[Reference: binder part 23. The following are excerpts only, without citations, of sections 960, 961 and 962]
UNITED STATES CODE
§ 960 – 962. NEUTRALITY VIOLATION
§ 960. Expedition against friendly nation
Whoever, within the United States, knowingly begins or sets on foot or
provides or prepares a means for or furnishes the money for, or takes
part in, any military or naval expedition or enterprise to be carried
on from thence against the territory or dominion of any foreign prince
or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom imprisoned
not more than three years, or both.
June 25, 1948, c. 645, 62 Stat. 745.
The thing at which former section 25 of this title (now this section)
was directed was prevention of military or naval expeditions or
enterprises against governments with whom the United States was at
peace and the several things mentioned therein were merely different
ways of accomplishing the general object.
3. Definitions – Begin
The word "begin", as used in former section 25 of this title (now this section), meant to do the first act; to enteron.
4. — Military expedition or enterprise
The word enterprise was somewhat broader than the word expedition; and
although the words were synonymously used, it would seem that under the
rule that its every word should be presumed to have some force and
effect, the word enterprise was employed to give a slightly wider scope
to R.S. 5286 (now this section).
A military expedition is a journey or voyage by a company or body of
persons having the position or character of soldiers, for a specific
warlike purpose; also the body and its outfit; and a military
enterprise is a martial undertaking, involving the idea of a bold,
arduous, and hazardous attempt.
It was not essential to constitute a military expedition within the
meaning of R.S. 5286 (now this section) that the members had to
be equipped with arms and ammunition before leaving the United
The words "military enterprise", while including a military expedition,
have a wider scope than the latter term, and a "military enterprise"
may consequently include various undertakings by single individuals, as
well as by a number of persons.
A military expedition or a military enterprise may consist of few or
many men and the existence or character of the military expedition or
the military enterprise does not require concerted action on the part
of a large number of individuals.
A combination of a number of men in the United States, with a common
intent to proceed in a body to a foreign territory, and engage in
hostilities, either by themselves or in cooperation with others,
against a power with whom the United States are at peace, constitutes a
military expedition, when they actually proceed from the United,
whether they are then provided with arms, or intent to secure them in
transit and it is not necessary that all the persons shall be brought
in personal contact with each other in the United States, or that they
shall be drilled, uniformed, or prepared for efficient service.
The essential features of military operations are concert of action,
unity of action, by a body organized and acting together, acting by
means of weapons of some kind, acting under command, leadership.
A military expedition comprehends any combination of men, organized in
this country, however imperfectly, and provided with arms and
ammunition, to go to a foreign country, and make war on its government.
The engagement of men to invade or attack any other people or country, by force and strong hand;
the purchase of vessels or steamboats, military stores, such as powder
or ball, for an expedition, give character to the expedition itself;
but any expedition or enterprise in matters of commerce or of business,
of a civil nature, unattended by a design of an attack, invasion, or
conquest, is wholly legal, and is not an expedition or an enterprise.
5. — Set on feet
The phrase "set on foot", as used in former section 25 of this title
(now this section), meant to arrange; place in order; set forward; put
in the place of being ready.
Any combination of individuals to carry on any expedition was "settling
it on foot", withing the meaning of former section 25 of this little
(now this section), and the contribution of money or anything else
which would induce such combination might be a beginning of the
enterprise. Charge to Grand Jury, Neutrality Laws.
6. Persons withing section
A single individual might have violated former section 25 of this
little (now this section) by settling on foot a military expedition
If the captain of the vessel knew when he left the United States that
he was going to take in his hip men and arms which the men intended
from the start to use in making a hostile landing in a foreign country
he was guilty under former section 25 of this title (now this section).
The captain and mate of a United States vessel, who, knowing the
character of their cargo and its intended purpose, transported arms
from a port within the United States to a foreign port, together with
men and stores to be used in a military expedition against a people at
peace with the United States, were guilty of violating former section
25 of this title (now this section).
Former section 25 of this title (now this section) applied not only to
citizens of the United States, but to all persons within the territory
or jurisdiction, which the territory or jurisdiction, whether
permanently or temporarily residing there.
1. Duty of United States
The duty of the United States when a state of war is declared or
recognized by another country, is of its own motion to used diligence
to discover and prevent withing its borders the formation or departure
of any military expedition intended to carry on or take part in such
Defendants, who sent from United States a spy into United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland, with which United States was at peace, to
obtain military information for benefit of Germany; which was at war
with said Kingdom, were guilty of a violation of former section 25 of
this title (now this section).
