Obama Administration

Obama Wants to Freeze CyberCriminals' Assets, Before They've Been Tried

And if you try to help any such accused cybercriminal, you are breaking the "law" too.

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This went public at the start of the month but just came to my attention this week, an extraordinary sounding criminal justice power grab via executive order from President Obama's office.

Here's the White House press release (on April 1, an unpropitious time for something that should strike anyone who believes in the integrity of the American legal system as a bad prank), and the awful details of the "Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities" order.

The order–constituting a declared "national emergency"!–is aimed at:

any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States that are reasonably likely to result in, or have materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States 

Not, you will notice, determined by a court of law in any fair judicial procedure, just determined by his own executive branch agency. And what does this order do to those people?

All property and interests in property 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or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

Total freeze-out of ability to use your money or possessions. On an executive agency determination.

And that's not all. What if you, U.S. citizen, feel some sympathy toward someone so punished by executive ukase? You too are prohibited from giving, or taking, anything to, or from, that victim:

 the making of donations…by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations….

The prohibitions….include but are not limited to:

(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

These sort of government attempts to block the flow of value in a tyrannical manner are one more reason digital currencies such at bitcoin are so important.

And it just wouldn't do before cracking down on such an accused cybercriminal to give them any warning at all, so the crackdown shall be instantaneous:

….because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

Paul Rosenzwieg at Lawfare thinks this is a great sign Obama is really serious about cybercrime. The White House's own friendly blogging about how great this order is. The New York Times seems unconcerned about the procedural issues involved, merely noting that the administration promises to be "judicious" in the use of these powers, and that:

The president's order could be a good step if it ends up freezing the American bank accounts of the shadowy hackers in places like North Korea, Russia and China who regularly mount attacks on American businesses and government agencies. But it is unclear if American investigators can reliably identify those bad guys and whether the criminals even have any assets in the United States that can be frozen.

The Electric Frontier Foundation raises concerns that this order could crush legitimate cybersecurity research by the letter of the, well, not law, but "order." They conclude: "prosecutorial (or in this case, Executive Branch) discretion, coupled with draconian penalties are not the answer to computer crime." Or any crime.

*Headline originally contained the word "all" before CyberCriminals, which was wrong whether you applied it to "assets" (as I meant) or "CyberCriminals," as the letter of the order as quoted above applies merely to those outside or "substantially" outside the U.S., whatever that means; and the assets frozen are only those in the U.S., not all assets everywhere.

NEXT: Drive-By 'Arrest' of Baltimore Protester Joseph Kent Caught Live on CNN

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  1. He said, “Cyber”! LOL!

    1. Your comment spills with historical caviar.

  2. GREATEST CIVIL LIBERTARIAN ADMINISTRATION EVER!!!!!

    1. + transparency

  3. Well yeah. Everyone is guilty until proven innocent. Take away their assets and you take away their ability to prove their innocence, practically guaranteeing a plead deal or a conviction. That’s how justice works.

    1. Oh please, like people should be able to buy their innocence.

      /prog

    2. If I resd that correctly, it takes away their ability to live, even on the charity of others. It makes them Untouchables.

      1. That’s how I read it. I wonder if us pointing that out makes us criminals.

        1. It sems to me to be the equivalent of a bill of attainder but by executive order rather than act of Congress.

  4. That’s impossible. The democrats, I’ve been told, are GREAT on civil liberties.

    1. There has to be a way to pin it on Republicans or the private sector. If we can’t do that, we’ll simply refuse to talk about it.

    2. Oh you’ve read Tony’s posts too

  5. Given that almost everything happens on computers these days, isn’t this just saying,

    “We want to skip due process for anyone we label an enemy of the state”?

    1. Geez man, they said it would only be used against terrorists. What do you have to hide?

  6. How can Obama ever be serious about cybercrime if the requires all those telecommunication backdoors. Hell, if you want to defend yourself against cybercrime using encryption you’ll be immediately outcast as a potential terrorist.

    1. Hell, if you want to defend yourself against cybercrime using encryption you’ll be immediately outcast as a potential terrorist.

      Feature, not bug, for any aspiring totalitarian.

  7. Bbbbbbuut…. We need government!!!

    Cause we need folks to blatantly violate our right, beat us up, and take our stuff so they can protect the freedoms they decide to give us…..

  8. Fuck this fascist clown in his overinflated sense of self importance.

    With a rusty Bitcoin.

  9. So, if a friend or a family member gets blocked and thus has absolutely no money to live on, and I let him sleep on my couch and raid my fridge I’ve broken the law? Seriously, I’m supposed to just let him starve in the street?

    1. Yes. Only by informing on your neighbors will you every be able to ….

      fuck it, I can’t finish this sentance. I want to throw up.

