[part 4]

In part 3, I claimed that an organization could quite legally operate, assisted by encryption, international data networking, and untraceable digital cash, in a way that would (indirectly) hasten the death of named people, for instance hated government employees and officeholders. I won't attempt to "prove" this, for reasons that I think will be obvious. First, even if such operation were indeed "legal," that fact alone would not stop its opponents from wanting to shut it down. However, there is also another way of looking at it: If this system works as I expect it would, even its claimed "illegality" would be irrelevant, because it could operate over international borders and beyond the legal reach of any law-abiding government.

Perhaps the most telling fact, however, is that if this system was as effective as it appears it would be, no prosecutor would dare file charges against any participant, and no judge would hear the case, because no matter how long the existing list of "targets," there would always be room for one or two more. Any potential user of this system would recognize that an assault on this system represents a threat to its future availability, and would act accordingly by donating money to target anyone trying to shut it down.

Even so, I think I should address two charges which have been made, apparently quite simplistically, claiming that an implementation of this idea would violate the law. Specifically: "Conspiracy to commit murder" and "misprision of felony."

As I understand it, in order to have a "conspiracy" from a criminal standpoint, it is necessary to have at least two people agree to commit a crime, and have some overt act in furtherance of that crime.

Well, this charge already "strikes out" because in the plan I described, none of the participants _agrees_ with ANYONE to commit a crime. None of the participants even informs anyone else that he will be committing a crime, whether before or after the fact. In fact, the only crime appears (hypothetically; this assumes that a crime was actually committed) to be a murder committed by a single individual, a crime unknown to the other participants, with his identity similarly unknown.

Remember, the "prediction" originally sent in by the predictor was fully encrypted, so that the organization (or anyone else, for that matter) would be unable to figure out the identity of the person whose death was predicted, or the date on which it was predicted to occur. Thus, the organization is incapable of "agreeing" with such a thing, and likewise the donors as well. Only if the prediction later came true would the decrypt key arrive, and only then would the organization (and the public) be made aware of the contents. Even then, it's only a "prediction," so even then, nobody is actually aware of any crime which can be associated with the predictor.

"Misprision of Felony"

This crime, sort of a diluted form of "accessory before and/or after the fact," was claimed to qualify by "Tim of Angle," who subsequent to my answer to him on this subject has totally failed to support his initial claim. (a recent curiosity is that this crime is one that has been charged against Michael Fortier, the person who claims he helped OKC bombing suspect Tim McVeigh "case the joint" at the Federal building.)

I include it here, nevertheless, because his simplistic (and un-careful) reading of my idea led him to perhaps the "closest" law that one might allege that the participants would have broken. Tim claimed:

TOA> No. That's called "misprision of felony" and makes you an accessory TOA> before the fact. Arguably, under the felony murder rule you could get TOA> capital punishment in a state that has such.

However, I did a little library research, checking Black's Law Dictionary. Here is the entry for this item: "Misprision of felony. The offense of concealing a felony committed by another, but without such previous concert with or subsequent assistance to the felon as would make the party concealing an accessory before or after the fact. United State s v. Perlstein, C.C.A.N.J., 126 F.2d 789, 798. Elements of the crime are that the principal committed and completed the felony alleged, that the defendant had full knowledge of that fact, that the defendant failed to notify the authorities, and that defendant took an affirmative step to conceal the crime. U.S. v. Ciambrone, C.A. Nev., 750 F.2d 1416, 1417. Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, is guilty of the federal crime of misprision of felony. 18 U.S.C.A 4." See also Obstructing Justice. ++++++++++end of Black's law Dictionary Entry

The only "element" of this crime which is arguably satisfied is the first: Some person (_other_than_ the defendant for "misprision of felony") committed a crime. The second element fails miserably: "... that the defendant had full knowledge of that fact... " My previous commentary makes it clear that far from "full knowledge of that fact," other participants are carefully prevented from having ANY "knowledge of that fact."

The third element, "..that the defendant failed to notify the authorities..." is also essentially non-existent: No other participants have any information as to the identity of a predictor, or his location, or for that matter whether he has had any involvement in any sort of crime. In fact, it would be possible for each of the other partiipants to deliver (anonymously, presumably) copies of all correspondence they have sent, to the police or other agency, and that correspondence would not help the authorities even slightly to identify a criminal or even necessarily a crime.

In fact, normal operation of this organization would be to publicize "all" correspondence it receives, in order to provide feedback to the public to assure them that all participants are fulfilling their promises and receiving their rewards. This publication would presumably find its way to the police, or it could even be mailed to them on a regular basis to prevent any suggestion that the organization was "fail[ing] to notify authorities." Nevertheless, none of this material could help any authorities with their investigations, to their dismay.

The fourth and last element of the crime of "misprision of felony", "...and that defendant took an affirmative step to conceal the crime," would totally fail. The organization would not " conceal" the crime. In fact, it will have no ability to do anything to the contrary, if for no other reason that it _has_ no knowledge of the crime! And as described above, it would carefully avoid having access to any information that could help solve the crime, and thus it would escape any obligations along these lines.


In hindsight, it is not surprising that such an organization could operate legally within the US, although at least initially not without political opposition. First, this is at least nominally supposed to be a "free country," which should mean that police and other authorities aren't able to punish behavior just because they don't like it.

Secondly, it is obvious that most laws today were originally written during an era in which laws assumed that "conspirators" at least knew each other, had met each other, could identify each other, or had (at least!) talked to each other. On the contrary, in my scenario none of the participants even know on what continent any of the others reside, let alone their country, city, or street. They don't know what they look like, sound like, or for that matter even "type like": None of their prose, save a few sparse "predictions," ever get communicated to anyone else, so even text-comparison programs would fail to "target" anyone.

Equally surprising (to those who originally wrote the laws against "conspiracy") would be "Person A's" ability to satisfy himself that "Person B" deserves the award, without knowing that "Person B" is (or is not) actually responsible for a particular death. [end of part 4]

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