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Government Privacy Your Rights Online

Why Is It a Crime For Dennis Hastert To Evade Government Scrutiny? 510

HughPickens.com writes: Dennis Hastert is about the least sympathetic figure one can imagine. The former House Speaker got filthy rich as a lobbyist trading on contacts he gained in office, and his leadership coincided with Congress's abject failure to exercise oversight or protect civil liberties after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Now, Hastert stands accused of improper sexual contact with a boy he knew years ago while teaching high school and trying to hide that sordid history by paying the young man to keep quiet. If federal prosecutors could meet the legal thresholds for charging and convicting Hastert of a sex crime, they would be fully justified in aggressively pursuing the matter.

Yet, as Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic, the Hastert indictment doesn't charge him for, or even accuse him of, sexual misconduct. Rather, as Glenn Greenwald notes, "Hastert was indicted for two alleged felonies: 1) withdrawing cash from his bank accounts in amounts and patterns designed to hide the payments; and 2) lying to the FBI about the purpose of those withdrawals once they detected them and then inquired with him." It isn't illegal to withdraw money from the bank, nor to compensate someone in recognition of past harms, nor to be the victim of a blackmail scheme. So why should it be a crime to hide those actions from the U.S. government? The current charges could be motivated by a desire to prosecute Hastert for sex crimes. But that dodges the issue. "In order to punish him for that crime, the government should charge him with it, then prosecute him with due process and convict him in front of a jury of his peers," says Greenwald. "What over-criminalization does is allow the government to turn anyone it wants into a felon, and thus punish them without having to overcome those vital burdens. Regardless of one's views of Hastert or his alleged misconduct here, it should take little effort to see why nobody should want that."
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Why Is It a Crime For Dennis Hastert To Evade Government Scrutiny?

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  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @11:57AM (#49831005) Journal

    to turn anyone it wants into a felon!

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:05PM (#49831077)

      to turn anyone it wants into a felon!

      Dennis Hastert was one of the most powerful people in America, 2nd in line to the presidency. During that time, he did nothing to reform these abusive reporting laws, or do much of anything else to protect common citizens from government power. So it is hard to feel sympathy for someone victimized by a system that they helped to create.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:16PM (#49831205)

        So...no reason to reform them now because...Hastert!?

        Will you feel sympathy for the next small business owner who gets caught up in this "structuring" bullshit?

        • Stucturing (Score:5, Interesting)

          by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:31PM (#49831371)

          Will you feel sympathy for the next small business owner who gets caught up in this "structuring" bullshit?

          I certainly will. It's a tragedy that sometimes innocent people get accused of crimes they didn't commit. However that doesn't make the laws bullshit. If you have a better way to catch criminals engaged in money laundering, by all means let us know. They certainly are imperfect laws. However here we have a guy who apparently was engaging in structuring to avoid detection of a statutory rape. It is unlikely his actions would have been discovered otherwise. This is EXACTLY the sort of crime these laws were intended to deal with.

          • Re:Stucturing (Score:5, Informative)

            by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:38PM (#49831477) Homepage

            The enhancements on the patriot act that made structuring a crime were designed to prevent money laundering associated with terrorism. There is nothing illegal about paying blackmailers. That was not not exactly the kind of crime this was designed to deal nor was money laundering in general what this was designed to deal with.

            • Re:Stucturing (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @01:03PM (#49831823)

              "enhancements on the patriot act that made structuring a crime were designed to prevent money laundering associated with terrorism"

              Wrong.

              The laws against this type of monetary transaction were in place at least as early as the 1980's.
              While the patriot act may have made them more difficult to evade, they were enacted to make money laundering from criminal enterprises (mostly drugs) more difficult.
              They are part of a grand tradition that stretches back to putting crime barons like Al Capone in prison, not for murder, extortion or "racketeering" but for evading the taxes on the profits of those enterprises.

