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SCOTUS Backs Israel

Court rules "material support" for terrorists includes legal advice, 'humanitarian' aid.

1:14 PM, Jun 21, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Elliott Abrams writes:

Fresh on the heels of the world’s condemnation of Israel for blocking a convoy bringing aid to Hamas-ruled Gaza comes the United States Supreme Court’s statement of support…for Israel.

Today in the case called Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project, according to the Associated Press:

“The Supreme Court upheld a federal law that bars 'material support' to foreign terrorist organizations, rejecting a free speech challenge from humanitarian aid groups.  The court ruled 6-3 Monday that the government may prohibit all forms of aid to designated terrorist groups, even if the support consists of training and advice about entirely peaceful and legal activities.  Material support intended even for benign purposes can help a terrorist group in other ways, Chief Justice John Roberts said in his majority opinion.  'Such support frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends,' Roberts said.”

What form of aid was barred? Says the AP story, “The aid groups involved had trained a Kurdish group in Turkey on how to bring human rights complaints to the United Nations and assisted them in peace negotiations….”  Even this indirect support for acts of terror was unlawful, the Court concluded—with John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy joining this view.  As Chief Justice Roberts explained, such support “also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups—legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members, and to raise funds—all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks.”

Americans inclined to think Israel has gone overboard in stopping flotillas from landing in Gaza might think again.  

Roberts and the majority are very tough in rejecting the view proffered by Justice Breyer.  Roberts writes that:

"the dissent fails to address the real dangers at stake. It instead considers only the possible benefits of plaintiffs’ proposed activities in the abstract…. The dissent seems unwilling to entertain the prospect that training and advising a designated foreign terrorist organization on how to take advantage of international entities might benefit that organization in a way that facilitates its terrorist activities. In the dissent’s world, such training is all to the good. Congress and the Executive, however, have concluded that we live in a different world: one in which the designated foreign terrorist organizations 'are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates that conduct.' [Roberts is quoting the relevant statute.] One in which, for example, 'the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was forced to close a Kurdish refugee camp in northern Iraq because the camp had come under the control of the PKK, and the PKK had failed to respect its "neutral and humanitarian nature."' [Roberts is quoting the State Department Affidavit.] Training and advice on how to work with the United Nations could readily have helped the PKK in its efforts to use the United Nations camp as a base for terrorist activities."

"If only good can come from training our adversaries in international dispute resolution, presumably it would have been unconstitutional to prevent American citizens from training the Japanese Government on using international organizations and mechanisms to resolve disputes during World War II. It would, under the dissent’s reasoning, have been contrary to our commitment to resolving disputes through 'deliberative forces,' post, at 13 (quoting Whitney v. California, 274 U. S. 357, 375 (1927) (Brandeis, J., concurring)), for Congress to conclude that assisting Japan on that front might facilitate its war effort more generally. That view is not one the First Amendment requires us to embrace."

Today the Court embraced reality in the fight against terror and soundly rejected “lawfare,” the effort to read anti-terror statutes in ways that permit aid to terrorist groups. 

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