Idiocy holds sway on the Supreme Court and inside the Obama administration

It seems hard to fathom but the evidence is now overwhelming: if someone repeats the word “terrorist” often enough their brain will become functionally useless.

Consider the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday in support of the Obama administration’s sweeping definition of “material support” as applied to so-called Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) — a designation applied by the State Department.

If an NGO such as the Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) wants to train a group such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on how to use humanitarian and international law to peacefully resolve disputes, then the HLP risks criminal prosecution. Why? Such training could help legitimize the PKK and also free up resources that it can dedicate to its terrorist activities.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan (who is nominated to become a Supreme Court Justice) argued the case for the Obama administration.

Kay Guinane described the decision:

The Court ruled that even though pure speech is entitled to a high level of constitutional scrutiny, it would forgo such scrutiny and defer to Congress and the executive branch, which asserted unsupported, theoretical findings that support aimed at countering violence can somehow indirectly support violence. The Court’s reasoning was that the matter involves national security.

With its overly deferential approach, the Court failed to fulfill its responsibilities in the checks-and-balances system that keeps our democracy healthy. If it had looked behind the broad generalizations cited by the government, it would have seen there are no facts either in the Congressional Record or elsewhere that support the Congressional or State Department “findings.” And even if there are some circumstances where conflict mediation and human rights training can be co-opted to support violence, it is not inevitable that it will happen in all cases.

For an obvious example of the fault in the findings, one need look no further than the Good Friday Accords that brought a lasting peace to Northern Ireland for the first time in more than eight centuries. For years, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had worked to bring violent factions of Catholics and Protestants to the bargaining table. Their work behind the scenes was instrumental in persuading those groups — “terrorists” in the eyes of most of their captive civilian populations, as well as the governments seeking to disarm them — to put down their weapons and negotiate a peaceful resolution to 850 years of violence.

If the “material support” law had been in place, as authorized by the Supreme Court today, those organizations would have been criminals. And the people of Northern Ireland would likely still be victims of sectarian violence that only a very few supported.

“Orwellian” doesn’t begin to describe a law that makes it a crime to promote peaceful conflict resolution.

If the administration actually intends to uphold the law in the way they argue it should be applied, then the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be expected to continue forever.

There is a rather broad consensus among foreign policy analysts in the US and Europe, that Hamas, a designated FTO, has far too much grassroots political support among ordinary Palestinians for the organization to be destroyed. Neither Israel’s war on Gaza nor it’s internationally supported siege of Gaza, succeeded in bringing the Islamist organization and democratically-elected government to its knees.

If the Obama administration wants to revive the Middle East peace process, sooner or later Hamas will have to be involved. It’s hard if not impossible to anticipate that those involved in the initial efforts to open dialogue with Hamas can avoid falling foul of the broad definition of “material support” that the Supreme Court has just upheld.

The Obama administration told the Supreme Court that the United States is engaged in an effort to “delegitimize and weaken” groups such as Hamas, yet it would behoove Washington and democratic governments everywhere to remember where political legitimacy springs from: not idiotic Supreme Court rulings, but the will of the people — and that includes the Palestinians.

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6 thoughts on “Idiocy holds sway on the Supreme Court and inside the Obama administration

  1. estebanfolsom

    let me offer this example
    you know where to find me

    each and every human being
    on the planet needs to claim
    their god given share

    an equal portion

    the way this can be achieved
    is to rest it from the ones
    that would not give it up
    for the good of all

    this is not ‘communism’
    it is common sense

    the other way is war

    and i think we all know
    what that means

    losers all around
    dissipated energy
    on the ground

    suffering of the
    never found

    we are all we have
    time to start
    living like it

    or see the
    world burn away
    through our own
    damn fault

  2. delia ruhe

    “If the administration actually intends to uphold the law in the way they argue it should be applied, then the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be expected to continue forever.”

    That’s the whole point, isn’t it? And that’s also why only the putrefying corpse of the two-state solution is currently in the peace processor. It’s the “solution” they can safely process from now til doomsday.

  3. Renfro

    We do all realize how fruitless it is to rag on the hypocricsy of US policy, especially re Palestine-Israel and the ME, don’t we?

    I mean we have all watched our politicans ‘cheer on’ Israel bombing children..while starving them first of course, and seen them defend Israel’s killing of civilians for years and years.

    What could possibly be the reason for US politicans to applaud collective punishment, slo mo genocide, war crimes….oh wait! could it be all the zionist pro Israel money slid into their campaign coffers?

    Naw……that would mean monsters are runing the US government wouldn’t it?

    Any time anyone actually wants to ‘do’ anything about it I’ll supply the tar and feathers.

  4. Christopher Hoare

    It’s time that the words terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and national security were treated with the contempt they deserve. They are weasel words used with the intent to create a knee-jerk reaction. If people laughed and turned their backs on puffed up charlatans using such aids to propaganda, instead of deferring to them the world might catch sight of truth and justice once more.
    A terrorist is anyone who has an issue with the US, justified or not — whether they resort to arms or not. WMD can be anything — even an amateur bomb that doesn’t go off. What is the benchmark for mass destruction? — the name is a joke. National security is invoked every time an official lie is about to be unmasked.
    These words of mass deception should rightfully be greeted with derision, and so should those who’s reputations are hidden behind them.

  5. Norman

    All of this nonsense, I call it that, because to my way of thinking, it’s nothing more than a cover up for incompetence, both on the Courts side as well as the Administrations. Whether “O” knew what he was doing, or not, he campaigned on a platform that he since renounced, yet will speak of achieving great results for the mediocre laws being put forward. The Supreme Court is the most activist court pushing political agendas that the Republican party screams about the Democratic appointees to the court would be. The political system in the U.S.A. has become so rancid, that like a cancer, it is killing what the founders created. Indeed, the rights of the American people are being railroaded to the trash heap, to be replaced with???

  6. RLaing

    What delia said: That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

    Well, I suppose we oughtn’t be surprised that the most powerful state in the world prefers to settle every dispute with violence. Take away the application of military power, and what right does the United States have to interfere in the Middle East at all?

    Since people generally find it difficult to be consciously evil, some pretext for this has to be found rather than simply ‘we can, we see a benefit, and so we do’.

    Taken as a description of reality, the idea that the US is engaged in a ‘War on Terror’ is obviously idiotic: a campaign of state violence is not going to eliminate what is after all an emotion, short of eliminating every life-form capable of feeling it.

    However, as an instrument to justify absolutely any sort of depravity at all, it’s actually very effective. No wonder America has fallen in love!

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