Show Me The Money

Martha Stewart’s in deep doo-doo. No, we don’t have strong personal predispositions about her guilt or innocence on the insider stock trading indictment. Yes, we’re sick of hearing about it. Sorry, we’ll have to see when and if the evidence is presented, before making up our mind.

We do have some misgivings about the proceedings: the SEC investigated. It decided not to prosecute. A federal grand jury investigated. IT decided to prosecute. Isn’t this”double jeopardy”? No. You can’t be tried twice for the same crime. Well, except by different jurisdictions perhaps, and certainly you can be re-tried for for obstruction of justice if the perjury charge didn’t stick. Different labels for the same alleged action have always been good enough for two counts.

When the Mafia was in its heyday, when we couldn’t nail the bad guys for murder and heroin trafficking, we’d nail them on “racketeering”, i.e., associating with racketeers. Did you ever understand that? But they were the bad guys.

Could the FDA prosecute Martha Stewart under food and drug laws? Do we want a public icon peddling recipes while under investigation?

The feds believe someone tipped Stewart off that Imclone stock would plummet. She says she had an ordinary pre-set sell order. The feds say she did it; she says she’s innocent. What we really don’t get: how proclaiming one’s innocence becomes a second count in the indictment.

The woman saved some $41,000 selling stock before the price crashed. Her career may be ruined. She has lost something like $400,000,000 in paper worth since this flap broke. She may even go to jail.

Can’t prove she took an insider stock tip? Is that de facto obstruction of justice, then?

Where’s the evidence? We trust the prosecution will feel free to share it with us after they secure a conviction. The government believes she’s guilty; what right-minded person would question that?

In Iraq, we still haven’t found the smoking gun. Personally, I find it far-fetched that a country wouldn’t have weapons of mass destruction, if it gassed the Kurds in 1988, and actively worked with radioactive materials as late as this year. But we still haven’t found it.

Nobody is saying that Iraq lost a great and just leader, except the Baathists who helped Saddam execute tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqis whose tortured corpses are now being unearthed.

The problem is that the world sees that the U.S. Government went to war because it believed Saddam harbored weapons of mass destruction, which we and the British still can’t find.

Can we do that, just because we believed something to be true? Invade now, and the justification will reveal itself, later?

Look at Martha Stewart. Just for good measure, how good do we really feel about the Patriot Act?

The average fifth-grader could tell us what seems to be wrong with this process. The government may have stronger faith-based cases than it’s telling us. Where’s the evidence? The President is promising that all will be revealed.

That should give us pause for thought.

Alex Forbes
© June 6, 2003

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