Pat Robertson's crime against Chavez...
John Dean, in a column, writes that Pat Robertson could be guilty of violating at least one federal law in his remarks about assassinating and then later amending his call to instead kidnap Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Dean admits, at the end of the article, that a conviction in a criminal prosecution could be tough to win against Robertson. After reading the article, though, particularly his discussion of the jurisprudence in this area of law by the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (where Robertson resides; and a so-called "law and order conservative" district to boot!), I think Dean may be too kind to Robertson. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Dean writes, requires only a finding that a "reasonable" person would have been shown to have been concerned about his/her safety--a finding that may be supported by a showing that Chavez increased military police detail around him, for example or perhaps even circumstantial or other evidence that a foreign leader might be tempted to avoid visiting the United States based upon a remark of someone as well-known and watched by devoted followers across the nation as Robertson. I also found a case on the web, admittedly a US military court case, which states that the "majority" of the Federal appellate court circuits, not simply the Fourth Circuit, has applied this "reasonable" standard test as to whether the threat uttered was a "true threat" under the statute.
I am not a lawyer specializing criminal law and did not know of the second statute or its interpretation.
To test whether the Bush administration's tepid and relatively quiet scolding of Robertson is a reasonable one by the Bushies, one may wish to engage in a little alternative history and ask:
"What would have happened if a radical Muslim cleric, residing in the US, had called for assassinating the Bush family friend, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia?"
One may reasonably surmise that the Bush administration would immediately begin a criminal investigation and likely issue an indictment against such a radical Muslim cleric and we'd be all saying...Hmmmm, I guess that cleric should face at least some prison time. But one must remember the venerable modern rule of law and politics:
It's only okay if you're a Republican ("IOOKIYAR" is how some web loggers write it). It is also why I am skeptical of these types of laws; because of their uneven and often politically motivated enforcement throughout history.