One of the things I'm going to talk about on the panel today is the addition of al-Manar, the satellite TV station of Lebanon-based Hezbollah to the Terrorist Exclusion List on December 17, 2004. The TEL limits immigration for foreigners associated with organizations on the list. This is not the worst of the various lists to be on, but according to Jack Shafer, they are the first media company to be added to this list. My understanding is that al-Manar represents the Hezbollah party in Lebanon. It is an official party with democratically elected politicians. While the content of al-Manar may be objectionable to many people, stifling the voice of a democratically elected party in a foreign country by calling them terrorists goes against the spirit of freedom of expression. The US constitution's First Amendment rights only cover Americans, but I believe that in a democracy the competition of ideas and free speech should combat beliefs that it does not agree with - more speech and debate, not censorship.
Another issue is the chilling effect that this has. Although talking about or talking to people from al-Manar might not land you on the Terrorist Exclusion List, it could easily land you on the no-fly or similar list and cause you to be perpetually harassed when traveling in the US. I imagine that people from al-Manar will have a very difficult time finding anyone to talk to or have lunch with. I feel a chill running down my spine just writing this post.