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Jaruzelski charged with leading an armed criminal organization:

Poland's former communist dictator, General Jaruzelski, has been criminally charged with leading "a crime related armed organization." That organization, of course, was the government of Poland.

To some people, the notion that a government could be a crime organization would seem strange; for example, Richard Nixon once declared "If the President does it, it's not illegal." One of the ways in which the Roman Empire showed its inferiority to the Roman Republic was by espousing the notion that the Princeps was above the law.

The better view, however, is the rule of law also applies to the government, and that governments can indeed degenerate into criminal organizations. In The City of God, Augustine wrote: "If justice be taken away, what are governments but great bands of robbers?" He told a story attributed to Cicero.

Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, "What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor."
(The story appears in a section of Cicero's Commwealth from which several pages of the original text have been lost, and only the final sentence remains.)

The same point was also made, centuries before, by the great Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria. And as Don Kates, explained in an excellent article in Constitutional Commentary, the American Founders (and their British intellectual influences, such as Blackstone and Locke) thought that the right of self-defense was applicable against either a small band of criminals or against a larger groups of criminals which called themselves a "government."

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