More New York Republicans Providing Material Support to Terrorists

Speaking of material support for terrorism, David Cole uses the recent trip by Rudy Giuliani and others to suck up to the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK) as an opportunity to explain the idiocy of the Holder versus Humanitarian Law Project SCOTUS verdict.

DID former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Tom Ridge, a former homeland security secretary, and Frances Townsend, a former national security adviser, all commit a federal crime last month in Paris when they spoke in support of the Mujahedeen Khalq at a conference organized by the Iranian opposition group’s advocates? Free speech, right? Not necessarily.

The problem is that the United States government has labeled the Mujahedeen Khalq a “foreign terrorist organization,” making it a crime to provide it, directly or indirectly, with any material support. And, according to the Justice Department under Mr. Mukasey himself, as well as under the current attorney general, Eric Holder, material support includes not only cash and other tangible aid, but also speech coordinated with a “foreign terrorist organization” for its benefit. It is therefore a felony, the government has argued, to file an amicus brief on behalf of a “terrorist” group, to engage in public advocacy to challenge a group’s “terrorist” designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances.


But in June, the Supreme Court ruled against us, stating that all such speech could be prohibited, because it might indirectly support the group’s terrorist activity. Chief Justice John Roberts reasoned that a terrorist group might use human rights advocacy training to file harassing claims, that it might use peacemaking assistance as a cover while re-arming itself, and that such speech could contribute to the group’s “legitimacy,” and thus increase its ability to obtain support elsewhere that could be turned to terrorist ends.

Cole goes on to note the hypocrisy of the government, which has given exceptions for humanitarian purposes to corporations seeking to sell cigarettes, even while arguing NGOs cannot provide food and water.

Mind you, I’m actually with Cole: Rudy and Mukasey and Fran Fragos Townsend and Tom Ridge ought to be able to go make speeches sucking up to Iran’s version of Ahmad Chalabi (oops! I forgot that Chalabi was Iran’s!), a bunch of liars who have invented intelligence to try to justify war with Iran. That’s what Republicans do, after all: promote hucksters who can justify the next war.

But it’s really time for either some consistency in the way the government pursues its war on terror violent extremism, or an admission that the war on terror has disintegrated into a war on those who oppose US empire. The government is still investigating a bunch of peace activists for material support. And yet four prominent Republicans can offer the same kind of material support as the peace activists–but this time in service of war or US hegemony or oil–with no similar consequences?

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. chetnolian says:

    OK ; let me start off. I sound like a stuck record but the parallels with Northern Ireland are so strong.

    I have to say Messrs Mukasey, Guiliani and Ridge sound very like Noraid reborn to me. Ridge of all people! He at least ought to understand the line between noble aims and questionable methods.

    But then a USA which routinely sends unarmed drones off into supposed friendly countries and decides from inside a mountain in the USA who is a Taliban supporter and thus deserves to be zapped along with his family does not recognise that line atall.

    • winstonsmith84952011 says:

      Yes Mukasey, Townsend, Giuliani, Ridge, King and other Republicans are violating the Orwellian, unconstitutional ‘material support’ of terrorism law by supporting and advocating for groups like MEK and could be prosecuted…but these arrogant elites are knowingly violating the law and supporting certain terrorists because our corrupt Washington, rule of law free, torture advocating, culture has created a sense of impunity among elitist and well-connected current and former office holders brokers where one can torture without prosecution and support terrorists without fear of repercussion.

      Average Americans (we peasants) get no such exemption from the ‘material support’ of terrorism law…in the MidWest numerous peace activists are currently being subpoenaed by a secret grand jury and are threatened with prosecution under this law for using their constitutionally protected rights of speech and association as they supported Palestinians and Columbian groups…next time peace activists could avoid persecution and investigation if they just hired and brought along Mukasey or Giuliani…I hear their services are for hire.

  2. eCAHNomics says:

    But ew, there IS consistency to U.S. foreign policy, including “support for terriss”: IOKIYAR and INOKIYAD. Thought you’d been around the block enough times to learn that one.

  3. PeasantParty says:

    This is just too revealing to me. The Bush Admin war mongers are in Paris for a conference on our ongoing Iran issues?

    ‘DID former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Tom Ridge, a former homeland security secretary, and Frances Townsend, a former national security adviser, all commit a federal crime last month in Paris when they spoke in support of the Mujahedeen Khalq at a conference organized by the Iranian opposition’

    Who decided that these people should be there to speak on behalf of the US? They are out of office and therefore no longer entitled to make decisions regarding US foreign policy. Also, while on foreign soil were they not arrested for War Crimes?

    • mzchief says:

      From “Omar Bongo pocketed millions in embezzled funds, claims US cable” (the Guardian (UK), Dec. 30, 2010):

      The cable, released by WikiLeaks, continued: “Asked what the officials did with the stolen funds, the Beac official responded, ‘sometimes they kept it for themselves, sometimes they funnelled it to French political parties.’ Asked who received the funds, the official responded, ‘both sides, but mostly the right; especially Chirac and including Sarkozy.’ The Beac official said ‘Bongo was France’s favourite president in Africa,’ and ‘this is classic Françafrique.'”

