In Oslo, Eric Holder Pushes To Target and Criminalize Potential Extremists

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July 8, 2014

Change.govIn a speech in Oslo, Norway, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said

that he expects the number of Americans that travel to Syria to fight alongside Islamic extremists to grow. He also called for targeting westerners for surveillance and potential prosecution if they show signs of becoming radicalized.

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American intelligence estimates that there are about 23,000 fighters in Syria. About 7,000 of these are foreign fighters. Of these, "dozens" come from America and about 50 come from Norway.  One of them is ISIS-spokesperson Abu Safiyya, who recently taunted Obama to buy diapers in a propaganda video.

Holder spent the day reviewing the Norwegian action plan against radicalization with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen. He then called for other countries to enact a four-step multilateral plan to fight the "global crisis of influx of U.S.- and European-born violent extremists into Syria."

"If we wait for our nations’ citizens to travel to Syria or Iraq to become radicalized, and to return home, it may be too late to adequately protect our national security," said Holder.

He asked that other countries join the U.S., France, and Norway to enact laws that criminalize preparatory acts to terrorism. The plan also includes use of undercover operations to identify people that are planning to travel to Syria to fight. Holder pointed out that the FBI already has conducted several successful operations that have identified people that were planning to leave America to fight in Syria.

The third step in the plan includes international collaboration and intelligence-sharing, including information about travelers.

Interpol and its Fusion Task Force will coordinate this effort. He also called for mutual legal assistance and extradition of foreign fighters to combat violent extremism. Finally he called for countries to enact counter-radicalization programs, such as the Norwegian one.

The Norwegian plan includes 30 steps ranging from research on radicalization and public awareness campaigns to detailed plans for how schools officials, social security officials, and law enforcement officials should deal with reports about individuals that might be in the radicalization process.

Holder emphasized the administration’s commitment to civil rights throughout the speech. This was probably to reassure people who would have rightful concerns about even closer international intelligence-sharing collaborations and law enforcement misconduct. Failed projects such as the illegal no-fly list come to mind.

"While we are committed to ensuring that we protect the safety of our fellow citizens, we are also committed to protecting their privacy," he said. "These undercover operations are conducted with extraordinary care and precision, ensuring that law enforcement officials are accountable for the steps they take—and that suspects are neither entrapped nor denied legal protections."

The Attorney General reiterated his proposal that the U.S. should enact legislation that would permit non-U.S. citizens to seek judicial redress for access, rectification, and disclosure of law enforcement information transferred to the U.S.

"This is an historic commitment by the United States to extend privacy protections beyond U.S. persons in this context," he said.

It would indeed be a historic commitment, if enacted and implemented.

Lene Johansen is a freelance reporter based in Norway. Her work can be found at http://www.lenejohansen.com.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Could someone kindly explain why it matters to the US government if a handful of American idiots run off to fight for a godforsaken patch of desert on the other side of the planet? Seems to me that luring gullible morons into doing just that constitutes a significant portion of America's foreign policy.

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  • Dances-with-Trolls

    They're worried about Jihad-Colonialism? Can't have American Jihadis appropriating authentic ME religious fanaticism.

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  • Dances-with-Trolls

    He also called for targeting westerners for surveillance and potential prosecution if they show signs of becoming radicalized.

    Thoughtcrime. Awesome.

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  • Are those, like, *gang* signs?

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  • "These undercover operations are conducted with extraordinary care and precision, ensuring that law enforcement officials are accountable for the steps they take—and that suspects are neither entrapped nor denied legal protections."

    Seriously. I laughed out loud.

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  • Notorious G.K.C.

    [a few years later]

    "But they *told* us they used extraordinary care and precision and gave people legal protections!"

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  • Are you sure this won't detract from the DoJ's mission of building fake bombs for idiots since they stole the idea from

    Back to the Future?

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  • The open boarders people apparently have some kind of creature out of Star Wars on their side. And they want Holder to investigate and prosecute the protesters out in California.

    Sometimes brown people are not so groovy.

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  • The Tequila Party? No wonder their demands are angry and nonsensical.

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  • Although I'm totally stealing this one from the Instapundit comments:


    mark l

    Tequila party...

    Arguing that fat, drunk, and stupid is the best way to go through life since 2014.

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  • What's an open boarder? Is it like surgery on the couch?

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  • ant1sthenes

    Maybe it's a more extreme faction of the pro-immigration movement demanding that the migrants be placed in Americans' house.

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  • America is a ship that they are openly boarding! Hope it doesn't capsize!

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  • ant1sthenes

    I'd hate for the continental US to end up like Guam.

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  • Dee Dee Garcia Blase

    Please, PLEASE let it be pronounced "Blah-zay"!

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  • I think its pronounced "GAR-sha".

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  • ant1sthenes

    "Asked about the First Amendment rights of Tea Party protestors and other demonstrators, Blase said:

    Per California Lawyer via Ruben Salazar, here are some Constitutional principles to consider from the Supreme Court which limit our 1st Amendment rights:

    1) Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio enunciated the "imminent lawless action doctrine," and held that speech is not protected by the 1st Amendment if the speaker intends to incite a violation of the law that is both imminent and likely. "

    I can see no way in which such a notion might be used to the detriment of supporters of illegal immigration.

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  • ant1sthenes|7.8.14 @ 3:06PM|#

    Well, it's not a big deal if they go off and fight in the Middle East. You can just make sure that they don't come back in afterwards. Oh, wait...

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  • GILMORE|7.8.14 @ 3:09PM|#

    Domestic Extremism = Out of Control

    'Extremism' is really a handy word in how it completely allows you to avoid the substance of what a person's views actually *are* and just write them off as beyond the pale of what any reasonable person would possibly entertain.

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  • kilroy|7.8.14 @ 3:28PM|#

    But extremism is such a useful category and you can cast a nice wide net.

    If you visit the forum page for the popular Linux Journal, dedicated
    to the open-source operating system Linux, you could be fingerprinted
    regardless of where you live because the XKeystore source code
    designates the Linux Journal as an “extremist forum.”

    There's an app for that ...

    -- Sent from my Linux system using and Extremist Keyboard (tm)

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  • SusanM|7.8.14 @ 3:30PM|#

    Is this a "Mission Accomplished, folks" story or a "Hope and Change, folks" story. It's getting hard to tell lately.

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  • Robert|7.8.14 @ 4:09PM|#

    How would you try to prevent people from becoming radicalized? Give them downers, maybe? Some other way of promoting moder'n?

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