MEK and the Unspeakable Chaos of the Rule of Law

Via Glenn Greenwald, Daneil Denvir writes about former Governor Ed Rendell trying to explain why he shouldn’t be indicted for providing “material support” to the Iranian cult terrorist group MEK:

One 10-minute speech earned Rendell $20,000, and he frequently flew to Europe to call for MEK’s removal from the terror list. That would appear to fall within the extraordinarily broad definition of “material support” used by theObama administration.

Rendell calls that “ludicrous.” He says, “The only thing we’ve done is spoken out on their behalf. And you certainly can’t in any way encumber free speech in America. You know that ? you’re a journalist.”

I do sort of know that?you shouldn’t be able to encumber free speech. But the Supreme Court did just that, and Muslims have been prosecuted for doing less: a satellite TV salesman sentenced to five years for broadcasting Hezbollah’s TV channel; a man indicted for favorable web comments on shooting U.S. soldiers.

…“Whatever one’s views are on this ruling, it is now binding law. To advocate on behalf of a designated Terrorist group constitutes the felony of ‘providing material support’ if that advocacy is coordinated with the group,” writes Salon blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald. “They’re providing more substantial ‘material support’ to this Terrorist group than many people ? usually vulnerable, powerless Muslims ? who are currently imprisoned for that crime.”

…“If you indict me, [Rendell explained] I hope you know, you have to indict 67 other Americans who did the same thing, including seven generals … [who] served in Iraq. You’d have to indict James Jones, President Obama’s first NSC chief adviser, you’d have to indict former Attorney General [Michael] Mukasey, former FBI Director Louis Freeh … the whole kit and caboodle.” That caboodle is voluminous and high-powered, including Tom Ridge, UN Ambassador John Bolton, Rudolph Giuliani and Howard Dean, among others.

Seriously, don’t tease me…

“You tell me that anyone has the right to restrict my freedom of speech and I’ll tell you you’re dead wrong,” Rendell insists.

I wish I were wrong. The Supreme Court’s three dissenters protested that the decision “gravely and without adequate justification injure[s] interests of the kind the First Amendment protects.” So it does. It’s a frightening law and a horrible ruling that pulverizes First Amendment free speech protections. But as long as political nobodies face prosecution for speech crimes, so should elites. Indict Rendell ? and Ridge, Mukasey, Giuliani, etc. ? or repeal this law.

See here for background on the push inside elite U.S. circles to get the MEK delisted from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

It should be well known that the law simply doesn’t apply to elite members of the American political community. But I just think it’s fascinating that Rendell actually used the argument that, if you indict him, you’ll have to then apply the law to other important people! At least 67 of them! Oh, the unspeakable chaos!