The American heroes over at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) reminded us last week that:
Last July, President Bush issued a broadly-worded executive order authorizing the government to seize the assets of "any person" who threatens the stability of Iraq and, more controversially, any person who provides assistance to such a person.
How did such an order—which theoretically allows for property seizure of U.S. citizens who had no idea they were supporting someone who was supporting the destabilization of Iraq—come to be? The non-partisan Congressional Research Service last month provided an interesting legal history and analysis; the Reader's Digest version is that it began with Woodrow Wilson during wartime, got expanded by FDR during peacetime, expanded further still during FDR's war, then rolled back by the post-Watergate Congress, but in such way that allowed for a new kind of expansion, which was accomplished by the PATRIOT Act. Now, the FAS' Steven Aftergood argues, President Bush's latest derivation of the Trading With the Enemy Act "appears to be technically unlimited."
FAS here, CRS here; examples of how residents of oppressed countries often bear the brunt of such legislation here and here. And Prescott Bush's scrape with the Trading With the Enemy Act is detailed here.