              • Re:Stucturing (Score:5, Informative)

                by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @02:08PM (#49832701) Journal

                IIRC, the original 1980's-era laws were only interested in transactions $10k or greater. The Patriot Act addiction/enhancements were to use semi-regular transactions of under $10k as 'structuring' (that is, to try and close the workaround of, say, withdrawing or depositing substantial amounts under $10k on a semi-regular or regular basis.)

                The overall effect is to make you a felon if you cannot fully account for (and prove!) where you got or spent the money. The mortgage payment? Yeah - easy to account for, so you're not a felon. Taking money out on a regular basis to support a pricey hobby where you don't keep all the receipts? Now you're a felon if the Feds decide they want you to be one. This is why it's a bullshit law - it can be very easily abused by the first federal prosecutor who has a hate-on for you, and by the way, happens to know that you throw around a lot of money that you don't have all the receipts for.

            • Re:Stucturing (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @02:07PM (#49832681) Journal

              Then he should have told the FBI the truth when they asked what the money was for. Or simply said, "I choose not to give a statement." Lying to the Feds is beyond fucking stupid. That's their "gotcha" card and it baffles me that so many seemingly intelligent people fall into such an easily avoidable trap.

              There's a right to remain silent. I suggest using it....

          • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @01:18PM (#49832063) Homepage Journal

            However that doesn't make the laws bullshit. If you have a better way to catch criminals engaged in money laundering

            The primary objection to these laws — and the reason they are considered "bullshit" — is that they allow confiscation of funds without having to prove anything [washingtonpost.com]. The government does not even need to file a suit!

            None of the victims are "criminals" — because nobody is a criminal until found guilty in a court of law — and your above-quoted excuse for the law is thus automatically invalid.

            Worse, the practice — and the bullshit laws "authorizing" it — are in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, which purports to protect us against this exact practice (emphasis mine): "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated".

            • Worse, the practice — and the bullshit laws "authorizing" it — are in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, which purports to protect us against this exact practice (emphasis mine): "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated".

              Better re-read the Constitution. That's not the Fifth Amendment. [cornell.edu]

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by sycodon ( 149926 )

            He isn't being charged with Statutory rape. Bringing that into the discussion just clouds the issue, which is that he went to HIS bank, and withdrew HIS money and somehow the Government think it's their business.

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CensorshipDonkey ( 1108755 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @01:44PM (#49832427)
          It's not like he didn't know what he was doing. He voted for the law. He was advised by his bank that he was breaking the law. All he had to do was file some paperwork about his withdrawals. He deliberately avoided the law instead, and is now being prosecuted for it. Seems like everything is working okay to me.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DutchUncle ( 826473 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:24PM (#49831299)
        It's not about sympathy for this slimeball; it's about whether this is an overreach that gives security authorities an interest in: a couple transferring money from one account to another, or a sole-proprietorship transferring money between personal to business accounts, or one person paying another for a car or boat, or any other legitimate transfer of money between people. "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide", and maybe the nice investigating agent will understand and close the case . . . or maybe they'll just assume that (cash == drugs) and keep tailing and watching you forever.
        • the Republican House Leadership, but I was not a Republican serving in the House of Representatives.

          They came for lobbyists making a gadzillion dollars representing Turkish interests, but I was not a lobbyist representing Turkish interests.

          They came for persons making "structured" bank withdrawals totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I was not making bank widthdrawals in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:35PM (#49831425) Homepage

        it is hard to feel sympathy for someone victimized by a system that they helped to create.

        Maybe, but you know, our justice system isn't supposed to be about whether or not you're likeable enough, either.

        • And it's working as (currently) designed. Really, you can make the case it is obviously fair and impartial, as it's going to town on one of the powerful people who ran it in the first place. He had a chance to change it and didn't think it necessary, if anything he made it more draconian and all-encompassing, so why should we intervene now to save him from it? If you're going to ask people to change the system, I'd suggest starting with a sympathetic case, lest you encourage people that they actually prefe
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:37PM (#49831455)
        It's not about this case. I have no sympathy for the man. None. But if they can indict his cash they can indict mine, and I want every legal protection (in particular the fourth amendment) to apply. If the constitution doesn't apply in every case it doesn't apply at all.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @02:15PM (#49832801)
        The reason for Human Rights is to protect everyone. Attempts to undermine Human Rights always start with the least popular members of society, and move up until everyone has lost. This is the reason that defending Human Rights usually involves defending the scum of humanity.
    • In politics, a successful career seems to legitimizes the stance of the political party. Finding evidence that the person was far from perfect and vilify him in the eyes of the people, pinpoints how the political party is more corrupt than the other side.

