Sunday, September 04, 2011

They Hate Us for Our Freedoms

Especially our freedom of speech.

[On Friday] the FBI announced the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, charged with "providing material support" to a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)).

What is the "material support" he allegedly gave? He produced and uploaded a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of U.S. abuses in Abu Ghraib, video of armored trucks exploding after being hit by IEDs, prayer messages about "jihad" from LeT's leader, and -- according to the FBI's Affidavit -- "a number of terrorist logos."


Judging from the description of Ahmad's video in the FBI Affidavit (Ahmad's YouTube account has been removed), the video in question does not go nearly as far [as action clearly protected in the US Constitution] as it does not explicitly advocate violence at all; indeed, it appears not to advocate that anyone do anything. Rather, the FBI believes it is evocative of such advocacy ("designed as propaganda to develop support for LeT"), which makes this prosecution even more troubling.


Let's be very clear about the key point: the Constitution -- specifically the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment -- prohibits the U.S. Government from punishing someone for the political views they express, even if those views include the advocacy of violence against the U.S. and its leaders. One can dislike this legal fact. One can wish it were different. But it is the clear and unambiguous law, and has been since the Supreme Court's unanimous 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio, which overturned the criminal conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had publicly threatened violence against political officials in a speech.


Perhaps the most extreme example of this trend is the fact that a Pakistani man in New York was prosecuted and then sentenced to almost six years in prison for doing nothing more than including a Hezbollah news channel in the package of cable channels he offered for sale to consumers in Brooklyn. On some perverse level, though, all of these individuals are lucky that they are being merely prosecuted rather than targeted with due-process-free assassination. As I documented last month, that is what is being done to U.S. citizen Anwar Awlaki due -- overwhelmingly if not exclusively -- to the U.S. Government's fear of his purely political views.


There is one last point that bears emphasis here. Numerous prominent politicians from both political parties -- Michael Mukasey, Howard Dean, Wes Clark, Tom Ridge, Ed Rendell, Fran Townsend, Rudy Giuliani, and many others -- have not only been enthusiasticaly promoting and advocating on behalf of a designated terrorist organization (MEK of Iran), but they have been receiving substantial amounts of cash from that Terrorist group as they do so. There is only one list of "designated Terrorist organizations" under the law, and MEK is every bit as much on that list as LeT or Al Qaeda are. Yet you will never, ever see those individuals being indicted by the Obama DOJ for their far more extensive -- and paid -- involvement with MEK than, for instance, Ahmad has with LeT.

  Glenn Greenwald

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. There may be some delay before your comment is published. It all depends on how much time M has in the day. But please comment!