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
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?