to see designated as a terror group, because a white supremacist in a police uniform is operating under the color of law. Police officers have little meaningful oversight or accountability, and they are entrusted to use force on individuals not complying with government rules. Police links to white supremacist groups are difficult to uncover and even more difficult to break, thanks to a cop culture that values a "no snitching" code (the so-called blue wall of silence). And thanks in large part to state laws and union-negotiated rules, it's exceedingly difficult for police chiefs to fire problem cops with histories of abuse, let alone those that may have affiliations that ought to be incompatible with police work. A recent Washington Post investigation found that the country's largest police departments had reinstated more than 400 officers who had previously been fired for misconduct, usually after union-contract-mandated arbitration. "It is vital that we stand in total opposition to the hatred, bigotry and violence displayed by the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville this past weekend," Illinois state Sen. Don Harmon (D–Oak Park), who sponsored the resolution, said after his bill passed. "They are the heirs to the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazis. We fought two bloody wars in opposition to their ideologies. We must continue to fight those same twisted ideologies today." Police departments themselves have sometimes been among the most racist institutions in American history. Decades of state lawmaking and undue deference to police union reps have turned cops into a uniquely privileged class, and have turned many of those they are sworn to serve and protect into second-class citizens. Illinois lawmakers have the power to pass legislation to change this. But that would require challenging powerful special interests. Empty preening is easier.[...]



Trump Denounces Racism in Charlottesville. Too Little, Too Late.

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 20:18:00 -0400

It's too little too late that President Donald Trump has finally called out violent white nationalists who marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. One of them deliberately drove his car into a crowd of people, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 20 more.

It's pathetic that it took massive public backlash—including a lot from Republicans and conservatives—to spur the president to actually denounce neo-Nazis. Who still needs a teachable moment on this? Seventy-two years after the end of World War II and the president of the United States is slow off the mark to condemn white supremacists?

Rarely one for evenhanded rhetoric, President Trump's initial response referred only to "violence," and he pointedly refused to call out the protesters who beat a black man into the hospital.

The president even managed to squeeze in some political sloganeering over the weekend, declaring "we are all Americans first," echoing one of campaign themes.

There are three basic explanations for Trump's shameful response, one more troubling than the other. Maybe he's unaware that Nazis were responsible for murdering 11 million people. Or maybe he is so politically tone-deaf that he thought his original comments were adequate. Or maybe he just doesn't want to alienate those he considers an important part of his political constituency. Any way you look at it, it's not good.

President Trump surely isn't responsible for the car that killed Heather Heyer, but his rhetoric has helped to fill its gas tank. He wasn't slow to call out Black Lives Matter by name for supposedly "igniting" attacks on police even as he explicitly encouraged violence at his own campaign rallies, telling his supporters that he would cover their legal expenses if they got in trouble.

Just a few weeks ago, he encouraged police to rough up suspects.

If the president really is interested in curbing violence and restoring "law and order," it shouldn't be so hard for him to denounce neo-Nazis by name while upholding constitutional protections for free speech.

That's what we need from a chief executive in hyper-partisan and polarized times, but Donald Trump doesn't seem interested in being the president of most—much less all—Americans.

Produced by Todd Krainin. Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie.

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For Sake of Civil Liberties, Use of Word 'Terrorism' Should Be Restricted, Not Expanded

