Nov 17, 2007

The UnLiberty Dollar

In 1913, a 'dollar' was defined as 1.12929 ounces of silver. That definition hasn't changed. What has changed is the value of the paper 'dollars' -- declared 'legal tender' -- that you might just use (two of them) to get a cup of Starbucks coffee. Based on the government's own measure of 'inflation', the paper dollar is only worth about 4 cents today as compared to the value it held back in 1913 when it was still backed by gold and silver. Of course, the government's definition of inflation has nothing whatsoever to do with reality, but I digress.

In the late 90s, Bernard von Nothaus, a long-time opponent of the Federal Reserve system, decided to produce an alternative dollar which would be backed by silver. He called it the Liberty Dollar. As its popularity grew, so did the Federal government's discomfort. They decided to investigate. In 1999, the Secret Service investigated and "… determined there wasn’t a federal currency violation." They did suggest however, that perhaps NORFED, the organization von Nothaus began as a political vehicle to oppose the income tax and Federal Reserve, might be running afoul of SEC regulations.

It seems to be a trend that when an agency can't find anything wrong with a spontaneous and unregulated economic endeavor, they keep searching. Not counterfeiting? Maybe they're trying to engage in some other special activity that we regulate! Let's call up a different agency! Most people would call this harassment by authorities, something that is illegal in all 50 states. Nobody gave the feds that memo, apparently.

But why on earth would they care? What von Nothaus had created was a medium of exchange, the value of which could be easily determined. Where's the harm in that? To obtain Liberty Dollars, you had to pay with the "legal tender" printed by the U.S. Treasury, so why the scrutiny?

Perhaps, the government doesn't like to have its schemes foiled. If the Liberty Dollar and its creators were kooky for thinking that gold and silver is money, there was still the slight chance that people in the U.S. would gravitate toward that real money rather than the counterfeit stuff the Treasury kept handing out (by the trillions). NORFED wasn't the only group which offered alternative currencies. It just happened to be the only group that offered real money -- gold and silver -- as opposed to barter paper or scrip, and even its paper was backed by gold and silver.

Recently, the U.S. Mint declared on its website that use of the Liberty Dollar was a federal crime. The Mint didn’t provide specifics and von Nothaus filed a lawsuit which claimed that the declaration was defamation and a great harm to his business. This suit has been allowed to go forward even after many attempts by the defendant’s lawyers to have it dismissed. The government would never retaliate against somebody exercising their constitutional rights would they?

If the government feared that the liberty dollar would become popular, its fears were realized. As of Monday, eight years after its inception, the Liberty Dollar was the most popular alternative currency instrument in the United States.

On Wednesday, November 14, 2007, the government tried to kill it. Details are sketchy, but 12 armed federal agents raided Liberty Dollar's headquarters and took everything. Not only did they take the computers and records, they confiscated dies, medallions ('coins' are a statutorily defined artifact) and the gold and silver kept in the vaults. The paper certificates in circulation were instantly devalued. What in the world would motivate the government to do this?

The search and seizure warrants were posted at the Liberty Dollar web site. According to the seizure warrant, the allegation is that NORFED has been engaging in money laundering and wire fraud. The search warrant is nothing more than a wholesale fishing expedition. The seizure warrant itself uses three cites of criminal seizure statutes, USC 18 982 (2)(b), USC 18 981 (1)(b) and 21 USC 853(f).  I'm no lawyer but in reading those sections of the law it becomes only too obvious how cavalier our federal police have become when it comes to reading the laws they are allegedly sworn to uphold and the Constitution which allegedly authorizes these laws.

Let me show you what I mean.