      The secret cable also detailed how the Gabonese Beac governor had secretly placed €500m in high-risk investment with French bank Société Générale.

      And you remember this from “TARP Global Impact: U.S. Bailout Helped Overseas Banks” (by Marcy Gordon for AP, Aug. 12, 2010)

      An example: Major French and German banks were among the biggest beneficiaries of the U.S. rescue of American International Group Inc., yet the American government shouldered the entire $70 billion risk of pumping capital into the crippled insurance titan. The report compares that with the $35 billion that France spent on its overall financial rescue program and the $133 billion that Germany spent.

      Much of the $182 billion in federal aid to AIG – the biggest of the government rescues – went to meet the company’s obligations to its Wall Street trading partners on credit default swaps, a form of insurance against default of securities. The partners included French banks Societe Generale, which received $11.9 billion in AIG money, and BNP Paribas, which got $4.9 billion, and Germany’s Deutsche Bank, $11.8 billion.

      Of the 87 banks and financial entities that indirectly benefited from the U.S. aid to AIG, 43 are foreign, according to the report. In addition to France and Germany, they include banks based in Canada, Britain and Switzerland.

      According to Gretchen Morgenson et al “[..] according to two people with knowledge of the positions, a portion of the $11 billion in taxpayer money that went to Société Générale, a French bank that traded with A.I.G., was subsequently transferred to Goldman under a deal the two banks had struck. (excerpt from “Testy Conflict With Goldman Helped Push A.I.G. to Edge (by Gretchen Morgenson and Louise Story, New York Times, Feb. 6, 2010)

      Back to the WikiLeaks cable … it would be interesting to know how the money got to its destination but there are so many ways as illustrated by this “private investment”, hedge fund money laundering approach via “Le Casino”– “Goldman Creates a Facebook Hedge Fund for HNW Clients Historically Ripped Off By Such Vehicles, Spits In Face Of SEC…” (incidentally Max Keiser points to this article regarding this pre-IPO manipulation of FaceBook, “Here’s How Goldman Is Letting Its Wealthiest Clients Get A Crack At Pre-IPO Facebook Shares” [by Katya Wachtel for Business Insider, Jan. 3, 2011]).

      • mzchief says:

        So to drive my point deep, within the big corporate-controlled economic system, employees are manipulated as a fiat currency (why an employee has to have a corporate job to get another corporate job) and hedge.

        Tangential– Check out this report that is an indicator of how quickly this well-established system in the “developed markets” (US, Europe, Australia, Canada) is now established in the “emerging market” of China: “China’s Army of Graduates Faces Struggle” (, Dec. 11, 2010)

  4. TobyWollin says:

    If the DOJ decides that ALL ‘violent extremists’ must be dealt with, and that includes the ultra right wing in this country, people like Randall Terry and so on, that would be interesting..

  5. Ymhotep says:

    When the oligarchy (aristocracy) sends its political representatives (plutoctats) to speak to the empires right wing (fascist) allies they are said to be doing “God’s work.” (And we all know who ‘God’ is in this context.) On the other hand everyone who holds an opposing point of view is a terrorist or a terrorist sympathizer according to them. Peace

  6. PeasantParty says:

    I hope Izza does start up his investigations. I want it to wrap all around him and his crew. It will eat them up and spit them out a skeleton outside the closet door.

  7. donbacon says:

    Don’t forget Bob Filner, D-CA.

    But last Tuesday, six Members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging that the State Department remove the Marxist Islamist group from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

    The letter highlights a House resolution, H.Res. 1431, calling for the group’s removal from the terrorist list, introduced by California Democratic Representative Bob Filner, one of the MEK’s staunchest supporters in Congress. The MEK, which is known by numerous aliases, including MKO, the People’s Mojahadeen of Iran (PMOI) and the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), has an active presence on Capitol Hill, and the Filner resolution has garnered over 100 cosponsors.

    “Removing the MEK from the FTO [Foreign Terrorist Organizations] list is not only the right thing to do, but it also sends the right message to Tehran,” reads the letter, which was signed by Representatives Filner, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), and Mike Coffman (R-CO).

    Rep. Bob Filner speaks in front of a portrait of MEK leader Masoud Rajavi. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images, November 2004)

    • PeasantParty says:

      Yes, I do remember that. I remember several articles in regards to the US secretly infiltrating the Iran Youth and promoting exercises against the Iran Government in an attempt to over throw the leadership.

      Do you want links?

  8. hackworth1 says:

    Giuliani belongs in prison for defrauding the city of New York with his Motorola Radio scandal. And more.

    Townsend, Mucous, and Ridge belong in Prison for facilitating the Bush Cheney AIPAC Illegal Wars. And coverups.