    • Re: Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:34PM (#49831417)

      This is certainly one of the motivations. ,This article [reason.com]provides a lot of good links on the topic.

      By combining anti-structuring laws with asset forfeiture the feds can steal most anything they'd like. There have been a lot of stories in recent years about small businesses that make frequent deposits under 10k getting their accounts and even their business siezed.

      All without even an allegation of any criminal activity other than making deposits that are below the threshold for reporting. The drug warriors thought they were playing a game of gotcha with the drug kingpins. Nice work, geniuses....

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:42PM (#49831519)

      We are all un-indicted felons. There are so many laws on the books that we are completely unaware of, and many laws were written very broadly to avoid people getting out of a crime on a technicality. The result is that once you are in the cross hairs of a federal persecutor there is a very high likelihood than the vast majority of us could be hauled into court and prosecuted for benign things that are illegal.

      Be thankful there are juries and defense lawyers who can dispense with a lot of improper gray area use of law, but that is not assured, and can be very costly in terms of time, money, stress, and public opinion in the meantime.

      In this case I don't personally like the guy, but I'd rather not have to explain every $10k withdrawal ($10k is not what it used to be). Also, what if he was honest about being blackmailed and the FBI could was unable to do anything about it? It leaves information with a government agency that has a long track record of egregious behavior including, but not limited to, leaking investigation details.

  • Cops.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:03PM (#49831059)
    Never talk to the cops...and seven times never talk to the FBI...
  • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:05PM (#49831081)
    Ironically, its a crime because he made it one [huffingtonpost.com]. Hiding large bank transactions was made reportable to the FBI and lying to the FBI about them was made a crime both by the Patriot Act that was pushed for and voted for most vociferously by then House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
    • by TykeClone ( 668449 ) <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:09PM (#49831131) Homepage Journal
      Hiding large cash transactions was made illegal in the Bank Secrecy Act and has been illegal since 1970.
      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:19PM (#49831235)

        Hiding large cash transactions was made illegal in the Bank Secrecy Act and has been illegal since 1970.

        ...which was then amended and strengthened by the Patriot Act. To quote the article I linked (which I'm guessing you followed the /. flow and didn't bother to read):

        The indictment suggests that law enforcement officials relied on the Patriot Act’s expansion of bank reporting requirements to snare Hastert. As the IRS notes, “the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 increased the scope” of cash reporting laws “to help trace funds used for terrorism.” The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, which was amended by the Patriot Act, had already required banks to report suspicious transactions.

        So how did this law, whatever its merits, get passed?

        On Oct. 24, 2001, then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) shepherded the Patriot Act through the House of Representatives. It passed 357 to 66, advancing to the Senate and then-President George W. Bush’s desk for signing.

        Hastert took credit for House passage in a 2011 interview, claiming it “wasn’t popular, and there was a lot of fight in the Congress” over it.

        Excuse me, Mr. Hastert: Is this your petard?

