Amina Farah Ali is an American citizen living in Minnesota currently being tried for allegedly sending aid to al-Shabaab, a political group in Somalia that has been fighting (like pretty much everyone in Somalia) with the corrupt, cruel, unpopular U.S. sponsored puppet government there.
She refused to stand for the judge, one Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis. He has banned her from the courtroom. Apparently he thinks the traditional show of respect for the court is more important than following the U.S. Constitution, which states in the Sixth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights: "the accused shall enjoy the right ... to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have assistance of counsel for his offense."
The Constitution lies in shreds on the floor of Judge Davis's federal court, in more ways than this. While that has always been the way of our national government, while that is simply part of the gruel of law, it is always instructive to look at the details.
I don't see how any honest interpretation of the Constitution allows for Ms. Ali and people like her to be accused of any crime at all. The laws she is being prosecuted under are devoid of any basis in the Constitution. They violate international law and all all reasonable standards of ethical behavior.
In this supposed land of the free this law makes it illegal to send funds or supplies to foreign political groups the U.S. government does not like. You can, conversely, send funds and supplies to foreign political groups the U.S. does like. Even accepting, as I do, that Congress has broad power to do what is "necessary and proper" to carry out its Constitutional duties, this law makes a mockery of several sections of the Constitution.
It is also yet another instance of the U.S. government claiming jurisdiction beyond its own borders, a policy that has always infuriated the various nations we have interfered with and made war upon.
Did Ali, in raising $2,100 in pledges to send to Somalia to fight against a gang of thugs flooded with tens of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer provided "support", commit treason? This is the main question that needs to be asked. If she did not commit treason, then the law and the prosecution, in fact all the acts of Congress, President Obama, and their court system, are simply overreach.
The U.S. Constitution is very clear about treason (the Funding Fathers having just escaped with their lives from being treasonable to King George): "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." [Article III, Section 3] Note the word only. It colors the entire section.
Ms. Ali has certainly not levied war against the United States of America. Perhaps she gave aid and comfort to al-Shabaab, but al-Shabaab is the de facto government of Somalia, not the "transitional" U.S. paid puppet government. According to many treaties we have signed the U.S. is supposed to recognize de facto governments. Not hire thugs to set up puppet regimes.
Al-Shabab is certainly an enemy of the U.S.-made inflatable-doll "government" of Somalia, but anyone in their right mind in Somalia would be. Who wants to be bossed around by a government that you can't even vote for or against. By that, I mean the U.S. government. If Somalia is U.S. territory, shouldn't they get at least two U.S. Senators, a proportional number of Representatives, food stamps, and Social Security? I've noticed food stamps really cut down on opposition to the government.
Suppose I were elected President. No, I'm not running. But I would recognize the de facto government, maybe governments, of Somalia. That is the right thing to do. And suddenly Ms. Ali there is no longer aiding an alleged enemy of the U.S., but an ally.
Making list of enemies in foreign civil wars might seem necessary. I wish General Franco had been declared an enemy of the U.S. in 1936, then we probably could have skipped that entire World War II thing, and the Holocaust, and the occupation of Palestine by Israel. But the Catholic Church loved Franco and its adherents mostly voted Democratic in the U.S., so President Franklin Roosevelt maintained neutrality. So I admit there is a pragmatic argument to be made, but there is also a Constitution to try to keep out of the shredding machine.
Treason is a serious thing. Spying for a foreign nation might amount to treason, even if we were not at war with the nation spied for. But American citizens also have the right of free speech. The Supreme Court, in its wisdom, has declared that money is speech, at least when rich people and corporations corrupt the electoral process with it. If money is speech, then it seems to me Ms. Ali was engaging in speech, not treason. Of course you can expect the jackals of our Supreme Court to say that money is speech when they want it to be, and not when they don't want it to be.
We Americans are supposed to have a right to disagree with our government. They call that free speech. We also have a right to assemble with people who agree with us; that is the right to assembly.
If liking or not liking some political group in a foreign nation becomes treason, then free speech goes out the window. If Congress can declare foreign groups to be enemies for purpose of treason, what would prevent it from declaring domestic groups to be enemies for purpose of treason, except for decency, which is not something you want to rely on from politicians?
As far as treason goes, I think the only reasonable interpretation of the word "Enemy" is a nation with which we are at war. If the U.S. Congress had recognized al-Shabaab as the government of Somalia and then declared war on Somalia, I might not agree with them, but I could agree that once war is declared, the U.S. has a clear enemy, and it could be treason to aid them.
If al-Shabaab made an attack on or within U.S. territory, the Federal Government would have clear cause to deal with the crime, and with any American citizens aiding in the crime. You don't need to invoke the treason clause.
Neither of those situations fits the facts of Ms. Ali's case. She likes a particular "faction," really the de facto government, of Somalia. She sends them some help. Her actions are political, and do not constitute treason. American history is full of cases where our citizens, of their own initiative, have given verbal or material support to political factions outside the U.S. It is our right as human beings, and I believe it is a right covered by the Ninth Amendment (which is too little asserted):
"The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
Note: my defense of Ms. Ali's rights in no way is meant to endorse or support al-Shabaab or any other armed faction in Somalia. I think they should all declare a peace and organize their society in a peaceful, humane manner.