All Your Property Are Belong to Us

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within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,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

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  1. When I saw this on digg, I handed out one grenade each to everyone in my bar.

  2. Why do you hate America, David?

    Before answering, please provide your Bank Routing number, account number, and last four Social Security number digits.

  3. Don’t listen to matthew hogan, David. If you’re going to give your account number to anybody, give it to me. My uncle was Minister of Mines in Nigeria, and he left me a large sum that I need to move to a US bank…

  4. Maybe I have to turn in my liberary card here, but it doesn’t seem like a huge deal. If you try to materially support terrorism, they can stop it. Maybe I’m misinterpreting how broad this program is, but it doesn’t seem very far reaching.

    Someone please set me straight!

  5. Because if they’re say they’re only going to do it to the ‘Merica-hatin’ Islamonazis there’s no way any innocent American citizen could possibly be troubled under this executive order. It’s the ole “if yer not a criminal then let me search your house” argument.

    I have heard supposedly educated adults saying they would allow the gubmint to search their property and any and all records pertaining to their lives because they have nothing to hide. I didn’t even know how to respond to such blatant stupidity.

    I am so weary of the Bush presidency I could weep.

  6. brian –
    While driving by a parade last weekend, I saw a sign held by a spectator that said coming to Jebus was the way to be set straight… or something like that.
    Does that help?

  7. Jim Bob

    I have heard supposedly educated adults saying they would allow the gubmint to search their property and any and all records pertaining to their lives because they have nothing to hide

    I remember hearing about a funny social psych experiment. The experimenters knocked on peoples’ doors and asked if they could rummage through their drawers and cabinets in their house to do an inventory of what kind of products they own (allegedly for a marketing survey). I don’t remember the exact numbers, but a surprisingly large number of people said yes simply because they were asked (i think around 20%?).

    That number jumped to over 50% for people who had recently participated in a marketing survey by phone (also done by the experimenters).

    Why would so many people agree to that? People are just so naturally obedient its disgusting. Just like the Milgram experiments.

  8. Reinmoose

    brian –
    While driving by a parade last weekend, I saw a sign held by a spectator that said coming to Jebus was the way to be set straight… or something like that.
    Does that help?

    Yeah, I’ll go ask the church down the block to explain this executive order to me. Thanks for the tip!

  9. Dear Government Flak Lady,

    The only perfectly legitimate criteria for asset seizure is conviction of a crime. This isn’t ‘Nam, there are rules here.

    Love,
    Tim

  10. Given the response to Hillary’s request for pullout plan info couldn’t they techincally seize her assets now?

    Goodness that Cheney is a clever evil bastard

  11. Brian, I think we have reason to be afraid.

    “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,”

    …as determined by us with no independent or judicial review. And just like Iraq had WMDs and would welcome us as liberators, we don’t make mistakes then try to blame the victims. We have such a handle on this issue, that Chertoff goes on hunches. You better hope we don’t have a hunch about you….

    “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.”

    But a group protesting the Iraq war, or discrimination against Muslims or even a University political science professor could very easily get swept up in this. Remember, we go on hunches and paper-thin evidence.

  12. 1) I mean “criterion”

    2) This seems broad enough that anti-war groups could get caught up in it. I mean, I’m no fan of the assholes at International ANSWER, but given the Bush administration’s behavior it would not surprise me if they used this to go after political opponents.

  13. brian,

    That’s nauseating. I really can’t understand what motivates people to be so blas? about their privacy. I wonder how that experiment would turn out if participants were classified in some way- say political or religious affiliation. That’d be interesting to see.

    Here’s a question: what if the same experiment were repeated and suddenly the rummagers “found” some kind of contraband or something private- say a baggie of dope or nude pics of the wife- and the participants were threatened with prosecution or humiliation. I wonder if they’d ever let a stranger dig through their stuff ever again.

  14. brian,

    I’ve got nothing against seizing the assets of people who support terrorist groups, either.

    But would it really be that much trouble if they ran the cases by a district court judge, so somebody who doesn’t work for the president can give a look-see, and make sure he isn’t just screwing with some kid who got grabby with Jenna at the movies last week?

  15. Before I get too far off topic, I agree with joe.

  16. me engrish good

  17. I’m with joe also

  18. joe

    brian,

    I’ve got nothing against seizing the assets of people who support terrorist groups, either.

