The Supreme Court of the United States vs. John Brennan
Playing with "moderate" terrorists.
9:45 AM, Jun 22, 2010 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
Let’s revisit for a moment John Brennan’s remarks at the Nixon Center in May. Brennan is assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Here is the Reuters dispatch:
Let’s assume that Brennan is right that “moderate elements” exist within Hezbollah. Let’s also go further than Brennan and remind ourselves that Hezbollah is also a leading provider of social services in Lebanon. Hezbollah, reports Harpers:
Is it wise for the United States to encourage such benign activity, especially if it is carried out by a designated terrorist organization?
In Holder vs. The Humanitarian Law Project, decided yesterday, the Supreme Court has weighed in with some pertinent observations. Writing for the majority, Justice John Roberts notes that support for the “benign” side of terrorist organizations "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."
Citing affidavits filed in the case, Roberts further notes:
Certainly it would be wonderful if Hezbollah abandoned terrorism and evolved into a political party and social service agency. But encouragement of such a process by the American government can itself have costs, especially when there is no evidence that such an evolution is under way. The costs should be obvious to the man charged with advising the president on counterterrorism. Since it is clearly not obvious, it helps enormously to have the Supreme Court enumerate exactly what some of those costs are.
Gabriel Schoenfeld is the author of Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law.