Elite immunity from laws

It is a crime in the US to give ‘material support’ to any organization that the US government deems to be a ‘terrorist’ group, where that phrase is defined loosely and can even encompass legal advice. This statute was deemed constitutional by a 6-3 vote in the US Supreme Court in 2010 because these days judges seem willing to allow practically anything as long as you persuade them that it is against terrorism.

These laws can be used to even prosecute individuals who unwittingly engage in otherwise perfectly lawful, and even worthy, activities such as teaching people how to resolve disputes according to international law. As Georgetown University law professor David Cole says:

According to today’s Supreme Court decision, advocating for human rights and peace can be prosecuted as a “terrorist” crime, punishable by 15 years in prison.

It does not matter that the speaker intends to support only nonviolent activity, and indeed seeks to discourage a resort to violence. It does not matter if the speech in fact convinces its listeners to abandon violence.

The decision has deeply disturbing implications. It means that when President Jimmy Carter did election monitoring in Lebanon, and met with all of the parties to the election — including Hezbollah, a designated “terrorist group” — to provide them with his advice on what constitutes a fair election, he was committing the crime of providing “material support,” in the form of “expert advice.”

Of course, in the US such laws only apply to us lowly peons, not the ruling classes, so Jimmy Carter is unlikely to be indicted. The best evidence of the contempt with which the elites treat the law is how so many prominent people in the US openly support the Iranian dissident group known as the MEK which the US State department has on its official list of terrorist organizations, openly lobbying on their behalf and getting fat fees from them. The two tiered justice system in the US is so entrenched that they even joke about being ‘potential criminals’ because of active support for the MEK, so confident are they that the laws will never be used against them.

Why is this support for the MEK ignored? Because the MEK also works with the government of Israel in carrying out destabilizing acts in Iran, such as the murder of its scientists. Now reports have emerged that the US government secretly trained members of the MEK within the US.

But all the rest of us need to do is give a small donation to any charity that does work in an area of the world that requires it to coordinate its activities with any group in that region that the government deems to be terrorist (which is almost inevitable in war-torn regions where the hardship is greatest), and you run the risk of being prosecuted for providing ‘material support’ to that group.


  1. nichrome says

    …and another pointless & content-free comment from slc1. You bore me too much to even yawn.

  2. Cor (formerly evil) says

    Yes, that was Mano’s point exactly. Shame on all the terrorist enablers who defend the nation of Iran. Greenwald certainly wasn’t trying to illustrate the breakdown of the rule of law here in the US or anything – he’s probably just working out some anti-semitism or something.

  3. left0ver1under says

    The MEK is also likely to partake in imposing a new “Shah” or similar type of pro-US puppet and fascist regime. That’s good for wall street, so wall street tells Washington to turn a blind eye to it.

  4. slc1 says

    Such an outcome, although undesirable, would be an improvement over the current situation for the inhabitants of Iran.

  5. slc1 says

    I really find Mr. Greenwald’s vilifications of Israel and his defenses of the Government of Iran to be quite odd.

    Mr. Greenwald is an admitted homosexual who is currently living with his partner in Brazil. In Iran, suspicion of homosexual activities can result in prison or execution for the alleged individual; after all, Ahmadinejad declared in response to a question during his presentation at Columbia, Un. a few years ago that this “problem” doesn’t exist in Iran. In Israel, homosexuals serve openly in the IDF and are generally accepted, however grudgingly, in the society.

  6. Mano Singham says

    I am not sure why the details of Greenwald’s personal life are at all relevant here. There is no cognitive dissonance that I can see between disliking a government’s policies and opposing going to war with that country.

    Are you suggesting that Greenwald’s attitude to foreign policy towards a country should be solely determined by that country’s policies on homosexuality?

  7. slc1 says

    Not solely but to a great extent. If Mr. Greenwald ever even so much as showed up at the airport in Tehran, he would be arrested and would be lucky if he were only deported forthwith.

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