    Obama has chosen on Our behalf to look forward and not back. Obama also belongs in prison for refusing to fathfully execute the laws of the USA.

  9. BearCountry says:

    Cigarettes are simply another weapon of mass destruction so it is OK to sell them for the other guys to use.

    As far as representing our government goes, repugs elected or not, represent our government. So, for justification, refer back up the thread to comment 3 by eCAHNomics.

  10. buckinnm says:

    Does anything here remind you of Cheney, Rumsfield, G H Bush and I believe Douglas Feith’s trip to Paris to negotiate the continued imprisonment of American hostages in Iran? In the backwoods jerkwater towns of TN they make the law as they go and not always the same for you as for them. Are these people from TN? Wasn’t Chaney and companies act an act of treason? How about these guys?

  11. nonpartisanliberal says:

    The laws do not apply to the established political elite. Duh!

    How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya? Fascism you can believe in?

  12. Mary says:

    Thanks EW – if GWB and Ashcroft/Mukasey/Gonzales had been the ones crucifying the Humanitarian Law Project while glorifying MEK violence (aren’t they the guys who helped the CIA prep the Iraqi general for his torture death in the sleeping bag btw? – all to get him to ‘give up’ the location of WMDs and all while his sons were being held hostage and abused as well?) it would have received considerably more attention than when Obama does it.

    Since this is just a quickie drive by, I may not understand what you and Cole are saying, but I don’t think I agree with the two of you that what Mukasey et al are doing is in the same tenor as what the Humanitarian Law Project was doing vis a vis Turkey, though; and so I’m not sure I agree that they should be able to go out and push for what I think they are pushing for (and I may be confused on this point).

    It seems to me that what Mukasey and Townsend and Guiliani are actually promoting is encouragment for the MEK, not to file civil rights claims or engage in peacemaking activities, but instead they are actively encouraging the MEK to commit acts of terrorism in Iran and for the US to provide military, technical and intelligence support to that effort.

    I do see that as a vastly different thing than assisting MEK with human rights complaints over treatment of their illegal enemy combatant brethern held by a foreign government under the US memo’d rules of “no rules apply.” Again, this is just a drive by and I must be misunderstanding, bc directly encouraging bombing and paramilitary attacks may still deserve some kinds of protections at law, but I just couldn’t put them in the same category of things that Roberts & Co struck down – like filing a human rights complaint.

    fwiw and this is likely headed for the “I was wrong” file. ;)

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m just saying that First Amendment protected activities should be allowed in any case, not drawing moral equivalence between these hacks and NGOs.

  13. Mary says:

    No, I didn’t think you were drawing any kind of moral equivalence – my point was that even when speech is involved, speech that advocates for assistance in killing people is of a different nature and (once upon a time) subject to a different analysis than speech which is not inciting violent acts.

    I thought this part of the story, “The group, the largest and most active Iranian exile organization, was added to the list in 1997 as part of an effort by President Bill Clinton’s administration to reach out to Tehran. It has been maintained since, apparently to avoid antagonizing the Iranian leadership while the United States fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” (emph added) was revealing of what passes for journalism.

    Instead of “apparently”s that are supplied by the Fran Townsends of the world, it might have been worth noting that the group was put on the list by the US and after the US by Europe bc of it’s role in killing civilians. Whether in Iran or while acting as a Hussein cat’s paw in Iraq during the Shi’ite uprisings, MEK very happily killed civilians.

    No one seemed up to asking Fran Townsend if the man she adulated, GWB, was just a whacked out Obama-ite when he went after the MEK offices in DC in 2003. No one hits them with anything like – “So, are you saying that George W. Bush was wrong and misinformed about the MEK status as terrorists and as collaborators with Sadaam Hussein when he closed their DC offices?” Or even a “how do you feel the MEK has changed since the days when it supported the takeover of the US embassy in Iran and the the taking of the US hostages.” Or the more esoteric, “given that MEK is a Islamist/Marxist group, do you feel it’s heavier on the Islamist or on the Marxist aspects of its ideology and what other Islamist/Marxist paramilitary groups do you think the GOP should lobby to support?”

    Giuliani is Giuliani. Townsend and Mukasey “apparently” gave up any baseline shame a long time ago, “to avoid antagonizing [GOP] leadership.”

  14. bobschacht says:

    …the Supreme Court ruled against us, stating that all such speech could be prohibited, because it might indirectly support the group’s terrorist activity. Chief Justice John Roberts reasoned that a terrorist group might use human rights advocacy training to file harassing claims, that it might use peacemaking assistance as a cover while re-arming itself, and that such speech could contribute to the group’s “legitimacy,” and thus increase its ability to obtain support elsewhere that could be turned to terrorist ends.

    This really is too much. Those dastardly Founding Fathers! Providing aid and support to terrorists! Why, if we take them seriously, Bad Things might happen! Stomp it out! Quick! Don’t let it spread! /s

    Bob in AZ