American Citizen's Internet Criticism of US Policy Leads to 'Terrorism' Conviction
December 20, 2011
Abby Goodnough / The New York Times & Madison Ruppert / End The Lie
An American citizen from an upscale Boston suburb has been convicted of conspiring to support Al Qaeda and of other terrorism charges. Massachusetts College graduate, Tarek Mehanna, was accused of "promoting violent jihad on the Internet." The ACLU warns that identifying free speech as "material support of terrorism" is unconstitutional and self-efeating since it "only drives ideas underground, where they cannot be openly debated or refuted."
US Citizen Is Convicted in Plot to Support Al Qaeda
Abby Goodnough / The New York Times
BOSTON (December 20 2011) -- An American citizen from an upscale suburb here was convicted on Tuesday of conspiring to support Al Qaeda and of other terrorism charges.
Federal prosecutors told the jury that Tarek Mehanna, 29, of Sudbury, traveled to Yemen in 2004 to train as a terrorist with the goal of attacking American soldiers in Iraq. Mr. Mehanna, a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, failed to get the training, but then returned home and conspired to help Al Qaeda by promoting violent jihad on the Internet, prosecutors said.
The jury deliberated for about 10 hours, after hearing 31 days of testimony. It found Mr. Mehanna guilty on all charges, including conspiring to kill in a foreign country and lying to investigators, as well as conspiring to support terrorists. In the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks, the government has won many such convictions using a federal law that makes it a crime to provide "material support" to foreign terrorist groups.
Mr. Mehanna's lawyer, J. W. Carney Jr., said he would appeal.
"The charges scare people," he told reporters after the verdict was announced. "The charges scared us when we first saw them. But the more that we looked at the evidence, the more that we got to know our client Tarek, the more we believed in his innocence."
During the trial, prosecutors said Mr. Mehanna considered himself part of Al Qaeda's "media wing," translating and posting materials online that glorified jihad. But the defense argued that Mr. Mehanna was well within his First Amendment rights in posting such content and that he was expressing his own views against American foreign policy, not working with Al Qaeda.
The defense also said Mr. Mehanna had gone to Yemen in 2004 to study Islamic law and Arabic, not to train as a terrorist.
In a statement Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said the verdict "undermines" the First Amendment.
"Speech about even the most unpopular ideas serves as a safety valve for the expression of dissent," the group said, "while government suppression of speech only drives ideas underground, where they cannot be openly debated or refuted."
The Entire United States Is Now a War Zone:
S.1867 passes the Senate with massive support
Madison Ruppert, Editor of End The Lie, Article Source, Short
(December 17, 2011) -- This is one of the most tragic events I have written about since establishing End the Lie over eight months ago: the horrendous bill that would turn all of America into a battlefield and subject American citizens to indefinite military detention without charge or trial has passed the Senate.
To make matters even worse, only seven of our so-called representatives voted against the bill, proving once and for all (if anyone had any doubt remaining) that our government does not work for us in any way, shape, or form.
S.1867, or the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year of 2012, passed with a resounding 93-7 vote.
That’s right, 93 of our Senators voted to literally eviscerate what little rights were still protected after the PATRIOT Act was hastily pushed in the wake of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.
The NDAA cuts Pentagon spending by $43 billion from last year’s budget, a number so insignificant when compared to the $662 billion still (officially) allocated, it is almost laughable.
The bill also contained an amendment which enacts strict new sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank and any entities that do business with it, a move which will likely have brutal repercussions for the Iranian people -- just like the sanctions on Iraq did.
Not a single Senator voted against this amendment, which was voted on soon before the entirety of S.1867 was passed, despite the hollow threats of a veto from the Obama White House.
Based simply on historical precedent, I trust Obama’s promises as much as I trust the homeless man who told me he was John F. Kennedy.
I wish that I could believe that the Obama administration would strike down this horrific bill but I would be quite ignorant and naïve if I did so.
Furthermore, the White House’s official statement doesn’t even say that they will veto the bill. In fact, it says, "the President’s senior advisers [will] recommend a veto."
As Glenn Greenwald points out, the objection isn’t even about opposing the detention of accused terrorists without a trial, instead it is the contention that, "whether an accused Terrorist is put in military detention rather than civilian custody is for the President alone to decide."
Obama’s opposition has nothing to do with the rule of law or protecting Americans, in fact, Senator Levin disclosed and Dave Kopel reported that, "it was the Obama administration which told Congress to remove the language in the original bill which exempted American citizens and lawful residents from the detention power".
As I have detailed in two past articles entitled Do not be deceived: S.1867 is the most dangerous bill since the PATRIOT Act and S.1253 will allow indefinite military detention of American civilians without charge or trial, the assurances that this will not be used on American citizens are hollow, evidenced by the fact that the Feinstein amendment to S.1867, amendment number 1126, which, according to the official Senate Democrats page, was an attempt at "prohibiting military authority to indefinitely detain US citizens" was rejected with a 45-55 vote.
Let’s examine some of the attempts to convince the American people that this will not change anything and that we will still be protected under law.
Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Antonio said:
In particular, some folks are concerned about the language in section 1031 that says that this includes ‘any person committing a belligerent act or directly supported such hostilities of such enemy forces.’ This language clearly and unequivocally refers back to al-Qaida, the Taliban, or its affiliates. Thus, not only would any person in question need to be involved with al-Qaida, the Taliban, or its surrogates, but that person must also engage in a deliberate and substantial act that directly supports their efforts against us in the war on terror in order to be detained under this provision.
While this might sound reassuring to some, one must realize that the government can interpret just about anything as engaging "in a deliberate and substantial act that directly supports their efforts against us in the war on terror".
Consider the fact that the Homeland Security Police Institute’s report published earlier this year partly focused on combating the "spread of the [terrorist] entity’s narrative" which sets the stage for the government being able to declare that spreading the narrative amounts to "a deliberate and substantial act that directly supports their efforts against us in the war on terror".
At the time I wrote:
Part of these domestic efforts highlighted in the report is combating the 'spread of the [terrorist] entity’s narrative' but never addressed is why exactly extremist groups have the ability to spread their narrative.
A frightening conclusion that can be drawn from the focus on the 'spread of the entity’s narrative' is that such claims could be used to justify limiting the American right to free speech.
It would be very easy to justify eliminating free speech if much of the United States was convinced of the danger of spreading terrorist narrative.
The report doesn’t specifically explain what the narrative is or why it is so dangerous, but one could assume that any anti-government, anti-war, anti-corporatist and pro-human rights speech could be squeezed under this umbrella. Essentially, anything that criticizes or questions the United States could easily be demonized because it is allegedly spreading 'the entity’s narrative'.
This raises an important question: could my work and the work of others devoted to exposing the fraud that is the "war on terror" and the intimate links between our government and the terrorist entities they are supposedly fighting be considered to be supporting these entities?
Unfortunately, the only conclusion I can come to is that it is possible for the following reasons:
1) The Department of Defense actually put a question on an examination saying that protests are an act of "low-level terrorism" (which they later deleted after the ACLU sent a letter demanding it be removed).
2) Anti-war activists and websites are deemed worthy of being treated as terrorists and being listed on terrorist watchlists.
3) We likely will never even be told how exactly the government is interpreting S.1867.
In the case of the PATRIOT Act (which is overwhelmingly used in cases that are unrelated to terrorism in every way), there is in fact a secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act, as revealed by Senator Ron Wyden back in May.
In October, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit (read the PDF here) in an attempt toforce the government to reveal the details of the secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act.
As of now, we still do not know how the PATRIOT Act is interpreted by the government, meaning that we have no idea how it is actually being used.
I do not believe that it would be reasonable to make the assumption that S.1867 would be interpreted in a straightforward manner, meaning that all of the assurances being made by Senators are worthless.
Glenn Greenwald verifies this in writing the following as an update to the post previously quoted in this article, "Any doubt about whether this bill permits the military detention of U.S. citizens was dispelled entirely today when an amendment offered by Dianne Feinstein — to confine military detention to those apprehended "abroad," i.e., off U.S. soil — failed by a vote of 45-55."
Furthermore, as I detailed in my previous coverage of S.1867, Senator Lindsey Graham clearly said, in absolutely no uncertain terms whatsoever, "In summary here, [section] 1032, the military custody provision, which has waivers and a lot of flexibility doesn’t apply to American citizens. [Section] 1031, the statement of authority to detain does apply to American citizens, and it designates the world as the battlefield including the homeland."
The fact that the establishment media continues to peddle the blatant lie that is the claim that S.1867 will not be used on American citizens is beyond me.
This is especially true when one considers the fact that lawyers for the Obama administration reaffirmed that American citizens "are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida," although we all know that no proof or trial is required to make that assertion.
As evidenced by the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, no trial is needed for our illegitimate government to assassinate an American citizen.
We can only assume that it is just a matter of time until American citizens are declared to be supporting al Qaeda and killed on American soil without so much as a single court hearing.
CNN claims, "Senators ultimately reached an agreement to amend the bill to make clear it’s not the bill’s intent to allow for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and others legally residing in the country."
Yet, of course, they fail to cite the amendment, and quote Senator Feinstein in saying, "It supports present law," even though Feinstein’s amendment was not passed.
The Associated Press reported, "Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., repeatedly pointed out that the June 2004 Supreme Court decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld said U.S. citizens can be detained indefinitely."
Yet they still quoted senior legislative counsel for the ACLU Christopher Anders who said, "Since the bill puts military detention authority on steroids and makes it permanent, American citizens and others are at greater risk of being locked away by the military without charge or trial if this bill becomes law."
The fact that the corporate-controlled establishment media is barely covering this -- if at all -- is just another piece amongst the mountains of evidence showing that they are complicit in the criminal conspiracy that is dominating our government.
Every single Senator that voted for this amendment is a traitor. It’s that simple. 97 of our so-called representatives, which you can see listed in fullhere, are actively working against the American people.
They are turning the United States into such a hellish police state that the world’s most infamous dictators would be green with envy.