        • by TykeClone ( 668449 ) <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:27PM (#49831313) Homepage Journal
          The crime, structuring, is unchanged with the Patriot act
        • by nbauman ( 624611 )

          Senate NAYs ---1 Feingold (D-WI)

          House --- NAYS 66 --- Baldwin (D-WI) Jackson-Lee (D-TX) Peterson (D-MN) Barrett (D-WI) Johnson, E. B. (D-TX) Rahall (D-WV) Blumenauer (D-OR) Jones (D-OH) Rivers (D-MI) Bonior (D-MI) Kucinich (D-OH) Rush (D-IL) Boucher (D-VA) Lee (D-CA) Sabo (D-MN) Brown (D-OH) Lewis (D-GA) Sanchez (D-CA) Capuano (D-MA) McDermott (D-WA) Sanders (I-VT) Clayton (D-NC) McGovern (D-MA) Schakowsky (D-IL) Conyers (D-MI) McKinney (D-GA) Scott (D-GA) Coyne (D-PA) Meek (D-FL) Serrano (D-NY) Cummings

    • by jcr ( 53032 )

      He spent his whole career of public disservice working to make the government more powerful and more expensive. He of all people fully deserves whatever it does to him.

      -jcr

    • by tranquilidad ( 1994300 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:58PM (#49831777)

      Dennis Hastert was 6 years old when the current version of the law making it illegal to lie to the FBI was created. It's origin goes back [wikipedia.org] to the False Claims Act of 1863, long before the FBI existed.

      His big issue, as was Martha Stewart's and a bunch of other folks, was lying about it.

      The secondary issue of reporting financial transactions is based on a law from 1970, the Bank Secrecy Act. The requirement of the bank to report suspicious activity was part of the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act from 1992.

      While it might be nice to claim that Hastert was hoisted by his own petard with the Patriot Act, the fact is the Patriot Act's expansion of these previously existing money laundering and bank secrecy acts were related, primarily, to international money transfers. In fact, the title of that section is, "International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001."

      Although the Patriot Act expanded the reporting requirements of a structured transaction, the banks were already required to report such structured transactions to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network by the 1992 law as part of a Suspicious Activity Report. The IRS already had authority to seize monies given a warrant based on Suspicious Activity Reports.

      The big changes found in the Patriot Act were related to making it easier to recognize structured transactions, the expansion of the definition of a financial institution and a number of changes to the infrastructure and reporting mechanisms related to the reporting requirements.

      What Hastert did was illegal long before the Patriot Act.

      (There is a section of Wikipedia that claims that the Patriot Act made it illegal to to structure transactions in a manner that evades reporting requirements. However, that was already illegal and the wording in Wikipedia is more probably related to the structuring of foreign transactions or transactions that involve foreign currency and coin.)

      I won't defend either Hastert or the Patriot Act - they both suck. But the fact is, these reporting requirements go back a long way and they sucked just as much before 2001 as they do now. This case is another example of why you don't answer the FBI's questions about anything without an attorney.

      • This case is another example of why you don't answer the FBI's questions about anything without an attorney.

        Yeah.... The Martha Stewart lesson is "Never talk to a Fed. Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances, talk to a Fed."

  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:06PM (#49831089)

    How is this news for nerds?

    • It appeals to the anti-authoritarian crowd here.

      • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:23PM (#49831283)
        And ironically enough it appeals to the authoritarian crowd too, since it brings up aspects of Hastert that, if true, probably should be prosecuted if they could be, and demonstrates an alternate means of getting at him if other channels are not available. Kind of like how the US Government got Al Capone on taxes when they couldn't get him for the really awful things his organization did to people...
    • How is this news for nerds?

      Because it was written to make the democrats look like evil power-grabbing evil evil evil evil-doers. Also, it is potentially good fodder for Rand Paul's presidential campaign, and it makes democrats look evil. Those are all popular causes here.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:20PM (#49831249)

      How is this news for nerds?

      The government's ability to monitor everyone's financial transactions is part of the broad surveillance state enabled by technology. We face a choice between an Orwellian future, where the state is capable of monitoring every aspect of our lives: what we buy, where we go, who we talk to, or a future where technology empowers individuals by making government transparent, efficient, and accountable. That is one of the biggest choices of our time, and this story is another warning that we are on the wrong path.

      • The government's ability to monitor everyone's financial transactions is part of the broad surveillance state enabled by technology.

        To be fair, it's a requirement that banks report cash transactions of $10k or more (or a group of lessor transactions exceeding that threshold) to the Fed. Want to avoid this, write a check. As others have mentioned, walking around with a suitcase of cash is a little sketchy.

