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(The Daily Beast)   Should an American citizen who translates Al-Qaeda propaganda for the purposes of spreading it be charged with treason? Or is it a valid expression of his first amendment rights? Difficulty: Not hypothetical   (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com) divider line 237
    More: Interesting, United States Nationality law, al-Qaeda, propagandists, First Amendment, Tarek Mehanna  
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2292 clicks; posted to Politics » on 24 Apr 2012 at 2:02 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-04-24 01:43:10 PM  

DamnYankees: This is vomit-inducing:

For example, in his opening statement to the jury one prosecutor suggested that "it's not illegal to watch something on the television. It is illegal, however, to watch something in order to cultivate your desire, your ideology."

What the fark?


0_0

... that's... quite a statement by the prosecution thar.
 
2012-04-24 01:57:57 PM  
www.scottlondon.com

This man says it's okay to translate Al-Qaeda propaganda for the purposes of showing what evil bastards we're dealing with.
 
2012-04-24 02:03:45 PM  
Much of Mr. Mehanna's speech on Web sites and in IM chats was brutal, disgusting and unambiguously supportive of Islamic insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. In one harrowing IM chat, which the government brought up repeatedly during the trial, he referred to the mutilation of the remains of American soldiers in response to the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl as "Texas BBQ."

What was his Fark handle?
 
2012-04-24 02:04:26 PM  
No more than translating Mao's Little Red Book or the Communist Manifesto to spread communism.
 
2012-04-24 02:07:25 PM  

dittybopper: DamnYankees: Tough. My inclination is to say its his free speech and this should not be a crime, but I could be talked into the opposite.

The best analogy I can think of is someone translating communist tracts during the cold war, which seems to me to be obviously protected speech.

Except that we are in an actual shooting war with Al Qaeda, and we weren't with the Soviet Union (or communism in general).

Article 3, Section 3:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Seems to me that would qualify. Translating and transmitting propaganda materials for an organization in an actual shooting war against the United States would appear to be giving them "Aid and Comfort", especially given that the individual in question left the United States in an attempt to join them, something that, say, a news organization or translation service wouldn't do.


I agree with this one. I don't think anyone would have gotten off lightly if they had been translating and re-broadcasting German or Japanese radio propaganda during World War II.
 
2012-04-24 02:07:31 PM  
I have we arrested Fred Phelps yet?

It's free speech. There has got to be more than translating propaganda.

Some people might want to have a better understanding of the the designated enemy. Just reading the translations should not be reason to be suspected of ill-will.
 
2012-04-24 02:07:38 PM  
You can't shout "Fire" in a theater. Boom, done in 50+.
 
2012-04-24 02:08:18 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: First amendment rights only apply to non-controversial speech.


Both more concise and snarkier than my post. I'm jealous.
 
2012-04-24 02:08:21 PM  
treason, send him up for life or drop him in the ocean...
 
2012-04-24 02:09:20 PM  
Treason, for the same reason that Coeyagi JUST beat me to

/shakes tiny fist
 
2012-04-24 02:09:28 PM  
No, 1st amendment protections. Next question.
 
2012-04-24 02:09:42 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: First amendment rights only apply to non-controversial speech.


Then every comment in the Politics tab is not protected speech.
 
2012-04-24 02:09:49 PM  

vernonFL: Much of Mr. Mehanna's speech on Web sites and in IM chats was brutal, disgusting and unambiguously supportive of Islamic insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. In one harrowing IM chat, which the government brought up repeatedly during the trial, he referred to the mutilation of the remains of American soldiers in response to the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl as "Texas BBQ."

What was his Fark handle?


Sounds like he just supported the wrong insurgencies.
 
2012-04-24 02:10:01 PM  

Lunaville: I have we arrested Fred Phelps yet?

It's free speech. There has got to be more than translating propaganda.

Some people might want to have a better understanding of the the designated enemy. Just reading the translations should not be reason to be suspected of ill-will.


I guess the difference is that Fred Phelps isn't translating and disseminating propaganda from an organization that we've declared war on (however misguided that declaration may be).
 
