A New Law in Honor of Martha Stewart
Published on Saturday, January 29, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
A New Law in Honor of Martha Stewart
by Sheldon Drobny
 

Martha Stewart is to be released from prison in March after serving a five-month sentence -- not for violating Securities and Exchange Commission rules but for lying to federal investigators. Here is the federal statute that did her in:

TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
Chapter 47 - Fraud and False Statements

Section 1001. Statements or entries generally

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation;

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

Stewart wasn't under oath when she allegedly fibbed to the FBI, but that doesn't matter: The law covers any false statement made by a citizen to a federal agent. Shockingly, no reciprocal obligation exists: If the president, members of Congress or other federal employees make false or misleading statements to the American people no statute demands a fine or jail time.

Just imagine if there were. It is well known that President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's connection to al-Queda. Instead of being reelected and promoted to Secretary of State, respectively, prosecuted under such a law the two would be serving time with other administration liars like Paul Bremer and George Tenant.

There should be overwhelming bipartisan support for this legislation to protect “we the people” from the rascals who run our country but face no criminal consequences for lying to its people. The new law would read as follows:  

TITLE 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
Chapter 47 - Fraud and False Statements

SectionXXXX. False Statements BY Federal Officials

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, any federal official, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the United States, knowingly and willfully

(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation;

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

Sheldon Drobny is a venture capitalist based outside Chicago who founded AirAmerica Radio. His newest project, the 4th Estate Society, is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) corporation to support independent investigative journalism in the United States. 

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