“No bended knee for me” – the Charge against Robert Beecher
Outpost of Freedom
August 30, 2014
The charge against Robert Beecher is not based upon the malicious allegations made by FBI Special Agent Stanley H. Slater that Robert Beecher was involved in an operation, known as “Operation Mutual Aid”, to kidnap and torture a DHS agent. In fact, it seems that the threat implied by Agent Slater has, well, just disappeared. The only charge is “Felon in Possession of a Firearm”.
Now, before I proceed with discussing the charge, I want to establish a bit of background on the government and their US Code. Harvey A. Silverglate is an attorney. His book “Three Felonies a Day” is instrumental in beginning to understand the nature of that beast (government), when it targets someone for persecution (resulting in prosecution). It is suggested reading for anyone interested in the complexities, and chicanery of the federal legal system.
The Forward, by Alan M. Dershowitz, to Sliverglate’s book begins,
The very possibility that citizens who believe they are law-abiding may, in the eyes of federal prosecutors, be committing three federal felonies each day… But when the executive branch, through its politically appointed prosecutors, has the power to criminalize ordinary conduct through accordion-like criminal statutes, the system of checks and balances breaks down.” He continues, “These prosecutors threaten to indict underlings for conduct that is even further away from the core of criminality unless they cooperate against the real targets. Because federal criminal law carries outrageously high sentences — often with mandatory minimums — these prosecutorial threats are anything but illusory. They turn friends into enemies, family members into government witnesses and employees into stool pigeons. Silverglate believes that we are in danger of becoming a society in which prosecutors alone become judges, juries and executioners because the threat of high sentences makes it too costly for even innocent people to resist the prosecutorial pressure. That is why nearly all criminal defendants today plead guilty to “reduced” charges rather than risk a trial with draconian sentences in the event of a conviction.
On to Silverglate’s Introduction, where we find reference to a 1952 Supreme Court decision, Morissette v. United States, [342 U.S. 246, 250-251]. This is interesting because it states that there must be intent to be a criminal act, to wit:
The contention that an injury can amount to a crime only when inflicted by intention is no provincial or transient notion. It is as universal and persistent in mature systems of law as belief in freedom of the human will and a consequent ability and duty of the normal individual to choose between good and evil. A relation between some mental element and punishment for a harmful act is almost as instinctive as the child’s familiar exculpatory “But I didn’t mean to,” and has afforded the rational basis for a tardy and unfinished substitution of deterrence and reformation in place of retaliation and vengeance as the motivation for public prosecution.
Finally, Silverglate refers to an anecdote told by Tim Wu in a 2007 article titled “American Lawbreaking,” published in the online magazine Slate:
At the federal prosecutor’s office in the Southern District of New York, the staff, over beer and pretzels, used to play a darkly humorous game. Junior and senior prosecutors would sit around, and someone would name a random celebrity — say, Mother Theresa or John Lennon. It would then be up to the junior prosecutors to figure out a plausible crime for which to indict him or her. The crimes were not usually rape, murder, or other crimes you’d see on Law & Order but rather the incredibly broad yet obscure crimes that populate the U.S. Code like a kind of jurisprudential minefield: Crimes like “false statements” (a felony, up to five years), “obstructing the mails” (five years), or “false pretenses on the high seas” (also five years). The trick and the skill lay in finding the more obscure offenses that fit the character of the celebrity and carried the toughest sentences. The result, however, was inevitable: “prison time,” as one former prosecutor told me.
Hence the title, “Three Felonies a Day”.
The only charge against Robert, now, is a violation of 18 USC §922(g)(1) (the full text of §922(g) can be found at 18 USC 922). The pertinent part is as follows:
(g) It shall be unlawful for any person –
(1) who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition; or to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
So, let’s look at the obvious intent of the law. First, “It shall be unlawful“, well, no problem with that.
Next, if that person “has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” Let’s assume for the sake of discussion, that that criterion has been met — that Robert has such a criminal record. So, now we move on to the third portion of the Statute.
It is unlawful “to ship or transport in interstate… commerce“. Now, this next phrase is rather interesting. “Possess” means “To occupy in person; to have in one’s actual and physical control“. So this must mean that you have in your control the firearm or you affect the commerce. The possession must be done while participating or affecting that commerce. Finally, “to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate commerce.” Well, that last one surely must be the direct recipient, the addressee – to “receive”, as opposed to “possess”. For if that were the case, it would read, “to possess any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate commerce.” Otherwise, there would be an inequitable application of the law. The construction, if mistaken, would mean that you could possess the firearm, if it were made in your state, though you could not take it with you, if you moved. It would also mean that if the ammunition were not made in your state, then you could have the firearm, but could never use it. So, the only logical construction would be that you could not be the direct recipient – could not receive a firearm or ammunition shipped from another state. Otherwise, only those who live in a state that has a plant that manufactures firearms could possess one, and could use it only if the requisite ammunition were also manufactured within that state. If that were the case, then the federal law would only apply to those people who happen to live in certain states, which would fly in the face of the concept of equal justice for all. Further, it would defy the concept of Article IV, § 2, which states, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all of the Privileges and Immunities of the Citizens of the several States.”
Finally, we need to look at what was intended by the Framers, as the prepared they plan for the creation of the federal government in devising the Constitution (Federalist Papers #62 – James Madison).
It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
The manipulation of the intent of a law to serve the purpose of persecution and an effort to convert decent people into informants, or, at least, force them into a submissive condition, thereby removing that spirit that made US America.