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An Important Rule of the Empire

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It is important that Americans be fully aware of an important rule with respect to U.S. foreign policy that the U.S. government has implemented and is now enforcing. In fact, knowing and understanding the rule is a matter of life and death.

As everyone knows, the First Amendment guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of speech from infringement at the hands of U.S. officials. But ever since 9/11, there has been an important limitation placed on such freedom. While Americans are still free to condemn U.S. aggression abroad, the U.S. Empire does not permit Americans to exhort foreign citizens to resist U.S. foreign aggression with violence. If U.S. officials suspect that an American citizen is exhorting foreigners to resist U.S. aggression abroad, they wield the power to do one of three things to that citizen:

1. Treat him as a criminal defendant by indicting and prosecuting him in U.S. District Court for supporting terrorism. If they can establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant encouraged foreigners to resist U.S. aggression with violence, they can secure a criminal conviction that will result in a mandatory life sentence in a federal penitentiary.

This is precisely what happened to an American citizen named Ali al-Timimi, who exhorted a group of people at a meeting in Fairfax, Virginia, shortly after 9/11 that “the time had come for them to go abroad and join the mujaheddin engaged in violent jihad in Afghanistan.”

Al-Timimi was indicted and was convicted by a federal court jury for supporting terrorism. He is now serving a mandatory life sentence in a federal penitentiary.

Even though al-Timimi is Muslim, that fact is actually irrelevant, even though it may have served as the motivating factor for prosecuting him. The point is that what the feds did to him they can now do to all Americans.

2. The second option is to treat the American as an illegal enemy combatant. That opens up the whole panoply of powers that U.S. military and paramilitary (i.e., CIA) officials have exercised against this class of people: isolation, sensory deprivation, water-boarding, and other forms of torture, rendition, indefinite incarceration, denial of due process of law and trial by jury, and so forth. That’s what the Jose Padilla case was all about. It established that U.S. officials can now do to every American everything they did to Padilla and other people labeled as “illegal enemy combatants.”

3. The third option is simply to assassinate the American, wherever they can find him, including here in the United States, which is part of worldwide battlefield in the war on terrorism. That’s what the Anwar al-Awlaki controversy is all about. He’s the American citizen who is now residing in Yemen who purportedly has been calling on foreigners to violently resist U.S. aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. The U.S. military and the CIA have now targeted al-Awlaki for assassination and are taking active steps to hunt him down and kill him. Under this option, no judicial process is necessary before the American is taken out — no judicially issued warrant and no jury trial, not even a military tribunal. All that’s needed is a bureaucratic determination that the American has exhorted — or is exhorting — foreigners to resist aggression by U.S. troops.

Presumably, it is still okay for Americans to encourage violent resistance to aggression by foreign regimes, at least those that are not allied with the U.S. Empire. For example, when the Soviet Empire invaded Afghanistan in the 1980s, it was permissible for American citizens to not only condemn the Soviet aggression but also to exhort Afghanis and other foreigners to resist the Soviet invasion and occupation of the country by killing Soviet troops. In fact, one will recall that during that period of time the U.S. government itself was partnering with Osama bin Laden and other Islamic extremists to oppose the Soviet aggression with violent resistance.

Not so, however, with respect to U.S. wars of aggression and occupations of foreign countries. Foreigners who resist the invasion and occupation of a foreign country by the U.S. Empire are automatically considered by the Empire to be terrorists, and any American citizen who calls on foreigners to resist such aggression is considered a supporter of terrorism and is subject to one of the three options listed above.

Obviously, this is an important rule in post-9/11 America, one that every American would be wise to know and comprehend. Failure to do so obviously could be extremely hazardous to one’s life and freedom.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.