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JasonF 01-04-11 12:16 AM

Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
... at least according to the Supreme Court. Personally, I disagree, but unless Congress changes the law, it sounds like Rudy et al. ought to get used to wearing orange jumpsuits.


Chewing Gum for Terrorists
By DAVID COLE
Published: January 2, 2011

Did former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Tom Ridge, a former homeland security secretary, and Frances Townsend, a former national security adviser, all commit a federal crime last month in Paris when they spoke in support of the Mujahedeen Khalq at a conference organized by the Iranian opposition group’s advocates? Free speech, right? Not necessarily.

The problem is that the United States government has labeled the Mujahedeen Khalq a “foreign terrorist organization,” making it a crime to provide it, directly or indirectly, with any material support. And, according to the Justice Department under Mr. Mukasey himself, as well as under the current attorney general, Eric Holder, material support includes not only cash and other tangible aid, but also speech coordinated with a “foreign terrorist organization” for its benefit.
It is therefore a felony, the government has argued, to file an amicus brief on behalf of a “terrorist” group, to engage in public advocacy to challenge a group’s “terrorist” designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe Mr. Mukasey and his compatriots had every right to say what they did. Indeed, I argued just that in the Supreme Court, on behalf of the Los Angeles-based Humanitarian Law Project, which fought for more than a decade in American courts for its right to teach the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey how to bring human rights claims before the United Nations, and to assist them in peace overtures to the Turkish government.

But in June, the Supreme Court ruled against us, stating that all such speech could be prohibited, because it might indirectly support the group’s terrorist activity. Chief Justice John Roberts reasoned that a terrorist group might use human rights advocacy training to file harassing claims, that it might use peacemaking assistance as a cover while re-arming itself, and that such speech could contribute to the group’s “legitimacy,” and thus increase its ability to obtain support elsewhere that could be turned to terrorist ends. Under the court’s decision, former President Jimmy Carter’s election monitoring team could be prosecuted for meeting with and advising Hezbollah during the 2009 Lebanese elections.

The government has similarly argued that providing legitimate humanitarian aid to victims of war or natural disasters is a crime if provided to or coordinated with a group labeled as a “foreign terrorist organization” — even if there is no other way to get the aid to the region in need. Yet The Times recently reported that the Treasury Department, under a provision ostensibly intended for humanitarian aid, was secretly granting licenses to American businesses to sell billions of dollars worth of food and goods to the very countries we have blockaded for their support of terrorism. Some of the “humanitarian aid” exempted? Cigarettes, popcorn and chewing gum.

Under current law, it seems, the right to make profits is more sacrosanct than the right to petition for peace, and the need to placate American businesses more compelling than the need to provide food and shelter to earthquake victims and war refugees.

Congress should reform the laws governing material support of terrorism. It should make clear that speech advocating only lawful, nonviolent activities — as Michael Mukasey and Rudolph Giuliani did in Paris — is not a crime. The First Amendment protects even speech advocating criminal activity, unless it is intended and likely to incite imminent lawless conduct. The risk that speech advocating peace and human rights would further terrorism is so remote that it cannot outweigh the indispensable value of protecting dissent.

At the same time, Congress also needs to reform the humanitarian aid exemption. It should state clearly that corporate interests in making profits from cigarettes are not sufficient to warrant exemptions from sanctions on state sponsors of terrorism. But Congress should also protect the provision of legitimate humanitarian aid — food, water, medical aid and shelter — in response to wars or natural disasters. Genuine humanitarian aid and free speech can and should be preserved without undermining our interests in security.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/op...=1&ref=opinion

I doubt that any of these guys will be prosecuted. Nor should they be, but it's ridiculous that this law is even on the books.

orangecrush 01-04-11 09:34 AM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 

Originally Posted by JasonF (Post 10572385)
... at least according to the Supreme Court. Personally, I disagree, but unless Congress changes the law, it sounds like Rudy et al. ought to get used to wearing orange jumpsuits.



http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/op...=1&ref=opinion

I doubt that any of these guys will be prosecuted. Nor should they be, but it's ridiculous that this law is even on the books.

Bah, what's one more stupid law if it helps keep the children safe? Why won't someone think of the children?

clappj 01-04-11 11:13 AM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
Thanks goodness there are no elected Democrats that all felons!

