Every major holiday is seen as an opportunity by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI to put all law enforcement and citizens into a higher state of fear by raising the official terrorist threat level. There have been several false alarms by the DHS whose stated purpose was “just to keep everyone on their toes”. If we yell fire in a theater, we can be arrested and jailed despite a claim of free speech. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that free speech is not protected speech when it endangers those to whom the speech is directed.
…the phrase “shouting fire in a crowded theater” has since come to be known as synonymous with an action that the speaker believes goes beyond the rights guaranteed by free speech, reckless or malicious speech, or an action whose outcomes are obvious.
We do not need reminders to be vigilant with regard to possible terrorists. The terrorist attack in Paris is the latest reminder. Unfortunately, the majority of terrorist activities in the US are committed by citizens of the US upon citizens of the US. It is hard to spot a potential terrorist. The terrorist threat level is focused on potential actions by foreign terrorists in the US. Domestic terrorism doesn’t count. The Colorado Springs attack on a Planned Parenthood facility on Nov. 27, 2015 was an act of domestic terrorism. Alleged threats against President Obama were revealed on Nov. 29, 2015 and now has the Secret Service involved in interviewing the shooter, Robert L. Dear. No escalation of the national terrorist threat was issued based upon this incident.
One might wonder if these spurious changes in the security level “with no known credible threats” are merely justifications to continue the war of terror that has been used to decimate the Bill of Rights, and to justify the need to fund and expand the DHS. Towson University provides a definition of terrorism in a political science class.
Terrorism is different from other forms of conflict in that the violent tactics are not meant to lead to a military victory. Terrorist insurgent groups are fairly small with limited resources. Consequently they would have no chance against a national security force in a military confrontation. Instead terrorist acts are meant as catalysts to political change. The most common goal is to turn a nation’s citizens against the government in order to facilitate a political change.
When the terrorist activities are being carried out by a government on its own citizens, the motivations have changed. The classification of terrorist threats is a government invention. The changing of the classification of terrorist threats should be based upon a real threat, not an exercise in creating fear and uncertainty in the population. The goal of terrorism is to create dysfunction, mistrust, and uncertainty of the citizens in their government. The emphasis by certain US politicians on the potential violence of Syrian immigrants supports the terrorist agenda by creating mistrust and uncertainty upon a group of people that are victims of war. It also provides a false target for hatred, and for continuing the war on terror.
Trust of the US government by its citizens is at an all-time low. The war on terror has been recognized as an assault on individual rights with draconian actions to eliminate key elements of the Bill of Rights. A major step in restoring faith in the US government is to end the war on terror, and its “wartime” provisions. The next step should be a change in US policies that reinstates the Bill of Rights, reaffirms the US policy of military action only in the case of real threats to US citizens, and formal ceasing of raising the terrorist threat level without known credible threats being identified.