We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

July 17, 2004

Whom Did Martha Stewart Kill?

by Paul Craig Roberts

Martha Stewart has been sentenced to 5 months in prison and two years of supervised release for not telling the truth about a legal stock tip. The only thing she has been found guilty of is lying about a noncrime.

Mrs. Stewart was neither charged with, nor found guilty of, insider trading. Neither she nor her broker had inside information that ImClone's anti-cancer drug was turned down by federal regulators. They only knew that ImClone's founder was selling stock.

Savvy investors often sell when executives sell, because they see stock sales by a company's management as signs of management's lack of confidence in the company's future. If the company's founder didn't want ImClone's stock, Martha Stewart didn't want it herself. She sold.

Neither Mrs. Stewart nor her broker knew ImClone's founder was selling on the basis of inside information. When news of an investigation came to light, Mrs. Stewart and her broker were unsure of how her sale would be interpreted by prosecutors. The Securities and Exchange Commission has refused to define "insider trading" on the grounds that a vague offense surrounded by uncertainty makes it easier to convict defendants who are accused.

Faced with the possibility of being accused of a vague and undefined crime, Mrs. Stewart and her broker stated that they had an agreement to sell when an agreed price was reached. The statement was not made under oath and if false does not constitute perjury.

Prosecutors claim the statement was a stratagem to cover up a stock tip, the legality of which was unclear to Stewart and her broker, and constituted a false statement that "obstructed" the investigation. Thus, even though prosecutors uncovered no evidence that Mrs. Stewart had committed a crime, they indicted her for "obstructing justice" by not telling them what they say is the truth about the stock sale – even though what the prosecutors say is the truth about the sale does not constitute a crime.

No one knows whether Martha Stewart and her broker told the truth or not, but jurors naively believed the prosecutors. No one – not jury, judge, nor prosecutor – had enough sense or decency to know that it made no difference one way or the other. No one can be guilty of covering up a noncrime.

Meanwhile the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has released its report, which states that the information used by President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Powell to justify the invasion of Iraq was incorrect. Everything Powell told the UN and Bush told the American people was wrong. A war with tens of thousands of casualties was started, if not on the basis of massive outright lies, on the basis of massive orchestrated misinformation.

The deception was so successful that 45% of Americans purport to still believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and links to Osama bin Laden.

The senators say the invasion was unjustified, but no person is to blame – only "the process." The intelligence information was not correctly collected, analyzed, processed, or reported. Thus, everything got fuddled up and our incompetent government confused myth with reality.

The buck stops nowhere. No one is to be held accountable for a disastrous blunder that has destroyed tens of thousands of people and a half century of U.S. foreign policy, wasted $200 billion, and made Americans unsafe for decades to come.

If we apply the "process is guilty" standard to Mrs. Stewart that is applied to our government leaders, even if she told a lie the fault lies in the vagueness of the insider trading offense. Not knowing what the offense is, people try to defend against being accused of it. Mrs. Stewart is not guilty. The process of the law is guilty for not defining the offense known as insider trading. Judges and jurors are guilty for allowing prosecutors to use vague laws and regulations to indict people.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration refuses to allow contracts that it handed out to cronies to be audited, while imprisoning corporate executives for far less accounting sins.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has ordered Japan to detain and extradite former world chess champion Bobby Fischer for playing in a 1992 chess match in Yugoslavia. By playing a chess match, the U.S. government claims that Mr. Fischer violated UN sanctions against Yugoslavia, a country charged with provoking warfare because it tried to prevent secession just as Abe Lincoln did.

Are the American people going to reelect a government that prosecutes citizens for noncrimes while excusing itself of war crimes?

comments on this article?

  • Who Remembers 'Guns and Butter'?

  • If Only US Law Applied to the US Government

  • Washington Arrogance Has Fomented a Muslim Revolution

  • The Cost of Hegemony Is Beyond Reach

  • This Time, the World Is Not Buying It

  • Do You Feel Safe Now? Proud?

  • Are You Ready to Face the Facts About Israel?

  • One Million Terrorists?

  • Only Little War Criminals Get Punished

  • We, the Salt of the Earth,
    Take Precedence

  • John Yoo, Totalitarian

  • The Conservative Movement: From Failure to Threat

  • Lies of Aggression

  • What the Iraq War Is About

  • American Hegemony Is Not Guaranteed

  • Petraeus Testimony May Signal Iran Attack

  • Protecting America – From the President

  • Paying Insurgents Not to Fight

  • What Do We Stand For?

  • Bush Calls on France for Help

  • American Liberty Teetering on Edge of Abyss

  • The West's Orwellian Monopoly on Morality

  • Bringing Death and Destruction to Muslims

  • We Are All Prisoners Now

  • No Liberty Without
    Habeas Corpus

  • Kerry Complicit in
    Bush's Crimes

  • Who Are The Fanatics?

  • The War Criminal in the Living Room

  • More War on the Horizon

  • Padilla Jury Opens Pandora's Box

  • US Israel Policy Harms Both Countries

  • US Hegemony Spawns Russian-Chinese Military Alliance

  • A Free Press or a
    Ministry of Truth?

  • A Reform to Restore the People's Power

  • Beyond Recklessness

  • The Neocon Threat to World Peace and American Freedom

  • If You Think Bush Is Evil Now, Wait Until He Nukes Iran

  • How Can Bush Free Iraq When He Brings Tyranny to America?

  • Will the GOP Destroy Itself Before It Destroys America?

  • One War Criminal Down, A Fistful to Go

  • The War Goes Ever On

  • Creating a Market for Security

  • Crime Blotter:
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

  • The Confession Backfired

  • The Last Days of Constitutional Rule?

  • How Much More Harm Can Bush Do?

  • Americans Have Lost Their Country

  • Criminals Control the Executive Branch

  • The Crime of the Century

  • Bush Is About to Attack Iran

  • The Empire Turns Its
    Guns on the Citizenry

  • The 'Surge' Is A Red Herring

  • Jimmy Carter Speaks Truth to Propaganda

  • Distracting Congress from the Real War Plan: Iran

  • The Surge: Political Cover or Escalation?

  • Is Bush's War Winding Down or Heating Up?

  • US Hypocrisy Reaches
    All-Time High

  • Keane/Kagan Plan Means More Bloodshed

  • The Disrespect for Truth has Brought a New Dark Age

  • Is James Baker a Match
    for AIPAC?

  • Catastrophe Still Awaits

  • Bush Is No Conservative

  • Is President Bush Sane?

  • Bush's Only Real Victory

  • Are Democrats Turning A Blind Eye to Civil Liberty?
  • More Archives

    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2017 Antiwar.com