        As, I believe the statue of limitations had expired on the alleged crime he was hushing up, Hastert could simply have told the truth about the cash withdrawals and avoided lying to the FBI.

    • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:47PM (#49831599)
      Why is Hastert worth a story here as opposed to Martha Stewart? Although her crime was insider trading, she was convicted of conspiracy and lying to the FBI [wikipedia.org], which is one of the charges Hastert is facing

      After a highly publicized six-week jury trial, Stewart was found guilty in March 2004 of felony charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators

      Could it be that old white conservative politicians are worthy of defending against government over reach, and a liberal women is not? In her case the trigger was getting a stock tip, and in his case it was sex with a high school student he was coaching. Which is a greater abuse of position? Which of the two is more of a government victim given the nature of their initial offense?

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:08PM (#49831109)

    From what I understand, any form of structuring is illegal.

    Structuring is manipulating the amount of cash to evade detection by authorities. $10k USD requires a mandatory report by FinCen, but that's on deposits. I'm not sure there's any mandatory reporting on withdrawals, so I'm not sure why the FBI would be interested. It's not money laundering if you're withdrawing money from your bank account.

    It sounds like he got caught lying about a crime he didn't commit, which is one of the more ridiculous aspects of the US judicial system.

    • I'm not sure there's any mandatory reporting on withdrawals,

      Yes. Any time you take or drop $10k in cash in a bank or $5k in cash in a casino, there will be a report.

    • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:37PM (#49831447)

      It sounds like he got caught lying about a crime he didn't commit, which is one of the more ridiculous aspects of the US judicial system.

      If he didn't commit a crime there was no reason to lie about it. He had the option to say nothing under the 5th amendment. He certainly cannot reasonable argue that he didn't know it was a crime to lie to the FBI about his activities especially since he helped write some of the laws pertaining to prosecution of those very same activities.

      • It sounds like he got caught lying about a crime he didn't commit, which is one of the more ridiculous aspects of the US judicial system.

        If he didn't commit a crime there was no reason to lie about it. He had the option to say nothing under the 5th amendment. He certainly cannot reasonable argue that he didn't know it was a crime to lie to the FBI about his activities especially since he helped write some of the laws pertaining to prosecution of those very same activities.

        To be fair, few people currently in the federal government have heard of the Constitution, much less have familiarity with the various parts of it.

      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

        He had the option to say nothing under the 5th amendment.

        Well, yes there was that option. Unfortunately, due to the other provisions of his own law, that would leave him guilty of Structuring [wikipedia.org] - making transactions in a pattern designed to avoid the federal reporting requirements. Either he was making those transactions the way he was to avoid reporting, and thus broke federal law, or he had to give them a good other reason he made them in the pattern he did. It appears Hastert chose to lie in hopes of getting out of the structuring charges.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      From what I understand, any form of structuring is illegal.

      Structuring is manipulating the amount of cash to evade detection by authorities. $10k USD requires a mandatory report by FinCen, but that's on deposits. I'm not sure there's any mandatory reporting on withdrawals, so I'm not sure why the FBI would be interested. It's not money laundering if you're withdrawing money from your bank account.

      And then you have this: Secret Service Takes $115,000 from NC Couple Without Ever Charging Them With a Crime [truthvoice.com]

      All because these people were conducting a legitimate business - albeit with a lot of cash transactions - and it triggered a structuring flag.

  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:08PM (#49831113) Homepage

    See here:

    http://popehat.com/2015/05/29/... [popehat.com]

    (Note the writer is a former federal prosecutor)

    From the article:

    "We imagine law enforcement operating like we see on TV: someone commits a crime, everyone knows what the crime is, law enforcement reacts by charging them with that crime. But that's not how federal prosecution always works. Particularly with high-profile targets, federal prosecution is often an exercise in searching for a theory to prosecute someone that the feds would like to prosecute. There is an element of creativity: what federal statute can we find to prosecute this person?"

