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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/21/09

Can congress use the USA Patriot Act to address CEO bonuses?

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Message Mary MacElveen
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As congress acted the other night by imposing a 90 percent tax on the bonuses paid out to AIG which is an astonishing amount: there is another useful tool they could use.  A tool which is still on the books.  More on that in a bit.


Right now as the economy continues to crumble, dare I say that many citizens of this country do view these chief executives as terrorists?  I would say so.  We are seeing millions of our tax dollars paid out to these chief executives in the form of bonuses thinking they deserve it while many Americans live in abject terror.


They are terrorized not knowing if they will have a job tomorrow or have been terrorized by losing their jobs due to the reckless behavior of these CEOs and CFOs.  Their greed became the very weapon of mass destruction that exploded in all of our faces.  This weapon of greed is one that is provable and not just a lie.


As Americans continue to lose their jobs, they will go without food and food is the very sustenance of life itself.  We all need to eat in order to survive; yet many go without food as these titans of Wall Street throw lavish parties at our expense.


As these chief executives still have a place to call home, an increasing number of Americans are losing theirs.  Not knowing where one will sleep at night is sheer terror.


These terrorists do not operate in cells hidden away from any of us as terrorist cells operated by Al Qaeda.  But, they are just as sinister if you ask me and their acts of greed work against the safety and security of this nation.  Some act as if they are gods by stating these contracts cannot be voided.  In fact based upon that thinking we are affording them the very rights which have been denied alleged terrorists in this post 9/11 world.


So, here is a proposition to all of our lawmakers.  Can’t they somehow use the much vilified Patriot Act against these CEOs and CFOs?  While originally against the passage of both Patriot Acts, in this case, I would highly support the usage of any provision within it to be used against these chief executives and others who profited at our expense.


In this article, U.S. can seize assets, no conviction required, it clearly states, “Any person or group found to be planning to commit a criminal and dangerous act to coerce government policy could lose all assets, regardless of whether they actually commit the crime." under Section 806 of the USA Patriot Act.


This section of the Patriot Act allows for the government to seize any and all property.  I would say that bonuses are thought of as property of these chief executives and could very well be seized using this law.


At this point Bernard Madoff sits in the Manhattan Correctional Facility after pleading guilty to his Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $65 billion dollars.  His wife has since hired her own lawyers, most likely to protect whatever assets may have come from his scheme.  Under this provision of the Patriot Act, "A person whose property is seized under 806 also loses the right to pass property to heirs, creating what the U.S. Constitution calls "the corruption of blood." Couldn’t the U.S. Government just come in and seize whatever assets shared by both and others attached to this scheme?


If we are to think that this economic crisis is a national emergency, then please read, "Section 106 of the Patriot Act amends the 1977 law to restore the president's authority to seize property in any national emergency." That 1977 law as one reads was, “weakened under the 1977 International Emergency Powers Act, which limited it to times of war.” I would say that we are fighting a new economic war and the president and congress should use the very provisions passed within the Patriot Act to confront this domestic economic-terrorism.


As sickened as most Americans are thinking these chief executives have far superior rights and are treated with kid-gloves, take note of this, "Section 106 also reinforces the government's authority to make its case for property forfeiture in the secrecy of a judge's chambers, and without the defendant present." As you will see, there is a way of dealing with these CEOs and CFOs.


While some of you may say these CEOs and CFOs are not foreigners, please read this little beauty, "Section 106 applies only to foreign-owned property, but 806 applies to "any individual," including any American, who the government says is planning to coerce people or government policy through a criminal and dangerous act." I would say that many see these bonuses along with the bailouts as being a dangerous act which has increased our national deficit.


As many within congress are hesitant to undo these bailout deals through any claw-back provision, they already passed a law that deals with it and it is called the USA Patriot Act.


Who would have thought that one of the vilest pieces of legislation signed into law by former President Bush just may be the very tool we can use to help restore some form of fiscal sanity.  But, does any congressional leader have the temerity to use this law to address our redress of grievances?


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I am a writer who currently writes pieces for my own blog I have been published by, and I was a guest on the Jay Diamond Radio Show on WRKO in Boston and have (more...)
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