JasonF 01-04-11 11:45 AM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 

Originally Posted by clappj (Post 10572792)
Thanks goodness there are no elected Democrats that all felons!

The article mentions President Carter as having violated this law as well, but it's been more than 30 years since he held elected office. But maybe he and Mayor Giulliani can share a cell. I'd watch a show with that premise.

Th0r S1mpson 01-04-11 11:52 AM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
They're just trying to make inroads on the Felon vote, which swings substantially Democrat.

Lemmy 01-04-11 11:53 AM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
Politicians are felons and hide the fact? Color me unsurprised and unimpressed.

Sean O'Hara 01-04-11 02:36 PM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
Dammit, Grundle, stop -- oh, wait, this is a JasonF thread. I thought it was strange that a Grundle thread was bashing Republicans.

creekdipper 01-13-11 01:35 AM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
I thought the title was implying that ALL prominent Republicans are felons, and I was all set to agree.

Then I saw that this just applied to a few instances.

Very disappointing thread.

Fail.

Supermallet 01-13-11 01:55 AM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
I disagree!

creekdipper 01-13-11 09:35 AM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 

Originally Posted by Suprmallet (Post 10587619)
I disagree!

Spoken like a truly felonous Republican!

You have obviously been converted to the Dark Side by watching too much Fox. Their nefarious subliminal messages can mess with even the most hardened liberal ideologies.

Mallet has fallen prey to psychological warfare and must be rescued!!!!

Where is TRON when you need him?

JasonF 01-28-11 07:45 PM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
Mods, looks like it's time for a title update, since we've got some felonious Democrats too:


Big Time Dems Join GOPers In Support Of Iranian Terror Group
Eric Lach | January 28, 2011, 10:13AM

Last Thursday in Washington D.C., a prominent group of former government officials gathered for a panel on Iran. Among them were a former National Security Adviser, a former CENTCOM Commander, a former Democratic Senator, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, a former Republican Attorney General, a former Republican Homeland Security Secretary, a former CIA Director and a former FBI Director. Almost to a man -- and they were all men -- they expressed support for a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

The panel, organized by a consulting firm called Executive Action, LLC, was called "Iran's Nuclear, Terrorist Threats and Rights Abuses: After Engagement and Sanctions, What?" and the group in question is the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, also known as the MEK.

Getting the MEK off the United States' list of terrorist organizations has become a top priority for "members of Congress, former Bush administration officials, and Iran experts touting an overtly anti-regime policy," according to The Christian Science Monitor. Last month, TPM reported how former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey flew to Paris to speak at an MEK event.

"Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives," Giuliani told the crowd there. "For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace."

At last week's panel, a pair of prominent Democrats -- former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) -- and several national security experts added their voices to the pro-MEK chorus. The panelists argued that delisting the MEK would show the Iranian government that the U.S. is serious, and that delisting would, like sanctions, fall in a productive middle ground between unfruitful diplomatic talks and outright military force.

"Does it make sense that we continue to ostracize, label opponents of the regime as terrorists, when the facts say otherwise," Torricelli, who moderated the event, said in his opening statement. "Is it even possible to oppose a terrorist state, and be a terrorist yourself?"

Former Attorney General Mukasey argued that delisting the organization "would show that we recognize MEK as a group that is dedicated to restoring freedom in Iran," and said the MEK was "interested only in bringing to their country the same benefits of freedom that we have."

"This is a nascent, an important movement," former CENTCOM Commander Anthony Zinni said, adding that the U.S. needs to "quit resisting reaching out and grabbing the hand of the opposition."

Richardson, who once served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, advocated for the use of sanctions, but said, "that has to be combined with new approaches to talk to the Iranian people -- one is through the MEK group. At least give them some credibility, and talk to them, and find ways that we work together."

Richardson also called for "protecting the rights of those at the camp," referring to Camp Ashraf, the MEK's base in Iraq, which has been the subject of debate since the U.S. invaded in 2003, and was recently attacked. He then added: "That was something that I was not aware of until this morning."

James Woolsey, former CIA Director, stressed the importance of acting now against the regime in Iran.

