FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Defending My Father … and the Constitution

by NOOR ELASHI

The case perhaps most notably authorized by the Material Support Law, which was upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday, was that of the Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Muslim charity in the United States. My father, Ghassan Elashi, co-founded this charity, and after two lengthy, expensive trials, he’s now serving a 65-year prison sentence.

The panel was split 6-3, the valiant minority being Chief Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth B. Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice John G. Roberts concluded that the Material Support Law is not too vague and does not violate the First Amendment, opposing the extensive arguments of constitutional law expert David Cole who, along with the Center for Constitutional Rights, challenged the law in the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion, stating that the law could criminalize speech and association “only when the defendant knows or intends that those activities will assist the organization’s unlawful terrorist actions.”

The Patriot Act, which expanded a provision in the Material Support Law to include those who provide “assistance,” essentially made it illegal to send charity to the U.S. Treasury Department lists of desig nated terrorists. The Holy Land Foundation, or HLF, was never found guilty of giving charity to a desig nated terrorist organization. Rather, they were convicted of conspiring to give material support in the form of humanitarian aid to Palestinian charities called “zakat committees” that prosecutors alleged were fronts for Hamas, which was designated in 1995.

A Texas jury deadlocked in the first trial in 2007, defending the defense’s main argument: that USAID, Red Cross, the UN, CARE and many international NGOs sent money to the same zakat committees listed on the HLF indictment. But in the 2008 retrial, after essentially the same arguments, the jury returned all guilty verdicts. My father is currently being held in a Communications Management Unit in Marion, Illinois, a prison that’s been called “Little Guantanamo” since two-thirds of the inmate population is of Middle Eastern descent.

The Supreme Court decision is not the most optimistic news regarding the HLF case, which is now under appeal. Nevertheless, defense attorneys assert they still have strong grounds for appeal, including the prosecution’s evidentiary errors and anonymous expert from Israel who claimed he could smell Hamas and testified under a fictitious name, thereby preventing defense attorneys from effectively cross-examining him.

According to the ACLU, the Material Support Law is “in desperate need of re-evaluation and reform.” The Supreme Court didn’t see that need, but hopefully, Congress will see that the law is shredding our Constitution in the name of national security and undermining bona fide humanitarian efforts, thus, causing an economic chokehold on Occupied Palestine.

NOOR ELASHI is a writer based in New York City.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

More articles by:
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
Dave Lindorff
Moving Beyond the Sanders Campaign
Jill Richardson
There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Market”
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey
Winslow Myers
Beyond Drift
Edward Martin - Mateo Pimentel
Who Are The Real Pariahs This Election?
Jan Oberg
The Clintons Celebrated, But Likely a Disaster for the Rest of the World
Johnny Gaunt
Brexit: the British Working Class has Just Yawned Awake
Mark Weisbrot
Attacking Trump for the Few Sensible Things He Says is Both Bad Politics and Bad Strategy
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail