An FBI press release brags about the conviction of someone for minting their own silver currency:
Bernard von NotHaus, 67, was convicted today by a federal jury of making, possessing, and selling his own coins, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Following an eight-day trial and less than two hours of deliberation, von NotHaus, the founder and monetary architect of a currency known as the Liberty Dollar, was found guilty by a jury in Statesville, North Carolina, of making coins resembling and similar to United States coins; of issuing, passing, selling, and possessing Liberty Dollar coins; of issuing and passing Liberty Dollar coins intended for use as current money; and of conspiracy against the United States. The guilty verdict concluded an investigation which began in 2005 and involved the minting of Liberty Dollar coins with a current value of approximately $7 million. Joining the U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins in making today’s announcement are Edward J. Montooth, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI, Charlotte Division; Russell F. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Division; and Sheriff Van Duncan of the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.
There is a lot more in the release, including this rational for the conviction:
“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” she added. “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption, and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.”
Calling this “a unique form of domestic terrorism” takes the war on terrorism to new levels of absurdity, and shows how easily it can be abused.
If Bernard von NotHaus was trying to make coins which are falsely passed off as legal currency I would then object to his actions, but this still would hardly be terrorism. What I bet actually was happening is that he was selling the coins to people on the right who not only were aware these were not coins from the United States government but were desiring to purchase non-government coins. Yes, these people do have ideas which are contrary to the official policy of the government, but if the buying and selling of such coins really “challenges the legitimacy of our democratic form of government” the government is really on shaky ground.
We don’t need to agree with the views of the conservatives who buy and sell these coins to see the injustice in imprisoning someone for this. I think that seeing people imprisoned for such actions, along with for using marijuana or engaging in other victimless crimes, presents far more of a challenge to the legitimacy of our form of government.