    Someone wanted to go after Hastert, they found a way.

    • by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:32PM (#49831381)
      We see $1.7M being moved around in a way that doesn't make sense. It might be that the former speaker is being blackmailed. Many victims don't come forward so we want to investigate. Purported victim tries to throw off the investigation which doesn't make much sense. Maybe something more sinister is happening. No way to know without *investigating*. Seriously. This whole thing doesn't make sense. He could have just made one large wire transfer, documented it, paid the gift taxes, and had the whole thing be over. Probably have to retire from lobbying as it, otherwise, might show up on a financial disclosure. But if it's worth $3.5M to keep something quiet, than do it the right way.
  • Isn't that the precedent you are looking for?

  • The current charges could be motivated by a desire to prosecute Hastert for sex crimes.

    Exactly. It's easier to prove structuring than it is to prove an ancient sex crime. While I agree with you that he should be charged with the sex crime and that withdrawing money from your bank account should never be illegal, prosecutorial expediency is what's going on here.

  • Now, Hastert stands accused of improper sexual contact with a boy he knew years ago while teaching high school and trying to hide that sordid history by paying the young man to keep quiet.

    I have not seen anybody make an accusation that they were molested. Citation needed. All I have seen are buzz and rumors.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      The whole thing seems suspicious. I don't think someone as politically powerful and well connected as the House Speaker is someone you try to shake down for any reason.

  • You already get suspicious looks at the border (where even not having a credit card will increase the time you spend in their little room) and with prospective employers if you don't have a social media account and password to cough up. We are expected to live in glass houses while we let the authorities hide behind lead walls. It is our own submissiveness that got us here. Resistance is nil.

  • by random coward ( 527722 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:12PM (#49831155)
    “There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )

      There's no way to rule innocent men.

      You could try being a leader......someone that people want to follow. That's what George Washington did (and many other great Kings throughout history, for that matter). Ayn Rand was wrong in that quote.

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:17PM (#49831219) Homepage

    ... interfering with a police investigation should be legal if the person being investigated feels they've done nothing wrong? Good luck getting widespread buy-in with that concept.

    1) The FBI found just cause to suspect a crime; what the subject was doing appeared to be money laundering, which - as it should - triggers an investigation. 2) They began to investigate the crime. 3) They found no crime, and thus did not prosecute for it. However, in the process, the subject deliberately interfered with the investigation and made false statements to the police, which is a crime. 4) The FBI prosecutes for the crime committed in #3.

    I fail to see the problem here.

    That said, I'm not surprised that Greenwald does. And I can just imagine the riot he'll throw if they ever go after him for his long-time lack of payment of the court-imposed levies concerning his tax evasion for his porn business.

  • Laws not apply to lawmakers

  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:22PM (#49831263) Homepage
    The summary doesn't directly mention the underlying problem of structuring [wikipedia.org] cash transactions to avoid the $10,000 reporting threshold to the IRS. This is a huge problem [bizjournals.com] for cash-only businesses. Most banks will tell businesses to deposit smaller sums of cash to avoid the paperwork hassles. Most businesses do that not knowing that it will raise red flags with the IRS. The IRS can confiscates all the cash from the bank account without filing criminal charges, and isn't legally obligated to return the money if they don't file criminal charges. The only way to get the money back is to go to court and/or make a huge public outcry.
  • The USA PATRIOT act did not even change this much, except for some changes to the reporting requirements for banks. Doing $9900 transactions to avoid the reporting has been a crime since the reporting requirement itself, because it's money laundering. Like civil forfeiture it's a disgusting but well established facet of the Failed War on Some Drugs. As for lying to a federal agent that's been a crime for even longer. There is nothing remotely controversial about the pickle Mr. Hastert finds himself in.
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:24PM (#49831285) Homepage
    The US government decided that they wanted to know all about large cash transactions, mainly because they are so insecure that they are mostly done by people involved in crime. The main reason to do one is to avoid government detection of that crime.

