Stretching The Limits Of Free Speech

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 18 2012 @ 1:38pm


Greenwald spotlights the trial of Tarek Mehanna (seen right):

In one of the most egregious violations of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech seen in quite some time, Tarek Mehanna, an American Muslim, was convicted this week in a federal court in Boston and then sentenced yesterday to 17 years in prison. He was found guilty of supporting Al Qaeda (by virtue of translating Terrorists’ documents into English and expressing "sympathetic views" to the group) as well as conspiring to "murder" U.S. soldiers in Iraq (i.e., to wage war against an invading army perpetrating an aggressive attack on a Muslim nation).

Zach Novetsky pushes back:

To begin with, Mehanna’s case implicated more than just the First Amendment.

He was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terror organization, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, conspiracy to lie to federal investigators, and two counts of lying to federal investigators.

Next, Greenwald, and others, also highlighted and lauded Mehanna’s sentencing speech (where he proudly admits to supporting the mujahedeen, literally "people doing jihad", which of course does not faze Mehanna stalwarts) – a speech which, tellingly, does not mention any of the implicating facts of his case.

Ross Caputi stands with Mehanna:

[I]f Tarek Mehanna is guilty, so am I. I, too, support the right of Muslims to defend themselves against US troops, even if that means they have to kill them, and I try to give the Iraqi resistance a voice through my website. I have done everything that Tarek Mehanna has done, and there are only two possibilities as to why I am not sitting in a cell with him: first, the FBI is incompetent and hasn't been able to smoke me out; second, the US judicial system would never dream of violating my freedom of speech because I am white and I am a veteran of the occupation of Iraq.

What I helped do to the city of Fallujah was terrorism, and I lost two dear friends in that operation, but I cannot hate or begrudge the resistance in Fallujah for killing them. They were only doing what I would have done had a foreign army been laying siege to my hometown.

Caputi captions the above image:

Muslim student Tarek Mehanna, right, at Ground Zero in 2005 or 2006, with associates Ali Aboubakr and Daniel Spaulding. Aboubakr testified at Mehanna's trial. Photograph: Prosecution exhibit