A Victim of Terrorism Faces Deportation for Helping Terrorists

Director Karen J. Greenberg’s comments on Material Support.

“It’s the net that most terrorism suspects are brought in on,” Karen J. Greenberg, the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham’s law school, told me.

They were indicted, and retained Cole, who stalled the prosecution for twelve years by arguing that it violated the First Amendment. But in 2010, in a decision called Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the Supreme Court ruled against the organization. The effect was immediate. “There was a chill factor,” Greenberg, of the Center on National Security, told me. “You had attorneys saying, ‘Well, wait, am I providing material support by being a lawyer for terrorism suspects or somebody who’s been indicted for related crimes?’”

“I think material support can be very useful for investigations,” Greenberg, of the Center on National Security, told me. “And being strict about material support for terrorism, of course we understand this is important, if applied carefully.”

Greenberg said that the expansion of the material-support statute could lay the groundwork for a more general expansion of law-enforcement authority. “What they need is the attitude that they can use any law in a vague and overly broad sense,” she told me. “That’s what material support was. That’s the whole point of it.”

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Karen Greenberg