Tag Archives: terrorist

TN U.S. Attorney Ready to Clamp Down on Anti-Muslim Speech?

Southeast Tennessee U.S. Attorney Bill Killian and an FBI agent will speak at an American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee event in what he describes as “an educational effort with civil rights laws as they play into freedom of religion and exercising freedom of religion.”
A Politico blogger suggests his comments to the Tullahoma News on the event – including a remark that “everybody needs to understand” internet postings can violate federal civil rights laws – translate into “vowing to use federal civil rights statutes to clamp down on offensive and inflammatory speech about Islam.”
An excerpt from the Tullahoma News story:
Killian said the presentation will also focus on Muslim culture and how, that although terrorist acts have been committed by some in the faith, they are no different from those in other religions.
He referred to the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing in which Timothy McVeigh, an American terrorist, detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. Commonly referred to as the Oklahoma City Bombing, the attack killed 168 people and injured more than 800.
…Killian referred to a Facebook posting made by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West that showed a picture of a man pointing a double-barreled shotgun at a camera lens with the caption saying, “How to Wink at a Muslim.”
Killian said he and Moore had discussed the issue.
“If a Muslim had posted ‘How to Wink at a Christian,’ could you imagine what would have happened?” he said. “We need to educate people about Muslims and their civil rights, and as long as we’re here, they’re going to be protected.”
Killian said Internet postings that violate civil rights are subject to federal jurisdiction.
“That’s what everybody needs to understand,” he said.

And from the Politico post:
While threats directed at individuals or small groups can lead to punishment, First Amendment experts expressed doubt that the government has any power to stop offensive material about Islam from circulating.
“He’s just wrong,” said Floyd Abrams, one of the country’s most respected First Amendment attorneys. “The government may, indeed, play a useful and entirely constitutional role in urging people not to engage in speech that amounts to religious discrimination. But it may not, under the First Amendment, prevent or punish speech even if it may be viewed as hostile to a religion.”
“And what it most clearly may not do is to stifle political or social debate, however rambunctious or offensive some may think it is,” Abrams said.
A conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, accused the Obama administration of using federal law to specifically protect Muslims from criticism.

Sunday Column: Preparing Legislators to Function in a Disaster

State Rep. Rick Womick has reluctantly revealed that a previously secret plan is in place to allow the Tennessee General Assembly to continue functioning in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
Despite Womick’s understandable hesitancy to make public plans that could be exploited by those plotting disruption of legislative activities, he did so in trying — albeit unsuccessfully — to pass a bill with the goal of preventing such things and preparing for them should they occur. And many of us breathed a sigh of relief in learning that there’s at least a plan to assure that our legislators will be able to continue their vital tasks even if an electromagnetic pulse bomb (EMB) disables their ability to exchange text messages with lobbyists via cellphone.
“This is something I don’t like to put out publicly,” Womick told the House State Government Subcommittee. “There are provisions in place (in the event of an attack) where each one of you will be contacted and taken to an off-site location, in the state of Tennessee, and continue to conduct business. With the governor.”
Womick’s comments came as he pushed for passage of HB1327, which calls on the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security to do background checks and then grant security clearances to 10 select members of the Legislature assigned to a special Security Committee.

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TN Department of Homeland Security Unsure of Terrorist Designation Process Under Bill

Apparently, no one involved in the push for passage of HB1353, promoted as an anti-terrorist bill, has talked with officials state Department of Homeland Security about how they would be involved in the envisioned terrorist prosecution process.
But Andrea Zelinski did.
“I don’t fully understand the process that would be used for us to designate the person,” said Rick Shipkowski, the deputy director of the state’s homeland security office.
Under the bill, the Department of Safety and the Department of Homeland Security could recommend individuals or entities for classification as terrorists. If the governor and attorney general then sign off on the recommendation – confidential information is explicitly authorized for use in decision-making – then an array of consequences ensue, ranging from prompt seizure of assets to imprisonment for a Class B felony.
As introduced, the bill specifically referred to following Shariah law as potential targets. That’s been removed by amendment and now any organization organization suspected of terrorist activity would be covered.
More from Andrea’s TNReport, which includes some Q&A with Shipowski:
Right now, twenty percent of tips and reports about possible terrorist activity the state receives are unfounded and thrown out, Shipkowski said.
“I actually had someone tell me one time that a convenience store owner was suspicious because he was Middle Eastern and he smiled all the time. Well, you know that’s not a crime in Tennessee, it’s good for business,” Shipkowski said.
Information the state receives is shared with the Tennessee Fusion Center, a facility jointly operated by the state Office of Homeland Security and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with analysts from the departments of correction, probation and parole and military. The FBI and the US. Office of Homeland Security also play a role and create a total staff of 38 people at the Center.
The remaining 80 percent of cases are handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and are further explored there. Shipkowski declined to release the actual number of cases the office takes on, but said “very few” of those reports of possible terrorist activity ever prove legitimate.
…Shipkwoski said he doesn’t know exactly how or when his department would recommend the state label someone a terrorist given that the FBI traditionally does the heavy lifting in determining who fits the bill
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House Panel OKs ‘Shariah Bill’

(Note: Updates, expands and replaces earlier post.)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A contentious proposal that would authorize the governor and attorney general to decide whether an entity is a terrorist organization advanced in the House on Tuesday after assurances from the sponsor that the measure does not target Muslims.
The legislation (HB1353) sponsored by Republican Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny of Tullahoma passed the House Judiciary Committee 12-4 on Tuesday and now goes to the House Finance Committee.
The companion bill was approved later in the day, 6-3, by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Former ‘Shariah Bill’ Still Drawing Criticism

By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Senate sponsor of an amended Tennessee proposal that seeks to prevent support for terrorist acts said Tuesday he’s moving forward with the legislation despite opponents who say it’s unnecessary and still unfairly targets Muslims.
The original proposal by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro sought to make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah.
It gave the state’s attorney general authority to designate an entity a “Shariah organization” if he finds the group knowingly adheres to Shariah, which the legislation defined as “any rule, precept, instruction, or edict arising directly from the extant rulings of any of the authoritative schools of Islamic jurisprudence of Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Ja’afariya, or Salafi.”
Muslims, who said the original measure was too broad, feared it would outlaw central tenets of Islam, such as praying five times a day toward Mecca, abstaining from alcohol or fasting for Ramadan.
Ketron later stripped out any reference to a specific religion and believes the proposal is constitutionally sound and should now be palatable to.
“We feel it meets constitutional muster,” he said. “We’re moving forward on it.”
While the amendment pacified some, many Muslims are still uncomfortable with the legislation (SB1028).
Sabina Mohyuddin of Tullahoma testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the proposal will still “demonize Muslims and cast a wide net over Muslim organizations.”

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More on Shariah Substitute

By Lucas Johnson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sponsors of legislation that would make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah are hoping a proposed amendment that strips out any reference to a specific religion will appease Muslims outraged by the original bill.
Muslims, who say the original measure (SB1028) is too broad, fear it would outlaw central tenets of Islam, such as praying five times a day toward Mecca, abstaining from alcohol or fasting for Ramadan.
Republican Senate sponsor Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro said the amendment reflects sponsors’ “original intention to prevent or deter violent or terrorist acts, but does so without any room for misinterpretation regarding the language’s affect on peaceful religious practices.”
“It basically just identifies any terrorist group … that may organize,” Ketron said. “I think it’s going to be acceptable.”
House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny of Tullahoma said he’s “received positive feedback regarding the revised amendment from those in my community who were concerned about the bill.”
Remziya Suleyman, policy coordinator for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said the group is still reviewing the amendment.

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