Selective enforcement of Federal Law, the tragic cases of Sam Girod and Donald Trump.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
-George Orwell, Animal Farm’
In two days, the FDA and a federal judge are going to put a Kentucky farmer and grandfather, Samuel Girod, in jail for up to 68 YEARS with up to $3M in fines for charges related to selling a homemade herbal salve.
Samuel Girod [G as in Gee: gi-ROD] and his family have been making and selling three all-natural herbal products for nearly 20 years.
No one has ever been harmed by the products; the Girods have pages of testimonials and scores of repeat customers.
Similar products are currently made and sold online worldwide (including on Amazon) by other people using the same or similar basic ingredients. The recipes are online as well, you can make them in your kitchen.
In 2001, an FDA agent informed Sam that his product labels were making medical claims regarding healing certain conditions. At the time, Sam’s label said, ““[g]ood for all skin disorders. Skin cancer, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.”
Sam had to change his label, removing the skin cancer claim specifically, or do very expensive testing proving the claims. Sam changed the label, removing any reference to skin cancer.
Sam did not receive any further communication from the FDA until 2012 when someone called the FDA and reported that a store in MO was selling Sam’s products and that medical claims were being made.
The “medical claims” were in fact customer testimonials contained in a brochure about Sam’s products! These testimonials are no different than Amazon reviews.
Then the FDA claimed to have found a MO customer who had been harmed by Sam’s bloodroot salve.
In early 2013, during the investigation on that claim, FDA agents went to Sam’s home and demanded a warrantless search. Wanting to be cooperative, Sam said OK on one condition: that no photographs were taken (the Amish are religiously opposed to photography). The agents said no problem, no photos.
Then they got on the property, whipped out their cameras and took photos of everything.
Several months later, the Girods discover that, not only has this customer never been identified or produced, the bloodroot salve this customer used was not even Sam’s!!!
Yet that judge put an injunction on Sam’s products with three stipulations:
- none could be sold until all medical claims were removed (referring to the brochures);
- Sam’s bloodroot salve could never be sold again EVER (1); and
- Sam had to allow inspection of his property where the products were made FOR FIVE YEARS.
- Sam complied with 1 and 2: he stopped selling the bloodroot salve and stopped using the brochures. He was not so compliant with the searches.
In late 2013, after the injunction, FDA agents came to do a second search. Sam informed them that nothing had changed since the first search 7 months earlier, and that, since they had lied and taken photos during the first search, they were not welcome to do a second.
The FDA agents had a Bath County Sheriff’s deputy along with them (as they are required since they are federal agents rather than state). This sheriff witnessed the entire event and eventually told the agents to leave the property. Which they did.
These three product sales are how Sam’s family made their living. They had been denied this right via an arbitrary regulation made up by a federal agency with no true jurisdiction in the states — and with NO VICTIM.
So the Girods started selling their products again. Then, in 2014, Sam started a legal private membership club and sold his products to members via that framework. Perfectly legal.
Meanwhile, the FDA started criminal proceedings against Sam for disobeying the injunction (selling his products and refusing the search) plus two other very serious charges:
1. The FDA agents claimed that, when they came for the 2nd search, Sam and his family threatened them with physical violence. That is ludicrous enough on the face of it. Plus, the Sheriff’s deputy testified under oath that absolutely no threats were made, that, essentially, the FDA agents lied under oath.
2. The FDA also charged Sam with witness tampering. The witness who was supposedly tampered with? Read the eyewitness account of Mary Miller’s testimony, link below. (2)
The Trial 2.27.17
The Amish do not use lawyers as a rule and Sam did not. This is a decision made by the community, not just the accused. Apparently the Amish don’t trust lawyers. Imagine that.
Because he barely presented a defense against federal prosecutors for whom money and conscience are not problems, Sam was convicted on all counts. (3)
The judge ordered Sam to remain in jail until sentencing on 6/16/17. [apparently rescheduled to 6/30/17] He’s been in jail since 2/27/17.
Had Sam had a good attorney, he would certainly have been acquitted on the most egregious counts (threatening federal agents and witness tampering). These charges were clearly manufactured solely to make Sam into a “real” criminal, with the FDA being the only victim.
The only other charges — selling “drugs” across state lines — were manufactured out of whole cloth as well. The FDA’s own tests proved that the products were not drugs, that they were made from all-natural ingredients!!! These charges should have been dismissed from the start.
Sam’s sentencing is 6/30 and he is looking at up to 68 years in prison and up to $3M in fines. This is essentially a life sentence for charges stemming from an innocent labeling infraction!
Now, compare and contrast the prosecution of Girod’s case, above, with the complete lack of enforcement of the War Powers Resolution, in regards to the deployment of United States military forces in Syria and elsewhere.
