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Re: Hallam-Baker demands more repudiations or he'll write!

At 11:50 PM 9/24/96 -0400, Brian Davis wrote:
>On Tue, 24 Sep 1996, Rich Burroughs wrote:
>> <AP stuff>
>> Anyone who mistakes the lack of "repudiations" for AP on the list for some
>> kind of tacit approval is not getting the whole picture, IMHO.  
>> Is this how journalists do their research nowadays -- "give me some info or
>> I'll write something really bad about you that you'll regret?"  Cool.  I
>> guess I thought there might still be some kind of pursuit of the truth
>> involved.
>> I personally don't have the time or energy to contribute to the AP threads.
>> That != approval for the idea.
>> I hope you include your above quote in your piece.
>Amen to that.  Add that at least one lawyer (and former prosecutor) on 
>the list is confident that successful prosecutions will ensue is AP ever 
>gets off the ground. 

I don't doubt that there will be harassment.  (you can't deny that charges 
would be brought even if it is tacitly agreed that no crime has been 
committed; "the harassment-value" of such a prosecution would be desired 
even if there is ultimately an acquittal.)  AP will resemble, more than 
anything, gambling.  While gambling is illegal in some areas, it is quite 
legal in others and there is no reason to believe that locales can't be 
found in which an AP system could operate legally.

Make American laws apply everywhere?  That'll be hard to justify, unless you 
want to unleash a world where an all people can be subject simultaneously to 
the laws of EVERY country, should they choose to enforce them!  Would you 
like to be arrested in Red China for something you said years earlier in 
America about their leadership? 

 And are you ignoring the fact that the intentional isolation of one 
participant from the knowledge of the actions and even the identity of the 
others makes opportunities for prosecution on "conspiracy" charges mighty 
slim.  And since AP can operate across traditional jurisdictional 
boundaries, you're going to have to explain how you can prosecute Person A 
in Country B for giving a donation to an organization in Country C, to be 
paid to a person D in country E for correctly predicting the death of person 
F in country G, particularly when none of the identities of these people or 
countries can be easily known given a well-crafted cryptographic and 
message-routing system.  

  Further, as you probably know as well as any, in order (at least, 
supposedly!) to get a conviction you need to prove "mens rea," or "guilty 
mind," and I suggest that none of the more passive participants in the AP 
system have that.  (The ones who DON'T pick up a gun, knife, bomb, poison, 
etc.)  Sure, they are aware that somewhere, sometime, somebody _may_ commit 
a crime in order to collect a lottery, but they don't know who, what, when, 
where, or how this will occur, if at all. (either before or after the fact!) 
  In fact, since it is possible for a target to collect the reward himself 
(to be directed toward his designee, obviously) by committing suicide and 
"predicting" it, it isn't certain to the other participants that there has 
even been any sort of crime committed!

Based on the mens rea requirement, I propose that there is plenty of room 
for most of the participants to reasonably claim that they are guilty of no 
crime.  They have carefully shielded themselves and others from any guilty 
knowledge, and presumably they are entitled to protect themselves in this 
way.  Morally, you could argue that these people are countenancing something 
nasty, in the same sense that somebody could equally well argue that if you 
buy a cheap shirt in Walmart you're partly responsible for sweatshop labor 
in El Salvador.  True, I suppose, but moral guilt does not always translate 
into legal guilt.

> And yes, I've read Jim Bell's manifesto.  The fact 
>that no lawyer has dissected it from a legal standpoint has been used by 
>Mr. Bell as support for the propostion that it is legal.

I suggest that there is a greater likelihood that the "powers that be" will 
just abandon all pretense of legality, and attempt to strike at the 
participants if they can find them without benefit of any sort of trial. 
This is a more plausible conclusion, because it cuts through all of the 
legal difficulties which would hinder prosecution.  In effect, a low-level 
undeclared war.  

Jim Bell
[email protected]