Attacks renew debate: Should US have domestic terrorism law?

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Attacks renew debate: Should US have domestic terrorism law?
In this courtroom sketch, Cesar Sayoc, left, appears in federal court, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Miami. Sayoc is accused of sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats around the country. If foreign citizens had mailed pipe bombs to prominent Democrats, or massacred Jews in a synagogue, there’s a good chance they would have been charged with terrorism. But that won’t happen with either of the men charged in the recent wave of mail bombs and the Pittsburgh shootings. That’s because there’s no domestic terrorism law. (Daniel Pontet via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The package bombs sent to Democrats across the county and the killings of Jews at a synagogue may seem like clear-cut cases of terrorism. But the suspects will almost certainly never face terrorism charges.

That’s because there’s no domestic terrorism law.

Whether there should be one is a matter of debate. On one hand, there’s the belief that white supremacists who kill for ideology should get the same label as ISIS supporters. On the other, there’s concern about infringing on constitutional free speech protections.

In the absence of domestic terrorism laws, the Justice Department relies on other statutes to prosecute ideologically motivated violence by people with no international ties. That makes it hard to track how often extremists driven by religious, racial or anti-government bias commit violence in the U.S.