    But would it really be that much trouble if they ran the cases by a district court judge, so somebody who doesn’t work for the president can give a look-see, and make sure he isn’t just screwing with some kid who got grabby with Jenna at the movies last week?

    That sounds good.

  19. I wonder how that experiment would turn out if participants were classified in some way- say political or religious affiliation.

    They would very likely score high in tests to measure Right Wing Authoritarianism.

  20. de stijl,

    Wow. That’s kind of scary.

  21. Another pull at our fast disapearing property rights. I would be really upset about this if I wasn’t already depressed and cynical about the forfeiture laws already in place. The fact is that it is very unlikly that I or anyone reading this will ever have their assets seized for undermining the government of Iraq, whatever that means. Sadly, there is a lot greater chance that you will have your assets seized over some BS drug crime or DUI or whatever else your local nanny state has decided to use as an excuse to get the cops some new wheels. The whole idea of asset forfeiture is just bullshit. If someone is supporting terrorists in Iraq, arrest them, try them and throw them in jail. All this is is a way to grab assets without doing the work. Of course, this kind of shit has been going on for years in other areas of the law. Someone charters your plane and has a joint on board, we can’t prove you are guilty of a crime but we will still take your plane anyway by charging it with a crime. No shit, that is what the pleading say, US versus Gulf Stream number whatever.

  22. Wake me when the “libertarians” start worrying about things like this and the other things Corsi has discussed, rather than in effect supporting them.

  23. brian,

    That sounds good.

    Thanks. I totally came up with that idea myself. 😉

    John,

    The fact is that it is very unlikly that I or anyone reading this will ever have their telephone calls, mail, and email monitored by the government for assisting al Qaeda, whatever that means. Sadly, there is a lot greater chance that you will have your communications electronically monitored over some BS drug crime or DUI or whatever else your local nanny state has decided to use as an excuse to get the cops some new wheels.

  24. < phony Bush accent>Yer either fer us or agin us. Speaking out against this Exec order means yer agin us and that means yer a Terrist and your property is subject to be taken.< /phony bush accent>

  25. “The fact is that it is very unlikly that I or anyone reading this will ever have their telephone calls, mail, and email monitored by the government for assisting al Qaeda, whatever that means. Sadly, there is a lot greater chance that you will have your communications electronically monitored over some BS drug crime or DUI or whatever else your local nanny state has decided to use as an excuse to get the cops some new wheels.”

    True but they have to get a warrent for using it. Further, I would be a hell of a lot more pissed if the government took my car than I would be if they listened to my phone conversations. This is the kind of thing people should be worried about, much more so than tin foil hat worries that the NSA is listening to your calls. Every day in this country assets are seized from people who have not been convicted of the underlying crime and may never be. That is a civil rights problem and one that has been going on for years.

  26. “”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”

    But I’m not assured. Not in the slightest.

    and… ” (A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq”

    makes me think George W Peron hisself might want to start burying coffee cans of hundred dollar bills in the Rose Garden, in preparation for the day the ATM eats his card, and the waiter comes back to the table to tell him all his credit cards have been summarily cancelled.

  27. True but they have to get a warrent for using it.

    They used to assert that they didn’t, that they could spy on us without warrants as part of the President’s inherent authority. They, being you, among others.

    Yes, John, the government should have to get warrants to spy on us or take our stuff. Even if the President signs a piece of paper with the words “national security” on it. I’m glad we finally agree about that.

  28. Good link DeStijl,

    Sadly, that describes a lot of people I know on both sides of the isle.

    And, it describes nearly everyone I know that supports the drug war.

  29. “They used to assert that they didn’t, that they could spy on us without warrants as part of the President’s inherent authority. They, being you, among others.”

    Without the warrent, they couldn’t use any of the information they collect against me in court. That makes the intrusion a hell of lot less of a concern. That is why I don’t care if they do it. If turns out that they are spying on people for political reasons or for voyeristic pleasure, then hang them. If they are listening to conversation for legitimate national security reasons, then fine. The sollution to this is all of the uses of this ought to be briefed to a bi=partisian congressional committee every month. If one of the Congressman thinks it is being abused, then go public with the facts. If it is true, then go after the people responsible. If they are not telling Congress, then go after them to. But if you have real oversight to make sure that it is not being abused, I don’t have a problem with it.

