Very Good Reporting on FBI Raids

Katrina Plotz
Katrina Plotz, activist targeted in raids
I can't be 100% negative, so I'm posting an example of very good reporting on the FBI raids a month ago. James Walsh of the Star Tribune should be credited for just writing about it, but he does a great job of highlighting the relevant issues and building the story around the quotes. And yes, even the hed is good: Does terror law protect us or stifle free speech? The lede:
To federal prosecutors, the laws against "providing material support" to terror groups are a critical weapon in an arsenal that keeps us safe from attack. To antiwar protesters, now caught up in an expanding investigation of their activities, those laws infringe on our cherished rights to free speech and free association and smack of political intimidation.

The recent raids on protesters' homes in the Twin Cities bring to light how the war on terror is being fought at home, with the help of federal law and recent court rulings.

At first glance, federal law clearly bans providing cash or weapons to terrorists. But the law also says that even advocating for a terrorist organization can be considered "providing material support."
Hatem Abudayyeh
Hatem Abudayyeh, activist targeted in raids
While the formula is "he said, she said," it is not a false equivalence. The topic of the story is a genuine legal debate on how to reconcile the material support for terrorism statute with the First Amendment. This issue was recently ruled on by the Supreme Court. That's also why it is appropriate to use a question as the hed in this instance, as opposed to the many times it is not.

I also give props to Walsh for linking this story to the other local community that has been affected by the material support statute:
Over the past two years, several local men of Somali descent have been indicted, and some convicted, for providing material support for Al-Shabab, an Islamist group fighting for control of Somalia. Some traveled to Somalia to fight, some recruited fighters, some allegedly provided money.
And for including a key aspect of its application:
Consider this: It is the U.S. State Department that determines what is a terrorist organization. While groups can appeal that classification, they have no right to see the information that was used to label them. People who are charged with providing material support cannot appeal the designation.

Nestor said the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela was considered a terror group by the Reagan administration. If this law had been in place then, it would have been illegal to advocate for that group in its battle against apartheid. The truth is, Nestor said, our allegiances change over the years. This decade's terrorists -- elements of the Taliban, for instance -- were freedom fighters of the 1980s.
That's the truth, Ruth! Check out the Committee to Stop FBI Repression website for more info on grand juries and profiles of the targeted activists.

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