A Ruling on Terrorism That Throttles Civil Liberties

On November 13th the United States Court of Appeals in Boston affirmed the conviction of young Sudbury pharmacology student Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna was convicted on charges of rendering “material support” to terrorism – a dangerously broad and vague provision of the Patriot Act – though nothing Mehanna did came close to posing actual danger. In our op-ed for the Boston Globe, my paralegal Juliana DeVries and I argue that the tragic Mehanna verdict was made possible by the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Humanitarian Law Project v. Holder. The Humanitarian Law Project decision opened the door for federal prosecutors to criminalize a wide range of previously protected expressive activities, such as those in which Mehanna engaged.


You can read our op-ed at: http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2013/11/27/ruling-terrorism-that-throttles-civil-liberties/LXmml8hiFCkugBmvmYEt5J/story.html
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Beware the FBI when it is not recording

Civil libertarians are used to sounding the alarm about pervasive government surveillance in the era of cellphones, drones and the Internet. But, as alleged Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s classmate Robel Phillipos is now discovering, an equal threat to liberty is the FBI policy forbidding recording of interviews.

My latest column, which ran in this Saturday’s (May 11th) Boston Globe, explains the danger faced by witnesses and defendants who talk to the FBI. You can find it on the Globe’s website.

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"Tim Cahill, the lottery, and the demands of democracy" on Bostonglobe.com

After realizing that nobody writing about or reporting on the prosecution of former Massachusetts treasurer Timothy Cahill nor his co-defendant Scott Campbell seemed to grasp the fundamental reasons that the prosecution was both unlawful and ill-considered as a matter of sound public policy, I decided to write a short piece on the case for The Boston Globe. (The Globe’s news and editorial pages were a prime example of what I view as a wrong-headed view of the case – cheering on the prosecution despite its violating the Due Process of Law rights of the defendants as well as the public’s right to benefit from public officials’ exercise of their informing function. And so I submitted my piece to the Globe, which, admirably, agreed to run it despite it’s being critical of the paper.)

You can find it on the Boston Globe's website.

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Kevin White, the Feds, and the press

On January 27th of this year, Kevin White, the man often credited with helping turn Boston into the modern city it is, died after a long illness. Since then, there have been a number of news reports and editorial commentaries discussing White’s sixteen year run as mayor, his subsequent career as a Boston University professor, and even the final years of his political life—capped as it was by seemingly endless federal corruption investigations that nailed a few underlings, but despite then-US Attorney (later governor) Bill Weld’s best efforts, never landed the “Great White.”

But missing from most of the coverage has been a description of how the press played handmaiden to Bill Weld’s prosecutorial apparatus and prevented Mayor White from pursuing a fifth term in office. In my post to ThePhoenix.com, I relate a number of stories of prosecutorial targeting and abuse that were largely ignored—and even aided—by the mainstream media at the time. It seems to me that these stories cry out to be told, uncomfortable as they may be for so many participants, myself included.

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Boston Globe letter: Under Obama, war, and terror, go on

Responding to an extensive Boston Globe article on President Obama, I point out in a Letter-to-the-Editor published in today's Globe that the article's author erred in crediting Obama with rolling back President Bush's War on Terror. Far from it, in fact:

The national security state has continued to make gains under Obama, and it surely has kept the inroads it made under George W. Bush. Secrecy is the order of the day, including the administration’s self-protective invocation of so-called national security to thwart court cases seeking money damages and answers by victims of our security agencies and those they surreptitiously fund in dark corners around the world.


In terms of civil liberties, there may be some change on the margins here and there, but by and large, “change you can believe in’’ has shown its true colors: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"Under Obama, war, and terror, go on," Boston Globe, January 31, 2011

[End of Post]

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Updates related to Harvey's
book Three Felonies a Day, a critical
take on the Justice Department

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