Theft of Surplus Y Wing Bombers

The Star Wars Rebels season three premier episode, “Steps Into Shadow,” told a thrilling adventure about government surplus disposal. Yes, Kanan also met the Bendu, voiced by the legendary Tom Baker. The 4th Doctor now joins David Tennant as the second Doctor Who alumnus to appear on a Star Wars animated series (Tennant played the droid Huyang on the Clone Wars).

The story focused on Ezra leading a team to investigate Y Wing bombers from the Clone Wars being scrapped by the Empire. The mission quickly turned from one of reconnaissance to recovery, as the Y Wings were being destroyed in a massive shipyard.

By way of comparison, but in no way comparing the United States to the Galactic Empire, government surplus disposition is handled by the General Services Administration (GSA). 40 U.S.C. § 542. The Empire had a form of either allowing allies to purchase new or surplus Tie Fighters, as evidenced from the Mining Guild using yellow modified Tie Fighters. If the Empire had a GSA, the system for purchasing surplus Tie Fighters could have included simply making a contract for the ships. The US GSA can only authorize a contract for disposal of property after public advertising for bids on the surplus property. 40 U.S.C. § 545(a)(1). It is unlikely the Empire required public bidding for the Mining Guild and probably sold the Tie Fighters directly.

The Y Wings would have been government surplus of the Republic. The Empire as the successor-in-interest of the Republic would have been within their rights to control how the disposition of the surplus military bombers. Given the nature of the Empire, destroying old bombers so they would not fall into the hands of the Rebels made sense.

In the United States, it is a crime to steal government property. 18 U.S.C. § 641. The punishment for theft of government property is not more than ten years in prison. Id. Stealing a dozen Y Wings by an armed insurrection would warrant criminal prosecution, if the Empire were a legitimate government. As the Empire appears to prosecute all crimes as treason, punishable by death or being sent to the Spice Mines of Kessel, the Empire is clearly as fascist regime.

The Rebels have valid reasons to fight the Empire. Emperor Palpatine came to power through fraud with a faux war designed to erode civil rights in order to create a military state. Case in point was the revelation that Grand Admiral Thrawn was promoted after the Battle of Batonn, where insurrection was crushed at the expense of more civilian causalities then Rebel. A government that rewards war crimes is one that invites rebellion. While the theft of government surplus is a crime, the civil war to restore liberty is justified on Star Wars Rebels. Ezra just needs to avoid turning into Snoke.

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