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 15:35:00 -0400

The deadly car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, has led some prominent politicians and former federal officials to label the assault an act of domestic terrorism. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Col.) tweeted that the killing was "domestic terrorism" and urged President Donald Trump to "call evil by its name"; former Attorney General Eric Holder declared that had "ISIS rammed a car into a crowd this would be labeled quickly." That's true: It would. But after 16 years of a war on terror that has eroded civil liberties, we should be trying to roll back the broad use of the term terrorism to describe any sort of ideologically motivated violence, not expanding it. Holder was sometimes more appropriately cautious when he was actually attorney general, resisting calls to label various criminal acts terrorism before an investigation could even be started. Most prominently, the Department of Justice's approach to the Fort Hood shooting was criticized by those who wanted it labeled a terrorist attack. The FBI has specific legal criteria it uses to define international terrorism, domestic terrorism, and the federal crime of terrorism. To be terrorist, an act must appear to intend to "intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping." The federal offense is defined as a criminal act "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct." In political rhetoric, by contrast, the word is frequently deployed as a thought-terminating cliché—a way to promote the idea that some military or police activity should be permitted to occur outside of the constraints of the Constitution, particularly against certain classes of people. In the last few decades, and particularly since 9/11, those classes of people have tended to be Muslim. Republicans have made a lot of hay about Democrats refusing to "name the enemy" in the war on terror, but this misses the point spectacularly, conflating rhetoric and word choice with the policies they are meant to prop up. Similarly, when word spread earlier this year that the Trump administration might rename the federal government's Countering Violent Extremism program to something like "Countering Radical Islamic Extremism," some on the left complained that this represented a victory for far-right extremists. Those critiques ignored the more salient point—that the program was ineffective, for much the same reason many counter-terrorism initiatives are. It aims its fire at "radicalization," leading to a kind of soft surveillance that former FBI agent Michael German told Reason's Jesse Walker was "intended to suppress ideas, which is likely to cause more problems than solve them. It encourages the identification, reporting, and 'treatment' of people with bad ideas, which will only lead to misuse of security resources and deprivation of civil liberties." It's hard to understand the kind of person that would look at the extent of failures in the "war on terror"—a loss of civil liberties, a proliferation of terrorist safe havens around the world, and an increase in domestic "lone wolf" attacks, all at a great cost in blood and treasure—and decide that what America needs is a broader definition of the term. Since 2001 the militarization of domestic police has been accelerated. Constitutionally dubious law enforcement tools like the ones packaged in the PATRIOT Act have been systematically abused far beyond their originally declared scope. Drones have blurred the rules of war. The U.S. regularly launches "signature strikes," where the exact identity of the targets is unclear to the officials ordering the strikes. The U.S. has targeted and killed American citizens overseas without so much as indicting them in a federal court. This is the wages of terror. As Glenn Greenwald noted after the Charleston shoot[...]



Brickbat: The Terrorists Have Won

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) In Australia, a court has upheld a decision by a local government to bar the construction of a synagogue near Bondi Beach. Officials say the synagogue could become a target for terrorists, endangering the neighborhood as well as beach-goers




Trump's Narrow View of 'Civilization'

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 17:12:00 -0400

"I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken," President Donald Trump vowed near the end of his doctrine-defining speech today in Warsaw's Krasinski Square. "Our values will prevail, our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph." Set rhetorically and physically against the backdrop of Poland's inspiring courage and perseverance in the face of long adversity, Trump's address, at turns apocalyptic and motivational, was an attempt to summon similar will to the shared project of defeating radical Islamic terrorism. "Together let us all fight like the Poles: for family, for freedom, for country, and for God," he said. But Trump's policy recommendations for this clash of civilizations were disproportionately inward-looking, borderline paranoid; and his depiction of what constitutes "Western" values was cramped and incomplete. The foundation of the modern "West" as applied to Europe is about more than just faith and family and NATO (the latter of which the president was careful to emphasize in this Russophobic, alliance-loving former satellite state). Free Europe as we know it was built upon free trade, and as Donald Trump will hear earfuls about over the coming days, his mercantilist, zero-sum views on international exchange threaten to inflict harm on the very civilization he aims to protect. To confront the "oppressive ideology" of expansionist Islam, the president today pointed largely to immigration policies, surely music to the ears of the Polish government, which, like those in Hungary and Austria, is currently taking flak from the European Union for refusing to admit relocated refugees. "While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people," Trump said to applause, "our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind…. We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent." Trump then identified two other sources of trouble that threaten to erode western resolve: the "destabilizing activities" and "support for hostile regimes" by nearby Russia (which may or may not have been target of the immediately preceding paragraph, which covered "propaganda, financial crimes, and cyberwarfare"), and also…well, would you believe bureaucracy? Finally, on both sides of the Atlantic, our citizens are confronted by yet another danger—one firmly within our control. This danger is invisible to some but familiar to the Poles: the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people. The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies. This is where not just Trumpism, but a whole lot of libertarianism and conservatism, collides into a paradox. Trump is entirely right that the West became great in large part through "allowing every man to pursue his own interest his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty and justice," as Adam Smith put it in 1776, at the dawn of modern liberalism. This brilliant new idea in admittedly imperfect settings changed the world forever. "The boldness of commoners pursuing their own interests resulted in a Great Enrichment—a rise in Europe and the Anglosphere of real, inflation-corrected incomes per head, from 1800 to the present, by a factor, conservatively measured, of about 30," the economist Deirdre McCloskey wrote in these pages earlier this year. So what's the paradox? In an E.U. setting, that the transnational body itself has been the single most effective mechanism for reducing barriers to trade and movement throughout the bloc. Americans look at Brussels and imagine Bernie Sanders or Bill de Blasio, forever soaking the rich and telling farmers how to curve their bananas. But many Europeans recognize it as the body that dismantled state ownership of airlines and car factories, [...]



