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Thursday, May 24, 2012
May 23, 2012
May 23, 2012
Though the United States has been engaged in a Global War on Terror for more than a decade, the U.S. Government surprisingly does not have a standardized definition of terrorism that is agreed upon by all agencies.
The State Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and a number of other government agencies all utilize differing definitions of what constitutes an act of terrorism.
This lack of agreement has allowed individual agencies to present different and, in some cases, far more inclusive definitions of terrorist acts enabling the use of expanded investigative procedures that might not be applicable in other agencies.
The FBI utilizes a definition of terrorism based upon the agency’s general functions under 28 CFR § 0.85. Under this regulation an act of terrorism is defined by “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
The USA PATRIOT Act expanded this definition to include domestic acts within the definition of terrorism. Section 802 of the USA PATRIOT Actmodified the legal definition of terrorism (18 USC § 2331) to include a category of “domestic terrorism” that is defined by “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State” intended to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population”, “influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion” or “affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping” that are conducted primarily within the jurisdiction of the U.S.
At the time, this expansion of the definition of terrorism was decried by the ACLU as “broad enough to encompass the activities of several prominent activist campaigns and organizations.”
One of the defining features of terrorist acts has always been a component of violence. Even under the expanded definition of terrorism created by the USA PATRIOT Act, there must be an act that is “dangerous to human life” indicating some form of physical harm to others could arise from the action.
However, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the Department of Homeland Security, extended the definition of terrorism further by including any act that is “damaging to critical infrastructure or key resources.”
Though this definition differs from the legal definition of international and domestic terrorism under 18 USC § 2331, the modified definition is currently used by DHS as the basis for their own activities and intelligence products that are disseminated to federal, state and local law enforcement.
The modified definition of terrorism is presented in a revised Domestic Terrorism and Homegrown Violent Extremism Lexicon published last year by DHS:
READ MORE:Any activity that involves an act that is dangerous to human life or potentially destructive to critical infrastructure or key resources, and is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state or other subdivision of the United States and appears to be intended 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.
Chicago anti-NATO demonstrations: Nan was arrested and had her walker taken.