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Please Join Us In Opposing H.R. 313

On October 12, 2011, in Drug War, federal, by Scott Alexander Meiner
We ask you to join Americans for Forfeiture Reform and the Drug Policy Alliance in registering your opinion on H.R. 313 by clicking on our Facebook/Popvox links. Your opinion will be delivered to your congressperson.
H.R. 313, the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011, has far ranging power to chill our liberties in ways that are dangerous to all of of us, regardless of our positions on substances classified under the Controlled Substances Act. Specifically, the bill seeks
“To amend the Controlled Substances Act to clarify that persons who enter into a conspiracy within the United States to possess or traffic illegal controlled substances outside the United States, or engage in conduct within the United States to aid or abet drug trafficking outside the United States, may be criminally prosecuted in the United States, and for other purposes.”
And would amend Section 406 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 846) by inserting:

 ”Whoever, within the United States, conspires with one or more persons, or aids or abets one or more persons, regardless of where such other persons are located, to engage in conduct at any place outside the United States that would constitute a violation of this title if committed within the United States, shall be subject to the same penalties that would apply to such conduct if it were to occur within the United States.”

It is our belief that H.R. 313 would chill your rights to free speech, assembly, and due process. It is ripe for selective enforcement. It is a dangerous expansion of federal power. It will harm your ability to acquire adequate counsel, encourage corruption in law enforcement, suppress voter intent, and is generally just bad law.
H.R. 313 represents a dramatic expansion of federal power. As David Roland, Director of Litigation at the Freedom Center of Missouri, explains,
“When Matt Stone and Trey Parker wrote “Team America: World Police,” it was supposed to be a joke!  HR 313 tries to make that concept our official policy.  Under this law, the U.S. government is claiming the power to strip citizens of their liberty and their property simply for talking with someone else about events that might well be perfectly legal where those events would take place.”
Given the extraordinary expansion of jurisdiction and the infeasibility of prosecuting all conspiracy charges, H.R. 313 is particularly ripe for selective prosecution. Ample evidence exists to show racial bias. Tenaha, TX has become the poster child for racial bias and asset forfeiture abuse but it happens throughout the United States. Further evidence exists to show targeted prosecution for political ends including a DEA Administrator bragging about the arrest of Marc Emery as a significant blow to the political efforts of legalization movements. One need not share Emery’s cause to be outraged that arrest and seizure power is being used to suppress political speech.
But prosecutors needn’t even get a conviction or a successful forfeiture to chill speech. The very threat of a vague, overbroad conspiracy charge is likely to chill speech in public health, science, decriminalization, and legalization communities by scaring involved parties from being able to express their opinions for fear that it will ensnare friends and family in leveraged conspiracy charges.
It will chill our assembly rights by potentially putting third parties at risk for knowingly associating with and/or tolerating the positions of those who wish to commit civil disobedience and/or test the constitutionality of this legislation. The charges need not stand up to legal challenge to pry forfeiture settlements and/or to quell dissent.
It will encourage law enforcement to make seizures that will starve defendants of the funds necessary to secure adequate representation.
The expansion of conspiracy charges for the aiding or abetting of conduct that is legal in another jurisdiction will only increase leveraged administrative forfeitures in exchange for the dropping of mandatory minimum sentence conspiracy charges. This means direct incentives for forfeitures with minimal judicial contact and little public oversight. That is a potent recipe for corruption.
It will suppress voter intent by expanding administrative forfeiture revenue streams that circumvent the legislative budget and appropriation process. This is contrary to the basic framework of checks and balances that have protected our republic. When we cede the power of the purse, we lose the ability to compel our law enforcement to be properly responsive and subordinate to the wishes of the people.
This is a bill that is uniquely insidious. We would like to think that the House of Representatives would quickly vote this legislation down. Sadly, that does not appear to be the case.  Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) have successfully pushed H.R. 313 through the House Judiciary Committee by a 20-7 vote and it is headed to a floor vote.
We vehemently oppose this legislation and call upon anyone who values their freedoms to join us in a vigorous opposition to H.R. 313.

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