The Foolishness of Pursuing Regime Change in Iran

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:15:00 -0400

Hearing American policymakers talk about regime change is like watching Wile E. Coyote open a package of dynamite he ordered. No matter how clever his scheme, you know that sooner or later, he'll get blown up. He never seems to figure out that TNT is something to avoid. Some people in Washington are sick of trying to get the government of Iran to change its ways—which include financing terrorism, punishing dissent, and supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad. They have embraced another idea: Help topple the rulers in Tehran in hopes of getting someone more to our liking. This is a reminder of the maxim that for many people, the only use of history is to disregard it. The United States has a long history of fomenting regime change in other countries—including Iran, in a CIA-sponsored coup in 1953—and the results have generally been calamitous. Yet its appeal persists. While he was in Congress, CIA Director Mike Pompeo endorsed the removal of the existing government. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for a "peaceful transition" to a new regime in Iran. Among those captivated by the idea is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas). He told Politico, "I don't see how anyone can say America can be safe as long as you have in power a theocratic despotism." How could America be safe as long as Russia was ruled by a blood-drenched Communist regime that enslaved half of Europe and had the capacity to destroy us in a nuclear holocaust? Through a strong military, firm alliances, and a missile arsenal that ensured our capacity to destroy it in return. The same approach that worked against a hostile superpower could work against a hostile non-superpower. But there have always been Americans who yearn for perfect safety. It's a snare. A certain amount of danger is unavoidable in a multinational world. And the dangers of trying to achieve total security turn out to be the worst dangers of all. It was not Iran that spawned the scariest enemy now on the horizon—the Islamic State group. It was the U.S. occupation of Iraq after we invaded in 2003 to, yes, topple the government. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were among those who thought America could never be safe as long as Saddam Hussein was in power. As it happened, America was safer with him than it has been without him. The invasion bogged us down in a bewildering civil war that left 36,000 Americans dead or wounded, destabilized the region, and expanded the influence of ... Iran. The theocratic despotism in Tehran is stronger today than it was in 2003. "Iran not only lost an enemy when Saddam was hanged, it gained an ally in the new Iraq," wrote Thomas Ricks, author of two books about the war. It also came out ahead when we invaded Afghanistan to bring down the Taliban government, another enemy of Tehran. Our reward was the opportunity to fight a war that has lasted 16 years and shows no sign of nearing the end. Regime change in Libya didn't go so well, either. Because it was hard to imagine that anything could be worse than the vicious rule of Moammar Gadhafi, President Barack Obama saw no downside in using air power to bring him down. But success was fleeting. Soon, Libya was embroiled in anarchy and overrun by the Islamic State, with repercussions far beyond its shores. "The instability in Libya and North Africa may be the most significant near-term threat to U.S. and allies' interests on the continent," Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of the U.S. Africa Command, said in March. A half-million of the refugees flooding Europe came from Libya. So did Salman Abedi, who killed 22 people in a suicide bombing in Manchester, England, last month. Faced with a perennially hostile government, our best bet is to use pressure and diplomacy to moderate its behavior—as Obama did with the Iranian nuclear deal. It's not ideal, but it's the best of our bad options. Relying on any means short of war to overt[...]



