Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy

By Susan N. Herman | Go to book overview

2.
“Foreign Terrorist Organizations/’ Humanitarians,
and the First Amendment

“We’ve come to love our fears more than our freedoms.—Rep.
Dennis Kucinich (2010)

The vague language of the [material support] law leaves us won-
dering if we will be prosecuted for our work to promote peace and
freedom
. —Former President Jimmy Carter (2010)


The Iranian Democrat

Roya Rahmani is the pseudonym of an Iranian refugee who is terrified that her family and friends in Iran will suffer retaliation if her actual identity were to become known. Iran treated her as a criminal for supporting an Iranian pro-democracy movement—and so has the United States of America.1

Roya was seventeen years old when the Shah of Iran was deposed, thanks in part to the work of a group known as the PMOI (People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran—also sometimes called the MEK), whose members Roya regarded as heroes. Like her compatriots, she hoped that life in Iran would get better. Instead, within a few years, the new regime shut down the universities, the newspapers, and all channels of political protest. Roya had expected to study at a university like other members of her family, but that was no longer a possibility. So she decided to support the PMOI, which continued to protest the repressive measures of the Ayatollahs. Her determination to fight for democracy did not waver even when people delivering the PMOI’s newspaper began to suffer attacks and when supporters were jailed, tortured, and even executed. The choice, she says, was “to surrender to the religious theocracy or to fight, as we had against the Shah.” “I was inspired by their heroism,” she says, “and I thought, give me freedom or give me death.” She was also impressed by the fact that even as the government’s crackdown became increasingly brutal,

-39-

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Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 3
  • I - Dragnets and Watchlists 21
  • 1 - The Webmaster and the Football Player 23
  • 2 - "Foreign Terrorist Organizations/’ Humanitarians, and the First Amendment 39
  • 3 - Charity at Home 51
  • 4 - Traveling with Terror 66
  • 5 - Banks and Databanks 86
  • II - Surveillance and Secrecy 103
  • 6 - Gutting the Fourth Amendment 105
  • 7 - The Patriot Act and Library/Business Records 121
  • 8 - Gagging the Librarians 136
  • 9 - John Doe and the National Security Letter 150
  • 10 - The President’s Surveillance Program 165
  • III - American Democracy 187
  • 11 - Losing Our Checks and Balances- The President the Congress, and the Courts 189
  • Conclusion 209
  • Notes 219
  • Further Reading 259
  • Photo Credits 263
  • Index 265
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