Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

The grey zone between terrorism and free speech.

Younes Tsouli, a Moroccan-born student studying in London, was one of three British students charged and convicted earlier this year for inciting terrorists. The three were obviously doing several illegal things, such as credit card fraud, money laundering through online gambling sites, efc. 

But now FBI director Robert Muller is citing them as an example of how the internet is facillitating terrorists. He's not pressing new charges against them... but he claims that Tsouli served as a "communications link" for other terrorists. In what way? Well, Muller claims that he communicated with a few groups of suspected terrorists, and that his website contained information on how to make explosives, suicide vests, etc.

What Muller doesn't mention, however, is that Tsouli ran a site with chat and an online forum, that Tsouli and team were not personally involved in any act of terrorism, and that the information they provided was a matter of public record, such as a CIA terrorism instruction manual that is currently available online at the National Security Archive of Northwestern University. The suicide vest information cited also appears to be a video that was widely available on the internet... so much so that it was broadcast by major news sources.

Fact is, both I and many, many others who regularly research the conflict use and share the same materials. Some have commenting, forums, chat, etc. Many of them communicate -- or facilitate the communication of -- others whose sympathies may be far more militant than the site's owner. And many of them are not U.S. or British citizens, and have no particular requirement to take their sides in a conflict which violates international law... at least according to the U.N. 

In other words, Director Mueller seems to be targeting communication itself -- and freedom of association -- rather than the intent behind that communication. This is an especially problematic issue on sites like LiveJournal, where people run communities that may advocate opposition to U.S. government policies, but where it is hard to determine the intent of members, or to rule out the use of such online spaces as a place for protesters / radicals / "terrorists" to meet.   

And, after a huge giveaway of individual's rights to privacy, including what amounts to an NSA sifting of all Internet traffic, and with unprecidented laws allowing the FBI access to the results of that sifting, Mueller is now saying that he needs even more access to our personal information.

"Our capacity, both by way of the expense of keeping up with that curve, as well as the transformation of our laws, just has not kept pace . . . Growth in technology requires us to have a very swift debate and take measures that are necessary to ensure that we can continue to have the kind of investigative capability ... that enables us to continue to gather information."

Hell no, Director Mueller. The FBI was given that kind of power before, and they used it to threaten and blackmail innocent Americans. That's why we took that power away from you. If I want to share publically available content relating to terrorism, National Security, or even choose to share or document some of the science behind explosives, it is within my constitutional rights to do so without potentially being subject to investigation. Because Americans shouldn't have to live in fear of who they know, what they know... they shouldn't have to live in fear of their own government.   


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