Rudy Giuliani Denies Supporting Terrorist Organization
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is reportedly considering another run at the presidency, has co-written an op-ed denying he provided material support to a terrorist organization.
Here's the backstory: Last week, Georgetown University Law Professor David Cole penned an op-ed in the New York Times asking whether Giuliani - as well as former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former national security adviser Frances Townsend - committed a federal crime when they spoke in support of a group called the Mujahedin-e Khalq at a conference in Paris.
As Cole noted, the United States considers the Mujahedin-e Khalq a "foreign terrorist organization" - and it's a crime to provide material support to such organizations. Cole argues that since Mukasey's own Justice Department (as well as the current one) says speech coordinated with a terrorist organization constitutes material support - a position backed by the Supreme Court - Giuliani and the others are at risk of criminal charges. (Cole, it should be noted, was arguing that he does not believe such speech should be a crime and calling for the law to be changed. He was also using the MEK situation to suggest the Supreme Court had erred in ruling against him in a separate case.)
Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, is an Iranian exile group that the Washington Post reports was
In the op-ed released today in National Review Online, Giuliani and the others argue MEK isn't a terrorist organization. They write that it is only on the terrorism list for political reasons, and note that the European Union and the United Kingdom have removed the group from their terrorism lists.
They go on to argue that it's not a crime to speak out in favor of the group because the material-support statute allows them latitude to do so - a crime is only committed, they write, when the accused are working "under that foreign terrorist organization's direction or control."
Yet it's not clear that the efforts of Giuliani and the others constituted acting "entirely independently," particularly since, as Gawker notes, the Supreme Court has deemed "advocacy performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization" a crime. Seeing as Giuliani and the others were speaking at French Committee for a Democratic Iran, which was reportedly formed to support the MEK, the case could be made that they were acting "in coordination with" the group.
According to Allan Gerson, a lawyer representing the MEK who wrote to the Times to respond to Cole's op-ed,
But the Council on Foreign Relations points to the MEK's onetime "association with Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime" and writes that its efforts in opposition to the Iranian government have included attacks that "have often killed civilians."
The CFR writes:
CBS News' Senior National Security Analyst Juan Zarate says there has been "an ongoing debate about MEK for some time."
Liberal commentator Glenn Greenwald argues that Giuliani is essentially being afforded special treatment despite breaking the law.