Volume 7 Issue 15_Sun Bay Paper

These are perilous times. They are made worse by the government's political reaction to lawless behavior, which is a greater threat to personal liberty than the behavior it seeks to punish. Last week, the feds obtained an indictment of 11 members of the Oath Keepers for their role in trashing the Capitol building and attempting to interfere with the functions of government on Jan. 6, 2021. The evidence of their guilt of trashing and obstruction is manifest. The hooligans who invaded the Capitol were lawless by any rational standard. But did they really agree to overthrow the government by force? Here is the backstory. The history of British monarchs staying on their inherited thrones is the history of the suppression of dissent. The favorite tool for suppression was charging dissidents with treason. Treason was whatever threatened the government's stability from the perspective of the government. In 1535, St. Thomas More, a former Lord Chancellor of England - - the precursor to the modern Prime Minister -- was convicted of treason and beheaded for remaining silent when the king and Parliament commanded him to speak. The punishments for treason were horrific and always included the convict's death, often preceded by his public dismemberment. The framers of the U.S. Constitution were familiar with this history and sought to prohibit its repetition in America. They did so by defining treason in the Constitution. "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them aid and comfort." (giving aid... Hmmm which actually sound more like President Biden actions) Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution. James Madison, who drafted the Constitution, insisted that the definition of treason be in the founding document so that neither Congress nor the president could manipulate it to their own ends as British monarchs and parliaments had done. Not deterred by the constitutional language they had sworn to uphold, the federalist Congress and President John Adams crafted a substitute crime in 1798 and called it sedition. It made criminal any "false, scandalous or malicious writings against the government of the United States." This was intended to suppress dissent, and evade the high bar established in the Constitution for proving treason. Thus, the same generation -- in some cases, the same human beings -- that had just written in the First Amendment that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech" did just that. And they used it to prosecute their political opponents, including infamously, Rep. Matthew Lyon of Vermont who mocked President Adams' waistline. The Federalists were so accustomed to the use of this tyrannical tool that a lame duck federalist Congress and President Adams repealed it after Thomas Jefferson was elected president and while the antiFederalists were waiting to assume control of Congress, lest it be used by the incoming government against them. Yet, one of Jefferson's first acts as president was to pardon Rep. Lyon. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson offered legislation to suppress dissent during World War I, and Congress enacted it. The socialist firebrand Eugene V. Debs was convicted of sedition, a conviction upheld by the Supreme Court, for publicly denouncing the war. Wilson and his Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer ruthlessly used the Sedition Act of 1918 to suppress dissent. They prosecuted college students who sang German beer hall songs and read the Declaration of Independence aloud in public. Their theory was that dissent dissuaded young men from registering for the draft, and thus had the potential for impairing America's war effort, and thus constituted sedition. The statute under which Debs and others were convicted is essentially the same statute under which the Oath Keepers were indicted last week. It also prohibits any conspiracy to overthrow the government by force. A conspiracy is an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, where at least one of those persons took a material step in furtherance of the agreement. But the essence of conspiracy consists of constitutionally protected behavior -- speech and thought, and that makes it legally dubious and practically difficult for the government to prove. The last federal sedition case was brought against a Michigan militia in 2010. The indictment was dismissed by a federal judge who ruled that the defendants' hateful and threatening words and outlier agreements were protected speech and did not evince a realistic plan to overthrow the government by force. In the indictment against the Oath Keepers, the feds have outlined in great detail the communications among them in the months preceding Jan. 6. The detail is so great that the FBI must have had an undercover agent or cooperating witness embedded in the group. This leads to a host of other problems for the government. What did the feds know, and when did they know it? How and why did they let it lead to destruction and death? The Oath Keepers have insisted that they never intended to use violence and only wanted to make a political point -- a point that the government hates. Prosecuting speech is dangerous business. Violence is certainly not constitutionally protected, but hate speech is. As recently as 1969, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that all innocuous speech is absolutely protected, and all speech is innocuous when there is time for more speech to rebut it. Even the feds don't claim that the Oath Keeper defendants are somehow criminally liable for the behavior of others present at the Capitol. Rather, they claim that 11 persons -- 11! -- agreed to overthrow the government by force. Can an agreement that is impossible to perform legally constitute a conspiracy? Only those who hate the politics of the 11 could seriously believe that it can. The government should prosecute only crimes that have caused harm, not words and ideas that it hates, for they are protected by the First Amendment that the government has sworn to uphold. Whose words and ideas will the feds prosecute next? Adrew P. Napolitano The Sun Bay Paper Page 18 January 21, 2022 - January 27, 2022 National News Perilous Times Border Patrol Seized 4.7 Tons of Cocaine in Two Months U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Air and Marine Operations crews operating P-3 aircraft from Texas and Florida participated in multi-agency counter narcotics operations that led to the seizure of 4.7 tons (9,475 pounds) of cocaine worth $179.2 million in a two-month timeframe, according to CBP. Air and Marine Operations (AMO) agents operating along U.S. borders, coastlines and territorial waters are especially trained to combat maritime smuggling. They’re tasked with interdicting unlawful people and cargo approaching U.S. borders and investigating criminal networks, providing domain awareness in air and maritime environments and responding to a range of contingencies. AMO has two P-3 National Air Security Operations Centers located in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida. The aircraft operate throughout North, Central and South America to prevent attempts by cartels to smuggle people and contraband. AMO National Air Security Operations Center, P-3 Long Range Tracker crews and U.S. Southern Command partners were involved in maritime drug busts between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2021. One-third of overall drug seizures during this period occurred on one single night, according to CBP. On Oct. 24, a P-3 Long Range Tracker crew detected a suspicious vessel in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and guided U.S. Coast Guard teams to its location. The AMO aircrew received reports of a second vessel and guided Colombian Navy and National Aero-naval Service of Panama teams for interdiction. Their efforts led to the detention of six people and seizure of 2.8 tons of cocaine. “National Air Security Operations Center P-3 capabilities continue to prove essential in support of United States Southern Command operations, contributing to an increased law enforcement presence in narcotics transit zones,” CBP reports. “This partnership bolsters support to U.S. and international law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to help expand target packages.” Earlier this month, AMO agents, working with Homeland Security and DEA agents, intercepted a vessel with four people transporting 1,470 pounds (667 kilos) of cocaine with an estimated value of nearly $20 million off the coast of the U.S. Virgin Islands. AMO crew patrolling the east side of the U.S. Virgin Islands detected a twin-engine boat at high speed with suspected contraband noticeable on the boat’s deck. Working with the U.S. Coast Guard, the crew stopped the vessel 20 nautical miles east of St. Croix and the four men on board were arrested for narcotics violations. “Transnational criminal organizations take aim at diverse routes to move their illicit contraband,” Augusto Reyes, director of the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch, said. “Our agents will continue to use our advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities to detect and interdict them throughout our coastal borders.” There are over 1,800 AMO agents and mission support personnel responsible for maintaining and operating 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels throughout the U.S., and in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In fiscal 2021, AMO enforcement actions resulted in 1,119 arrests and 122,035 apprehensions of illegal immigrants. These specialized agents seized or disrupted 324,772 pounds of cocaine, 779,725 pounds of marijuana, 18,548 pounds of methamphetamine, 900 weapons and $73.3 million in cash. Bethany Blankley The Center Square