All Your Property Are Belong to Us


This White House executive order has spooked people all over the web, most recently on Fark. For all the world it sounds like the executive branch is punching holes in the Fifth Amendment.

[A]ll 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come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) 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 whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(iii) 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.

TPMMuckraker's Spencer Ackerman has been dogging the White House about this, and in his latest update the Treasury Department assures him the order simply expedites the government's war on terrorist finances:

While some civil libertarians have raised questions about the broadness of the executive order, Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise says it lists a "perfectly legitimate" set of criteria for asset seizure, and that U.S. persons shouldn't fear designation by the order if they aren't supporting insurgent organizations. "Be assured that the individuals and entities we add to this list are in full faith acting in an aggressive, violent and reckless way in financing the insurgency," she says "These things are strongly vetted, going layers and layers back. (A group) donating money to orphans getting swept up in this doesn't seem to be a valid concern."

Millerwise adds that the language of the executive order was an "interagency effort," and that it "falls in line with the language found in these types of executive orders"—a point disputed by the University of Wisconsin's Ken Meyer, an executive-order expert, who says that "this has the kind of things that jump out" in terms of broad executive discretion.

Kind of, yeah.