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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Kevin Cullen writes about my former client David LaMacchia

The tragic suicide of computer genius Aaron Swartz earlier this month has sparked widespread criticism of the Justice Department and of how prosecutors Carmen Ortiz and Steve Heymann mishandled Swartz’s case. I wrote my own piece for last week’s Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about how Swartz was hardly the first victim of this system run amok. In his column for Tuesday’s Boston Globe, columnist Kevin Cullen writes about the similar case of David LaMacchia. I represented LaMacchia when he was a student at MIT nineteen years ago and found himself in trouble with the DOJ after using the MIT system to copy software and post it to a virtual bulletin board for others to freely access. Unbelievably, LaMacchia was actually pursued by the same career prosecutor who eventually went after Swartz.

Cullen’s haunting piece begs to be read and shared. You can find it on the Boston 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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