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OUR FRIGHTENING 'DEMOCRACY'

The lead article in "worldwidewamm" periodical, [July/August, 2011 edition] is titled "What Does 'Material Support for Terrorism' Look Like?"  It was written by Sarah Smith.  I have suggested this periodical and this organization in the past, but this article merits special acknowledgement.  www.worldwidewamm.org

Ms. Smith is a Jewish woman.  She went to visit Israel and Palestine to see for herself what was going on.  Two of the young women she traveled with were Palestinian Americans.  Ms. Smith was not held for any length of time at the border in Israel while her two friends were detained for ten and a half hours or more.

Upon return to Chicago, she was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury on January 25.  Her words...

"Before being subpoenaed, I knew nothing about grand juries, material support laws, or foreign terrorist organizations.  Here is what I learned: A grand jury is essentialloy a secret court.  When you are summoned to a grand jury, you cannot have a lawyer present.  There are no witnesses and there is no transcript, no recording of the proceeding, no judge.  The prosecutor handpicks the jury.  Only the prosecutor presents evidence, and the prosecutor can submit or omit whatever materials s/he wants.  There is no rebuttal: You are not allowed to offer your own evidence or explanations.  You are simply expected to answer the questions put to you by the prosecutor.  On the basis of this, the grand jury then decides whether to indict you for a crime."

Ms. Smith continues: "I refused to testify, along with the other 21 activists, because I am not willing to participate in a McCarthy-like investigation in which we are asked to name everyone we know who has traveled to Latin America or the Middle East, everyone involved in the antiwar, Palestine solidarity, and Colombia solidarity movements both here and abroad.  Our First Amendment rights guarantee us freedom of association and membership in any organization without government interference.  By testifying before a grand jury, we are putting ourselves, those around us, and our civil liberties in jeopardy."

More from Ms. Smith: "The Supreme Court decision, Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project, stated that politically supporting an FTO [State Dept. secret list of foreign terrorist organizations], speaking with its members, or publicizing their views provides the FTO with a service, and that is now a criminal offense. Thus, former President Jimmy Carter could be indicted for speaking at a joint press conference with the minister of Hamas and also for meeting with Hezbollarh during the 2009 elections in Lebanon."

"President Obama could have been indicted in the 1980s for supporting Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress during the struggle to end South African apartheid.  Both Mandela and the ANC were on the FTO list until July 2008."

It should be noted the this over-reach by the federal government has been used and supported by both Democratic and Republican presidents.  In fact, Obama's administration has fostered this sort of thing.

Sarah Smith, a Jewish woman, is in her twenties.  She attended Grinnell College in Iowa.  Ms. Smith has been a speaker and advocate against injustice all over the world.  Her awards and honors are many.

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