For more than a year – and after hundreds of Capitol Hill rioters have been indicted – the charge of “seditious conspiracy” has been leveled. This is greeted with great joy from Democrats and their media allies – who have been leveling that charge in the court-of-public-opinion at EVERYONE arrested – and many who have not been arrested — since the January 6, 2021 riot.
In fact, they have been expressing their frustration that all those who have been charged with much lesser crimes have not been indicted for insurrection, sedition, treason or an attempted coup. They believe that politics – not the law – should be the determinant factor in indicting a person.
The seditious conspiracy charges were leveled at Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, and another 10 members of the organization. If they did, indeed, commit seditious conspiracy, I am all for throwing the book at them. That determination will be made in a court-of-law sometime in the future.
In the meantime, those on the left will violate a basic tenet of the American justice system – innocent until proven guilty. The rush-to-judgment on the left will assume guilt – and the media will report as if guilt has already been determined.
In “convicting” the defendants in public, the media relies on the simple Oxford definition of sedition – which states that it is “the speaking or writing of words that are likely to incite ordinary people to public disorder or insurrection.” MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan advanced that definition in support of his unprofessional (political) opinion that those charged ARE guilty. But the law is much more complicated than that. A literal interpretation of that dictionary definition would seriously limit the right to assemble, protest and speak out against government policy.
Even though I think the Oath Keepers are bad actors – and may have actually engaged in criminal activity – I also understand that seditious conspiracy is not easy to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That is one of the reasons prosecutors rarely charge it. At this point, I would rate the chances of conviction at 50/50, at best.
Federal prosecutors have won convictions for sedition against foreign terrorists, but not against domestic groups. In 1995, Sheik Abdel-Rahman and nine others were convicted of sedition. In 1936 and 1980 Puerto Rican nationalist groups were convicted of sedition – and yes, I know they can be considered domestic groups, but their intent was to gain independence from the United States. The last and essentially the only case of a seditious conspiracy involving a purely domestic group charged with trying to overthrow the American government was in 2010. It involved 10 members of a Michigan militia. They were all acquitted.
Perhaps the greatest weakness in the government’s case against the Oath Keepers is the fact that they did not act on their threats and alleged plans. They were part of the riot and entered the Capitol – and even how they got inside is a contested issue. While they talked of violence and purchased weaponry, they did not come to the Capitol armed. They clearly joined the rioters – and seemed to provoke and lead the rioting. But that may not meet the threshold of seditious conspiracy.
Personally, I am not a fan of the Oath Keepers – and am not making a case for innocence. I do see them as a hate group. That means I will have to assume their innocence for the time being but will shed no tear if they are convicted – especially in view of what I saw in the indictment. It is damning, but the final decision will be up to a jury – as it should be.
Unfortunately, the rabid left will use these indictments to allege a much larger conspiracy. They will use the broad-brush of political propaganda to point the accusatory finger at most of the Republican Party. The left-wing media is already speculating that this will lead to many more major indictments for conspiracy – reaching up to President Trump, himself. It will take a LOT more than this case to even come close to achieving their political objective of bringing down Trump and defeating the GOP in November.
It is possible to peddle wishful thinking in the court-of-public-opinion – especially when so much of the media is politically compromised – but it is a far different matter when dealing in a court-of-law where rules-of-evidence and reasonable doubt apply.
I caution my progressive friends – and yes, I do have them – not to get their hopes up too high … not to be too certain of the outcome of these cases. And to be patient since these cases can go on for months – well after the 2022 Midterm elections.
So. There ‘tis.