Good article on the Tarek Mehanna case, which has a nice contrast with how how white Americans are treated in more explicitly terroristic situations. Greenwald has reposted Mehanna’s sentencing speech, and I think in general it makes a lot of really good points. Essentially, the material harm he did as a terrorist was to translate the material of a variety of Jihadist, anti-American groups and failing to collaborate as an FBI informant (not to mention allegedly sidestepping entrapment) while lying to them about specific aspects of his associates’ lives, and then there’s the fact that he was definitely in Yemen in 2004 although everything about that visit seems to be hearsay.
On the other side of the coin, the FBI has him as someone who sought terrorist training in Yemen, and again the stuff about the lying.
In general, I think it’s *possible* to grant the FBI the benefit of the doubt and say they are simply using the law to put away someone they think is a legitimate threat. But I find a lot of the aspects of what they found illegal in the case, particularly in terms of translating works of groups you are not physically or financially aiding but merely agree with, really problematic, especially when contrasted against the broad history of freedom of conscience.
For instance, I don’t think it’s accurate for him to take advantage of historical parallels for violent insurgency that work for his case (notably the American war for independence) without addressing what he finds invalid about nonviolent resistance or working within the system (although I certainly understand why he glossed over that given his circumstances). But those are things that people should be able to talk about without getting put in jail unless there is evidence of material conspiracy, and the key variable there shouldn’t be Muslimness. I have a tough time believing it wasn’t in this case.