October 31, 2011 6:57:30 PM by
Tarek Mehanna may have objectionable--even horrific--views, but that does not make him a terrorist or a criminal. Mehanna was arrested two years ago on charges of lying to federal investigators, and providing material support to terrorists. The FBI also implies that Mehanna had plans to carry out a shooting spree in the Sudbury mall, but was thwarted by his inability to obtain weapons (consider, for one moment, how easy it is to get a gun in the United States). The crux of the government's case centers on a series of videos for which Mehanna allegedly provided subtitles; the translations, the Feds say, represented material support for terrorists.
Last night I spoke with Emily Rooney on her WGBH show about the case, arguing that, in order to live in a free and open society, we must protect speech, even the speech of those whose beliefs we find abhorrent. The video is embedded after the jump.
October 20, 2011 11:36:01 PM by
On October 11th, Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Prime Minister and would be President of Ukraine, was sentenced to 7 years in prison. Politicians, analysts, and reporters from Moscow, Russia, to Moscow, Missouri, have condemned her trial as an unjust farce. New York Times reporter Ellen Barry summed up many “western” views of the trial when she wrote that it would “lead Ukraine west, toward Europe, or into a tight symbiosis with the country’s Soviet-era masters in Moscow.” The consensus, of course, was that the guilty verdict has done the latter.
In our piece, Daniel R. Schwartz and I take a different view and argue that, while perhaps isolating the Ukraine politically, the trial itself demonstrates some striking similarities between our legal system and Ukraine’s. To convict Tymoshenko, politically-minded prosecutors cleverly utilized vague parts of the Ukrainian code of laws that were never designed to police her alleged behavior. As regular readers of my columns already know, the utilization of vague laws to convict the innocent is as American as apple pie (or, as it were, as Ukrainian as a nice bowl of Borsch).
October 20, 2011 12:13:13 AM by
On September 30th predator drones flying out of a secret airbase in Yemen blew up a car carrying Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, American citizens allegedly involved with Al Qaeda. While Khan was considered “collateral damage,” Awlaki was the main target and a man who, based upon the President’s word, had been placed onto an official kill list. On Forbes.com, Daniel Schwartz and I argue that the administration’s actions were highly troubling, as they represented a heretofore unimagined expansion of executive power. A presidential-ordered assassination of an American citizen, without the involvement of either of the other two branches of government, is a matter of profound consequence, regardless of the heinousness of the target. In a constitutional democracy, we argue, process matters.