Dubya takes on Greenpeace for "Sailor Mongering"


Greenpeace, charged with the obscure crime of “sailor mongering” that was last prosecuted 114 years ago, goes on trial on Monday in the first U.S. criminal prosecution of an advocacy group for civil disobedience.

The environmental group is accused of sailor mongering because it boarded a freighter in April 2002 that was carrying illegally felled Amazon mahogany to Miami. It says the prosecution is revenge for its criticism of the environmental policies of President Bush, whom it calls the “Toxic Texan.”

Sailor mongering was rife in the 19th century when brothels sent prostitutes laden with booze onto ships as they made their way to harbor. The idea was to get the sailors so drunk they could be whisked to shore and held in bondage, and a law was passed against it in 1872. It has only been used in a court of law twice, the last time in 1890.

The idea of course, once again, is to throttle free speech, civil disobedience and any opposition to the environmental “policies” of the Bush Cartel. The actual protesters were sentenced to time served and 15 months later prosecutors decide they want to take Greenpeace down.

Well, you gotta give him points for doing something completely outlandish. Next he’ll attack enirornmentalists for claim jumping.

I’m conflicted. On one hand, I think it’s yet another abuse by the administration, and on the other hand, I hate Greenpeace with a passion.

I can’t believe they’re going forward with this. Even if they win against Greenpeace it’ll be a PR nightmare for the GOP.

Ok, I don’t get it. Did the greenpeace guys who boarded the freighter from the Amazon try to get the crew drunk? What is this charge of “sailor mongering?” Is it just the act of being a prostitute and going aboard a ship with the intent of holding sailors in bonadage. I had that happen to me twice when I was in the Navy but nobody was ever charged!

I could see them getting through this without much worries. The people who would get upset over environmental concerns lost their patience a long time ago, while those that think of Greenpeace as an eco-terrorist organization will side with the government in this case.

Really, it wouldn’t be hard to get a good number of moderate Joe and Jane Average on the government’s side when they see video footage of Greenpeace members boarding a ship without permission. Illegal cargo or not, when they cross the line from protest to action, they risk losing a good number of the middle.

“It will be very chilling because advocacy groups whose members chose to engage in acts of protest which happen to violate the law will be loathe to act at all.”

Hmm, I’m undecided on this. Because if the manner in which you choose to protest is a violation of a local, state, or federal law, perhaps you need to find a new way in which to protest.

The risk of prosecution for violating the law is part and parcel of the whole civil disobedience thing, and has been a hallmark of Greenpeace activism as well. The issue is not prosecuting Greenpeace for breaking the law - this is nothing new. It’s the dredging up of a very obscure law that may or not even apply to Greenpeace’s specific action in this case.

I doubt that any prosecution will make Greenpeace loath to do anyting.


Good grief. First, “Bush” didn’t arrest these people. Secondly, how laughable is it that arresting people for illegal actions will cause people to loathe to commit illegal acts. How wimpy have protestors become? In my college days, if you didn’t get arrested when you protested, you weren’t trying hard enough - if you hadn’t spent at least a few days in jail you weren’t considered serious. Well, duh, if you want to protest and don’t want to get arrested don’t protest by carrying out illegal activities!

I’m still not clear on what the charge of “Sailor Mongering” is.


Sailor mongering was rife in the 19th century when brothels sent prostitutes laden with booze onto ships as they made their way to harbor. The idea was to get the sailors so drunk they could be whisked to shore and held in bondage, and a law was passed against it in 1872. It has only been used in a court of law twice, the last time in 1890.

And peeps get on me for not reading articles!

From an article on Wired News.

It looks like this is what they did:

The case stems from an incident in April 2002 in which two Greenpeace protestors illegally boarded the cargo ship APL Jade three miles off the coast of Miami, carrying signs saying, “President Bush, Stop Illegal Logging.” They were arrested and detained for the weekend.

And this is what sailor mongering is all about.

Fifteen months later, the Justice Department brought criminal charges against the Greenpeace organization using the sailor-mongering law, which was enacted to prevent brothels and taverns from boarding ships to entice sailors ashore. The law prohibits any unofficial boarding of a ship about to arrive at its destination but hasn’t been used in over 100 years, according to Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University

I wonder why they just don’t arrest them for tresspassing and be done with it. Clearly these folks aren’t guilty of the sailor mongering charge, becasue they’re not trying to lure sailors to shore and hold them for ransome.

I read that part, but it’s not clear to me that the Greenpeace kids were trying to get the sailors drunk so they could wisk them to shore and hold them in bondage, which actually sounds like a lot of fun if you’re a sailor and into that sort of thing.

Do you think they’d be prosecuting them without Bush’s approval? I know how the DOJ works…

They don’t necessarily have to be trying to do that. What a law is intended to do isn’t relevant at trial; all that’s relevant is what the law prohibits. So, if the sailor mongering law says “It’s a crime to board a ship without permission when the ship is close to its destination,” that’s all the government would have to prove. They only have to prove “intending to kidnap the sailors and hold them for ransom” if that’s part of the law, which I am guessing it isn’t.

Think of it this way: driver’s license laws are passed to try and keep dangerous drivers off the road. But the government doesn’t have to prove you’re a dangerous driver to convict you of driving without a license. They just have to prove that a license was required, and you didn’t have one. Going to court and saying “I have a 10-year clean driving record, I obviously know how to drive” isn’t going to get you out of it.

As for trespassing, I have no idea. The federal government generally can’t charge you with trespassing because there’s no federal law against it unless you’re trespassing on federal land (like an Army base or post office). I would think that being on the high seas would put you in federal jursidiction, but maybe not? That’s just a wild-ass guess though.

The sailor mongering law prohibits the unofficial boarding of a vessel about to enter port. That’s what Greenpeace did, and that’s what they are being charged under. The prostitution thing is a red herring, it’s flavor text.

Anyway, that quote from the activist is really priceless.

The Executive Branch is in charge of enforcing the laws. Of course Bush is responsible for this. He’s Ashcroft’s direct-line supervisor.

I believe the reason they went with the sailor mongering deal was hinted at in the article, which is that simple tresspassing would only apply to the actual individuals doing such, but the sailor mongering could be more easily applied to the organization as a whole.

Maybe the sailors were simply angry that Greenpeace didn’t bring along rum and prositutes?