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Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma City and London Bombings
Unformatted Document Text:  prescient. It stated that, “while the mood in the US can be compared to that in Britain in 1974 when parliament rushed through the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the wake of the Birmingham bombings, it is by no means certain the Republican majority in Congress will favor a curtailing of civil liberties, especially when targeted against groups that are more likely to have Republican sympathies” 55 . III. The Proposed Legislation and the 1996 Antiterrorism Act Before delving into the year-long debate between the President and Congress over new antiterror legislation, let us first look at the content of the legislation that Clinton proposed, and that was eventually passed. Looking at the legislation here will provide context for the legislative debate that transpired. Clinton’s proposed counter-terror legislation contained the following provisions that made it into the final legislation, which was passed one year after the Oklahoma bombing. The 1996 Antiterrorism Act, “established a special court that would use secret evidence to deport noncitizens accused of association with terrorist groups; it gave the executive branch the power to criminalize fundraising for lawful activities conducted by organizations labeled ‘terrorist’; it repealed the Edwards amendment, which prohibited the FBI from opening investigations based on First Amendment activities; and it resurrected the discredited ideological visa denial provisions of the [1952] McCarran-Walter Act to bar aliens based on their associations rather than their acts” 56 . The legislation allowed the FBI to gather information more 55 O’Clery, Conor. “Clinton calls for tough new laws on terrorism,” 24 April 1995, The Irish Times. 56 Cole, David and James X. Dempsey. Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security. (New York: The New Press 2006), pg. 125. 26

Authors: Rubin, Gabriel.
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prescient. It stated that, “while the mood in the US can be compared to that in Britain in
1974 when parliament rushed through the Prevention of Terrorism Act in the wake of the
Birmingham bombings, it is by no means certain the Republican majority in Congress
will favor a curtailing of civil liberties, especially when targeted against groups that are
more likely to have Republican sympathies
III. The Proposed Legislation and the 1996 Antiterrorism Act
Before delving into the year-long debate between the President and Congress over
new antiterror legislation, let us first look at the content of the legislation that Clinton
proposed, and that was eventually passed. Looking at the legislation here will provide
context for the legislative debate that transpired. Clinton’s proposed counter-terror
legislation contained the following provisions that made it into the final legislation,
which was passed one year after the Oklahoma bombing. The 1996 Antiterrorism Act,
“established a special court that would use secret evidence to deport noncitizens accused
of association with terrorist groups; it gave the executive branch the power to criminalize
fundraising for lawful activities conducted by organizations labeled ‘terrorist’; it repealed
the Edwards amendment, which prohibited the FBI from opening investigations based on
First Amendment activities; and it resurrected the discredited ideological visa denial
provisions of the [1952] McCarran-Walter Act to bar aliens based on their associations
rather than their acts
. The legislation allowed the FBI to gather information more
55
O’Clery, Conor. “Clinton calls for tough new laws on terrorism,” 24 April 1995, The Irish Times.
56
Cole, David and James X. Dempsey. Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the
Name of National Security. (New York: The New Press 2006), pg. 125.
26


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