In USC 18 Section 982 (2)(b) we find:

The court, in imposing sentence on a person convicted of a violation of, or a conspiracy to violate—
(A) section 215, 656, 657, 1005, 1006, 1007, 1014, 1341, 1343, or 1344 of this title, affecting a financial institution, or
(B) section 471, 472, 473, 474, 476, 477, 478, 479, 480, 481, 485, 486, 487, 488, 501, 502, 510, 542, 545, 842, 844, 1028, 1029, or 1030 of this title,
shall order that the person forfeit to the United States any property constituting, or derived from, proceeds the person obtained directly or indirectly, as the result of such violation. [Emphasis added]

This section is describing criminal forfeiture which clearly requires a trial and can only be executed during the sentencing phase. There is no legal authority given in this statute to seize assets prior to a conviction. One of the statutes listed as being the source of authority is USC 18 981 (1)(b). It reads:

(B) Any property, real or personal, within the jurisdiction of the United States, constituting, derived from, or traceable to, any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from an offense against a foreign nation, or any property used to facilitate such an offense, if the offense—
(i) involves the manufacture, importation, sale, or distribution of a controlled substance (as that term is defined for purposes of the Controlled Substances Act), or any other conduct described in section 1956 (c)(7)(B);

 I am assuming here that 1956(c)(7)(b) - money laundering - is the specific reason that this forfeiture applies. That statute is about a crime against a foreign nation or bank. Did a foreign nation or bank file a complaint against NORFED or does the government just make it up as they go along? Are they going to produce a victim or will we find that the "crime" is theoretical? Here's the section:

(7) the term “specified unlawful activity” means—
(B) with respect to a financial transaction occurring in whole or in part in the United States, an offense against a foreign nation involving—
(iii) fraud, or any scheme or attempt to defraud, by or against a foreign bank (as defined in paragraph 7 of section 1(b) of the International Banking Act of 1978)); [emphasis added]

The final cite for seizure authority given is 21 USC 853(f).

The Government may request the issuance of a warrant authorizing the seizure of property subject to forfeiture under this section in the same manner as provided for a search warrant. If the court determines that there is probable cause to believe that the property to be seized would, in the event of conviction, be subject to forfeiture and that an order under subsection (e) of this section may not be sufficient to assure the availability of the property for forfeiture, the court shall issue a warrant authorizing the seizure of such property.

Folks, this is a crock of [expletive deleted]. The government here has used as its authority, to seize property subject to seizure under banking laws, statues which apply to drug enforcement. Title 21 contains laws applicable to the Food and Drug Administration. Liberty Dollar and those who bought their products, have little chance that any judge will look at this blatant tyranny and reject it. A judge signed these warrants. More than likely the same judge that will hear any motions relevant to this case. It would seem that there is a very good argument to make against the legality of this snatch and grab, but frankly, I don't think the government cares about the law. The law is now just hieroglyphics used to justify tyranny. If it really meant anything to anyone in government except as a means to spread a patina of legitimacy over blatant criminal acts, this hodgepodge of legal "authority" wouldn't be the norm.

Liberty Dollar and its customers have been denied the right of due process. Every civil and criminal seizure proceeding must allow the defendant a hearing to challenge the government's assertion that a preemptive seizure is justified. That never happened in this case and this government is proving itself beholden to no law, especially not the Constitution.

We have one chance to strike it down in our favor without resorting to violence. In 1913, the original liberty dollar was replaced with the unliberty fiat dollar. In 1971, Nixon finally put the nail in the coffin by finally severing the relationship between gold and silver and the "dollar". A man you may have heard about was driven into politics to change this. That man was Ron Paul. His stance on money has been consistently derided by ignorant (or worse) commentators but this issue has resonated amongst the population almost as strongly as has his principled stance on foreign policy. Von Nothaus even minted a version of the Liberty Dollar with Ron Paul's image on it.

Sound money is the only way that people can truly be free. Obviously, our government won't even give us a whiff of freedom. If you're not a Ron Paul supporter, try and get the candidate you support to even talk about sound money. Chances are your candidate will refuse to answer any questions about the issue or defer to the "experts" working at the Federal Reserve. With every day that passes, the truth of Ron Paul's admonitions become more evident. The persecution of Liberty Dollar shows us that our government is not interested in our freedom. Rather than protect our freedoms, they are at each passing moment inventing new ways to stifle and control us.

We have one chance to change it all and restore our liberties. Let's not blow it. All of us have been affected by the fiat unliberty dollar. For those who have been directly affected by the raid, there is a signup for the sure-to-follow class-action against our government. Sign up. Register to vote Republican in the primaries and support Ron Paul, the only Presidential candidate who is a defender of the true liberty dollar.

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