Privacy SOS

Material support to terrorists: will double standards prevail?

Truth tellers who care about civil liberties have long been an imperiled species in Congress. With the impending exodus of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) following a Republican re-districting ploy they are on their way to extinction. 

We hope the departing Congressman will get some satisfaction from the news that the Treasury Department is investigating the large sums of money doled out the likes of former Gov. Rendell of Pennsylvania, former Attorney General Mukasey, former CIA heads Woolsey and Goss, former DHS head Ridge, former FBI head Freeh to lobby on behalf of a group on the State Department’s terrorism list.

It was Kucinich who took a stand for the 23 international solidarity activists who have been served with FBI subpoenas during a “material support for terrorism” investigation.  In a letter to Attorney General Holder, he pointed to the troubling double standard in the choice of who to target and prosecute. 

“Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former White House security adviser Frances Townsend, and former New York Mayor Giuliani have publicly expressed their support for the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (M.E.K.), an organization that has been on the foreign terrorist list of the State Department since 1997.”  

He then cited reports that the MEK has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists, PR agents and communications firms to get off the terrorism list and yet no one has been prosecuted for giving it material support. “How do you reconcile that inaction with the apparent overkill that has been directed at the anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago?”

Now Rendell, who reportedly received up to $160,000 for speeches made for the group, has received a Treasury Department subpoena.  It seems unlikely that the investigation will go very far. But the news that a government agency is at least looking into the matter may be a sign Rendell and the M.E.K’s numerous other champions are not clothed in ironclad impunity – and immunity.

After all, it is no less an organ than the US Supreme Court that ruled in June 2010 in the case of Holder v. the Humanitarian Law Project  that if a person or organization has carried out an activity that was somehow “coordinated” with a group that has been listed by the Secretary of State as a terrorist organization, then that person or organization can be prosecuted for giving “material support” to terrorists. That activity can be wholly peaceful, have peacemaking or humanitarian relief as its goal, and involve nothing more than words.

Are the M.E,K cheerleaders aware that they can face up to 15 years in jail and be fined as much as $50,000 if their efforts to rehabilitate the M.E.K were made in consultation with associates of that organization? (They certainly would get at least that if they were Muslims and so much as made a web posting that could be taken as “material support” of a listed terrorist group.)

As for the organization that is the target of their face-lifting efforts, it has been tied to the long string of murders of Iranian nuclear scientists and is reportedly “financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.”

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.