Monday, July 24, 2017

A Brief Musing on the Prospective Role of Capital Punishment as Imposed by Non-State Actors

I am, generally speaking, opposed to capital punishment as it is used by the state.To my mind it violates any reasonable conception of "limited government." What's "limited" about the legal power engage in the leisurely, cold-blooded, unnecessary killing of a disarmed prisoner? That kind of power of life and death is unlimited government in my opinion.

I do support the death penalty for violent crimes, if administered at the time and scene of the crime, by the victim or someone plausibly acting on the victim's behalf, based on reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm if they don't kill the attacker.

But lately I'm thinking about a different sort of death penalty. This sort would be administered by non-state actors, and only semi-discriminately in that anyone involved in the criminal conspiracy known as "the state" would be subject to it as required to correct or retaliate for violent state criminal action.

To wit, I believe that denizens of the "Dark Web" and other unauthorized entrepreneurs would be justified in notifying the US government that there will be lethal consequences to actions like:

  • The abduction of Ross Ulbricht for (absent successful appeal or clemency) two life terms plus 40 years without the possibility of parole for the "crime" of operating a web site without state permission; or
  • The death (allegedly a suicide) of alleged Alphabay founder Alexandre Cazes in Thai custody pursuant to an extradition request by the United States.
The problem here is that  it would be difficult to set up a successful operation to arrest, try and incarcerate someone like US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Andrew G McCabe or US District Court judge Katherine Forrest for their crimes against humanity. Or, for that matter, to arrest, try and incarcerate anyone, especially members of the world's largest criminal gang, the US government. So the only really available penalty is death.

On the other hand, there's no "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" problem when it comes to that gang. By definition, its employees are all parties to conspiracy to commit the crimes that the gang commits, and for the most part they do not hide their identities or the fact that they are functionaries of said gang. So any random conspirator could be easily identified and selected to bear the brunt of the penalty.

What I have in mind is some sort of Dark Web Security Consortium with a judicial body and an enforcement arm, funded by contributions from the entrepreneurs (maybe a "please fund this" voluntary add-on of a fraction of a percent on each transaction), that adjudicates incidents, passes sentence, and funds execution of said sentence (perhaps through a Jim Bell "Assassination Politics" style prediction market if a particular culprit is sentenced, perhaps in some other way like the "pick a random conspirator or conspirators" approach). The consortium goes into action when the US government criminally assaults any consortium member (and possibly even non-members if the case comes to the consortium's notice).

Something like this:

The next time a Ross Ulbricht is arrested, the consortium notifies the US Department of Justice that if bail is denied, one US government employee of GS-5 or lower rank, said employee to be selected randomly or at opportunity, will be executed.

As the stakes increase (obviously fixed trial, insane sentence, etc.), the number and rank of conspirators to be executed increases incrementally, with due advance notice to the Department of Justice at each step that if DoJ buys the ticket, US government employees are going to take the ride.

Of course, if this consortium comes into existence and threatens to take those actions, they're going to have to follow through and actually put those .22 bullets in those skulls. Holding the state's actors accountable for their crimes ain't beanbag. But it looks like it's ceasing to be an option and starting to become an imperative.

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