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Free Speech & Civil Rights in the PR Age of Obama

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Headlined to H3 10/13/11

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The dedication of the Martin Luther King National Monument to take place August 28th, 2011--the 50th anniversary of the now historic "I Have A Dream" speech, was postponed as Hurricane Irene pounded the East Coast. The monument is a striking giant sculpture of Dr. King framed by his most famous statements. It is a testimony to social growth that such a monument has been built and is to be honored by our first African-American President--President Obama. A famous quote by King on the nature of democracy is particularly appropriate at this juncture in post-9/11 history. King's book--Where Do We Go From Here : Chaos or Community states it better than I ever could.

..."Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured or forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most indispensable element of greatness--JUSTICE.

(Where Do We Go From Here : Chaos or Community, p. 109).

Little did we know that a greater danger than Irene stood poised to destroy all we hold dear--namely the latest actions taken by the Obama DOJ in the name of this asinine 'war on terror.' It seems that the Obama administration and his DOJ under Eric Holder fear the dangers of 'free speech,' so much that cloaked in an unconstitutional definition of ..."providing material support" to alleged terrorists--American citizens are targeted, arrested and prosecuted (under threat of capital punishment) via the anti-terrorism laws passed after 9/11. Two such cases come to mind--that of Jubair Ahmad, and alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki

Jubair Ahmad--jailed for the crime of 'speech'....

Mere days after the King monument--a monument to free speech and free assembly--was to be dedicated, the FBI announced on Friday September 2, the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad for ..."providing material support" to a designated 'terrorist' organization--Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT).  He now faces a 23 year prison sentence if found guilty.
Ahmad's crime of 'material support' was a 5 minute video criticizing the US government's policy in the Moslem world---NOTHING ELSE. It seems that the Obama administration is determined to protect us from 'dangerous minds.' The problem with this arrest and expected prosecution is the small matter of the BILL OF RIGHTS. Apparently, President Obama and Eric Holder never got the memo.

Since I wanted to get DOJ's opinion--I contacted Eric Holder, his Assistant Attorney General at DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel--Virginia Sietz and the administrator in charge of FOIA requests Carmen L. Mallon. I was contacted by Mallon's subordinate promptly and provided further information regarding the filing of FOIA requests.  I will report the results of my FOIA request upon receipt of any information.

The reason Jubair Ahmad's case is unique lies in the fact that his alleged 'crime' was free speech. While Ahmad's political sympathies may lie with Al Qaeda--last time I checked 'sympathizing' and expressing politically incorrect opinions wasn't illegal. Jubair Ahmad's impending prosecution is blatantly political; possessing no true judicial standing or constitutional merit. The only reason US Department of Justice under Eric Holder and President Obama is able to push this prosecution lies in the vague wording of Patriot regarding the ..."lending material support," provision, to organizations or individuals arbitrarily labeled by the State Department with the 'scarlet letter' of TERRORIST. This power was defended by a recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.

Definition of "material support' provided in Patriot Act"

The June 21st supreme court decision in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, grants the US government the right to CRIMINALIZE POLITICAL SPEECH, by upholding the "material support' provision of this obscene law. The court has legitimized the criminalization of "material support' to those groups or individuals deemed "terrorists' by the Secretary of State, without mandating the government provide any proof or due process procedures. As the Patriot Act is written, "material support'--includes any "service", "training", "expert advice or assistance" or "personnel".

The Obama administration pursued the continuation of these Patriot provisions with exuberance--disregarding the legitimate concerns of civil liberties groups and charities.  Neither the State Department nor the Department of Justice is required to provide any proof of wrongdoing, or in the presence of alleged proof, fulfill the due process requirement of a real trial in a court of law, as opposed to this Star Chamber obscenity.

Using the vague "lending material support' provision--anyone, including former President Jimmy Carter could be secretly imprisoned, stripped of their rights, tortured, tried in absentia and  executed, with no due process involved. In fact, Jimmy Carter was quoted explaining the insanity of this provision;

"We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has upheld a law that inhibits the work of human rights and conflict resolution groups. The "material support law'--which is aimed at putting an end to terrorism--actually threatens our work and the work of many other peacemaking organizations that must interact directly with groups that have engaged in violence. The VAGUE LANGUAGE of the law leaves us wondering if we will be prosecuted for our work to promote peace and freedom."
(Source: http://www.acrnet.org/Educator.aspx?id=935)

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Defends Bill of Rights Against Obama Administration"

The Center for Constitutional Rights was the defender of our rights in this Supreme Court battle against the Obama administration. According to CCR, the vagueness of the "material support' provision not only CRIMINALIZES SPEECH, BOTH HUMANITARIAN AND POLITICAL, but may include the following activities as newly minted CRIMINAL ACTS:

--publishing an op-ed critical of the US government's position;
--attorneys submitting an amicus brief in court to defend the accused;
--distributing literature;
--attending and/or participating in peace conferences not politically sanctioned by the US government;
--providing training in human rights advocacy;
--and many other pure speech activities that the government refuses to enumerate.
(Source: http://ccrjustice.org/learn-more/faqs/factsheet%3A-material-support)

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Working as an urban educator for over 25 years--I 'moonlight' as a writer. I write part-time for The Huffington Post and enjoy the task of curmudgeon,(at least where career politicians are concerned). I consider myself a political independent who (more...)
 
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