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  • Case in Point: When the Law Is Used to Limit America's Freedom of Action

    The law, increasingly, is becoming a tool used by opponents of American power to harass American officials and, through the courts, limit America’s freedom of action.

    A case in point is the lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Amir Meshal (an American citizen).  Meshal, who lives  in New Jersey, says that in 2006 he travelled to Somalia “to enrich his study of Islam.”  At that time, parts of Somalia were under the control of the Islamic Courts Union – a fundamentalist militia.   Later that year the US assisted in an Ethiopian offensive that recaptured the capital and installed a new government.

    Meshal says that he fled the fighting, and that he has no ties to the ICU or al-Qaeda.  His law suit alleges that he was arrested in Kenya and held in a filthy, crowded cell, at the behest of American officials.  He says that the FBI came and questioned him and that the FBI agents threatened to sned him to Israel or Egypt (where, presumably, he feared being tortured) if he did not confess to his al-Qaeda ties.  When a Kenyan human rights group sought his release, Meshal says he was sent back to Somalia and then on to Ethiopia before finally being released.

    And now, safely back in America, like any good American he is seeking  to sue someone.  He wants money damages from the FBI for his detention and “harsh treatment.”  He is not alone.  In the Seventh Circuit two US citizens have sued former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld personally for their mistreatment and a similar suit is pending in Washington DC.

    Suits like these aren’t really meant to secure money (though that is a nice side benefit if it happens).  They are, instead, part of an incessant drumbeat to criminalize and personalize policy differences while using the courts to advance a particular political agenda.  It also doesn’t hurt to try to obtain classified documents through the courts in the hopes of expanding such political objectives.

    What is most notable about these cases is not the allegations of misconduct – but rather the fact that even the Obama Administration has seen fit to oppose them in Court.  Whenever it has done so it has argued both that the Congress has never authorized these suits and that federal officials are immune from these sorts of Monday-morning quarterbacking law suits.  And that’s precisely right – if personal law suits against government officials were to become the norm we would soon find ourselves without any volunteers to serve in government.

    Imagine what it is like to be the FBI agents sent to Kenya to question Meshal – a suspected al-Qaeda operative (forgive my skepticism about his trip to study Islam in war-torn Somalia).  They were just doing their  jobs.  If, now, their liveliood and personal forturne are at risk they must surely rue the day they signed up to join the FBI – which is, of course, exactly what Meshal wants.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Case in Point: When the Law Is Used to Limit America's Freedom of Action

    1. @USAGeorge says:

      Well,sure sounds like a good idea,but,,The same laws that are in place are streached by our own government to limit my so called rights all the time. One can see this dude didn't pass the smell test and one can question the ACLU's motives, but what applies to him also applies to me. One need not like his story,nor the ACLU's intervention but then again if it was them perhaps they would feel differently. I think innocent untill proven guilty applies and at some point if the Fed overreached the courts will decide,they exist for a reason.. So whats the problem?

      • C-Mac Mickgringo says:

        H shouldn't be able to file a civil suit against an FBI employee. If he wants to pursue criminal action against the FBI or the administration for particular policies that put his civil liberties in jeopardy, he should be able to do so. Burden of proof of malice is on him. Also, keep in mind he wasn't on american soil. Not certain that same laws apply when in a combat zone of a foreign land….

    2. Phil Cleigh says:

      Talk about mixed emotions! I read the line, "if personal law suits against government officials were to become the norm we would soon find ourselves without any volunteers to serve in government." And have a hard time seeing that as a bad thing. There's also the question of corrupt gub'mint officials hiding behind this immunity. In today's world, that may be the greater threat. If only we had more honest judges unwilling to legislate from the bench; or more honest law enforcement officials unwilling to legislate from the street; and more honest legislators who understand their job, and don't want to police or judge…

    3. Bobbie says:

      Immigrants sure know how to take advantage with the support of the American government at tax payers costs, of everything they want from America at their convenience and "change" everything else they aren't dignified enough to abide by. Time to stop! Decent American leadership wouldn't allow this.

      No Immigrants or their children from terrorists training territories should be allowed any position that has to do with the security and governing of this country! America is too important to humanity the way she was founded. And please, make no exception because their status is "American citizen." Thanks to government protections for questionable immigrants made exception, suspicion is all over America and has to be called out, so does the ACLU for their violations in favoring race, creed and culture over American principles!

    4. RMW says:

      I find your article and the implications of it troubling. This is especially so in light of the freedoms that we have given up post 9/11. Just because the Obama administration and Congress 'has seen fit to oppose them in court', does not make the misconduct any less egregious or not deserving to be heard in a court of law. We seem to have agents and spies in so many countries in the cause of freedom and this so called war on terror. It is time to stop some of this nonsense and hold all of our government officials accountable to the constitution and to the American people. Good and honest observers of the rule of law and the principals of our founding fathers will not be deterred from serving in government. The best example is Ron Paul who should be a model for many of our wayward politicians and leaders.

    5. RMW says:

      Why were my comments earlier today not posted here? Was there something in my comments that shouldn't be open to discussion or be read? I thought ideas and debate should flourish here as your guidelines state?

    6. Kate says:

      "if personal law suits against government officials were to become the norm we would soon find ourselves without any volunteers to serve in government."

      I don't think government officials should be immune from citizen lawsuits. What if a prosecutor fabricated evidence in a criminal case and intentionally convicted an innocent person? (That has happened.) Should he enjoy immunity if the wrongly-convicted person tries to sue him?

      Unlimited immunity, whether for prosecutors or FBI agents, is a very bad idea. Of course there have to be limits, but you have to realize the huge potential for harassment and persecution many government officials have as part of their jobs. Inevitably, some of them will abuse their authority. Lawsuits are one of the most basic checks ordinary citizens have on government power. Anyone learned in "Rule of Law" should realize that.

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