    But as there are legal reasons to do this, so they did not make it illegal to do. Instead Congress (and he was a member of Congress at that time) made it illegal to do one WITHOUT notifying the government.

    He failed to comply with the law he himself had voted on. He broke the law and he, among all people, clearly deserves to go to jail for doing so.

    • Mod parent down (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Prune ( 557140 )

      The US government decided that they wanted to know all about large cash transactions

      The $10,000 threshold was set in 1970, when it really was a large amount (over $60,000 in today's dollars). Now, not so much, and over the years, the number of people becoming ensnared due to transactions that are not in support of any crime has increased. What do you say to that, you statist scum? Do you seriously suppose that the threshold was not linked to inflation but left to have its real value fall continuously and indefinitely because of oversight? Because if so, you're either a bald-faced liar, or,

  • That is the nice thing about having as many laws as we do in the US. If they shouldn't / can't prosecute him on this crime there will be others.
  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:26PM (#49831307)

    It isn't illegal to withdraw money from the bank

    It is illegal to withdraw money from a bank in a manner designed to avoid detection. It's called structuring [wikipedia.org]. If you withdraw large amounts (over $10,000US) the bank is required by law to investigate whether the transaction might be related to illegal activity. The bank is also obligated to investigate unusual or suspicious patterns of money movement. This is primarily due to laws aimed at combating money laundering and financing criminal and terrorist groups. In this case it appears Mr. Hastert was moving money to cover evidence of other (allegedly) illegal activity. That is exactly what these laws are designed to catch.

    lying to the FBI about the purpose of those withdrawals once they detected them and then inquired with him

    Lying to a law enforcement officer is always illegal. They may or may not care about why you engaged in the activities you did but lying about it is clearly a crime in our justice system. Realistically it cannot be otherwise if you wish to have effective investigations of crimes.

    So why should it be a crime to hide those actions from the U.S. government?

    It may be that the statute of limitation on the original crime has expired and these follow on crimes are what is still possible to prosecute. Obviously I don't know what the prosecutors are planning but I'm pretty sure there is a good reason. I doubt they would be worrying about these lesser charges if statutory rape were a charge they could use.

    To answer the question however, it's a crime because there is no legitimate reason for him to lie. He (allegedly) was attempting to cover up other illegal activity. If his actions were honest he had the option to either decline to answer in accordance with his 5th amendment rights or to answer truthfully. Saying "none of your business" doesn't apply when we are talking about evidence of rape.

    • by sudon't ( 580652 )

      This is primarily due to laws aimed at combating money laundering and financing criminal and terrorist groups.

      That may have been the intention of the law, but it has become quite a cash cow for law enforcement through abuses of the statute. These laws flip the Constitution on its head because you are guilty until you can prove your innocence. That's not always easy with cash. There are cases where they've literally taken the life savings of little old ladies.

      Lying to a law enforcement officer is always illegal.

      No. There's a law against lying to Federal agents, and Michigan recently passed such a law, but it varies by state. Cops, of course, can lie their ass off to y

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:30PM (#49831355)

    If you applied any of the same logic on what is hitting hastert... and overreacted to the same extent... Hillary would be executed.

    hastert is being pushed around for moving his money around in suspicious ways. The Clintons do that every day. No. Literally every day. They did it yesterday and they'll do it tomorrow. They've been doing it for years and years and years. The Clinton scandals go back to before Bill became president. And no... it isn't all the vast right wing conspiracy. Even MSNBC and the NYTs are admitting it is a fucking problem.

    Do I like Dennis? No... I don't care for the man. But I have a bigger problem with the justice department becoming politically compromised and doing whatever it wants on the basis of political alliances. It needs to be politically non-aligned. And we can see very clearly that is not what is going on.

    The justice department, the IRS, the EPA, the Department of Labor... they're all being used to protect political allies and hurt political enemies.

    Don't like someone? Audit them with the IRS. They didn't get the hint? Send the EPA in there to find some nit picky thing going on that is impossible to comply with to fine the person with. That didn't work? Send in the department of labor. Ask all the women that work there if any of them would like to get a million dollar settlement for filiing a false discrimination lawsuit.