Trump's Travel Ban Is Legal but Dumb

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:01:00 -0400

This week the Supreme Court unblocked most aspects of President Trump's executive order limiting entry into the United States, signaling that the restrictions are likely to be upheld. That makes sense, because the reasons that two federal appeals court offered for upholding injunctions against Trump's order are unpersuasive. But the fact that Trump's policy is legal does not make it smart. The original version of Trump's order was issued in great haste a week after he took office, and it showed. The 90-day ban on entry by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) applied to current visa holders, including people working and studying in the United States, and legal permanent residents, who were barred from returning home after traveling abroad. Adding to the confusion, the travel ban took effect immediately, stranding residents and visitors in mid-trip without notice. The result was dismay and disorder at airports around the world as officials, travelers, and lawyers grappled with the new policy. After the order was blocked by the courts, Trump issued a revised version on March 6, clarifying that the travel ban did not apply to legal permanent residents, who have a right to due process when the government tries to prevent their re-entry, or to current visa holders, whose hosts may have standing to sue. Notably, the order issued by the Supreme Court on Monday says that while the case is pending the travel ban should not be enforced against visa applicants or would-be refugees with a "bona fide relationship" to Americans, such as relatives, students accepted by U.S. universities, employees hired by U.S. companies, or lecturers booked to speak here. The revised order also eliminated Iraq from the list of targeted countries and excised language favoring religious minorities from the section imposing a 120-day moratorium on admission of refugees. Critics cited that preference as evidence that the order was motivated by anti-Muslim bias. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit nevertheless concluded that the March 6 order "in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination." The context that the court deemed relevant consisted mostly of statements made by Trump or his surrogates before and after the election, including his support for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." But that is not the policy Trump actually tried to implement, and relying on his campaign comments to conclude that his executive order is a "Muslim ban" in disguise leads to strange results. The plaintiffs conceded, for example, that if Hillary Clinton had been elected president and issued exactly the same executive order, it "could be constitutional." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit relied on a different rationale when it upheld an injunction against Trump's order, saying he exceeded his statutory authority because he did not make an evidence-based determination that admitting the people he wants to exclude would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States." But that was really just another way of saying that Trump's policy, which is supposedly aimed at protecting Americans from terrorists, is half-baked and empirically unsound. That much is true. Since 1975, no terrorist from any of the countries covered by the travel ban has killed anyone in the United States, and the odds of being killed by a refugee are infinitesimal. In any case, it has never been clear why a travel ban was necessary for Trump to deliver the "extreme vetting" he promised. Even the "total and complete" Muslim ban he originally proposed was supposed to last only as long as it took to "figure out what is going on," which according to his executive orders means three months. Trump has been president for more than five months. By his own account, he could have made [...]