2012-04-24 02:10:16 PM  
That wasn't the only thing he was up to. There's also that whole travel to Yemen for terrorist training thing. Not a small point in deciding if he's a traitor or not.
 
2012-04-24 02:10:20 PM  

Lunaville: I have we arrested Fred Phelps yet?

It's free speech. There has got to be more than translating propaganda.

Some people might want to have a better understanding of the the designated enemy. Just reading the translations should not be reason to be suspected of ill-will.


Well, as with most crimes, intent has to be proven in court. WHAR INTENT WHAR?

rush_limbaugh_donuts.jpg
 
2012-04-24 02:11:02 PM  

coeyagi: Lunaville: I have we arrested Fred Phelps yet?

It's free speech. There has got to be more than translating propaganda.

Some people might want to have a better understanding of the the designated enemy. Just reading the translations should not be reason to be suspected of ill-will.

Well, as with most crimes, intent has to be proven in court. WHAR INTENT WHAR?

rush_limbaugh_donutspudding.jpg


FTFM
 
2012-04-24 02:11:24 PM  

DarnoKonrad: That wasn't the only thing he was up to. There's also that whole travel to Yemen for terrorist training thing. Not a small point in deciding if he's a traitor or not.


How is it a relevant point in terms of a trial?
 
2012-04-24 02:12:39 PM  

DamnYankees: DarnoKonrad: That wasn't the only thing he was up to. There's also that whole travel to Yemen for terrorist training thing. Not a small point in deciding if he's a traitor or not.

How is it a relevant point in terms of a trial?


Evidence of attempts to train with or work in concert with the enemy might be relevant if he's on trial for treason.
 
2012-04-24 02:12:40 PM  

DamnYankees: nekom: DamnYankees: If you read TFA, you'll see he wasn't convicted for that, though. He was convicted for reasons of treason. The act of inciting violence doesn't really have any connection to treason, they are entirely separate crimes.

They are, but how is it treason to push an idea that happens to be unpopular at the time? Now if they were distributing information that could directly put American soldiers or civilians in danger, that could be seen as treason. Likewise if someone is distributing Al Qaeda information that could directly put Americans at risk, I could see a possible case for it. If it's just "America is an imperialist nation who blah blah blah", not so much.

Sounds like the latter, which is troubling. From TFA:

The government's indictment of Mr. Mehanna lists the following acts, among others, as furthering a criminal conspiracy: "watched jihadi videos," "discussed efforts to create like-minded youth," "discussed" the "religious justification" for certain violent acts like suicide bombings, "created and/or translated, accepted credit for authoring and distributed text, videos and other media to inspire others to engage in violent jihad," "sought out online Internet links to tribute videos," and spoke of "admiration and love for Usama bin Laden." It is important to appreciate that those acts were not used by the government to demonstrate the intent or mental state behind some other crime in the way racist speech is used to prove that a violent act was a hate crime. They were the crime, because the conspiracy was to support Al Qaeda by advocating for it through speech.


I have to read this article again.
 
2012-04-24 02:14:12 PM  
Marcus Aurelius: First amendment rights only apply to non-controversial speech.

Current Resident : Then every comment in the Politics tab is not protected speech.


Methinks someone needs to recalibrate their sarcasm detector.
 
2012-04-24 02:14:17 PM  

qorkfiend: DamnYankees: DarnoKonrad: That wasn't the only thing he was up to. There's also that whole travel to Yemen for terrorist training thing. Not a small point in deciding if he's a traitor or not.

How is it a relevant point in terms of a trial?

Evidence of attempts to train with or work in concert with the enemy might be relevant if he's on trial for treason.


Ok, how? You need to connect the dots a little more than that.
 
2012-04-24 02:14:23 PM  
thosewhouseit.files.wordpress.com
Allah snackbar
 
2012-04-24 02:14:40 PM  
I think part of the article is missing for me. I must be doing something wrong.
 
2012-04-24 02:15:47 PM  
If we let congress critters talk openly about overthrowing the government, support and champion violent rhetoric, and work in unison with organizations that seek to dissolve the constitution then .... sure
 
2012-04-24 02:16:08 PM  

DamnYankees: This is one of the problems with the way we've been conducting war

laundering money the last few decades - its so amorphous we call it war.
 
