Gibson Is Off the Feds' Hook. Who's Next?

On July 30, I wrote a piece on my “Injustice Department” blog on discussing the narrow-mindedness of the Gibson Guitar Company CEO’s claim in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the United States Justice Department is waging a war against capitalism. It is a war, I suggested, against many sectors of civil society.

Since that piece went up, Gibson Guitar has entered into a deal with the DOJ in which it sort-of admits guilt to alleged violations of the Lacey Act, pays a whopping fine, and will emerge without a criminal conviction in the end. Gibson took this step even though the company and its CEO earlier had publicly proclaimed their innocence. My latest piece, published in today’s Wall Street Journal, explains how corrupt plea-bargaining practices at the Department of Justice, as opposed to actual guilt, likely led to Gibson’s guilty plea and, most disturbingly, to its agreement to stick to a negotiated script with regard to the question of guilt versus innocence. As is increasingly true at the Department of Justice – via a process that has been gaining momentum since at least the mid-1980s – there is no longer a principled and discernible line between truth and falsehood.

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'Three Felonies a Day' Garners a Shout-out from George F. Will

There has been much outrage about the federal government's crusade against Nancy Black, the marine biologist and whale watch guide currently facing charges of abusing whales (by allegedly feeding them) and tampering with evidence. George F. Will's July 27 column in the Washington Post is a veritable indictment of the conduct of Department of Justice and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration overreach. The column makes for interesting reading, and also contains a shout-out to my book Three Felonies A Day. Will is right to connect Nancy Black's misfortunes at the hands of federal agents with the greater picture of overcriminalization. The vast, unchecked expansion of the federal criminal code in recent decades, which has criminalized many of the basic activities of civil society, means that not even a whale watch guide is safe if a whale is too friendly for federal agents' comfort.
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To the CEO of Gibson Guitar: It's Not Just a War Against Capitalism

On July 19, there appeared in the Wall Street Journal an interesting Op-Ed by Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson Guitar, claiming that a raid on his company’s facilities by federal agents is representative of a greater “war against capitalism.” Yet as my co-author Zachary Bloom and I argue in our latest piece for my blog, “Injustice Department,” Juszkiewicz’s Op-Ed suffers for being too narrow and self-focused. In reality, the raid on Gibson’s facilities is less representative of a war on capitalism than of a war on all of civil society, being waged by an out-of-control U.S. Department of Justice wielding vague laws passed by a Congress that clearly does not understand the consequences of its legislative actions, and regulations enacted by administrative agencies drunk with their own powers.

The article after the jump...

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NightSide with Dan Rea

Last Wednesday, July 18, I appeared on CBS Boston's NightSide with Dan Rea, to discuss the plight of former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Sal DiMasi. DiMasi was convicted in 2009 of committing "honest services fraud," a vague and dangerous law, and is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence. As I discussed in a column in the Boston Phoenix earlier this month, DiMasi's treatment at the hands of the Federal Bureau of Prisons has been unconscionable. And, in light of his recent delayed cancer diagnosis, DiMasi's treatment amounts to a type of torture, with the sole purpose of softening him up to give testimony more favorable to the government before a grand jury sitting in Worcester.

My NightSide interview is a wide-ranging discussion of the DiMasi debacle, and can be found on the CBS Boston website.
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Harvey on Nightside with Dan Rea, Originally Broadcast May 11th, 2012

Last week I stopped by the WBZ radio program Nightside with Dan Rea to talk about a seemingly unimportant piece of legislation, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, which had been passed with overwhelming bipartisan support last March. While the act's title implies that it is dedicated to improving the landscaping around federal buildings, Dan and I discuss how the new law has real freedom of speech implications: it represents unprecedented restrictions on protests near those under secret service protection. As we have learned over the years, laws are often not what they seem...
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