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The Champion

September 2011 , Page 50 

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Prosecution With A Vengeance - Without an Unambiguous Statute in Sight

By Harvey A. Silverglate

Citizens from all walks of life — doctors, accountants, businessmen, political activists, and others — have found themselves the targets of federal prosecutions, despite sensibly believing that they did nothing wrong, broke no laws, and harmed not a single person. In these wheels of injustice, vague laws are the lynchpin, functioning in very much the opposite way than originally intended: they obscure, rather than clarify, the law’s demands.

Material Support to Terrorist Groups 

The criminal ban against providing “material support” to organizations listed by the government as “terrorist” groups is an often-used tool in the post-9/11 “war on terror.”1 Fearful that even its peace-promoting activities might be deemed criminal, the Humanitarian Law Project, a human rights group, challenged the government’s extraordinarily broad and vague definition of the phrase “material support.”

After wending its way through lower courts for more than a decade — during which time the “material support” sta

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