There’s much talk of reforming the criminal justice system: libertarian-ish GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul is making the unfairness of sentences that have a disparate impact on minorities a major theme of his campaign, which is all to the good.
• But what about a system that has a disparate impact on the innocent?
I’ll bet you didn’t know you can be prosecuted on charges of aiding and abetting “terrorism” for having the wrong books in your library.
Yes, it’s true, as Marcus Dwayne Robertson of Florida found out. Arrested for gun possession and tax evasion – two victimless crimes in the libertarian law book – prosecutors sought to slap him with “terrorism” charges, based on his possession of certain apparently forbidden books.
With 10,000 e-books on Robertson’s computer, prosecutors homed in on 20 or so that not only failed to meet their strict literary standards but also – they claimed – connected him in some vague way to terrorist organizations. Robertson, known as Abu Taubah, is an Islamic scholar, and there was never any evidence introduced that showed the validity of such a connection. It was just a gratuitous effort to keep him in jail and throw away the key. But this time it didn’t work. The other day a judge ordered his release and rebuked the government in a memorandum, averring that federal prosecutors had “not even come close to proving …. Robertson’s relatively minor income tax fraud was intended to promote a federal crime of terrorism.” He also noted that he had received hundreds of emails from Pamela Geller types demanding that he impose a harsh sentence on Robertson, something he had never before experienced in all his days on the court.
“In America,” he wrote, “everyone has a right to say and believe what they want, within the bounds of the law.” To which one might add: so far….
In this country, the innocent are pursued, and the guilty are not merely left unmolested – they’re honored and rewarded.
• And here’s a prime example of the latter:
“Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby, two key players in the George W. Bush administration, are teaching a course this fall on decision-making in the 2003 Iraq War. The course, titled ‘The War in Iraq: A Study in Decision-Making,’ will examine some ‘key strategic decisions’ during the war, according to a description by the Hertog Foundation in D.C., which will offer the week-long course.”
A better title, if I may be so bold, would be “Still Wrong After All These Years.” Wrong, unrepentant – and, most important of all, unpunished. For there is ample evidence that this wasn’t just a bad decision but a big deception, that the “evidence” of Iraq’s WMD was a tissue of lies, and that the policymakers knew this at the time. Indeed, they created sub rosa departments of government dedicated to inventing and disseminating deliberate falsehoods fashioned out of cherry-picked “factoids” that had little relationship to the actual facts.
It’s a federal crime to commit such acts, and yet Wolfie and Scooter are not only free (Scooter after being pardoned by George W. Bush for separate crimes) but they’re out there teaching courses and giving lectures justifying their illegal acts. And for that added note of unmitigated chutzpah, this is from the course description:
"History takes on a different aspect when viewed not from years removed and with the consequences of decisions taken known, but from the viewpoints of the actual policymakers as decisions approached and as unexpected events, rivalries, countermoves, mistakes, and imperfect understandings intervened.”
Yes, it’s those “unexpected events,” like the intrusion of reality, that you
have to watch out for. Not to mention all those “countermoves” by ungrateful
Iraqis, who stubbornly and inexplicably refused to stay conquered. Although
perhaps this is due to their “imperfect understanding” of how they were being
bombed and their civilization destroyed for their own good. One can only imagine
the Wolfie-Scooter conception of which “mistakes” and “rivalries” led to the
biggest military disaster in US history, but you’ll just have to pay the
$2,000 fee in order to find out – though residents of
DC get a 50 percent discount.
• Speaking of criminal acts …
Did you know that Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard could well be released in November? Is the Obama administration going to do what previous Presidents refused to do – cave in to Israeli pressure to free a traitor?
• So it turns out that crime does pay …
But only in the short run – as Greece’s bailed-out creditors and their enablers in government are beginning to discover. It was they who played a game of serial moral hazard, destroying the financial discipline imposed by the markets and skimming profits off the rising misery index of the Greek people. Now they are reading the “Mene mene tekel upharsin” on the wall.
While some ostensibly “free market” types are siding with the Euro-crats against the Greeks, former Reagan administration official David Stockman – a staunch free-marketeer – shows a much better understanding of the underlying cause of the Greek financial crisis:
“Late Friday night a solid blow was struck for sound money, free markets and limited government by a most unlikely force. Namely, the hard core statist and crypto-Marxist prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras. He has now set in motion a cascade of disruption that will shake the corrupt status quo to its very foundations.”
The real villains in this tale of perfidious greed are the European central bankers and EU bureaucrats whose policies mask the real costs of debt and create a bubble that’s bound to burst – and now it has, threatening to shatter the Greek economy and shaking the very foundations of global markets from London to New York.
Crime and punishment in the Free World follows the Bizarro World rules: the innocent are pursued relentlessly, while the guilty are rewarded and even celebrated. Yet I like to believe that, in the end, your karma catches up with you, however long it may take. The Europeans are learning this to their dismay, and the rest of the world may not be far behind. My advice to investors: sell, sell, sell!
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.