Tag Archives: terror

Terror suspects’ parents

By Christopher B. Daly

Is it just me? Or does something about the body language of the people in this photograph seem wildly inauthentic?


(Photo: Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times)

I ask myself: If my wife and I had to conduct a press conference under similar circumstances (which, granted, is a big stretch), would we carry on like that? What is really up with these folks? This looks like a scene from a “Borat” film. It looks like a parody of two distraught parents. They seem to be saying “Up yours!”

Does anyone else find this odd?


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Can the president execute U.S. citizens?

By Christopher B. Daly 

A hat-tip to Charlie Savage of the Times for sticking with the story of one of the major constitutional, diplomatic, and military issues of our times:

Does the president of the United States have the constitutional authority to order the killings of U.S. citizens without so much as a trial?

That is the issue at heart of a lawsuit going forward in U.S. District Court in Washington. The suit was filed by survivors of Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious America-hater who did so much to help al Qaeda before he was taken out last September in a drone attack in Yemen.

Things to keep in mind:

–al-Awlaki (although a rotten bastard for sure) was a U.S. citizen, born in New Mexico.

–al-Alawki was not bearing arms against the U.S. at the time.

–the president ordered his execution.

–al-Awlaki was never tried, convicted or sentenced in a U.S. court.

He was treated like a foreign enemy wearing a military uniform, only he wasn’t. This is the most troubling issue in the developing, high-tech, long-distance war on terror.



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Terror v. Freedom

by Chris Daly 

A trial taking place in U.S. District Court in Boston deserves more attention than it has been getting. This is a criminal trial, pitting the United States government (in the form of the U.S. Justice Dept) against one of its citizens (in the person of Tarek Mehanna, of suburban Sudbury).

In brief, the government accuses Mehanna of some sort of involvement with terrorism, more specifically jihad.

What I cannot find in any of the documents I have been able to track down or in the news accounts of the prosecutors’ statements is any evidence of any specific criminal action taken by the suspect. The only evidence has to do with allegations of speech, writing, translation, and Web-posting.

Any time the government attempts to criminalize speech rather than actions, that should concern all of us who care about the First Amendment and  the freedom to speak and publish.

Granted, there are some gray areas in law. One has to do with conspiracy. If you speak to your fellow criminals in the planning of a crime, that could be a crime. That is one reason that conspiracy is such a standby of prosecutors. Another gray area involving speech and crime involves the legal doctrine of incitement, which can be extended to such areas as hate speech and “fighting words.” If you use words to directly encourage someone else to commit a crime or to provoke them, you may be guilty of inciting the commission of a crime. I would acknowledge that those are varieties of speech that might, in limited circumstances, justify the criminalization of certain kinds of speech.

In the case of Tarek Mehanna, the evidence presented thus far does not look all that compelling. He may have attempted to conspire with Al Qaeda, but they appear to have given him the brush-off. (Is there such a crime as attempted conspiracy?) He may also have attempted to incite his co-religionists to rise up and slay the infidels, but they appear to have ignored him. (Is there such a crime as attempted incitement?)

One odd feature of the case is that the government has not been very forthcoming in providing documents. Neither the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston nor the U.S. District Court is making it easy for citizens to follow along. Neither is Mehanna’s able defense attorney, Jay Carney.

So far, the biggest trove of documents has been  posted by an outfit that calls itself “Free Tarek.” So, as always, consider the source.

To be continued. . .


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