The Department of Justice is deciding whether or not to use a federal law originally designed to prosecute members of the Mafia against groups the DOJ considers “far-right” and were involved in the protest-turned-riot that occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The 1970 statute known as “The Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act,” or RICO, was originally created to deal with Mafia and other organized crime enterprises.
A report from “Business Insider” explains that RICO cases can be quite complicated, and require a lot of evidence in order to meet the bar that a criminal act took place, and also that there were many crimes involved.
The idea behind it was to allow charges for criminal leaders – those who may have ordered certain crimes to be committed, but which they didn’t commit themselves.
RICO has been used to prosecute crimes like murder, kidnapping, bribery, and money laundering.
The Justice Department is considering whether to charge members of far-right groups involved in the Capitol insurrection under a federal law usually used against organized crime. https://t.co/iV7VnDlR0J
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 4, 2021
Using RICO Against Capitol Rioters
While no final decision has been made regarding charging the rioters under this statute, the Biden administration has made it clear that it looks at domestic terrorism as a growing threat.
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According to Fox News, Spokesperson Kristina Mastropasqua referenced previous statements by the senior federal prosecutor for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, who said that he would charge based on evidence in each particular case.
Sherwin has indicated that charges such as trespassing, assault, and seditious conspiracy would be considered.
DEVELOPING: Democrats in both the House and Senate are planning to draft legislation to classify MAGA rallies as "domestic terrorist activity" and require the FBI, DOJ & DHS to take steps to prevent such "domestic terrorism." Sen. Durbin is leading effort along with Rep Schneider
— Paul Sperry (@paulsperry_) January 11, 2021
The History Of RICO
The RICO statute was created in 1970, and was designed to fight organized crime like the Mafia, and more specifically, top Mob officials who ordered their foot soldiers to commit the crimes.
One of the most famous RICO cases was that of Mob Boss John Gotti.
Gotti became head of the Gambino crime family in 1985 plotting the murder of Paul Castellano. Gotti was arrested numerous times and always escaped conviction.
But in April of 1992, he was convicted on 13 federal RICO charges that included murder and racketeering.
It has also been used on radical Islamic terror groups, much like the group led by Omar Abdel Rahman, a.k.a., “The Blind Sheikh,” who was convicted of plotting to bomb the United Nations and the George Washington Bridge in New York.
Given these examples of how RICO statutes have been used in the past, how would the law apply to a band of angry protesters who broke in and entered the Capitol building, not numerous times, but just this time?
Making An Example Of Conservatives?
Currently, some members of the group “The Oathkeepers” and members of the Proud Boys are facing charges of obstructing an official government proceeding. The charge is considered a “racketeering activity.”
In order to qualify as a “criminal enterprise,” there would have to be a pattern shown by prosecutors that so-called far-right groups engaged in.
This could involve going as far back as the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville Virginia to detect any pattern of activity from various groups.
Growing Calls To Use War Tactics Against Americans
The ideas about what to do about ordinary citizens who might not agree with Washington goes beyond Mafia-style prosecution.
Robert Grenier, who served as the director of the CIA Counterterrorism from 2004-2006, says that without some sort of “national action, extremists who seek a social apocalypse… are capable of producing endemic political violence of a sort not seen in this country since Reconstruction.”
Grenier goes on, in a horrific comparison of former Iraqi Leader Saddam Hussein and Donald Trump by saying,
“He is their charismatic leader, whether he chooses to acknowledge it or not. You know, just as I saw in the Middle East that the air went out of violent demonstrations when [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein was defeated and seen to be defeated, I think the same situation applies here.
The fact of the matter is that Mr. Trump has lost. It’s very important that people see that he has lost, is a private citizen. But I think it’s extremely important that his potency as a symbol for the most violent among us is somehow addressed.”
The former director of the CIA's counterterrorism operation argues that counterinsurgency tactics, like those used in Afghanistan and Iraq, are needed to fight the extremists who stormed the Capitol.https://t.co/r4PITA0rFm
— NPR (@NPR) February 3, 2021
Someone who served his country overseas, and no doubt saw the worst kind of terrorism that human beings can inflict on one another, now thinks the federal government should deem American citizens who disagree with the government as domestic terrorists?
Journalist Glenn Greenwald may have put it in the most no nonsense way possible when speaking of a possible domestic war on terror.
“No speculation is needed. Those who wield power are demanding it. The only question is how much opposition will they encounter?”
Another enlightening piece by @ggreenwald, thank you 🙏!
— La Gazette du Coco (@GazetteCoco) January 30, 2021
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