Professor Karen Greenberg contributed to an article published in CBC News about how law enforcement should treat domestic attacks under federal law.
That gap in federal law has been the subject of intense debate about how American law enforcement treats homegrown attacks as compared to overseas actions, and if the two should be considered equal.
Proponents of attaching a federal penalty to domestic actions say it would give law enforcement a clear mandate to act and prevent these types of crimes. Opponents say federal agencies already have the tools they need, and a crackdown could lead to the same types of civil liberties violations associated with the war on international terrorism.
Karen Greenberg at Fordham University says in a politically charged environment like this, the president could choose to designate groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter as domestic terrorist groups.
“It’s the line between speech and action,” said Greenberg, director of Fordham’s Center on National Security. “How broad is support for a terrorist group? How do we define it? I think we have to be very careful about that and do it in a responsible way that understands the excesses that occurred in the name of the war on terror.”
She says the public outcry to label mass shooters as domestic terrorists was as much about optics as process. It came from a need for equality between how homegrown extremists are viewed compared to those abroad.
While she believes the media and politicians treat homegrown extremists as equally dangerous as foreign actors, she says crafting any new law must be done carefully.
“What the FBI needs to be able to do is to look at the American people and say, ‘We can keep you safe,’ but the price can’t be just ignoring of constitutional protections,” Greenberg said.
Additional media coverage on this topic:
Mass Shootings Spur Call for Proactive ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Charges