"It is not 1933, it's 1938," he said.

Gen. James Jones, who was Obama's National Security Adviser until last fall, spoke at length about Iran policy, but, unlike the other speakers, his remarks made no mention of the MEK.

In his closing statements, Torricelli said "the listing of the MEK as a terrorist organization by the United States government is wrong." He went on:


It is wrong as a matter of law, it is contrary to the facts, it is interfering with the rights of American citizens to be heard, and it is contrary to American foreign policy. And having expatriate groups of Iranians from around the world organize, as is their right and their responsibility, to bring to the country of their ancestors' birth a responsible government. I call upon Secretary Clinton, who I consider a dear friend and one of the finest leaders in the history of our country, to do what she knows is right, end the policy and end it now.
Torricelli received a standing ovation from the crowd, which included many Iranian-Americans.

MEK support is not new in Washington. When the MEK's leader Maryam Rajavi was arrested in France in 2003, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) were among those who protested publicly. ''There is a move afoot among Pentagon hard-liners to use them as an opposition in the future," an anonymous Bush Administration official told The New York Times at the time. And in 2009, 120 House members backed a resolution calling on President Obama to prevent the relocation of MEK members from Camp Ashraf in Iraq. But the latest panel boasted the most high-profile officials to come out in support of the group.

So what is the MEK? The State Department website states that the group "advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian regime and was responsible for the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970's." When it was founded by students in the 1960s, the group's philosophy blended Marxism and Islam, and it later developed a strong feminist bent. In fact, according to The New York Times, the MEK became for a time the "only army in the world with a commander corps composed mostly of women." Membership is in the several thousands, with large pockets in several European capitals. About 3,400 live at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, where they have been declared "protected persons" under the Geneva Convention -- a status that does not apply to members living outside the camp. [Update: The State Department's list of terrorist organizations included a mention of the "protected persons" status until 2008, but the 2009 list makes no mention of it.]

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the group fell out of favor with Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1981, the MEK attempted to overthrow the regime, which responded by arresting and targeting group members. In a subsequent bombing campaign, the MEK managed to kill Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. One bomb cost current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei the use of his right arm. Popular sentiment in Iran turned against the MEK, and the group fled, first to France, and then, in 1986, to Iraq, where they were offered safe haven by Saddam Hussein.

Hussein armed the MEK with tanks and other heavy military equipment, and deployed "thousands of MEK fighters in suicidal, mass wave attacks against Iranian forces" during the Iran-Iraq war, according to the State Department. In 1991, Hussein used the MEK to crack down on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. ''Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards," MEK leader Maryam Rajavi commanded her troops at the time, according to The New York Times. During the rest of the 1990s, and through 2001, the MEK was engaged in various anti-Iranian attacks and operations, and it received millions of dollars in Oil-for-Food program subsidies from Hussein. None of the speakers at last week's panel mentioned the MEK's prior ties with Hussein.

The State Department states that the MEK maintains "the capacity and will" to commit terrorist acts across the world. But the members living at Camp Ashraf agreed to be disarmed in 2003, and surrendered two thousand tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery pieces. And the group's political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which maintains offices in several capitals, says its goal is to establish a "pluralist democracy" in Iran. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the MEK "has had little success luring new recruits and is composed mostly of its founding members."

Several of the speakers at last week's panel said it's widely known that the MEK was put on the terrorist list in 1997 as a nod to Iran's then-new reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. None of the speakers, however, said that the State Department considers the group to have "cult-like characteristics," and that Maryam Rajavi has established a cult of personality. MEK members are not allowed to marry, attend weekly "ideological cleansings" and children are separated from parents. When Elizabeth Rubin, a New York Times Magazine reporter, toured Camp Ashraf in 2003, she found Rajavi's image displayed "almost as ubiquitously as the image of Saddam in Iraq or Khomeini in Iran."

''Every morning and night, the kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,'' Nadereh Afshari, a former MEK member, told Rubin. And inside Iran? Rubin reported that, at the time, "the street protesters risking their lives and disappearing inside the regime's prisons consider the Mujahedeen a plague -- as toxic, if not more so, than the ruling clerics."

