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Brog: Is Twitter Above the Law?

In its February 2010 opinion in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the United States Supreme Court stressed that it’s illegal to provide material support to terrorists even if such support is not directly linked to violence. In other words, the “services” that Twitter provides to Hamas violate the law, even if they’re not used to fire a missile or blow up a bus. The provision of these services is illegal even if it merely helps the terrorists brag about such attacks after the fact. As Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote on behalf of the majority: “Material support meant to ‘promote peaceable, lawful conduct’ can further terrorism by foreign groups in multiple ways. ... Such support frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends. It also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups — legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members and to raise funds — all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks.”

In addition, I would note that murder and maiming are not the terrorists’ ultimate goal. They seek to use this bloodshed to “terrorize” a population into submission to their will. Thus threatening and communicating their attacks are central to the terrorists’ mission. A widely read tweet extends the range of the terrorists’ bomb.

Thus far, the Obama administration and the United States attorney’s office in San Francisco have maintained complete silence on this issue. This is a missed opportunity to take a strong moral stand against terror. Forcing Twitter to ban Hamas respects and reinforces what must be a bright red line between those who target civilians in pursuance of their politics and those who do not.

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, has taken a leadership role in calling on the Obama administration to enforce our anti-terror laws and force Twitter to do the right thing.

I applaud his activism. And on behalf of our more than 1.2 million members, I call on his colleagues to follow his lead.

David Brog, the executive director of Christians United for Israel, is a former staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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