When the United States is at war or Congress has enacted a specific authorization for the use of the Armed Forces, as described in section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(b)), the running of any statute of limitations applicable to any offense (1) involving fraud or attempted fraud against the United States or any agency thereof in any manner, whether by conspiracy or not, or (2) committed in connection with the acquisition, care, handling, custody, control or disposition of any real or personal property of the United States, or (3) committed in connection with the negotiation, procurement, award, performance, payment for, interim financing, cancelation, or other termination or settlement, of any contract, subcontract, or purchase order which is connected with or related to the prosecution of the war or directly connected with or related to the authorized use of the Armed Forces, or with any disposition of termination inventory by any war contractor or Government agency, shall be suspended until 5 years after the termination of hostilities as proclaimed by a Presidential proclamation, with notice to Congress, or by a concurrent resolution of Congress.I have highlighted the portion upon which the Government is apparently relying.
Definitions of terms in section 103 of Title 41 shall apply to similar terms used in this section. For purposes of applying such definitions in this section, the term "war" includes a specific authorization for the use of the Armed Forces, as described in section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(b)).
I had not heard that the Government was doing that and have not researched the issue. The concern, of course, is that the statute of limitations is suspended on tax crimes as well as other crimes involving fraud or attempted fraud against the U.S. If any reader has any thoughts on this, I would appreciate hearing about it either as a comment to the blog or by separate email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will post follow-through information as I learn it.
Update on 1/30/10: See Erin M. Brown, Note: The Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act, the Wartime Enforcement of Fraud Act, and the War on Terror, 85 Notre Dame L. Rev. 313 (2009), here. I think that the analysis and sources in the article will give ammunitiion to those who want to argue that plain vanilla tax crimes unrelated to the war effort should not be within the scope of 18 USC Section 3287.