Is Terrorism being used to erode free speech rights?

An NYU Law School panel contains sharply divergent views on this question


Glenn Greenwald
November 11, 2010 8:12PM (UTC)

(updated below - Update II)

Last week at NYU Law School, I was on a panel -- along with NYU Law Professor Burt Neuborne, Chicago Law Professor Geoffrey Stone, and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force Supervisory Agent Niall Brennan, moderated by Time's Barton Gellman -- which examined whether the threat of Terrorism was being exploited to erode core First Amendment/free speech rights, including the First Amendment right to advocate violence as recognized by the 1969 Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio.  The 1-hour event -- which contained discussion of Obama's assassination program and Anwar al-Awlaki -- is worth listening to.  The video is below.  My initial presentation was the last one of the four panelists and begins at 30:00, and a quick rebuttal from me of a few of the other panelists' points begins at 50:50. 

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At roughly 53:00, the Q-and-A session with the audience began, and the first questioner was NPR's national security reporter Dina Temple-Raston, whose Awlaki reporting I had criticized just a couple days earlier for uncritically repeating claims told to her by anonymous Pentagon officials.  She directed her rather critical multi-part question to me, claiming, among other things, that she had seen evidence of Awlaki's guilt as a Terrorist (which she had not previously reported or described in any detail), and that led to a rather contentious -- and, in my view, quite revealing -- exchange about the role of journalists and how Awlaki can and should be punished if he is, in fact, guilty of any actual crime:

 

UPDATE:  My Salon colleague Justin Elliott has a new article today examining the serious violence which the U.S. has been bringing to Yemen during the Obama presidency, as well as current plans for still-more escalation of our secret war in that nation.  Why would anyone in Yemen possibly advocate targeting the U.S. with violence?  It's such a bewildering mystery.

 

UPDATE II:  The American Prospect's Adam Serwer has some very interesting observations about my exchange with Temple-Raston, as does NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen, who left the first comment there.

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Glenn Greenwald

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