32. Commercial ventures
Former section 25 of this title (now this section) did not prohibit the
mere engaging in the transportation of contraband of war as a
commercial venture nor peaceable aid rendered to either belligerent so
long as this aid arose indirectly only through commercial dealings,
since it was directed solely against warlike enterprises.
33. Actions of Individuals
It is lawful for men, many or few, to go from this country as
individuals, even by the same vessel, and though that vessel also
carries arms as merchandise, for the purpose of joining a body of
insurgents to fight against a foreign government.
Persons desiring to enlist in foreign military service may lawfully go
abroad for this purpose in any way they see fit, either as passengers
by a regular line steamer or by any steamer bound for the desired
destination, by chartering a steamer, or in any manner they choose,
either separately or in association for the purpose of facilitating
transportation, provided they do not form or set on foot any military
expedition or enterprise, or procure or prepare the means therefor.
If individuals had come aboard a vessel and were received as ordinary
passengers in unarmed association, and were carried simply as
passengers, and neither before they came aboard or afterwards were
organized as a military company, then their transportation would not
have been an offense:
It is not a crime or offense against the United States for individuals
to leave the country with intent to enlist in foreign military service:
If persons go from this country to a foreign country merely as
individuals and without concert of action between them, although for
the purpose of taking part in hostilities against one of two
belligerents, no crime or offense against the United States attaches to
any one who has provided the means of their transportation, even though
with full knowledge of their purpose in securing transportation.
It is no offense against the laws of the United States to transport,
from this to a foreign country, arms, ammunition, and materials of war,
either alone or together, in the same ship, with men who intend to
enlist, provided they are not a part of or in aid of any military
expedition or enterprise set on foot in this country and in such case
the persons transported and the shipper and transporter only run the
risk of capture, and the seizure of such arms and munitions by the
foreign power against which the arms are intended to be used.
35. Inception of offense
To constitute a violation of former section 25 of this title (now this
section) it was not necessary that a military enterprise should
actually reach the shores of the country to which it was destined but
it was sufficient that the expedition or enterprise was started or set
on foot with that purpose.
To constitute the offense, it is not necessary that the expedition should start for its destination.
Probably a previously concerted movement or arrangement, with a
distinct reference to the recruitment of men, would be sufficient to
constitute a beginning, and if followed up by the designation of a plan
for an enlistment or enrollment, though there should be no proof that
any were actually enlisted or enrolled, it would bring the parties
implicated withing the operation of former section 25 of this title(now
this section) referred to.
36. Knowledge or intent
Mates of a foreign vessel sailing from a United States port, who at the
time of sailing did not know that the vessel was to carry an expedition
in violation of former section 25 of this title (now this section), and
did not learn thereof until they met beyond the three-mile limit
another vessel containing men and arms, were not guilty of the offense.
It is not necessary, to warrant a conviction, that there shall at any
time be in existence a military expedition or enterprise, but it is
sufficient if a military enterprise was a part of the intent and
purpose of those engaged in the doing of the things prohibited.
The intent of men to enlist after reaching a foreign country does not make an expedition which is otherwise lawful unlawful.
To constitute the offense of beginning, setting on foot, or providing
the means for a military expedition against a nation with whom the
United States are at peace, there must be a hostile intention connected
with the act of beginning or setting on foot the expedition.
A company of armed men proceeding on a vessel from the United States,
with intent to commit hostilities, violated former section 25 of this
title (now this section)whether they took the whole vessel to
themselves or merely departed hence as passengers.
It was not essential that the vessel should at the time of sailing have
been in complete readiness for hostile engagement, but if in fact she
sailed with the intent and the means to carry on such an enterprise,
the transaction came within the prohibition of former section 25 of
this title (now this section).
37. Overt act
To sustain an indictment under former section 25 of this title (now
this section), charging that defendants did "begin, set on foot,
provide, or prepare the means for" a military expedition against a
friendly power, it was not necessary that the acts of defendants should
have progressed so far as the complete organization and sending of such
expedition, or that it was to be wholly carried on from the United
States, but it was sufficient if the plan was made and was to be
directed form here, and that funds were collected in this country for
carrying it out.
Mere words spoken or written, though indicative of the most determined
purpose to do the forbidden acts, would not have constituted an offense
under former section 25 of this title (now this section). Id.
