Tlaib Leads Colleagues to Urge Civil Liberties Be Protected in Wake of Capitol Attack

Jan 19, 2021

WASHINGTON—Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) led nine of her colleagues in sending a letter to Congressional leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging that national security powers not be expanded in light of the attack on the U.S. Capitol that occurred two weeks ago, as such measures often lead to the erosion of Americans’ civil liberties.

“The Trump mob’s success in breaching the Capitol was not due to a lack of resources at the disposal of federal law enforcement, and in this moment we must resist the erosion of our civil liberties and Constitutional freedoms, however well-intentioned proposed security reforms may be,” the lawmakers wrote. “We firmly believe that the national security and surveillance powers of the U.S. government are already too broad, undefined, and unaccountable to the people.”

The letter goes on to list a series of initiatives they say were sold as being necessary to fight extremism but quickly devolved into tools used for the mass violation of human and civil rights, including House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), the USA Patriot Act, and the FBI’s anti-Black Lives Matter Operation Iron Fist. Instead of such initiatives, the lawmakers wrote leadership should set out to achieve the following four goals in their response to the Capitol attack:

  1. Fully investigate the violent January 6, 2021 attack in a non-partisan, transparent manner.
  2. Commit today to release all findings from any investigations into the attack to the public.
  3. Recognize white nationalist and QAnon groups as the national security threat that they are and take action to combat them through existing laws, powers and regulations.
  4. Recognize that the reason that the threat posed by these groups hasn’t already been adequately addressed is because of a deeply ingrained unwillingness and/or hesitancy to act against these groups within all three branches of government, especially in the law enforcement community, including the Department of Justice, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and intelligence agencies, not the result of insufficient domestic national security and/or surveillance powers.

“In the face of great tragedy, we call on you to reject reactionary demands to further erode the rights and liberties of the American people,” the letter concludes.

The letter was cosigned by Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Jamaal Bowman, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Mondaire Jones, Barbara Lee, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley. It’s also been endorsed by the following organizations: Demand Progress, Free Press, Win Without War, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The full text of the letter can be read here.

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