In Syria, the US is currently working with an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias and its biggest focus at this moment is to encircle and ultimately capture the ISIS capital of Raqqa. This week, the U.S.-led coalition announced that around 400 additional U.S. forces had deployed to Syria to help with the Raqqa campaign and to prevent any clash between Turkey and Washington-allied Syrian militias that Ankara sees as a threat. Around 500 U.S. forces are already in Syria in support of the campaign against Islamic State, which this week added several hundred, marines who were recently caught on video as they prepare for the Raqqa offensive.
Asked about a deployment of U.S. forces near the northern city of Manbij, Assad said: “Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation … are invaders.”
Unlike the Amish grandfather’s herbal salve, President Trump’s illegal invasion of Syria has actually harmed others.
Dozens more civilians allegedly killed in U.S.-led strikes
…various activists groups reported different casualty tolls, saying the U.S.-led coalition, which is waging war on ISIS, was likely behind the attacks.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group said the strike hit the village of Akayrshi on Sunday night and that 12 women were killed. The activist-run, Raqqa Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, said the strike hit a convoy of farm workers and that 22 died.
Below is what The Library of Congress has to say about the War Powers Resolution. Apparently, however, our congress is too busy funding the FDA to prosecute Amish grandfathers and receiving unlimited campaign contributions from pharmaceutical and weapons companies and AIPAC to bother to read, understand, and do the job they were supposedly elected by the American people to do.
The War Powers Resolution, Public Law 93-148, 87 Stat. 555, passed over President Nixon’s veto on November 7, 1973. The War Powers Resolution is sometimes referred to as the War Powers Act, its title in the version passed by the Senate. This Joint Resolution is codified in the United States Code (“USC”) in Title 50, Chapter 33, Sections 1541-48.
The term “Resolution” can be misleading; this law originated as a Joint Resolution and was passed by both Houses of Congress pursuant to the Legislative Process, and has the same legal effect as a Bill which has passed and become a law. For more information on Bills and Joint Resolutions see this explanation of Congressional Forms of Action.
The Constitution of the United States divides the war powers of the federal government between the Executive and Legislative branches: the President is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces (Article II, section 2), while Congress has the power to make declarations of war, and to raise and support the armed forces (Article I, section 8). Over time, questions arose as to the extent of the President’s authority to deploy U.S. armed forces into hostile situations abroad without a declaration of war or some other form of Congressional approval. Congress passed the War Powers Resolution in the aftermath of the Vietnam War to address these concerns and provide a set of procedures for both the President and Congress to follow in situations where the introduction of U.S. forces abroad could lead to their involvement in armed conflict.
Conceptually, the War Powers Resolution can be broken down into several distinct parts. The first part states the policy behind the law, namely to “insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities,” and that the President’s powers as Commander in Chief are exercised only pursuant to a declaration of war, specific statutory authorization from Congress, or a national emergency created by an attack upon the United States (50 USC Sec. 1541).
The second part requires the President to consult with Congress before introducing U.S. armed forces into hostilities or situations where hostilities are imminent, and to continue such consultations as long as U.S. armed forces remain in such situations (50 USC Sec. 1542). The third part sets forth reporting requirements that the President must comply with any time he introduces U.S. armed forces into existing or imminent hostilities (50 USC Sec. 1543); section 1543(a)(1) is particularly significant because it can trigger a 60 day time limit on the use of U.S. forces under section 1544(b).
The fourth part of the law concerns Congressional actions and procedures. Of particular interest is Section 1544(b), which requires that U.S. forces be withdrawn from hostilities within 60 days of the time a report is submitted or is required to be submitted under Section 1543(a)(1), unless Congress acts to approve continued military action, or is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Section 1544(c) requires the President to remove U.S. armed forces that are engaged in hostilities “without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization” at any time if Congress so directs by a Concurrent Resolution (50 USC 1544 (external link)). Concurrent Resolutions are not laws and are not presented to the President for signature or veto; as a result the procedure contemplated under Section 1544(c) is known as a “legislative veto” and is constitutionally questionable in light of the decision of the United States Supreme Court in INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983). Further sections set forth expedited Congressional procedures for considering proposed legislation to authorize the use of U.S. armed forces, as well as similar procedures regarding proposed legislation to withdraw U.S. forces under Section 1544(c) (50 U.S. 1545-46a).
The fifth part of the law sets forth certain definitions and rules to be used when interpreting the War Powers Resolution (50 USC 1547 (external link)). Finally, the sixth part is a “separability provision” and states that if any part of the law is held (by a court) to be invalid, on its face or as applied to a particular situation, the rest of the law shall not be considered invalid, nor shall its applicability to other situations be affected (50 USC 1548 (external link)).
U.S. Presidents have consistently taken the position that the War Powers Resolution is an unconstitutional infringement upon the power of the executive branch. As a result, the Resolution has been the subject of controversy since its enactment, and is a recurring issue due to the ongoing worldwide commitment of U.S. armed forces. Presidents have submitted a total of over 120 reports to Congress pursuant to the Resolution.
If we are not a nation of laws, then what are we?