Was the January 6 attack on the Capitol an act of “terrorism”?


WASHINGTON – After a crowd of Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill last year, many Democrats and Republicans denounced the riot using terms like “terrorism.” But many Republicans then backed down from such condemnations as they sought to realign with former President Donald J. Trump.

the most publicized example to date arrived Thursday, when Fox News host Tucker Carlson accused Senator Ted Cruz of deliberately lying because he continued to label the events of January 6 as a terrorist attack, including at a Senate hearing this week.

Mr. Cruz, a Republican from Texas, apologized, calling his wording “downright stupid” and saying he was only referring to rioters who assaulted police. Mr. Carlson, who hinted that Jan. 6 may have been a plot to justify a “purge” of “patriots” supporting Trump, rejected Mr. Cruz’s explanation, citing his consistent use of the term during the past year to describe the Attack on the Capitol.

Here’s a closer look at the heavy debate over the use of the word.

It is essentially politically motivated violence.

Denouncing Mr. Cruz, Mr. Carlson said that “by no definition” January 6 was “a terrorist attack“. But Congress passed a status which defines domestic terrorism as life-threatening criminal offenses unrelated to foreign countries which appear to seek to “influence government policy through intimidation or coercion”.

According to this definition, some of the events of January 6 “were acts of domestic terrorism, and that is correct whether or not this applies to every individual,” said Marie mccord, who served as a senior Justice Department national security official in the Obama administration and early in the Trump era.

She added, “We are talking about acts that are dangerous to human life and that violate criminal laws, and they were certainly committed to influence government policy because they were trying to prevent the Electoral College from being counted. “

No. More than 700 people have been charged to date in connection with the attack on Capitol Hill, and they are charged with an array of crimes. Just as only some have been charged with conspiracy and obstructing due process, only some have been charged with violent offenses such as assaulting police officers and destroying government property. Others were charged only with non-violent crimes, such as entering a restricted building illegally.

Mr Cruz told Mr Carlson that at the Senate hearing this week he was not saying that “the thousands of peaceful protesters supporting Donald Trump are sort of terrorists.” On the contrary, he argued, he was simply using the term to refer to the people who attacked the police – an explanation that Mr Carlson, who agreed that these people should go to jail but maintained that they did not ‘weren’t terrorists either, rejected.

On several occasions, Mr. Cruz widely called the assault on Capitol Hill an “act of terrorism” without specifically limiting his remarks to police attackers. In an interview one day after the riot, for example, he described “the terrorist attack” as “a traumatic experience for everyone in the building and everyone across the country”, and he called a rioter who “broke into the hall. Senate “and” caused damage “to” terrorist. “

No. Mr. Carlson asked Mr. Cruz: “How many people were charged with terrorism on January 6?” The answer is zero, but this fact is deeply misleading.

Congress – despite establishing a legal definition of “domestic terrorism” – has not created any autonomous federal crimes so called. As a result, it is not possible for prosecutors to accuse one of the January 6 rioters of “terrorism” regardless of whether they committed terrorist acts.

Yes. Dozens of defendants face charges that will give prosecutors the opportunity to seek longer sentences citing the context of domestic terrorism. It is not yet clear how tough prosecutors and judges will be when the time comes to convict uncooperative defendants who insist on being tried and then sentenced, rather than making plea deals.

In a law, for example, Congress approximately four dozen offenses deemed to qualify as a “federal crime of terrorism” whether the acts were “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against the conduct of government”. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, such a conviction may result in a much longer prison sentence.

The list includes destruction of government property, a charge 44 defendants face to date, according to the count of the Ministry of Justice of the cases of January 6. The list also includes a “weapon of mass destruction” charge that may be brought if the FBI finds out anyone who planted homemade bombs in front of Capitol Hill headquarters of the two major political parties the day before the riot.

In addition, two defendants have so far been charged with making false statements. Under a separate law, prosecutors can seek a sentence of up to eight years, instead of five, if such lies involve domestic terrorism.

Because nobody likes terrorists. And in everyday parlance, unlike legal definitions, drawing the line between “terrorism” and less derogatory terms for politically motivated violence can be notoriously subjective.

“Why did you use that word? Mr. Carlson asked Mr. Cruz.

He accused the senator of playing the role of “the other side” seeking to smear the “entire population” of Trump supporters as “foreign fighters”, equating it with labels like “insurgency” and ” Rebellion “.

Notably, during nationwide protests after the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, Mr Carlson called the Justice Department to accuse “each person filmed setting a building on fire, destroying a monument, degrading a church” of terrorism.

“Call them what they really are – national terrorists,” he said, adding, “That would be their new government-approved title. Once they’re loaded, it’s official. In fact, they are literally, in fact, accused terrorists, and that would change hearts right away.


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