By having arranged travel to Cambodia and Vietnam, Lindblad Travel Inc. has been the object of heavy fines, exceeding $75,000, for violating the Foreign Assets Control Regulations. "I find it unjust and wrong," Lars-Eric Lindblad, president of the company, told the New York Times. So do we.
There is no question that there was a technical breach of the law. That is implicit in Lindblad's guilty plea. His license from the Treasury Department for travel to the two nations had expired. An undercover agent of the U.S. government was used to expose the unpublicized trip, arranged for Lindblad's friends.
The energy devoted by the federal government to the matter is in itself evidence of bad judgment and misplaced priorities in Washington. The legislation in question is intended for the narrowest application to prevent transfers of assets to nations deemed in belligerent status. To use the law to try to bar Americans from travel anywhere is an unreasonable restriction on the norms of freedom which the United States affirms for all people.
The amount of money earned by Vietnam and Cambodia for receiving the visitors was insignificant and could in no way affect the security of the United States. But the silliness of this prosecution cannot but undermine confidence in those responsible for implementing the rule of law.