  30. Hah! Doesn’t say a thing about Laos… Free Vang Pao! (And pardon and apologize to him!)

  31. TLB,

    I am not sure that the link you provided is not waco conspiracy stuff. I have a friend that is always sending me stuff about the SPP and NAU, and I don’t really know what to make of it.

    The way I see it, if we are libertarian, and we limit the power of government, we assert our individual rights. Then Mexico and Canada joining us can only be a good thing. They will also enjoy our freedoms and be prosperous. We will be stronger free-er and more prosperous.

    OTH, if we get socialized national healthcare, tax increases, and gun control. Well it won’t matter either that Mexico and Canada join us, because we will already be like them.

  32. John,

    Without the warrent, they couldn’t use any of the information they collect against me in court.

    This would be a much stronger argument if they weren’t also asserting the power to imprison people indefinitely without going to court.

    The sollution to this is all of the uses of this ought to be briefed to a bi=partisian congressional committee every month.

    I still say the courts of better. Congress is good at standing up for the popular will and the perogatives of Congress. The courts are good at standing up for adherence to the Constitution and the law. In this case, the threat is that the President’s actions will violate Constitutional principles, so like the Founders, I’d give this task to the courts.

  33. kwais,

    It would never work that way. We would turn into Mexico and Canada not the other way around. Maybe i am just a pessimist that way but I Mexico and Canada are the way they are for a reason; the people who live there like it that way. If they wanted it to be like America, they would have made it that way.

  34. If you want read more about Right Wing Authoritarianism, Bob Altemeyer’s latest book, The Authoritarians is online (PDFs).

  35. So how long will it be before Bush starts having members’ of Congress property taken. Just think about it, if they vote to pull the troops home, technically (at least with the broad definition given) they would be breaking both A and B. While it may not be “violence” per se, it would definitely have the same result. I’m betting it starts in September.

  36. This just in: Bush is going in for a colonoscopy. Guess they’re looking for his head.

  37. Finally, the search for Osama Bin Laden resumes!

  38. Bush is going in for a colonoscopy.

    And Cheney will be acting President for the time when he’s under (officially and not de facto as is the case for the rest of the time Bush is President).

  39. This sounds more like it has to do with asset freezes, not asset forfeiture, and the criterion of having committed or seem likely to commit acts of violence designed to destabilize Iraq seems to pretty clearly exclude anti-war groups.

    What’s the current federal law on asset freezes, especially in relation to war and terrorism?

    I’m a bit unsure of how bad this order actually is, though I’m disgusted by how Bush cheerfully declares most of his presidency an ongoing emergency…

  40. Executive Orders apply to government, not to citizens. Unless Congress passes federal forfeiture laws allowing such action. I doubt it would hold up in a court.

    The President can not use a EO to create a law, that is beyond his Constitutional duties. Not that Bush pays attention to it, But I bet SCOTUS will.

  41. My interpretation of this order is-“If you blow something up in Iraq, we can take your stuff” Now, while I don’t support the whole “we can take your stuff” bit in general, it’s not like this isn’t used to take the stuff of drug dealers, and anybody the police randomly decide might be a drug dealer, all the time. Protecting terrorists’ stuff is not too high on my give-a-shit list.

    Now, there was panic from lefties that they would use this to sieze property from anti-war protestors, although I think that seems extremely highly unlikely.

    It comes down to the implementation of it, I think.

    Maybe I’ve just become blind due to all the shit Bush has done over the years, that it takes a real outrage to upset me these days.

  42. Maybe I have to turn in my library card here, but it doesn’t seem like a huge deal. If you try to materially support terrorism, they can stop it. Maybe I’m misinterpreting how broad this program is, but it doesn’t seem very far reaching. Someone please set me straight!

    U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
    The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the person Attainted.

    But would it really be that much trouble if they ran the cases by a district court judge, so somebody who doesn’t work for the president can give a look-see, and make sure he isn’t just screwing with some kid who got grabby with Jenna at the movies last week?

    But that’s not the way it’s supposed to be done.

    Amendment IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    Amendment V
    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
    Amendment VI
    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
    Amendment VII
    In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
    Amendment VIII
    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    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.

    So if you get on the list, and want to hire a lawyer, he goes on the list? If you get shot during the process and need a doctor?