The Fatal Flaw in the Fights Against Global Warming and Global Terrorism

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 10:00:00 -0400

Donald Trump and Al Gore would no doubt cringe at the thought that politically speaking, they are brothers from different mothers. After all, what do the Republican president and the Democratic presidential wannabe have in common besides the fact that they are both old, white, pompous dudes who live in mansions and hate Hillary Clinton? Whether they realize it or not, they both believe in the precautionary principle—the notion that even a small chance of a catastrophic event requires sweeping measures to avert it. Nor do they care about the costs of these "sweeping measures"—both in terms of money and individual liberty. Their only disagreement is about the events in question: Trump invokes this principle in his crusade against Islamist terrorism—and Gore and his fellow global warming warriors against climate change. Dick Cheney famously declared that if there was even a "1 percent chance" of another 9/11-style attack by al Qaeda, "we have to treat it as a certainty in our response." For all of Trump's criticisms of the Iraq War, he has a natural instinct for this kind of excess. No sooner did the dastardly Manchester attack occur than Trump reiterated, as he had in his inaugural address, that this "wicked ideology must be obliterated." To that end, Trump, who has never explicitly rejected pre-emptive strikes against states that harbor terrorists, has significantly escalated America's military offensive against ISIS. He has eagerly embraced—and grown—the massive surveillance state he inherited from his predecessors to snoop and spy on Americans. He rejects basic due process rights not just for enemy combatants captured in the theater of war, but even domestic terror suspects such as the New York dumpster bomber. And then there is his plan to subject prospective refugees to "extreme vetting" to ensure with 100 percent certainty that no terrorist enters the country. (Not to be outdone, incidentally, after the London Bridge attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May demanded the authority to censor and control speech on the internet and has also suggested that human rights laws be scrapped if they come in the way of fighting terrorism.) Given that the odds that Americans will perish in any terrorist attack—not just those involving Islamists—on U.S. soil is 1 in 3.6 million per year—if the trends of the last four decades are any indication, such draconian steps to avert another 9/11-style event won't make Americans substantially safer. But they will make them substantially less free. Liberals understand this when it comes to dealing with global terrorism. Al Gore himself gave a great speech in 2006 lamenting all the constitutional protections that the war on terrorism was claiming and expressed alarm that the executive branch had been conducing warrantless surveillance of telephone calls, emails and other internet communication inside America. But when it comes to global warming, Gore's ideological blind spots are more dazzling than the sun. He condemned Trump's pullout from the Paris agreement as "indefensible" and "reckless." Likewise, the ACLU, which has been heroically fighting Trump's travel ban and other constitution-busting moves, bizarrely tweeted that the withdrawal would be a "massive step back for racial justice." But the fact of the matter is that a pre-emptive strike against climate change will be no less damaging for justice, racial or otherwise. The goal of the Paris agreement was to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Centigrade by 2100. But the most optimistic assessments suggest that even if all the signatories live up to their Paris pledges, it's still a Pollyannaish assumption that won't be met. To exceed the agreement and actually meet its goal would require nothing short of the climate change equivalent of Mao's Cultural Revolution to socially engineer[...]



By Trump's Logic, His Foot-Dragging on 'Extreme Vetting' Endangers Us All

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 09:15:00 -0400

By upholding another injunction against President Trump's travel ban yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reinforced the impression that his attempts to protect Americans from terrorism have been stymied by unaccountable judges. The appeals court ruled that Trump's executive order exceeded his statutory authority because he did not make an evidence-based determination that admitting the people he wants to exclude would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States." Yet the same ruling eliminated the administration's last excuse for failing to impose the "extreme vetting" that Trump has been promising since his campaign. When Trump issued his first executive order restricting entry into the country on January 27, he presented it as a temporary measure aimed at facilitating better screening procedures. "We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days," he said on Facebook. White House Press Secetary Sean Spicer likewise emphasized that the whole point was to "make sure that the people who are coming in are vetted properly." According to the order itself, the 90-day ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and the 120-day ban on refugees were supposed to give the administration time to "ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals." That was 137 days ago. The first order instructed the secretary of homeland security, in consultation with the secretary of state and the director of national intelligence, to "immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the [Immigration and Nationality Act] in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat." Although courts prevented the traveler and refugee bans from taking effect, the administration was still free to work on that review. Instead it focused on revising the executive order to address some of the concerns raised by critics and the courts. The revised order, published on March 6, reiterated that the administration wants to "improve the screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the [refugee program]." At that point there was no legal barrier to such improvements. That remained true until March 15, when Derrick Watson, a federal judge in Hawaii, issued a temporary restraining order (later converted into a preliminary injunction) that not only blocked the bans on travelers and refugees but impeded the internal review mandated by the order. Yesterday the 9th Circuit overturned the latter aspect of the injunction, saying Watson had overreached. "Although other unenjoined sections of [the executive order] permit interagency coordination to review vetting procedures," the appeals court said, "the district court nonetheless abused its discretion in enjoining the inward-facing tasks of Sections 2 and 6." The upshot is that the administration is once again perfectly free to develop better screening procedures for travelers and refugees. But instead it is focused on convincing the Supreme Court to overturn the injunctions against the executive order. Even allowing for the inhibiting impact of Watson's injunction, Trump has done remarkably little to improve admission standards he claims are dangerously lax. The New York Times notes that "the rules for admitting people from the six countries covered by the latest travel ban [who were also covered by the previous ban] have remained almost entirely unchanged." Trump has argued that courts are endangering national security by blocking his travel ban. "Just cannot believe a[...]