Unsurprisingly, the top stories on Google News makes no mention of the atrocious attack on everything that America was built upon that is embodied by S.1867.
This legislation is clearly being minimized and marginalized in the press, as if it is some minor bill that will never be invoked in order to detain Americans indefinitely without charge or trial.
That is patently absurd and to assume such would be nothing short of ignorant to an extreme degree, given that the American government utilizes every single possible method to exploit, oppress and assault Americans who stand up for their rights.
Furthermore, the Senators who voted against S.Amdt.1126, the amendment to S.1867 which would have limited "the authority of the Armed Forces to detain citizens of the United States under section 1031" should be considered traitorous criminals of the highest order, not to say that all 97 of those who voted for S.1867 are any better.
These Senators are not only defying their oath of office in waging war on the Constitution, they are also fighting to destroy the most critical rights we have in this country and in doing so are desecrating everything that our forefathers gave up their lives for.
Instead of British troops patrolling the streets in their red coats, it will be American soldiers who have the authority to detain you forever without a shred of evidence if they decide you’re a terrorist or supporting any organization affiliated with al Qaeda.
How they define that is anyone’s guess, but given that the entire interpretation of the PATRIOT Act is regarded as a state secret, we can assume that we will never even get to know.
Moreover, the fact that no charges or trial are needed under S.1867, the government needs no proof of supporting, planning, or committing terrorism whatsoever.
Since no evidence will ever be presented given that no trial or charges will ever be filed, they need not worry about that pesky thing called habeus corpus or anything resembling evidence of any kind.
All they need to do is declare that you’re an enemy combatant and suddenly you’re eligible to be snatched up by military thugs and locked away never to see the light of day again.
As far as I have seen, there are no detailed requirements set forth in the bill which have to be met before the military can indefinitely detain, and torture (or conduct "enhanced interrogation" if you’d prefer the government’s semantic work-around), Americans and people around the world.
What is stopping them from creating accounts for Americans who are actively resisting the fascistic police state corporatocracy which our once free nation has become on some jihadi website and using it has justification to claim these individuals are involved with terrorists?
What is stopping them from manufacturing any flimsy piece of evidence they can point to, even though they never actually have to present it or have it questioned in a court of law, in order to round up American dissidents?
The grim answer to these disturbing questions is: nothing. I regret having to say such a disheartening thing about the United States of America, a country I once thought was the freest nation in the world, but it is true.
I must emphasize once again that our government considers even ideology and protest to be a low-level act of terrorism, so if you’re anti-war, pro-peace, pro-human rights, pro-justice, anti-corruption, or even worse, if you’re like me and expose the criminal government in Washington that supports terrorism while criminalizing American citizens, you very well might be labeled a terrorist.
Keep in mind that the House sister bill, H.R.1540, was passed with a 322-96 vote on May 26th, now all that is stopping this ludicrous from utterly eliminating the Bill of Rights is resolving the differences which will be done by the following appointed conferees: Levin; Lieberman; Reed; Akaka; Nelson NE; Webb; McCaskill; Udall CO; Hagan; Begich; Manchin; Shaheen; Gillibrand; Blumenthal; McCain; Inhofe; Sessions; Chambliss; Wicker; Brown MA; Portman; Ayotte; Collins; Graham; Cornyn; Vitter.
Unsurprisingly, not a single person who voted against S.1867 is included in that list.
I do not hesitate in saying that what our so-called representatives have done is an act of treason that represents the single most dangerous move ever made by our government.
Every single square inch of the United States is now a war zone and you or I could easily be declared soldiers on the wrong side of the war and treated as such.
No proof, no charges, and no trial are required. They do not even have to draw spurious links to terrorist organizations in order to indefinitely detain you as they could easily declare the evidence critical to national security and thus withhold it for as long as they please.
I will continue to hope that Obama decides to go against every single thing he has done after being sworn in, but I think the chances are so slim that it is almost delusional to believe that he will do this.
After all, the only reason his administration is opposing it is because it doesn’t give the executive enough power, not because it strips away every legal protection we have.
If this is not the most laughably illegitimate reason to oppose the attack on all Americans that is S.1867, I don’t know what is.
The most important question that remains unanswered, for which I am not sure that I have a viable solution, is: how do we stop this? Is there any way we can bring down a criminal government packed to the brim with traitorous co-conspirators in a just, peaceful manner?
After all, if the American people resort to violence, we are no better than those bloodthirsty members of our armed forces and law enforcement who kill and beat human beings around our nation and the world with impunity.
However, if our military and police forces realize that at any moment they too could be deemed enemy combatants and treated like subhuman scum and thus decide to refuse all unlawful orders and arrest the real terrorists in Washington, we might be able to reinstate the rule of law, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights which once defined our nation.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with your ideas, comments and information for future articles on this subject and any other issue for that matter. You can get in touch with me directly at Admin@EndtheLie.com and hopefully I will be able to read and respond if I’m not deemed an enemy combatant and shipped off to a CIA black site to be tortured into confessing to killing the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914.
Madison Ruppert is the editor of End The Lie.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.