  10. This is crap. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments are clear. What the Executive Order describes is NOT due process, and a judge needs to sign off based on probable cause; this cannot be left to Executive Branch functionaries (up to and including POTUS).

    When did the President get the power to DECLARE a national emergency? He might be able to act based on a Congressional declaration of such a situation, but to do it himself is not, as I recall, a Constitutional power of the Presidency.

    From the
    Executive Order:

    “By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

    “I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the increasing prevalence and severity of malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with this threat.”

    1. “The day before yesterday I thought I was going to have to go to the extreme of decreeing a national emergency, but today I don’t think I will have to.”

      -Hugo Chavez

    2. You overlooked the FYTW clause in the Constitution which overrides everything else in said Constitution. Perhaps because it’s written in invisible ink.

      1. It was written in the hearts of all men by the flying monkies FDR threatened to pack the Supreme Court with in his successful coup against the *constitutional* government of the US.

        They rule, the constitution doesn’t. Get with the program.

    3. So, apparently, the “National Emergencies Act” gives the President the power to “find” and “declare” “national emergencies” on his own say-so. I can’t imagine that would be an appropriate thing to do, unless something happened when Congress were not in session. In that case, the President might reasonably act unilaterally, but the State of Emergency would only be temporary, until the Congress could meet to approve or rescind it.

      Like the War on Terror, this State of Emergency is open-ended. We will never be able to find, much less fight all the cyberthreats out there, and as long as they are (assumed to be) out there, the State of Emergency is theoretically “justified.”

    4. The text of the National Emergencies Act is at http://www.uhuh.com/laws/natlemer.htm. It does seem to confer upon the President the power to declare National Emergencies through Executive Order, at which point the President may exercise extraordinary powers given to him by Congress for use in National Emergencies. The Congress can meet at their leisure to terminate the Emergency, or the President can declare termination of the Emergency. But both Houses of Congress must meet every six months while an Emergency exists, to determine whether it should continue.

      Personally, I think that this is an unconstitutional delegation of authority to the President, especially as it practically invites him to declare emergencies in order to exercise “extraordinary powers” (also very likely unconstitutional), which he would not normally get to wield. This strikes me as a very bad law, and I am amazed that it was passed in the mid-1970s, when memories of Nixon’s abuses of power were still fresh and raw.

  11. Banana republic. He should just get it over with, and declare those seized assets to be his personal property by divine right.

  12. …any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to be responsible for or complicit in…

    So another disposition matrix, but only taking money not lives.

  13. I’m sure Mitch and the boys are drawing up the articles of impeachment as we speak.

    1. They’d jolly well better not be doing it with a *computer*!

  14. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

    Sentence first. Trial afterward. Off with his head.

  15. Pro bono legal representation would be disallowed.

    1. If you’re innocent, why do you need a lawyer to prove it? Only the guilty use lawyers! You may as well just confess at this point!!!

      1. Due process is not a suicide pact.

        1. Not yet.

  16. Is freezing less draconian-sounding than seizing? The results are practically the same and the consequences just as frightening.

    1. Seizing suggests they know what to do with it. Why bother when they can use their club on your head instead?

  17. ” via executive order from President Obama’s office.”

    So let it be written. So let it be done.

    Hail to the Emperor!

    1. What a great quote.

      Hail, Pharaoh, may you live forever!

  18. So, does this make it illegal to represent the victims of such an order in court, or just impossible to get paid for it?

    1. They can’t touch their own money, and no one can raise money for them to pay lawyers.

      Yeah, looks like the lawyers are pro bono.

  19. The most compassionate and legally intelligent administration evah!

    Didn’t Hillary just give a speech about the incarceration epidemic?

  20. ” cyber-enabled activities … likely to result in, or have materially contributed to, a significant threat to the … *economic health* … of the United States”

    Any tech companies that compete with US companies should expect nukes.

    1. Microsoft has contributed to significant damage, without the competition part.

  21. None of this surprises me and I expect to see much more blatant use of force the poorer the government gets.

    1. Good thing this is the Wealthiest Nation on Earth?, huh?

    2. Matt Kibbe had a nice line on this that I can only paraphrase.

      “They treat you like a milk cow now, but some day, you’ll be a beef cow.”

    3. Holder did give us a heads-up that this was coming didn’t he? When the DoJ said it’s going to ease up on asset forfeitures, you should have known asset forfeitures were about to get much worse.

    4. I think this is a response to the Kim Dot Com case where the FBI got its ass handed to it. Since they can’t handle a case properly they’re going to stack the deck so you can’t fight.

  22. ” by the letter of the, well, not law, but “order.””

    By the *commandment* of The One! Praise him with great praise!

