Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma City and London Bombings
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freely on paramilitary groups
, but increased wiretapping authority was blocked by
Republicans in Congress who were worried about the curtailment of civil liberties
Basically, the act allowed the Security of State to designate groups as “terrorist,” and
thus made granting visas to their members and providing these groups with humanitarian
aid or donations a crime
. US banks would also have to freeze the funds of the members
of any organization deemed terrorist
. Further, under the Act the government could
“invoke … secret evidence provisions whenever the attorney general determine[d] that
public disclosure of the evidence against an alleged ‘alien terrorist’ would ‘pose a risk to
the national security of the United States or the security of any person’”
. The bill
impacted mainly Muslims who were accused of association with terrorist groups
IV. The Debate: Republicans Defend Civil Liberties against Security-Minded Democrats
With the terror threat shaped as a marginal one, Clinton’s antiterror legislation,
originally proposed in February 1995, appeared out of place. The President was harping
on the threat of hate speech and right-wing zealots
, while forwarding legislation that
made it easier to deport immigrants allegedly linked to terror groups
. Five days after
the bombing, the Senate passed a symbolic resolution condemning the bombing and
praising the President for the rapid aid he helped the victims receive. The resolution also
Lewis, Neil A. “Clinton Plan Would Broaden FBI Powers,” The New York Times, 25 April 1995.
“Republican relativism: wiretap flip-flop,” http://www.tpmcafe.com/node/29838; Congressional Record,
“Comprehensive Antiterrorism Act of 1995,” 13 March 1996 (House), pgs. H2129-H2190; Dempsey and Cole, Terrorism and the Constitution, pg. 134.
Dempsey and Cole, Terrorism and the Constitution, pgs. 136-7.
Dempsey and Cole, Terrorism and the Constitution, pg. 139.
Dempsey and Cole, Terrorism and the Constitution, pg. 144.
Dempsey and Cole, Terrorism and the Constitution, chapter 10.
Kane, Mary. “Clinton Blames Rhetoric of the Ultra-Right,” Times-Picayune (New Orleans), 26 April
Sallee, Rad. “Anti-terrorism proposal spurs fears of attacks on civil liberties,” The Houston Chronicle, 26