2012-04-24 02:17:45 PM  

DamnYankees: qorkfiend: DamnYankees: DarnoKonrad: That wasn't the only thing he was up to. There's also that whole travel to Yemen for terrorist training thing. Not a small point in deciding if he's a traitor or not.

How is it a relevant point in terms of a trial?

Evidence of attempts to train with or work in concert with the enemy might be relevant if he's on trial for treason.

Ok, how? You need to connect the dots a little more than that.


You don't think evidence of the accused working with the enemy would be relevant when you're on trial for working with the enemy?
 
2012-04-24 02:17:45 PM  

DamnYankees: qorkfiend: DamnYankees: DarnoKonrad: That wasn't the only thing he was up to. There's also that whole travel to Yemen for terrorist training thing. Not a small point in deciding if he's a traitor or not.

How is it a relevant point in terms of a trial?

Evidence of attempts to train with or work in concert with the enemy might be relevant if he's on trial for treason.

Ok, how? You need to connect the dots a little more than that.


They just had a trial. That's the process of "dot connecting" isn't it?
 
2012-04-24 02:18:32 PM  

DamnYankees: Another very interest bit from the article:

In the 2010 Supreme Court decision Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. declared that for speech to qualify as criminal material support, it has to take the form of expert advice or assistance conveyed in coordination with or under the control of a designated foreign terrorist organization.

I just don't see how what this man did was a crime.


I have to agree with DamnYankees on that. I wouldn't be shocked to see the conviction overturned on appeal. The difference between this guy and someone like Tokyo Rose is that Tokyo Rose was working directly with the Imperial Japanese military - this guy never actually worked with al-Qaeda or another jihadi group. Yeah, he was a terrorist-loving farkwad who in a just world should have ended up beheaded like that idiot who tried to join al-Shabaab in Somalia, but it just doesn't seem like there's anything he did that was illegal...
 
2012-04-24 02:19:00 PM  

Bontesla: If we let congress critters talk openly about overthrowing the government, support and champion violent rhetoric, and work in unison with organizations that seek to dissolve the constitution then .... sure


Wait, I thought the tea party were defenders of the consitution. They would NEVER imprint the constituion on Silly Putty because it is inflexible, DAMNIT! Oh wait...
 
2012-04-24 02:19:33 PM  

nekom: DamnYankees: nekom: but what about someone who instigates a suicide attack against American troops in Iraq?

What does "instigate" mean?

Egging someone on. Providing the religious justification or perhaps even detailed instructions. Again I don't know what exactly this `propaganda' consisted of, but it's possible that it rises to the level of directly contributing to a suicide bomb somewhere. Maybe it's not treason, maybe it is, but if the military were the target I suppose I could see a case to be made.


by that logic, whenever a US soldier is found to have killed civilians, he should be charged with treason for instigating terrorist attacks.
 
2012-04-24 02:19:37 PM  
If we're talking merely propaganda, it's protected speech. I.e., "America is the Great Satan, Allahu Ackbar, Death to America!" That's all good.

If the propaganda is mixed, with, say, coded messages to enemy agents, and he's doing this knowing about the coded messages, then I'd say it's unprotected speech, and he should go to prison.
 
2012-04-24 02:20:32 PM  
Hard to answer w/o seeing what he translated. If it stopped short of promoting/encouraging violence against the US he probably should be protected by the First Amendment (ie. US policy hurts people because.... should not be an issue).

As the brother/uncle/ of people currently in uniform, I may be biased but anything that does encourage violence is a criminal act and should be punished appropriately.
 
2012-04-24 02:21:37 PM  

qorkfiend: You don't think evidence of the accused working with the enemy would be relevant when you're on trial for working with the enemy?


They are two independent events, and motive isn't relevant as far as I can tell. So, that's correct. You need to charge people with specific crimes that have specific elements to them, not merely "these all are bad things therefore treason".
 
