So does the rest of the Constitution, which is why every part of it has been under attack. After all, if they can jail you when you didn't even know there was a law, let alone intend to violate it, it's easier to control people.
...FBI Director James Comey differentiated her "extremely careless"
handling of "very sensitive, highly classified information" from other
cases involving "intentional and willful mishandling."
Not everyone gets the benefit of such distinctions. Consider the
retiree on a snowmobile outing in Colorado who got lost in a blizzard
and unwittingly crossed into a National Forest Wilderness Area; the
Native Alaskan trapper who sold 10 sea otters to a buyer he mistakenly
believed was also a Native Alaskan; and the 11-year-old Virginia girl
who rescued a baby woodpecker from her cat.
The first two incidents resulted in misdemeanor and felony
convictions, respectively, while the third led to a fine (later
rescinded) and threats of prosecution. All three qualify as federal
crimes, even though the perpetrators had no idea they were breaking the
The federal code contains something like 5,000 criminal statutes
and describes an estimated 30,000 regulatory violations that can be
treated as crimes. The fact that no one knows the precise numbers is
itself a scandal, compounded by the fact that many of these provisions
include minimal or no mens rea requirements, which ask prosecutors to
demonstrate that an offender knew he was doing something wrong.
"But that means doing actual work! And actually proving things! That's hard!"
Sooner or later some bastard in Congress is going to propose ignoring the 4th and 5th Amendments 'in cases of great danger/security risk/importance', because having to actually obey the law gets in the way of convicting someone.
Yet Senate Democrats dismiss the proposed changes as "corporate
protection." Their chief complaint is that requiring the government to
prove a defendant knew he was breaking the law will make it harder to
No kidding. The same could be said of many safeguards widely
supported by civil libertarians, including the presumption of innocence,
the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the ban on
Guilty people, including violent criminals, surely escape conviction
because of these rules. Likewise, if Congress beefed up federal mens rea
requirements, some white-collar malefactors and felonious fat cats
probably would escape criminal punishment as a result. But that prospect
should not deter Congress from doing what's right.
'Doing what's right' would've involved, to pick one, a REAL investigation into Fast & Furious(and the other gunrunning operations), and people being fired, and charged, and tried. We saw just what 'doing what's right' means to far too many in Congress: nothing.