It is gratifying to see that a major flaw in our criminal justice system is being corrected. The law’s traditional insistence on prosecuting an individual after he commits a crime, coupled with a wimpish presumption of innocence has rendered law enforcement both impotent and ineffective.
The only way America will become a walled community of safety and security is if we start prosecuting criminals before they commit a crime. By putting the emphasis on intent, we put the burden of proof on the suspect to convince a court of law that nary a criminal thought crossed his mind.
Our salvation is the “material support” laws that are now on the books in which an individual can be prosecuted for providing material support to any organization the government has designated as a terrorist organization even if that wasn’t his intent.
Eric Umansky hit the nail on the head when he described material support laws as, “…a prosecutors dream. They don’t require evidence of a plot or even of a desire to help terrorists. They give the government a shot at conviction traditional criminal laws could never provide.” They are what one law professor described as a “preventive paradigm” designed to nip crime in the bud before the criminal is able to commit an illegal act, even if he had no intention to do so and wasn’t even a criminal in the firsts place.
Prosecutors are giving material support laws additional bite through what is called “strategic overinclusiveness”, which is a polite way of saying you can be busted for looking at someone or refusing to be cowed by authority.
Not that any red-blooded American has to worry about being swept up in a material support dragnet. These laws are not designed for the White supremacist organizations that are the rage in parts of the county, unless they do something illegal like blowing up a federal office building. The laws are designed to protect us from brownies such as Muslims and illegal aliens.
Granted, the laws could easily be redirected should any White folks become too strident in their criticism of your efforts to preserve America’s democracy. The truth is that there isn’t a hard drive in the country that does not contain on it some evidence, no matter how sparse, of criminal intent. Downloading a BDSM file gives material support to wench beaters, and a farmer downloading information about a nitrate-based fertilizer is prima facie evidence of his intent to blow something up.
For now, prosecutors are only going after brownies, all of whom are acts of material support waiting to happen. However, there is no denying that these laws are effective weapons in the prosecutorial arsenal and could easily be used against all those who have sat down at a computer. The beautiful thing is that their every keystroke is on record with our National Security Agency ready to be dragged into court as evidence that some poor unsuspecting citizen sent an email or wrote a blog critical of your administration. And since your administration's sole activity is the War on Terrorism, such criticism constitutes giving material comfort to every terrorist organization on the face of the earth.