    Keep it up. Everyone submits when the pressure comes down on them.

    The Gibson guitar factory got raided by the FBI for having rare woods... finger boards... and they said something about how that was a violation of some law from the 1920s that makes no sense. Coincidentally, the CEO of Gibson was giving money to the rival political party. Tisk tisk. Didn't the fool know you're only allowed to make donations to the ruling party?

    And on and on and on.

    Here someone will say I'm exaggerating or only painting one party in a bad light. That isn't my intention. I am equally against either party really. My issue is that THIS party is the one doing it RIGHT NOW. So I'm going to focus on them. RIGHT NOW. If they lose power and the other party starts doing it, THEN I'll be talking about them. it isn't happening right now.

  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @12:58PM (#49831765) Homepage Journal

    First of all, I do agree, that neither bank-withdrawals (in whatever "pattern"), nor lying to anyone (unless under oath) should be a crime. Absolutely not.

    But, as long as it is a crime, people like Dennis Hastert — who had the power to do something about these laws, but did not, absolutely must be prosecuted under them. To the fullest extent and without mercy. (I argued the same thing about Spitzer — whose case was even worse, for he not only kept the laws he broke on the books, he strengthened them.)

    He is not a regular citizen — employee, student, businessman. He had the power — and more of it, than even an "average" Congressman.

    All that said about him, I find it disturbing, that the ruling party would prosecute the opposition's politicians. It does not look good. At all... They should be focusing on their own — like the aforementioned Mr. Spitzer, whose sole "punishment" for breaking federal laws [slate.com], was resignation...

  • by david_bonn ( 259998 ) <davidbonn@@@mac...com> on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @01:22PM (#49832121) Homepage Journal

    If the intent is to catch actual criminal wrongdoing, rather than make large swathes of the population criminal, the structuring rules are a very good examples of a bad law. First off, the reporting requirements are poorly understood by banking officials who should know better, and the actual reporting can be for cash amounts of as little as $3000.

    A few years back I was involved in what became a rather complicated transaction to buy a rather expensive used car. Because the owners were extremely flakey and confused there ended up being a number (I think five) wire transfers to different accounts. This produced a blizzard of enquiries from my bank and later from federal officials with various agencies with three-letter acronyms. All of the enquiries were worded in a maximally threatening way. All I wanted to do was buy a stupid car. Which turned out to be a piece of shit anyway.

    There are lots of examples of this. The Migratory Bird Treaty act is a great example. Say you find some bird feathers in your yard, and decide to keep them. Say your kids find some more and keep them too. Oops! $5000 fine per feather. Remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse. And by the way, if you can identify your bird feathers and they came from non-migratory birds, you are fine. Unless they are eagle feathers, in which case you are screwed. Except if you are Native American and using the eagle feathers for legitimate cultural purposes.

    Don't even get me started on insider trading laws. Oh hell, as the insider trading laws are written, there is no way to be employed by a company doing useful work and not be at least technically in violation of said laws. Whatever guidance your corporate attorneys give you is based on the SECs guidance on what they actually want to prosecute. That guidance could change tomorrow if they decide to go after you.

    I remember somewhere that this kind of administrative law crap was a substantial factor in what caused the American Revolution.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Wednesday June 03, 2015 @01:28PM (#49832217) Homepage Journal

    Politicians should not be prosecuted for LYING. After all, it's their primary function. They can't help it. It's like trying to prosecute an ordinary citizen for drawing breath. What would be unusual is a politician telling the truth.

  • I'm going to guess that he didn't file a gift tax return with the IRS for the millions he gave to person X. In which case he's up for tax evasion.

    There's a certain degree of paranoia involved here as well. But this law isn't even the most onerous in the U.S. The worst one is the police confiscation laws that were originally intended to be anti-trafficking tools but now tend to be abused rather badly.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/th... [npr.org]

    -Matt

Recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-Man is being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. -- C.N. Parkinson

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