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Justice Department going after anyone who supports ISIS on Twitter/FB/social media

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Justice Department: We’ll Go After ISIS’s Twitter Army
Not all speech is free—if it’s in support of ISIS. Helping the terror group spread the word online is a violation of anti-terror laws, a top Justice Department official says.

Help spread ISIS propaganda on Twitter or Facebook, and you could go to jail. That’s the message the Justice Department sent Monday, as a top official said he is willing to indict people who assist ISIS with its use and production of social media. The announcement raises questions about where the government would draw the line between support for a terrorist group and legally protected free speech.

Provocative tweets, Facebook posts, and grisly online beheading videos have all been key parts of ISIS’s recruitment and propaganda strategy, and one of the hardest elements of the terror group’s rise for U.S. national security agencies and technology companies to combat. And ISIS has attracted supporters online who, while they don’t participate in attacks or killings, endorse the group’s actions and proliferate its message. The Obama administration devoted much of last week to a summit on countering extremism—especially extremism online.

But John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security, told a cybersecurity conference in Washington on Monday that officials could try to blunt ISIS’s violent PR operation by essentially trying propagandists as terrorists. He suggested the Justice Department could bring prosecutions under the law against providing material support to a terrorist organization. His remarks were believed to be the first time a U.S. official has ever said that people who assist ISIS with online media could face criminal prosecution.

Carlin was asked at the conference whether he would “consider criminal charges” against people who are “proliferating ISIS social media.”

His answer: “Yes. You need to look at the particular facts and evidence.”
But Carlin noted that the United States could use the material support law to prosecute “technical expertise” to a designated terrorist organization. And spreading the word for ISIS online could count as such expertise.

Carlin didn’t expand upon his remarks, which were largely devoted to the Justice Department’s efforts to counter cyber espionage. A spokesperson for Carlin didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

But legal experts have questioned the use of material support applied to speech that is normally protected by the First Amendment, indicating that Carlin’s idea rested on controversial grounds.

“It’s highly doubtful that the material support statute could be constitutionally applied to the simple promotion of a terrorist group on Facebook,” David Greene, the civil liberties director and a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told The Daily Beast. In a 2008 case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the Supreme Court upheld the material support statute in the face of a First Amendment challenge, Greene said.

“But in that case, the court made clear that the statute was constitutional because the government sought to apply it to the provision of advice that involved ‘specific skill’ or was derived from ‘specialized knowledge,’” Greene added. “But the law could not be applied if the publisher’s speech imparted only ‘generalized or unspecialized knowledge.’ In fact, in Holder, the government argued that it could not and would not apply the law to independent advocacy for or expression regarding terrorist organizations.”

The most notable and controversial case of prosecuting speech linked to terrorism involved a man who also attempted to join an al Qaeda training camp in Yemen and didn’t focus on actions taken exclusively online.

In 2012, the United States won a conviction against Tarek Mehanna, a Massachusetts pharmacist who tried unsuccessfully to fight with al Qaeda in Iraq but also translated a number of jihadist tracts and videos into English so that they could be distributed online and encourage others to join the terror group.

The key issue in Mehanna’s case was whether his translations were an expression of sympathy for al Qaeda’s ideology—which would be protected—versus work that he undertook to support the terrorist group or assist its operations. A jury convicted Mehanna under the material support statute, and he was sentenced to 17½ years in prison.

But the courts didn’t fully settle the consitutional questions in the case, and it’s not clear how the material support law could similiarly be used against people who engage in or support ISIS’s social media campaigns.

“The problem boils down to this: The government equated rhetorical support with ‘material support,’” Alex Abdo, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote at the time. “What makes the government’s theory so dangerous to our freedom of speech is that it threatens to dismantle the barrier that the Supreme Court has erected ‘between words and deeds, between ideas and conduct.’ That barrier prevents the government from censoring speech based solely on its tendency to persuade...”

Social media has presented national security officials trying to prevent terrorist attacks with a new challenge, Carlin said. He called social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook “essentially a free form of communication that you can use to plot and plan,” and noted that governments would spend billions of dollars to deploy a command and control system that was battle-ready, while ISIS has turned to common Internet technologies. U.S. counterterrorism officials say the group has been careful to use social media and chat applications in a way that avoids detection by American surveillance agencies, notably the NSA.

Carlin made his remarks at a conference sponsored by the think tank New America during a live interview with Peter Bergen, a CNN analyst and New America director. (Full disclosure: I’m a fellow at New America and spoke at the same conference.)

Another senior U.S. national security official also warned that terrorists were employing everyday technology and urged Congress to find a “legal framework” under which the government could monitor global communications more easily.

NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers said he agreed with public statements by FBI Director James Comey that the use of encryption, particularly on popular products like the iPhone 6, put the government at risk of not being able to monitor terrorists and spies. Rogers said lawmakers should come up with a solution for ensuring government access to encrypted communications, a plan that many technologists and civil libertarians have decried as a “backdoor” to spy on people around the world.

In a tense exchange, Alex Stamos, the chief information security officer for Yahoo, asked Rogers whether what he was really advocating was “building defects” into encryption technology.

“That would be your characterization,” Rogers replied, to nervous laughter from the audience.

The back and forth between Stamos and Rogers underscored how divisive the relationship between Silicon Valley and Washington has become in the wake of disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed that the spy agency has broken into foreign data centers operated by Yahoo and Google in order to steal information on their customers.
 

xbhaskarx

Member
"Not all speech is free—if it’s in support of ISIS."

Uh, lots of speech isn't free, and for good reason.

That's like the first hour of the first day of an introductory Constitutional Law class.
 

Xe4

Banned
I remember there were a couple people on GAF that came off remarkably close to ISIS supporters. Wonder what happened to them.
 

dark_chris

Member
"Not all speech is free—if it’s in support of ISIS."

Uh, lots of speech isn't free, and for good reason.

That's like the first hour of the first day of an introductory Constitutional Law class.

Yeah, the same as saying fire in a theater or joking that you got a bomb on the plane.
 

Booshka

Member
I was laughing my ass off to Unexpected Jihad, so I guess I am screwed. Although I don't use Facebook, barely use Twitter, and that's about it.
 

B!TCH

how are you, B!TCH? How is your day going, B!ITCH?
This sets a dangerous precedence nobody should be comfortable with.

Yeah but people are more interested in repealing the Affordable Care Act that definitely helps them than they are in repealing the Patriot Act which definitely harms them. Conclusion: people are stupid.


Also, aren't there a couple of people on GAF who implicitly support ISIS? Ha, good luck defending your childish attempt at rebelion in court.
 
So everyone in that Unexpected Jihad thread is fucked huh?

اَللّٰهُ أَكْبَر
 

BocoDragon

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize This Assgrab is Delicious
I bet the NSA and CIA are like stfu Justice Department, you're scaring away people from voluntarily putting a red flag on their heads. What a great tool to identify people sympathetic with violent jihad.
 

kmax

Member
“The problem boils down to this: The government equated rhetorical support with ‘material support,’” Alex Abdo, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote at the time. “What makes the government’s theory so dangerous to our freedom of speech is that it threatens to dismantle the barrier that the Supreme Court has erected ‘between words and deeds, between ideas and conduct.’ That barrier prevents the government from censoring speech based solely on its tendency to persuade...”

The guy has a point. I don't know why anyone would want to support a filthy terrorist group like ISIS, but fucking around by setting dangerous precedents is surely not the way to go.

There are more appropriate means to punish the bastards. If they support them, chances are that they got dirt under their fingers.
 
As terrible and horrifying as ISIS is, this sets a god-awful precedent and is pretty scary. What's even worse are all the morons accepting it blindly because "oh no terrorists, take my rights away to fight them pls!!!!" Like...





Yep.

So...i'm a moron for expressing support on arresting people who associate with a terrorist group whose stated goal is destruction of US...
 
I bet the NSA and CIA are like stfu Justice Department, you're scaring away people from voluntarily putting a red flag on their heads. What a great tool to identify people sympathetic with violent jihad.

Thats what I was thinking. Seems like it would be better to just investigate those people on the quiet.
 

WalkMan

Banned
I bet the NSA and CIA are like stfu Justice Department, you're scaring away people from voluntarily putting a red flag on their heads. What a great tool to identify people sympathetic with violent jihad.

DOJ and FBI are concerned with the domestic support, NSA and CIA shouldn't really be touching that anyhow other than the incidentals.
 

Heshinsi

"playing" dumb? unpossible
Good. If you even have a single iota of support or sympathy for those thugs, you are a person that should be kept an eye on. If someone goes online and makes a bunch of pro-Hamas posts on social media, I'm not worried that they will be involved in some sort of domestic incident. It could happen, but not at all likely. Someone starts making pro-ISIS comments, now I'm worried. Because attacking civilians are these clown's siren call. Round them up.
 
So...i'm a moron for expressing support on arresting people who associate with a terrorist group whose stated goal is destruction of US...

Yes, but only a little bit. "Destruction of the US" can mean a lot of things. Civil rights groups have gotten hit with that label multiple times. We protect the freedom of association because who knows what cause we affiliate ourselves with that the majority may be braying about tomorrow?
 
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