Were laws broken?

Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal probe of allegations that public employees conspired to paralyze the city in last week's blizzard, sources said Tuesday. The investigation by the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's public integrity unit was prompted by Queens Councilman Dan Halloran's revelation that guilt-wracked sanitation and transportation workers had confessed an alleged work slowdown to him.

If the claim is true, the feds could examine whether wire or mail fraud statutes were violated by workers pocketing overtime pay during an illegal job action, sources said.

Though antagonistic to public employee unions, Apollo at The Federalist Paupers is troubled by a detail in the story:

What? Mail fraud and “wire” statutes? Was this slowdown organized through a series of telegrams and forged postage stamps?

Of course not. Instead, federal criminal laws are so vague and all-encompassing that we all break them each and every day. So prosecutors wait until someone does something they don’t like, then they go back and figure out which law they’d like to punish the offender under. If that strikes you as an utter perversion of what a criminal justice system should be, that’s because it is.

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