We! #27 Wednesday, 25 July 2007 Publisher: Ron McBride
Editor: Norla Antinoro Assistant: Edward Pickersgill
By Executive Order, You are Hereby....
If you oppose the administration, keep some cash handy and hidden
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
The President issued another executive order last week, one of many. This one didn’t seem too odd: it was entitled “Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq”
The impetus was that anyone who “by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people” can have their assets frozen. Anyone donating to such can also have all their assets frozen. This includes anyone in the United States, and any organization or legal entity organized under the laws of the United States. What’s more, they can freeze your assets, and then tell you you are suspected of something.
There was a time when such measures might have seemed pretty draconian, especially since this isn’t the same nation-threatening world war in which Putsch’s grandaddy Prescott Bush got popped under the Trading with the Enemy Act. It seems a bit much for a failed third-rate occupation of a country that wasn’t a terrorist threat prior to the American invasion. Especially in light of the fact that it’s clear to a large majority of Americans that the occupation has failed and needs to end, now.
It’s also redundant, since this was already existing law under Patriot I, Patriot II and Just Send Your Kids In for Indoctrination Laws. It’s supposed to be an anti-terror measure, but there’s precious little evidence that it had stopped terror of any kind, let alone the Resistance in Iraq. It’s pretty unlikely that “persons in the United States” are making any significant contribution to the Resistance, and it’s probably less of a factor than Putsch’s idiotic “Tell them to bring it on” boast shortly after the invasion.
Here’s the part that makes this one special: “The order further authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, to designate for blocking those persons determined to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person designated pursuant to this order, or to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.”
Now, you may have noticed that the phrasing of it doesn’t require any sort of investigation by intelligence or police agencies. I have the entire thing below, and if you read through it, you’ll discover that that isn’t mentioned anywhere. Nor is arrest, charges, or conviction. None of that pertains.
The only people mentioned when it comes to determining guilt and punishment are the Secretary of Treasury (that would be Henry Merritt "Hank" Paulson Jr., possibly the most decent person in Putsch’s cabinet, but no expert on due process or terrorism), the Secretary of Defense (Robert Gates, who at least has the distinction of Not Being Donald Rumsfeld but not much else) and the Secretary of State (that would be …. hold on, now, it’ll come to me ….. let’s see. Second black person. Second woman. Second rater. Darn. Can’t think of it. Well, I’m sure it’s somebody who would never, ever use her office for partisan gain, or to intimidate political opponents.)
That’s it. Hank Paulson, Bob Gates, Condoleezza Rice. They get to decide if someone is advocating violence on behalf of the Resistance, or donating to someone who is. Or might be. They get to determine THAT, too.
No small group has had that sort of unaccountable power at any time during the nation’s history. Not even during the times of greatest crisis, when the English burned Washington in the war of 1812, or the south was winning during the early days of the Civil War, or everyone expected a Japanese invasion of California at any time now in 1942. Freedom may have faltered during those massive, grave crises, but nothing like the draconian measure Putsch just signed to try to protect his already-failed occupation.
Three members of Putsch’s cabinet get to determine if you are innocent or guilty, and freeze all your bank accounts and credit cards and all your assets while they mull it over. There is no mechanism for turning it over to investigative agencies, no mechanism for due process, no mechanism for appeal.
Will such a power get misused?
Put it this way: in Patriot Act II, there was a little-noticed provision that allowed the President to appoint mid-term US attorneys for indefinite periods upon the resignation or firing of any US attorney. Prior to that, the Senate had to hold hearings on a replacement attorney.
The Republicans like to spin it that the President has always had the power to fire US Attorneys, and so he has. But up until now, the Senate had public hearings. This made it nearly impossible for a president to fire a bunch of attorneys and replace them with partisan hacks who could, oh, say, interfere with elections by bringing bogus election fraud charges against the candidate for the opposing party. This gave presidents no incentive to fire attorneys, and prior to the change in the law, they seldom did, and in almost all cases, there was actual malfeasance or incompetence going on with the individual who got fired.
Sure, Putsch didn’t abuse his new found power. The fact that he promptly fired more attorneys in mid term than seven of his predecessors in the Oval Office combined is just pure coincidence. And you can depend on pure coincidence to keep you safe from the three cabinet ministers who can now destroy your life on a whim.