In early 2011 Bernad Von Nothaus was convicted by the US government and identified as a domestic terrorist by Federal prosecutors for minting his own silver and gold coinage, and then offering those coins for sale to clients. He dubbed the coins “Liberty Dollars” and by doing so brought upon himself the ire of the U.S. Secret Service, Federal Reserve and a host of other government agencies.
According to the government, Von Nothaus was a counterfeiter, though he made no attempts to actually counterfeit U.S. currency, but rather, provide another mechanism of exchange through the use of precious metals.
After Von Nothaus’ conviction, the Secret Service warned they would be confiscating all Liberty Dollar coins manufactured by Nothaus’ company, NorFed.
Since the shutdown of VonNothaus’ operation, many of the coins have been offered for sale or trade on mega-auction site Ebay, and this week the Secret Service took action. They contacted Ebay, which in turn advised sellers of the coins on their site that they could no longer engage in the trade of silver coins with the Norfed Liberty Dollar hallmark:
The United States Secret Service has requested the removal of all Norfed Liberty dollars on the eBay site as counterfeits. … Please do not relist this item(s). We appreciate that you chose to list this coin on our site and understand there was no ill intent on your part. Your listing fees have been credited to your account.
There is nothing special about the Liberty Dollar coins other than the fact that they are pure silver; and, of course, that they actually have intrinsic value as compared to general circulation U.S. legal tender which is, by most accounts, essentially worthless in terms of metal value.
The government disagrees with this argument, and in a press release issued by the US Department of Justice, said that the trade of such coins amounts to nothing short of terrorism because it poses a direct threat to the stability of the United States:
Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism, U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict. While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country, she added. We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption, and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.
The Secret Service has gotten involved in order to ensure buyers don’t get confused by thinking they are acquiring legal U.S. tender. Apparently they believe that someone who buys a silver coin for $35 may, in a state of confusion, then attempt to exchange it for a $1 soda pop in the open market.
Today they are targeting the Liberty Dollar because it “represents a clear and present danger to the economic stability” of the United States. It wouldn’t be that far a stretch of the imagination to suggest the government could make the same argument for any mechanism of exchange or store of value, especially those which contain gold and silver.
They confiscated gold in the 1930′s for much the same reasons. They may very well do it again, but this time you may be a terrorist if you have silver or gold coins at home when they come looking.