Captain Ed tips us off to a story that ran in the LA Times today, and we should have known it was just a matter of time before terrorists and their supporters tried this route in the courts:
The Supreme Court refused Monday to block the trial of seven Los Angeles residents charged with raising money for an Iranian opposition group that was designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the U.S. government.
Lawyers for the seven had argued the charges were unconstitutional because they had a free-speech right to raise money for a political group. That claim was rejected by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which noted the Iranian opposition group — Mujahedin Khalq, also known as the MEK — had a record of supporting assassinations and bombings.
"Sometimes money serves as a proxy for speech, and sometimes it buys goods and services that are not speech. Guns and bombs are not speech," said Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld for the appeals court.
In their appeal, the lawyers said the accused deserved the right to challenge the group’s designation as a "foreign terrorist organization" as part of their defense.
Although the justices turned down the appeal without comment, they could take up the issue later if the seven are convicted of the charges.
"We are very disappointed the court decided not to hear this case. We believe the decision poses a threat to the civil liberties of any person who wants to contribute to a political organization in this country," said Stacey M. Leyton, a lawyer in San Francisco.
Excuse me, but I have to agree with Judge Kleinfeld. Weapons of war bought with money supposedly given as charity hardly rates as free speech. And it’s not like their attorneys can claim stupidity regarding the organization. Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, has been on State’s watchlist since 2001. So I’d better not here a schmoozy lawyer claiming that they didn’t know this group was on our radar when it came to terrorism. Additionally, Captain Ed points out that MEK was one of Saddam’s favorite terrorist groups:
The fall of Saddam Hussein‘s regime affected the circumstances of the designated foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The MEK was allied with the Iraqi regime and received most of its support from it. The MEK assisted the Hussein regime in suppressing opposition within Iraq, and performed internal security for the Iraqi regime. The National Liberation Army was the military wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
Point being, the "freedom of speech" argument doesn’t fly. These guys are going to have their criminal trial, and hopefully be found guilty of conspiring with a known terrorist organization. We’re not fans of the 9th "Circuits" Court, but when they get things right, it’s right to give them some level of praise.