The final product gives lie to the criticism that immigration/homeland security was “extraneous” to the measure. In truth, it was the other way around! As Bourge notes:
In fact, while the majority of congressional and public attention was paid to the intelligence-restructuring portions of the bill, most of the measure deals with immigration and security issues.
As I mentioned in my column last week, H.R. 10 — the controversial House version — included important provisions to beef up the Border Patrol, detention space, interior enforcement, identity fraud, terrorist travel, and streamlining of the deportation process. Many of these made it through. Mowbray reports:
[One of Rep. James Sensenbrenner's] victor[ies] was the so-called lone wolf provision. Under current law, tracking terrorists who are believed to be acting separate from a terrorist organization or as a lone wolf must be pursued and investigated under criminal, not counterterrorism, law. This places often-severe hurdles in the path of investigators, with a silly double standard of affording civil liberties protections only to suspected terrorists who appear to be acting alone. Yet Democrats opposed this reform.
The Judiciary chairman also won passage of stringent mandatory-minimum sentences for certain terrorism-related convictions. The production, construction, import, export, possession or use of dirty bombs, nukes, surface-to-air missiles and smallpox will now carry a statutory sentence of 25 years to life. If someone is killed, the penalty becomes either life in prison or a death sentence. Democrats opposed these mandatory minimums.
The new Sensenbrenner provisions will strengthen the positions of investigators and prosecutors alike in terrorism cases yet they would have been deemed “too controversial” in final negotiations if the Democrats had not been forced to worry about his immigration proposals.
Less controversial House-authored provisions, which were nonetheless excluded from the original Senate bill, also were included in the final package. Rep. Elton Gallegly, Republican of California, won on a number of fronts, especially on the so-called terrorist travel sections. Most important, though, was a change in the process for renewing the official designation of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).
Every two years, the FBI, CIA, Justice Department, and the State Department must go through a lengthy and cumbersome process to renew the FTO designation of any terrorist group, including for the likes of al Qaeda and Hamas.
So, to free up thousands of man-hours of highly skilled and intensely valuable counterterrorism officials, the intelligence bill includes a Gallegly authored clause that changes the renewal period to every five years and significantly streamlines the process. FTO-designated groups can still petition to be dropped from the list few ever have but now the burden of proof is on them to show that they are not engaged in any forms of terrorism.
Many more miles to go, but these were hard-won and valuable victories. Bravo to the House GOP mavericks. Keep on it.blog comments powered by Disqus
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