So what brought Washington heavyweights to the MEK cause? It remains unclear. The group's political arm is known to have a global support network and active lobbying efforts in major Western capitals. Being delisted would allow the group to fundraise and operate freely in the U.S. The State Department claims that since the fall of Hussein, the group has had to rely on front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities. Meanwhile, the group that has been organizing the panels, Executive Action, LLC, bills itself as "a McKinsey & Company with muscle." From the group's website:


If you are under attack by political or business adversaries, unsure of how to do business in emerging markets, or being treated unfairly in the media, then you need ExecutiveAction.
This week, The Wall Street Journal reports, Jones and Richardson were in Brussels, for yet another pro-MEK panel, this one alongside former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmem...iranian_te.php

There's video of the panel at the link.

JasonF 01-28-11 07:45 PM

re: Prominent Republicans are Felons (and yes even Democrats)
 
Mods, looks like it's time for a title update, since we've got some felonious Democrats too:


Big Time Dems Join GOPers In Support Of Iranian Terror Group
Eric Lach | January 28, 2011, 10:13AM

Last Thursday in Washington D.C., a prominent group of former government officials gathered for a panel on Iran. Among them were a former National Security Adviser, a former CENTCOM Commander, a former Democratic Senator, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, a former Republican Attorney General, a former Republican Homeland Security Secretary, a former CIA Director and a former FBI Director. Almost to a man -- and they were all men -- they expressed support for a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

The panel, organized by a consulting firm called Executive Action, LLC, was called "Iran's Nuclear, Terrorist Threats and Rights Abuses: After Engagement and Sanctions, What?" and the group in question is the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, also known as the MEK.

Getting the MEK off the United States' list of terrorist organizations has become a top priority for "members of Congress, former Bush administration officials, and Iran experts touting an overtly anti-regime policy," according to The Christian Science Monitor. Last month, TPM reported how former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey flew to Paris to speak at an MEK event.

"Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives," Giuliani told the crowd there. "For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace."

At last week's panel, a pair of prominent Democrats -- former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) -- and several national security experts added their voices to the pro-MEK chorus. The panelists argued that delisting the MEK would show the Iranian government that the U.S. is serious, and that delisting would, like sanctions, fall in a productive middle ground between unfruitful diplomatic talks and outright military force.

"Does it make sense that we continue to ostracize, label opponents of the regime as terrorists, when the facts say otherwise," Torricelli, who moderated the event, said in his opening statement. "Is it even possible to oppose a terrorist state, and be a terrorist yourself?"

Former Attorney General Mukasey argued that delisting the organization "would show that we recognize MEK as a group that is dedicated to restoring freedom in Iran," and said the MEK was "interested only in bringing to their country the same benefits of freedom that we have."

"This is a nascent, an important movement," former CENTCOM Commander Anthony Zinni said, adding that the U.S. needs to "quit resisting reaching out and grabbing the hand of the opposition."

Richardson, who once served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, advocated for the use of sanctions, but said, "that has to be combined with new approaches to talk to the Iranian people -- one is through the MEK group. At least give them some credibility, and talk to them, and find ways that we work together."

Richardson also called for "protecting the rights of those at the camp," referring to Camp Ashraf, the MEK's base in Iraq, which has been the subject of debate since the U.S. invaded in 2003, and was recently attacked. He then added: "That was something that I was not aware of until this morning."

James Woolsey, former CIA Director, stressed the importance of acting now against the regime in Iran.

"It is not 1933, it's 1938," he said.

Gen. James Jones, who was Obama's National Security Adviser until last fall, spoke at length about Iran policy, but, unlike the other speakers, his remarks made no mention of the MEK.

In his closing statements, Torricelli said "the listing of the MEK as a terrorist organization by the United States government is wrong." He went on:


It is wrong as a matter of law, it is contrary to the facts, it is interfering with the rights of American citizens to be heard, and it is contrary to American foreign policy. And having expatriate groups of Iranians from around the world organize, as is their right and their responsibility, to bring to the country of their ancestors' birth a responsible government. I call upon Secretary Clinton, who I consider a dear friend and one of the finest leaders in the history of our country, to do what she knows is right, end the policy and end it now.
Torricelli received a standing ovation from the crowd, which included many Iranian-Americans.