Theresa May and Rodrigo Duterte Both Find 'Human Rights' Annoyingly Inconvenient

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 12:40:00 -0400

Here's U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, one of the world's most respected leaders, talking about what she will to do to keep her country safe: I'm clear: if human rights laws get in the way of tackling extremism and terrorism, we will change those laws to keep British people safe. pic.twitter.com/8EfUJYUDMK — Theresa May (@theresa_may) June 6, 2017 And here's Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, one of the world's least respected leaders, talking about what he will do to keep his country safe: "My mouth has no due process,'' Duterte said in a nationally televised speech on August 7th...Duterte has warned drug peddlers to surrender themselves or face summary execution. "My order is shoot to kill you," he said on August 6th. "I don't care about human rights, you'd better believe me." src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9Z40uhNhtys" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> There are, of course, huge differences between May's approach to anti-terror measures and Duterte's approach to the war on drugs. Let me say that one more time for the kids in the back: I am not claiming direct moral equivalence between Rodrigo Duterte and Theresa May. I am, however, noting a troubling similarity between their approaches to one important matter. May is proposing using existing legal mechanisms to "derogate" or depart from the parts of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibit arbitrary detention of individuals by the state. This requires a declaration of a state of emergency, martial law, or some other action that indicates the "life of the nation" is threatened. She is likely considering such a move. By contrast, Duterte's legal theory seems to be "Fuck it, I do what I want." He is likely going to do whatever the hell he wants. (In case you're wondering how Duterte handles Islamic terrorism, here's a hint from today's news: "When I say crush them, you have to destroy everything including lives.") But here's where they both end up: Human rights and due process are all well and good until they get in the way of something politicians or law enforcement deem a priority, at which point they become negotiable. And that argument is troublingly familiar: For a domestic example, recall the "No Fly, No Buy" bill pushed by Democrats (and backed by Donald Trump), which was yet another proposal to deny basic rights to people simply for being under suspicion of affiliation to terror. In her remarks immediately after the attacks, May clearly already had this particular infringement of due process on her wishlist, saying, "if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorist-related offences—even apparently less serious offences—that is what we will do." (Note that May increasingly lumps terrorism, typically used to described violent actions, in with extremism, a much broader term which can refer to systems of beliefs.) It is now a standard part of political posturing to signal seriousness about security by indicating that you are willing to violate human rights, as commonly understood by the community of nations. This is not going to end well.[...]



