The Whale Rider

You want to know why I fear and suspect government? Here it is in a nutshell:

The huge humpback whale whose friendliness precipitated a surreal seven-year — so far — federal hunt for criminality surely did not feel put upon. Nevertheless, our unhinged government, with an obsession like that of Melville’s Ahab, has crippled Nancy Black’s scientific career, cost her more than $100,000 in legal fees — so far — and might sentence her to 20 years in prison. This Kafkaesque burlesque of law enforcement began when someone whistled.

Dr. Black is a marine biologist. In 2005, a member of her crew whistled at a humpback whale, hoping to get it stay around. An employee asked NOAA if this was “harassment” of a marine mammal. That alone would be a little bit crazy. But Black complied with their request for information and sent them a video of the event. She edited the video to highlight the whistling.

Oops.

According to the Feds, this was a felony: a material false statement. Never mind that she didn’t hide any evidence and didn’t make any false statements; just changed the emphasis. No, the feds wanted to go after her. This is a level of Kafkaism below “lying to investigators”.

The Feds raided her home. They then brought another charge. When she had found killer whales feeding on whale blubber, she put a camera in a piece of it and put it back in the water. “But that’s feeding killer whales!” said the Feds.

And so it goes. You can read more from Reason on this subject here and here.

You may think this is a weird case but you would think wrong. Harvey Silverglate, in his book Three Felonies a Day documented this again and again and again (read his latest infuriating op-ed here). This is the way Feds operate. If they have decided to investigate you, they will find something you have done. Or they will simply harass and threaten you until you plead guilty to something just to make it stop.

Oh, and there’s this:

Six years ago, NOAA agents, who evidently consider the First Amendment a dispensable nuisance, told Black’s scientific colleagues not to talk to her and to inform them if they were contacted by her or her lawyers. Since then she has not spoken with one of her best friends.

To finance her defense she has cashed out her life’s savings, which otherwise might have purchased a bigger boat. The government probably has spent millions. It delivered an administrative subpoena to her accountant, although no charge against her has anything to do with finances.

This, again, is not unusual. It has become modus operandi for the Feds to try to isolate their target socially, professionally and economically. They have cut deals with targeted businesses that involve cutting employees loose as sacrificial offerings. They have used asset forfeiture to try to deprive targets of lawyers. And they use broad subpoena powers to investigate everything.

Are either of our two candidates talking about this? Anyone talking about reducing the over 4000 felony crimes that have been created? Anyone talking about restoring the concept of mens rea to our judicial system?

Nope.

Comments are closed.

  1. JimK

    Whatever letter you assign to your political beliefs, be if R or D, L or C or anything in between? This is an issue that should unite us all. Everyone should find this horrible, and if you don’t, I think you might be the purest pure form of asshole found in nature.

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  2. Poosh

    This is so insane I find it hard to believe. It sounds like a comedy sketch.

    Trying to put aside this woman’s persecution, how much did this cost the American taxpayer?

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  3. Argive

    Whatever letter you assign to your political beliefs, be if R or D, L or C or anything in between? This is an issue that should unite us all. Everyone should find this horrible, and if you don’t, I think you might be the purest pure form of asshole found in nature.

    QFT.

    Trying to put aside this woman’s persecution, how much did this cost the American taxpayer?

    As an American taxpayer, I’m sure that learning the full amount would only make me angrier. It’s probably up there with the millions wasted on prosecuting those dangerous menaces Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

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  4. repmom

    As an American taxpayer, I’m sure that learning the full amount would only make me angrier. It’s probably up there with the millions wasted on prosecuting those dangerous menaces Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

    It’s enough to make your head explode when you think about it. Especially since we, the taxpayers, seem to have no way to put a stop to it, no control over it at all.

    This is an issue that should unite us all

    Unite how? So we all agree it’s it horrible. What do we do? Is electing Romney the answer?

    Yes, Clemens and Bonds are so dangerous! Clemens lives in our neighborhood (part-time, at least) and I assure you we all keep our doors double-locked because of it!

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