MEK support is not new in Washington. When the MEK's leader Maryam Rajavi was arrested in France in 2003, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) were among those who protested publicly. ''There is a move afoot among Pentagon hard-liners to use them as an opposition in the future," an anonymous Bush Administration official told The New York Times at the time. And in 2009, 120 House members backed a resolution calling on President Obama to prevent the relocation of MEK members from Camp Ashraf in Iraq. But the latest panel boasted the most high-profile officials to come out in support of the group.

So what is the MEK? The State Department website states that the group "advocates the violent overthrow of the Iranian regime and was responsible for the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970's." When it was founded by students in the 1960s, the group's philosophy blended Marxism and Islam, and it later developed a strong feminist bent. In fact, according to The New York Times, the MEK became for a time the "only army in the world with a commander corps composed mostly of women." Membership is in the several thousands, with large pockets in several European capitals. About 3,400 live at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, where they have been declared "protected persons" under the Geneva Convention -- a status that does not apply to members living outside the camp. [Update: The State Department's list of terrorist organizations included a mention of the "protected persons" status until 2008, but the 2009 list makes no mention of it.]

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the group fell out of favor with Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1981, the MEK attempted to overthrow the regime, which responded by arresting and targeting group members. In a subsequent bombing campaign, the MEK managed to kill Chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar. One bomb cost current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei the use of his right arm. Popular sentiment in Iran turned against the MEK, and the group fled, first to France, and then, in 1986, to Iraq, where they were offered safe haven by Saddam Hussein.

Hussein armed the MEK with tanks and other heavy military equipment, and deployed "thousands of MEK fighters in suicidal, mass wave attacks against Iranian forces" during the Iran-Iraq war, according to the State Department. In 1991, Hussein used the MEK to crack down on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. ''Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards," MEK leader Maryam Rajavi commanded her troops at the time, according to The New York Times. During the rest of the 1990s, and through 2001, the MEK was engaged in various anti-Iranian attacks and operations, and it received millions of dollars in Oil-for-Food program subsidies from Hussein. None of the speakers at last week's panel mentioned the MEK's prior ties with Hussein.

The State Department states that the MEK maintains "the capacity and will" to commit terrorist acts across the world. But the members living at Camp Ashraf agreed to be disarmed in 2003, and surrendered two thousand tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery pieces. And the group's political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which maintains offices in several capitals, says its goal is to establish a "pluralist democracy" in Iran. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the MEK "has had little success luring new recruits and is composed mostly of its founding members."

Several of the speakers at last week's panel said it's widely known that the MEK was put on the terrorist list in 1997 as a nod to Iran's then-new reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. None of the speakers, however, said that the State Department considers the group to have "cult-like characteristics," and that Maryam Rajavi has established a cult of personality. MEK members are not allowed to marry, attend weekly "ideological cleansings" and children are separated from parents. When Elizabeth Rubin, a New York Times Magazine reporter, toured Camp Ashraf in 2003, she found Rajavi's image displayed "almost as ubiquitously as the image of Saddam in Iraq or Khomeini in Iran."

''Every morning and night, the kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,'' Nadereh Afshari, a former MEK member, told Rubin. And inside Iran? Rubin reported that, at the time, "the street protesters risking their lives and disappearing inside the regime's prisons consider the Mujahedeen a plague -- as toxic, if not more so, than the ruling clerics."

So what brought Washington heavyweights to the MEK cause? It remains unclear. The group's political arm is known to have a global support network and active lobbying efforts in major Western capitals. Being delisted would allow the group to fundraise and operate freely in the U.S. The State Department claims that since the fall of Hussein, the group has had to rely on front organizations to solicit contributions from expatriate Iranian communities. Meanwhile, the group that has been organizing the panels, Executive Action, LLC, bills itself as "a McKinsey & Company with muscle." From the group's website:


If you are under attack by political or business adversaries, unsure of how to do business in emerging markets, or being treated unfairly in the media, then you need ExecutiveAction.
This week, The Wall Street Journal reports, Jones and Richardson were in Brussels, for yet another pro-MEK panel, this one alongside former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton.
http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmem...iranian_te.php

There's video of the panel at the link.


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