Trump's Travel Ban Is Security Theater

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 00:01:00 -0400

Donald Trump is starting to sound like a critic of his own administration. "The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.," he tweeted on Monday, referring to the executive order currently before the Supreme Court. It was Trump, not the Justice Department, who decided to issue that revised order, based on the reasonable expectation that it would be easier to defend in court. And contrary to Trump's claim that his "smart, vigilant and tough" policy provides "an extra level of safety," there is little reason to think either version of the travel ban would reduce the average American's already tiny risk of being killed by a terrorist. Trump's original order, issued on January 27, imposed a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It suspended admission of refugees for 120 days, indefinitely for Syrians. The revised order, issued on March 6 after the first version was blocked by the courts, removed Iraq from the list of targeted countries and eliminated the distinction between Syrians and other refugees. Two other changes were more legally significant. The revised order clarified that the travel ban does not apply to lawful permanent residents, who according to the Supreme Court have a right to due process when the government tries to exclude them, or current visa holders, whose American hosts might have standing to sue. Trump's lawyers also excised a preference for refugees from religious minorities (typically Christians), which critics cited as evidence of unconstitutional anti-Muslim bias. Trump, who approved those changes, now says they were a mistake. "The Justice Dept. should ask for an expedited hearing of the watered down Travel Ban before the Supreme Court," he tweeted on Monday, "& seek much tougher version!" That comment misconstrues the roles of the Justice Department, which is defending Trump's order, not rewriting it, and the Supreme Court, which can only review the order as it stands. And if Trump plans to revive the original ban after the second one passes muster, he will only prolong the litigation he claims is endangering national security. That claim is highly implausible. Trump says he picked the seven (now six) countries covered by the travel ban because they were on a list of nations excluded from the visa waiver program as sponsors of terrorism or havens for terrorists. But people from those countries seem to pose a much smaller terrorist threat than people from countries that were omitted from the order. Based on his count of domestic plots and attacks by foreign-born terrorists from 1975 through 2015, Cato Institute immigration analyst Alex Nowrasteh reports that 19 perpetrators came from Saudi Arabia, 14 from Pakistan, 11 from Egypt, and 11 from Cuba. Their combined death toll was 2,537. During the same period, Nowrasteh found, six foreign-born terrorists came from Iran, six from Sudan, two from Somalia, and one from Yemen. None came from Libya or Syria. The combined death toll for terrorists from those six countries was zero. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sociologist Charles Kurzman compiled information on Muslims who carried out or were accused of planning domestic attacks last year. Most (12 out of 23) were American-born converts. Just two, both Somalis who were shot and killed during nonfatal knife attacks, came from a country on Trump's list or had parents who did. Even if the list made sense, it is hard to imagine how the "extreme vetting" Trump promises could identify future terrorists. As an internal Department of Homeland Security report noted last March, "most foreign-born, US-based viole[...]



The Progressive Left Devours Its Own [Reason Podcast]

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 16:15:00 -0400

"What we're witnessing now is the progressive left eating its own," says Reason's Nick Gillespie. "They've gotten everything they want in terms of political correctness from the right, and now they're going after Bernie Sanders' supporters."

On today's podcast, Gillespie joins Andrew Heaton, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and Matt Welch to discuss topics in the news, including the responses to the London terrorist attack; the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord; the fallout from Bill Maher's use of the n-word; Kathy Griffin's picture with Trump's severed, bloodied head (and claim that he had successfully destroyed her career); and the meltdown at Evergreen State College after activists asked white students and faculty to leave campus for the school's annual "Day of Absence."

"The incident at Evergreen is a perfect example of how a lack of understanding of the difference between negative liberty and positive liberty puts you into a weird political place," says Mangu-Ward. "'I should be allowed to do what I want as long as I don't hurt other people,' is not the same thing as saying, 'other people have to do what I want.'"

Produced by Ian Keyser.

Mentioned in the podcast

Reason Science Correspondent Ron Bailey on why the Paris Agreement was never a "treaty"

Nick Gillespie's Q&A with Bjorn Lomborg on why the U.S. was right to withdraw.

Video of the student takeover at Evergreen State College

Subscribe, rate, and review the Reason Podcast at iTunes. Listen at SoundCloud below:

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Theresa May’s Call for Internet Censorship Isn't Limited to Fighting Terrorism

