Another Example of Dissent Being Equated With Terrorism
by Suraj Sazawal, 7/1/2009
A question on a Department of Defense (DoD) training exam states that the exercise of First Amendment rights in the U.S. is an "example of low level terrorism". New DoD employees are being trained to select "Protests" as the answer to a question about identifying an act of terror. This is one of several examples of when dissent and protest is being equated with terrorism. Civil liberty advocates, like the ACLU, and political activists, are outraged at these "deeply disturbing" assertions.
In recent years, several agencies in the federal government and state and local law enforcement agencies have identified protestors as risks in their threat assessments. From released fusion center reports to local police training manuals, anti-war protesters, veterans, anti-death penalty groups, and Ron Paul supporters are some of the groups and individuals who are compared to violent extremists by the U.S. government.
Ben Friedman, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, said the U.S. government has a long history of infringing upon citizens’ civil liberties in the name of domestic security. “It’s the kind of thing that happens when you have large security bureaucracies, which is why they need to be kept in check,” Friedman said. “These things tend to occur in times of panic, like after Sept. 11.”