    In related news, Senator Lautenberg has introduced SB 1237, “To increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.”

    It allows the U.S. Attorney General to put your name on a banned-from-possessing-firearms list if you are suspected of being a “terrorist.”

    Of course you can appeal, right? Except that:

    If the person is subject to a disability under section 922(g)(10) of this title, any information which the Attorney General relied on for this determination may be withheld from the applicant if the Attorney General determines that disclosure of the information would likely compromise national security. In responding to the petition, the United States may submit, and the court may rely upon, summaries or redacted versions of documents containing information the disclosure of which the Attorney General has determined would likely compromise national security.

    Upon request of the petitioner or the court’s own motion, the court may review the full, undisclosed documents ex parte and in camera. The court shall determine whether the summaries or redacted versions, as the case may be, are fair and accurate representations of the underlying documents. The court shall not consider the full, undisclosed documents in deciding whether the Attorney General’s determination satisfies the requirements of section 922A or 922B.

  43. kwais: There’s extensive information on the topic here. In a few months, a group led by some well-connected people will be presenting Congress with the benefits of ContinentalIntegration, and next month BushCalderonAnd the guy from Canada will be meeting in that country to discuss these type of issues.

    The writing is clearly on the wall.

    This is also something that most Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans would soundly reject if they were asked.

    But, I guess sometimes the LibertarianUtopia has to be forced on people. To the Revolution!

  44. “My interpretation of this order is-‘If you blow something up in Iraq, we can take your stuff'”

    And your interpretation means about as much as monkey shit flying through the air. The only interpretation that matters is Bush’s, and he’s been known to be totally and completely wrong about a lot of stuff then blame the victim as if Bush wasn’t actually wrong.

    This is the problem that people have with the laws: they are based on good faith in implementation when good faith isn’t enough. There has to be objective standards and independent review. George W. Bush has proven that safe guards are needed if for no other reason than to protect us from the colossally incompetent.

  45. @brian->But would it really be that much trouble if they ran the cases by a district court judge, so somebody who doesn’t work for the president can give a look-see, and make sure he isn’t just screwing with some kid who got grabby with Jenna at the movies last week?

    That sounds good.

    Brian, why do you want to get grabby with Jenna Bush?

  46. John:
    Maybe i am just a pessimist that way but I Mexico and Canada are the way they are for a reason

    Las Vegas is the United States, and the United States is the world.

    Mexico and Canada are the US they just don’t know it or aren’t free to act accordingly.

  47. Does Iran or Syria have any assets in the US? Is that what this is about?

  48. You got me, LarryA. Absolutely right.

    I’ve been reduced to arguing that the administration should have enough respect for the Bill of Rights to follow the “correct” method of civil asset forfeiture.

    Gad, I need a drink.

  49. Jim Bob-

    I have heard supposedly educated adults saying they would allow the gubmint to search their property and any and all records pertaining to their lives because they have nothing to hide.

    Thank you for allowing this to happen, President Clinton

  50. During the Clinton era, the fights about financial notifications, encryption technology, and suchlike seemed pretty esoteric. Not really something I had to worry about; probably just big companies complaining about regulations they didn’t like.

    This web site has definitely opened my eyes in that area.

  51. “They would very likely score high in tests to measure Right Wing Authoritarianism.”

    Man, what left-wing bull shit that one is.

  52. The language of the order sounds suspiciously like a Bill of Attainder, except that 1) it is left to minions to determine the specific names on the list; and 2) it is an order WITH THE FORCE OF LAW, but not actual legislation (which would be prohibited by the Constitution).

    If the President issues an order that looks like a law and acts like a law, is that order not subject to the restraints imposed upon Congress concerning true laws? That is to say, can “legislation via exec order” cover more situations than true Congressional legislation might?

  53. “They would very likely score high in tests to measure Right Wing Authoritarianism.”

    Man, what left-wing bull shit that one is.

    Please RTFL. RWA is not about conservative or liberal political ideologies, but behaviors and attitudes that relate to the perceived authority. Communists can be RWAs, and in fact, they often are.

  54. Why would so many people agree to that?

    Um… because they don’t care? Isn’t it possible that you are confusing apathy with obedience? If there are days when I couldn’t possibly give a damn if a stranger would like to see what’s in my pantry, how does that make me a rube?

    It’s not the same as someone forcing their way in.

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