The overt act is not an invasion of a foreign country, but taking the
incipient steps in the enterprise, such as providing the means for the
expedition, furnishing munitions of war or money, enlisting men, and,
in short, doing anything and everything that is necessary to the
commencement and prosecution of the enterprise.
40. Provision or preparation of means
Providing the means of transportation for a known military enterprise
to be carried on from the United States against Spanish rule in Cuba
was an offense, under former section 25 of this title (now this
Whether the master of a vessel, which took on board, from a tug off the
coast of New Jersey, 30 or 35 men, and at the same time boxes of arms
and ammunition, and then set sail for Cuba, provided or prepared the
means for a military expedition or enterprise, within former section 25
of this title (now this section), depended on whether they (not being a
military organization when they came aboard) were, with the knowledge
of the master, after coming on board, armed, and given military drill
and instruction, and put into a state of efficiency for warlike
III. PROSECUTION AND PUNISHMENT
Indictment charging that defendants planned in the United States to
foment revolution in India for benefit of German empire and against
Great Britain, charged a violation of former section 25 of this title
(now this section). Id
An indictment was insufficient, as the charge that defendants conspired
to set on foot or provide means for a military enterprise was a mere
conclusion, and it did not charge a conspiracy to do any acts which
would constitute a setting on foot of a military enterprise or a
providing of means therefor, nor was it aided by allegations as to
defendant's intention, since an attempt to destroy tunnels, etc., was
not necessarily a military enterprise, especially as it was not even
alleged that the purpose of such destruction was to prevent the
transportation of munitions of war.
That an expedition within the prohibition of former section 25 of this
title (now this section) was commenced with the knowledge and approval
of the President of the United States was no justification.
66. Burden of proof
To convict of providing means for a military expedition, etc., it must
be proved (1) that a military expedition was organized in this country,
and (2) that defendant, in the district of his trial, provided means
for it with knowledge of its character.
The mere fact that men armed with rifles and supplied with ammunition
went from the territory of the United States into that of the foreign
power was not alone sufficient to constitute a military enterprise
within the meaning of former section 25 of this title (now this
section), and there had to be some proof as to their purpose and their
It must be proved that the expedition or enterprise was in its
character military; or, in other words, that the design, the end, the
aim, and the purpose of the expedition or enterprise was some military
service, some attack or invasion of another people or country, state or
colony, as a military force.
68. Weight and sufficiency of evidence
Evidence that the vessel of which defendant was captain stopped outside
Sandy Hook, took on arms and men; that the men were drilled during the
voyage, and were secretly landed at night on the coast of Cuba–was
sufficient to justify holding the defendant for trial.
71. Harmless or prejudicial error
Where bullet ridden airplane made emergency landing at United States
military base in the Bahamas with permission of the base commander,
there was probable cause to search the airplane and search thereof
without warrant under military law denied no right of occupants of the
airplane under U.S.C.A. const. Amend. 4; in any event, any error
in admission of weapons found in the airplane at trial of defendants
for conspiracy to overthrow foreign government was harmless in light of
abundant independent v. Leon, C.A.Fla.1971, 441 F.2d 175.
§961. Strengthening armed vessel of foreign nation
Whoever, within the United States, increases or augments the force of
any ship of war, cruiser, or other armed vessel which, at the time of
her arrival within the United States, was a ship of war, or cruiser, or
armed vessel, in the service of any foreign prince or state, or of any
colony, district, or people, or belonging to the subjects or citizens
of any such prince or state, colony, district, or people, the same
being at war with any foreign prince or state, or of any colony,
district, or people, with whom the United States is at peace, by adding
to the number of the guns of such vessel, or by changing those on board
of her for huns of a larger caliber, or by adding there to any
equipment solely applicable to war, shall be fined not more than $1,000
or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
June 25, 1948, c.645,62 Stat.746.
§ 962. Arming vessel against friendly nation
Whoever, within the United States, furnishes, fits out, arms, or
attempts to furnish, fit out or arm, any vessel, with intent that such
vessel shall be employed in the service of any foreign prince, or
state, or of any colony, district, or people, to cruise, or commit
hostilities against the subjects, citizens, or property of any foreign
prince or state, or of any colony, district, or people with whom the
United States is at peace; or
Whoever issues or delivers a commission within the United States for any vessel, to the intent that she may be so employed–
Shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Every such vessel, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, together with
all materials, arms, ammunition, and stores which may have been
procured for the building and equipment thereof, shall be forfeited,
one half to the use of the informer and the other half to the use of
the United States.
June 25,1948,c.645,62 Stat.746.
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