The Revolution is Not a Dinner Party

It's Just Lunch....or IS IT??

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lots of fun legal news today...

1) I'm sure these guys in Florida were real assholes...but something about this case ("no money, no independent means, but they had the desire to blow up buildings") seems a tad dubious. The whole thing makes me wonder whether Alan Ginsberg could, these days, be prosecuted for his attempt to levitate the Pentagon via meditation during the 1969 March on Washington.

For one thing, the indictment is strange. Count 1 is alleges a violation of 18 USC 2339B...Count 2 alleges a violation of 18 USC 2339A. I don't have the time or the desire to look in to this more, but what the hell is the difference between these two least as to this particular case? 2339B is about aid to specifically designated foreign terrorist groups. 2339A is about aid to "terrorists" more generally. In classic poor draftsmanship (maybe because the ole Patriot Act was "written" and passed in 2 weeks), 2339A (terrorists generally) has a specific definition of "material aid" including "personnel," which seems to be the legal theory in this case- by pledging support to al al queda, the Miami group offered themselves as personnel as material aid. 2339B (designated foreign terrorists), has no such definition. What I'm trying to figure out is if the Feds are going to try to charge both violations and get 15 year sentences under both...this seems fishy to say the least since the two statutes appear to have been written to address separate situations. I understand that the "personnel as aid" theory is stronger under 2339A, but the scenario here (Al Queda) seems a better fit with 2339B. Wouldn't the more proper route be to just charge under 2339B and at trial argue that the definition of aid in 2339A should be incorporated as a matter of statutory interpretation into 2339B. The two statutes were written at the same time, written together, and designed to capture the same sort of activity.

Look, I don't have a problem with actively seeking out aid FROM Al Queda or supposed Al Queda being criminal behavior. But, its just odd that that this activity is being charged under statutes designed to prohibit aid TO terrorists.

Also, if this seeking help of Al Queda versus helping Al Queda distinction has legal significance (again I don't think it should, it just seems like it does by the way these statutes are drafted), then the entirety of the conversations between the FBI undercover agent and the group are going to be poured over at trial...who suggested the Sears Tower? who suggested the FBI Building? who suggested the loyalty oath? If the defense can make it seem that the group was "tricked" then they could lose the case. Which, again, I don't think they should. My only point is that we really should have a law against seeking the help of Al Queda if we think that should be a crime.

2) here's an article about some super-shady dealings between the SEC, a major hedge fund, and a vigilant SEC attorney.


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