Wednesday, August 08, 2007

George Taketh, But Giveth Not

Bill of Rights? Fifth Amendment? Due process?

Your President figures neither bomb toting terrorists nor Americans need such rights. If you question him, you may well be one of those whose property should be seized without recourse.

Twenty-two days ago, George the Lesser took away everyone's rights with an executive order. In the typical Save-America! terms, he called it Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq. That reads better than say, To Hell with Individual Liberties.

The executive order is far too broad to be constitutional. This is one of those that even the legislatively constipated Senate could and must gather the 60 votes to overrule. It is a terrible precedent by itself. It specifically forbids humanitarian aid. It gives gross, arbitrary power to bureaucrats with no recourse for any of us.

If you thought the no-fly lists were totalitarian, consider this order. If "the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense" decides for any reason that you deserve it, they can take everything you own — "...all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in..."

In contrast, the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution still includes the wording " No person shall be..deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." George has told us that he and the Treasury Department determine whether you have those right, foolish American.

The ACLU's reaction was to point out in detail how this can prevent food, medicine and other life-saving necessities to get to Iraqis. We should all be concerned about the unrestricted and arbitrary power to decide who is a security risk. We have checks and balances to prevent just such paternalistic abuses of our liberties.

Although Slate published a scathing analysis, it noted that only two MSM pieces have howled about this theft of rights. The strongest is over at the San Francisco Chronicle, where editorial-page editor John Diaz lists the many flaws and risks of this second such executive order (one related to Lebanon appeared a few weeks earlier). He wrote:
The order's liberal use of the word "or" and inclusion of the highly subjective term "significant risk" are particularly troubling in the hands of a White House that has suggested that domestic war critics are emboldening U.S. enemies in Iraq.

"On its face, this is the greatest encroachment on civil liberties since the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II," said Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer who was a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration and author of an article of impeachment against President Bill Clinton.

Fein said the sanctions against suspected violators would amount to "a financial death penalty." The executive order not only calls for the freezing of assets of anyone who directly or indirectly aids our enemies in Iraq, it prohibits anyone else from providing "funds, goods or services" to a blacklisted individual. In other words, a friend or relative could have his or her assets seized for trying to help someone whose bank account is suddenly frozen. An attorney who offered legal help could risk of losing everything he or she owned.
George can claim that he only needs the tools to combat terrorism — a job at which he continues to fail miserably after many thousands of lives and billions of dollars. However, what we have seen is that he has no respect for American liberties. The very freedoms he tries to justify war and more to protect, he personally robs of us of with such orders. We don't need foreign terrorists, our own leaders can destroy us!

This is a job for Congress, while they still have the power. There are simple ways to get what he wants without stripping all of us of liberties. These executive orders cannot stand. We have never had a king running this country and this is not the time to start.

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