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 15:25:00 -0400

You'd think Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg himself was the driver of the van that plowed into pedestrians on London Bridge Saturday, the way U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is talking about the attack. He isn't, but everybody across the world, not just in the United Kingdom, needs to pay close attention to how May wants to respond to the assault. May believes the problem is you and your silly insistence that you be permitted to speak your mind and to look at whatever you want on the internet. And she means to stop you. And her attitude toward government control of internet speech is shared by President Donald Trump (and Hillary Clinton), so what she's trying to sell isn't isolated to her own citizenry. In a speech in the wake of this weekend's attack, May called flat-out for government authority to censor and control what people can see and access on the internet: We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed—yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide. We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning. Note that May appears to be trying to narrowly pitch a regulatory regime that focuses entirely on censoring speech by terrorists. One might argue that even America's First Amendment would not protect such speech, since such communications involve planning violence against others. But May and the Tories really want to propose much broader censorship of the internet, and they know it. May is using fear of terrorism to sell government control over private online speech. The Tories' manifesto for the upcoming election makes it pretty clear they're looking to control communication on the internet in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with fighting terrorism. BuzzFeed took note: The proposals—dotted around the manifesto document—are varied. There are many measures designed to make it easier to do business online but it's a different, more social conservative approach when it comes to social networks. Legislation would be introduced to protect the public from abuse and offensive material online, while everyone would have the right to wipe material that was posted when they were under 18. Internet companies would also be asked to help promote counter-extremism narratives—potentially echoing the government's Prevent programme. There would be new rules requiring companies to make it ever harder for people to access pornography and violent images, with all content creators forced to justify their policies to the government. The manifesto doesn't seem to acknowledge a difference between speech and activity, Buzzfeed adds: "It should be as unacceptable to bully online as it is in the playground, as difficult to groom a young child on the internet as it is in a community, as hard for children to access violent and degrading pornography online as it is in the high street, and as difficult to commit a crime digitally as it is physically." New laws will be introduced to implement these rules, forcing internet companies such as Facebook to abide by the rulings of a regulator or face sanctions: "We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law." The United Kingdom already has some very heavy content-based censorship of pornography that presumes to police what sorts of sexual fantasies are acceptable among its populace. Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown has written repeatedly about the British government's [...]



Reacting to London Attack, Trump Says Travel Ban Is Tough and Smart. He's Half Right.

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 08:15:00 -0400

Reacting to the terrorist attack in London on Saturday night, Donald Trump tweeted that "we need to be smart, vigilant and tough," "stop being politically correct," and "get down to the business of security for our people." But the only concrete policy he mentioned was his temporary ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries, which is unlikely to make the already tiny risk of dying in a terrorist attack any smaller. "We need the courts to give us back our rights," the president said on Saturday, meaning he wants the Supreme Court to lift the preliminary injunction against his executive order. "We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!" We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2017 If that is Trump's aim, the focus of his travel ban is rather puzzling. The executive order covers six countries (down from seven in the original version): Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Since 1975 no one in the United States has died in an attack by a terrorist from any of those countries, although there have been less serious incidents, including two nonfatal knife attacks last year by people with Somali backgrounds, both of whom were killed in the midst of their assaults. From 1975 through 2015, according to a count by Cato Institute immigration analyst Alex Nowrasteh, six Iranians, six Sudanese, two Somalis, and one Yemini were "convicted of attempting or carrying out terrorist attacks on U.S. soil." Continuing the administration's pattern of ignoring relevant evidence, Trump's order mentions just one of those cases, involving "a native of Somalia who had been brought to the United States as a child refugee and later became a naturalized United States citizen." As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit noted when it upheld the injunction against the travel ban, the order "does not include any examples of individuals from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen committing terrorism-related offenses in the United States." But according to Nowrasteh, there are at least 13 such cases involving people from Iran, Sudan, and Yemen. Even if Trump had included all the relevant examples, the case for targeting these six countries would be weak, since citizens of other countries account for a much larger share of terrorist plots, attacks, and casualties in the United States. From 1975 through 2015, Nowrasteh found, 19 foreign-born terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, 14 came from Pakistan, 11 came from Egypt, and 11 more came from Cuba. Their combined death toll was 2,537. During the same period, six foreign-born terrorists came from Iran, six from Sudan, two from Somalia, and one from Yemen. Zero came from Libya or Syria. The combined death toll for terrorists from those six countries was zero. Nor is it clear how Trump's plan, which calls for the development of improved vetting procedures during the three months when citizens of the six countries would be forbidden to enter the United States, can reasonably be expected to catch the tiny percentage prone to terrorism. As an internal Department of Homeland Security report prepared last March notes, "most foreign-born, US-based violent extremists likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States, limiting the ability of screening and vetting officials to prevent their entry because of national security concerns." In the one relevant case cited by Trump's executive order, for instance, better vetting would have made no difference, since the offender entered the country as a child. In a declaration cited by the 4th Circuit, 10 f[...]