    1. Praise Him!

  23. Do we really want a President Hillary Clinton to have this power? I don’t want ANY President to have it, but I shudder to think of what this particular person might do with it, given her track record of arrogance so far. In comparison, I think that Obama would come off as the “good cop.” 🙁

    1. “Do we really want a President Hillary Clinton to have this power? ”

      We? What you mean ‘we,’ kemosabe?

      The bad news is a lot of your neighbors wish to be ruled.

      “I don’t want ANY President to have it”

      You and your mutant freedom loving clade are an evolutionary dead end. Your blood will pave the way to the Future.

  24. “The New York Times seems unconcerned about the procedural issues involved, merely noting that the administration promises to be “judicious” in the use of these powers,…”

    Mr. President, how long do you intened to be president? Not infinity? Okay, good.

    Is there any single person alive today, a Republican, SoCon, NeoCon, Constitutionalist, Libertarian, Fascist, that you believe could concivably, theoreticaly, hypothetically, become president, and who you believe may not practice the same level of restraint?

    Are you comfortable giving THAT person the level of power you just gave yourself?

    If this power is abused by another, can we expect you to say “Oops. Probably shouldn’ta done that…”?

  25. “The New York Times seems unconcerned about the procedural issues involved, merely noting that the administration promises to be “judicious” in the use of these powers,…”

    Mr. President, how long do you intened to be president? Not infinity? Okay, good.

    Is there any single person alive today, a Republican, SoCon, NeoCon, Constitutionalist, Libertarian, Fascist, that you believe could concivably, theoreticaly, hypothetically, become president, and who you believe may not practice the same level of restraint?

    Are you comfortable giving THAT person the level of power you just gave yourself?

    If this power is abused by another, can we expect you to say “Oops. Probably shouldn’ta done that…”?

  26. What a coincidence that Obumbles is giving himself this power just about the same time that a state of emergency has been declared in Baltimore…one precipitated by the civilian authorities deliberately ordering the civilian authorities to stand down.

  27. Must be amazing to just be able to give yourself infinite power.

    Obama is a piece of shit and every prog waste of oxygen that voted for this motherfucker needs to jump off a fucking cliff.

    Fuck Obama, fuck the progs, fuck Congress for giving one man this power, fuck the SC for not using the paper this was written on to wipe their asses, and fuck the media for covering for this piece of fucking shit, cunt hair motherfucker.

    1. Is your keyboard now dripping with viking cum?

      1. Yes, yes it is. I’m channeling my inner berserker.

        1. The glimmers of horrors ripple like sun-dappled kittens crying for milk on your armored and bloody visage I confess to visualizing. These threads host priests and prophetesses and the occasional jizzing viking and all these things can be considered a sort of freedom optic.

          1. You made me laugh, thank you, I needed it.

            1. Laughter is the super drug, viking.

  28. “and I hereby”

    Uhm, fuck you motherfucker, that’s why I hereby declare.

    1. *what I hereby declare.

      1. I liked the former better. It doesn’t make sense which is an improvement on making sense.

  29. ” would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit ”

    Really? This is how they write this crap? Not even a pretense of being about the office, it’s “my”, “me”, “mine”?

    My power! My UNLIMITED Power!

    In order to ensure the security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society…

  30. FFS can’t I get a monarch I actually wouldn’t mind worshipping? Muad’Dib? Or another God Emperor:

    The Emperor of Mankind is the immortal ruling monarch of the Imperium of Man, and is described by the Imperial Ecclesiarchy and the Imperial Cult as the Father, Guardian and God of humanity. The Chaos Gods and the daemons of the Warp refer to Him as “the Anathema” for He is the greatest embodiment of universal Order in the galaxy today. He has sat immobile, his body slowly crumbling, within the Golden Throne of Terra for over 10,000 standard years. Although once a living man, His shattered, decaying body can no longer support life, and it is kept intact only by the cybernetic mechanisms of the Golden Throne and a potent mind itself sustained by the daily sacrifice of thousands of lives. The Emperor chose to sacrifice His immortal life at the end of the Horus Heresy in the service and protection of Mankind. To humanity’s countless trillions across the galaxy-spanning Imperium, He is nothing less than God. Through his Imperium, Mankind is united and remains one of the most powerful intelligent races in the Milky Way Galaxy as well as its most dominant in terms of both population and territory held. United under one government, Mankind is able to survive the myriad deadly threats it faces from aliens, the Forces of Chaos and the Traitors, Heretics and mutants that lie within the Imperium’s boundaries.

    1. Hey, at least Muad’Dim recognized that he was at least somewhat fallible.

  31. Why minarchists are still minarchists boggles the mind….. I could understand going from a deuce monocolist, to a monocolist……….but remaining a minarchist in support of the violent state is nonsensical after all the blatant FYTW and it’s inability to protect individual rights.

  32. So doing a quick read through, it seems like this Executive order outlaws setting up legal defense funds for people accused of violating this Executive Order. That seems horribly wrong.

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