Rachel Maddow: Right-Wing Terrorism Must Be Stopped
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MADDOW: To the extent that there is a movement that this man saw himself as part of, and I spent a lot of time in very dark corners of the Web today looking at the websites and publications ...
MADDOW: ... of the organizations that identify themselves as part of this movement. Famously in the 1990s, there was a statement put out in support of one of the people who was found guilty of killing an abortion provider, saying, “We, the undersigned, believe these actions to be justifiable” and encourage others to do them because—in order to save the unborn.
To the extent that there is something beyond the loner, the lone murderer here, to the extent that there is a rhetorical association, there are organizations that support this sort of thing, does it give law enforcement any additional tools to consider them while they prosecute this crime? I‘m with you on the civil libertarian concerns about these things -- freedom of association, freedom of the press are to be protected, freedom of speech are to be protected at any cost -- but are there law enforcement tools that would be useful in these cases to acknowledge those ties?
TURLEY: There are, Rachel. I mean, you have the FACE Act, which protects access to abortion clinics. There have been prosecutions under that. It was upheld by courts. And you also have standard prosecutions for intimidation. In fact, the FACE Act has intimidation as one of the elements.
So, there are ways to prosecute. The FBI‘s done a very, very good job, you know, for many years now at focusing on these domestic organizations. But as you‘ve already noticed or referenced, we have this difficult line to walk between free speech and preventive law enforcement. And it all—that line is often found on violent speech.
And the Supreme Court said in the Brandenburg case that violent speech is protected. In fact, I‘ve represented people accused of violent speech, including terroristic speech. And that is a very difficult line, because it is, in fact, protected, to say all abortion doctors should be killed. And what the Supreme Court said was that we have to look where that violent speech raises an imminent threat of violence, and then, you can prosecute that person.
But it‘s obviously a very difficult line to walk.
MADDOW: And it‘s an intelligence matter, oddly, as well. We think of intelligence in terms of where our—in terms of where the dividing lines are within our own government about the tools that are available to people who work for the U.S. government. That‘s an important distinction between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example.
We collect intelligence on foreign bodies. In terms of what we do domestically to disrupt homegrown terrorist plots, to disrupt criminal enterprises, to break up organized crime in these efforts, there‘s—I mean, there‘s civil liberties concerns, there‘s also strategic concerns about how these things can be done legally on American soil.
TURLEY: Yes, but I would also caution though is that no matter what we do—we‘re probably never going to be able to stop the lone actor, the McVeigh, or the individual today, without becoming a totalitarian regime. I mean, lone actors are dangerous because they don‘t come up on the radar screen.
What we‘ve learned—ever since cases like Brandenburg—is speech isn‘t the problem. In fact, you want them to speak. You want the speech to be protected so they come up on the radar screen and you can watch them. And the FBI has a long history and a very effective history and a commendable history of following these dangerous groups.