2012-04-24 02:21:38 PM  
I guess it has to do with the contents of the propoganda and how closely he was working with Al Qaeda. If he was just independently urging people to bring down the government, well, that's got to be something but probably not treason.
 
2012-04-24 02:23:00 PM  
Owning and translating it should not be a crime. Spreading it to potential terrorists can be a chargeable offense though. Not treason but there are several anti terrorism laws the person could be charged under.
 
2012-04-24 02:23:38 PM  

Kurland: Spreading it to potential terrorists can be a chargeable offense though.


What is a "potential terrorist"? Isn't that just a synonym for "person"?
 
2012-04-24 02:23:49 PM  
If it's just propaganda, it doesn't sound like it's illegal. But, if it's plans to destroy something or something like that than it's probably a whole nother ballgame.
 
2012-04-24 02:24:21 PM  
I love how our country gets to pick and choose whether or not we are at war depending on what rules we want followed.

FTFA - But if we are at war

Depends. War is bad, so we're not at war, it's a kinetic military action. But bad guys are bad, so we're at war, which is why this drone strike is okay. But we're not at war so clearly these are not prisoners of war, duh. But we're at war and this guy is on the other side, which is why this guy doesn't get first amendment rights.
 
2012-04-24 02:25:21 PM  
If Free Republic exists, this guy is not doing anything worse.
 
2012-04-24 02:26:46 PM  

DamnYankees: qorkfiend: You don't think evidence of the accused working with the enemy would be relevant when you're on trial for working with the enemy?

They are two independent events, and motive isn't relevant as far as I can tell. So, that's correct. You need to charge people with specific crimes that have specific elements to them, not merely "these all are bad things therefore treason".


I'll be the first to admit I'm not exactly familiar with the details of the case, but AFAIK treason is a specific crime with specific criteria.

If we're focusing on the propaganda issue, motive would be a significant factor; the trip to Yemen casts a lot of doubt on the defense of "the translations were purely academic".
 
2012-04-24 02:27:28 PM  

Lunaville: I have we arrested Fred Phelps yet?


The law is very clear that you should be charged only if you fail the paper bag test.
 
2012-04-24 02:27:31 PM  
Why does he need to be charged at all? just indefinitely lock him up without charges then you don't have to worry about those messy questions. Thanks Obama!
 
2012-04-24 02:27:36 PM  

qorkfiend: If we're focusing on the propaganda issue, motive would be a significant factor; the trip to Yemen casts a lot of doubt on the defense of "the translations were purely academic".


This is true, but I'm not sure what the relevance is. Motive is almost never an element of a crime.
 
2012-04-24 02:28:14 PM  
I'm an American, and I'm not scared of words.

Are we done here?
 
2012-04-24 02:28:56 PM  
Tokyo Rose isn't really a good example of being a traitor; that was more an example of a gross miscarriage of justice.
 
2012-04-24 02:30:31 PM  
Kind of an irrelevant question, no?

(a) IN GENERAL.-Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541 note) includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in sub-section (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.

(b) COVERED PERSONS.-A covered person under [Section 1021 of the NDAA] is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.

vygramul: It deprecates artificial catalyzation.


Ditto!
 
2012-04-24 02:30:31 PM  
The bar for treason was set extremely high by the founders because it is so easy to abuse "working against the interest of the country" to include all sorts of things, including just having unpopular or uncomfortable ideas. Even if he openly called for people to get violent I don't think it's treason. Treson would have to be literally aiding Al-Queda to attack American or attacking on behalf of Al-Queda. I don't see any evidence of that or really see how any form of propoganda could reach the level of treason. It's kind of scary if they are lowering the bar for treason.
 
2012-04-24 02:31:03 PM  
I don't need to read the article and I don't need to read the comments. The answer is no, it's not treason to have bad ideas or be an asshole or even say you want to kill people.

But you can't get all butthurt when guys in black vans start following you around and watching what other kinds of shiat you get up to.
 
2012-04-24 02:32:25 PM  

wedun: y that logic, whenever a US soldier is found to have killed civilians, he should be charged with treason for instigating terrorist attacks.


Perhaps he should. The case can be made, not sure how it would go over in court though.
 
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