Patterico's Pontifications

2/23/2010

Speech, Money and Terrorism

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,Terrorism — DRJ @ 3:37 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today the Supreme Court considered whether a Patriot Act provision designed to isolate terrorists violates Americans’ rights to freedom of speech and association:

“The law makes it a crime to provide “material support” to a known terrorist organization. It is designed to isolate terrorists by making it more difficult for them to receive assistance, services, and recruits.

But critics say the government has adopted such a broad reading of “material support” that even peace activists working to persuade a terror group to pursue nonviolent methods of political change would themselves be liable for up to 15 years in prison for providing “support” to terrorists.”

For those inclined to argue that speech and money aren’t the same thing, read Leviticus’ provocative post at The Jury and XRLQ’s response.

— DRJ

14 Responses to “Speech, Money and Terrorism”

  1. Something here does not add up. Suppose I find a terrorist, and say, “Look here, Osama, you should give up violence. Use peaceful means. Follow the ways of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, their ways were far more effective than violence.”

    How have I provided the terrorist “material support?”

    Bored Lawyer (380bc0)

  2. “Something here does not add up. Suppose I find a terrorist, and say, “Look here, Osama, you should give up violence. Use peaceful means. Follow the ways of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, their ways were far more effective than violence.”

    How have I provided the terrorist “material support?””

    Or imagine you send him a copy of Ghandi’s writings, or translate it into a language he can understand….

    imdw (f1cc51)

  3. How have I provided the terrorist “material support?”

    I’ve read the background on this case, and that’s not really what it’s about. It’s an effort to spring some very shady characters by linking their cause to that of “peace activists”.

    Subotai (7236b0)

  4. I think the argument is over whether people can donate time and money in support of their speech.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  5. I responded to Leviticus at The Jury.

    Subotai (7236b0)

  6. I think the argument is over whether people can donate time and money in support of their speech.

    I’ve seen where the plantiff’s are arguing that Lynne Stewart was wrongfuly prosecuted under this statute. After all, all she was guilty of was “speech”.

    Subotai (7236b0)

  7. Link to a detailed discussion of the case and containing links to the briefs up to now, written from a pro-plaintiff POV.

    An excerpt.

    “CCR contends that the challenged provisions violate the First Amendment insofar as they criminalize the provision of forms of support such as the distribution of literature, engaging in political advocacy, participating in peace conferences, training in human rights advocacy, and donating cash and humanitarian assistance, even when such support is intended solely to promote the lawful and non-violent activities of a designated organization. Plaintiffs’ principal complaint is that the statute imposes guilt by association by punishing moral innocents not for their own culpable acts, but for the culpable acts of the groups they have supported. The statute does not require any showing of intent to further terrorist or other illegal activity. We also claimed that the statute was unconstitutionally vague, and that the Secretary of State’s power to designate groups was too broad, giving the executive too much discretionary power to label groups as “terrorist” and turn their supporters into outlaws.

    The statute has played a major role in some of the government’s more dubious terrorism prosecutions in the wake of 9/11. John Walker Lindh was charged with providing “material support” when the government lacked sufficient evidence to pursue treason charges against him. Other high-profile post-9/11 material support cases included the prosecutions of the Lackawanna Six, accused of training at terror camps in Afghanistan; Sami Omar Al Huassayn, an Idaho student accused of running a web site where radical Islamists posted materials (and eventually acquitted by a jury); Ahmed Abu Ali, a Virginian student held in Saudi Arabia at the behest of the United States for over a year, and extradited to face vague charges of material support only after a court order; and radical criminal defense attorney Lynne Stewart. In all these cases the defense claimed the evidence was too thin to support more substantive terrorism charges, and the “material support” allegations were overly vague.”

    Subotai (7236b0)

  8. Giving money to a terrorist organization increases violence and death to Americans.

    Look at money as speech: The Constitution outlaws speech that presents a clear and present danger. You can’t incite the overthrow of the government or incite violence.

    Funding terrorist organizations is inciting and causing violence.

    Even giving money that is used specifically for “charity”–such as Hamas schools and welfare programs–is funding terrorism, because it gives Hamas more money to use for terrorism. They have some of their charity goals funded by your money, so they have to spend less money of their own on charity and then they have more money for terrorism.

    (And also, because the charity helps the terrorist organization build local support, so charity really is part of terrorism, because you need local support to engage in terrorism, to defend your organization. It’s just like how nations try to build support through soft power or how corporations try to build support through charity efforts, to ultimately increase sales.)

    Mitch (f22c18)

  9. Lynn Stewart, and John Walker Lyndh, should have been put up against a wall, and shot!
    End of discussion.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  10. I suppose the Salvation Army singing hymns outside John Gotti’s home would be acquitted. But no amount of “I told them not to do it” will acquit you from participation in a criminal enterprise if you stay in it.

    nk (db4a41)

  11. I actually ended up agreeing with Xrlq point of view in that thread – that money is not “speech”, per se, but rather “whatever you spend it on”, a fungible resource, and that there’s really no point in thinking of money as anything but the object of its “intent” (if you will). That punched some holes in the argument I was originally advancing, I thought.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  12. I actually ended up agreeing with Xrlq point of view in that thread – that money is not “speech”, per se, but rather “whatever you spend it on”, a fungible resource

    Yes. I think the question of the “personhood” of corporations still remains though.

    Subotai (f38aa4)

  13. Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. It puzzles me to no end that in order to accomplish certain ends regarding corporations – allowing them to donate, allowing them to sue and be sued, for instance – our solution has been to classify them as “persons”, rather than simply making point-by-point legislative provisions as necessary.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  14. Please tell me that Sotomayor didn’t argue that this prohibited teaching terrorists to play the harmonica as was reported yesterday.

    Rochf (ae9c58)


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