Washington AG pushes state level ‘Ministry of Truth’ critics say could jail conservatives who express mainstream views

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As the Washington State Attorney General’s Office continues work on a database for police use of force incidents, a House bill would set up a 13-member commission within that same office to develop a data collection process on incidents of “domestic violent extremism,” or DVE.

Although the term DVE is not defined in the bill, under State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s description it would include noncriminal activities or speech.

HB 1333 sponsored by Rep. Bill Ramos, D-Issaquah, creates a Domestic Violent Extremism Commission to develop ways to combat “disinformation and misinformation,” though the two words are not defined in the bill. Also not defined is the term DVE.

The legislation is derived from a recommendation by the Attorney General’s Office own 2022 “Domestic Terrorism” study, which cautioned that “effective State intervention to address these threats has the potential to implicate speech or association that may be protected by the First Amendment, or the individual right to bear arms protected by the Second Amendment.”

Among the report’s recommendations was the creation of a commission to explore not just data collection, but potentially adding a definition of DVE to state statute. State law already addresses hate crimes, and the FBI defines “domestic terrorism” within the context of actual crimes or intent to commit a crime.

However, the attorney general’s 2022 report argues that “rather than exclusively address ‘domestic terrorism’ per se, these recommendations seek to best support Washington State to respond to this panoply of challenges, which together combine to create the threat of — and indeed, are often precursors to — acts of domestic terrorism.”