COVID Terrorism

coronavirus

A memorandum dated March 24, 2020 from Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to all heads of law enforcement components, heads of litigating divisions and United States Attorneys looks at actions that the Department of Justice could take in response to criminal activity related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  One aspect of this memorandum may surprise you.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

As you can see, there certainly is a need to protect the American public from various criminal schemes ranging from malicious hoaxes, threats targeting individuals, conspiracies to rig bids and fix prices for medical goods needed during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the accumulation of excessively high levels of inventory of medical supplies.  All of that said, there is one part of the memo that is concerning:

Since it is mentioned in the memorandum, let's look at 18 U.S. Code Section 178:

"(1) the term “biological agent” means any microorganism (including, but not limited to, bacteria, viruses, fungi, rickettsiae or protozoa), or infectious substance, or any naturally occurring, bioengineered or synthesized component of any such microorganism or infectious substance, capable of causing—

(A) death, disease, or other biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a plant, or another living organism;

(B) deterioration of food, water, equipment, supplies, or material of any kind; or

(C) deleterious alteration of the environment;"

It is under this law that the Deputy Attorney General claims that COVID-19 meets the statutory definition of a "biological agent" which means that the "purposeful exposure and infection of others with COVID-19" could be legally construed as an act of terrorism since the use of a biological agent falls under America's terrorism-related statutes as shown here:

"Whoever knowingly develops, produces, stockpiles, transfers, acquires, retains, or possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for use as a weapon, or knowingly assists a foreign state or any organization to do so, or attempts, threatens, or conspires to do the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both. There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section committed by or against a national of the United States.

For purposes of this section, the term “for use as a weapon” includes the development, production, transfer, acquisition, retention, or possession of any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system for other than prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purposes."

Neither the laws nor the Deputy Attorney General's memorandum specify exactly what is involved in the "intentional spread" of the coronavirus.  At this point, Americans who protest en masse against government COVID-based restrictions, those who do not maintain a six foot distance from others or those who ignore other government-mandated restrictions including social isolation and self-quarantining could technically be seen to be involved in the intentional spread of the COVID-19 virus, finding themselves charged with an act of terrorism.

My how America has changed in two months.

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