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At 4:45 AM 9/23/96, Brian Davis wrote:
>On Wed, 18 Sep 1996, Timothy C. May wrote:
>> Brian Davis, our former Prosecutor, can tell us how likely it is that any
>> person would be charged and brought to trial for being a paid mercenary for
>> some small country in the Third World. The CIA is often behind such
>> mercenaries, so national security issues could make the issue murky.
>Exceedingly unlikely. A variety of practical problems. If you came up
>to a U.S. Attorney to show him your picture on the cover of The Zaire Daily
>News as mercenary of the week and spit in his face, you'd get prosecuted.
>For spitting in the prosecutor's face.
>On a slightly more serious note: you'd only get prosecuted in someone at
>Main Justice (i.e. in Washington) wanted you prosecuted.
This of course matches my expectation. I still think if prosecution is so
unlikely, the law ought to actually come to terms with this and remove the
"official illegality" of such things.
_Almost_ more important to me than "libertarian" ideals are "consistency"
ideals: namely, that there oughtn't to be laws which are not enforced, or
which are too expensive to enforce, or which can be selectively enforced.
And since I know that the full suite of laws, all 25,000 or 45,000 of them
(on all 27 linear feet of bookshelf space) cannot possibly be consistently
enforced, I favor a "minimalist" or "fallback" position of having
relatively few laws, covering mostly "crimes" which are more easily
detected and prosecuted (with draconian punishments).
>> But the real reason such prosecutions are rare is that the government
>> realizes how Orwellian it sounds to say:
>> "You are being prosecuted because you were a mercenary for Oceania in its
I was probably overstating things to say this was "the real reason." The
real reason (or the more important reason) is that resources are finite,
and, as Brian noted, no prosecutor is much interested in someone being in
Zaire's mercenary army. It doesn't register on the public's concern meter,
and it probably doesn't get one promotions in the prosecutorial community.
But the law should still be changed to reflect this reality.
We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't allowed.
Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected] 408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^1,257,787-1 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."