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Executive Order Overturns US Fifth Amendment 853

Posted by kdawson
from the deprived-of-life-liberty-or-property-without-due-process-of-law dept.
RalphTWaP writes "Tuesday, there wasn't even a fuss. Wednesday, the world was a little different. By executive order, the Secretary of the Treasury may now seize the property of any person who undermines efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq. The Secretary may make his determination in secret and after the fact." There hasn't been much media notice of this; the UK's Guardian has an article explaining how the new authority will only be used to go after terrorists.
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Executive Order Overturns US Fifth Amendment

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  • Hello! (Score:5, Funny)

    by fredrated (639554) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:07PM (#19916389) Journal
    America! Are you still there?
    • Re:Hello! (Score:4, Funny)

      by tool462 (677306) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:23PM (#19918469)
      The Secretary of the Treasury has determined that Americans (well, ~70% of them anyway) are attempting to undermine the economic and political reformation in Iraq. As a result, America has been seized. Thank you, and have a nice day.
  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:07PM (#19916395) Homepage Journal

    Here's the short version with a lot of legalese stripped out:

    All property and interests in property of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.

    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 these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made.

    Yes, there is a bunch of other stuff in there, but I don't see anything stopping the Secretary of the Treasury from using this for political purposes. If you go to an anti-war demonstration, you just might be undermining efforts to promote political reform in Iraq (as defined by the Bush administration).

    Just for the sake of argument, let's say that you're a die-hard Republican George Bush fan, and you honestly think that this would never be used for such blatant political purposes. Would you say the same thing about Hillary Clinton, who stands a very good chance of being elected in 2008? Because guess what. She's going to have the same powers when she takes office.

    People who support the creation of this kind of crap based on their trust of the Guy (or Gal) In Charge right now, whether that person is a Democrat, Republican, or whatever, are idiots. You should never ask yourself what something like this will be used for, you should ask yourself what it can be used for, and then imagine that the politician you hate the most holding the reigns. Then, and only then, can you decide whether a law, executive order, or whatever is good or bad.

    • by inKubus (199753) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:19PM (#19916685) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, at first I thought it applied only to stuff IN IRAQ. But it is about the United States. It's about HERE. Bascially it says that anyone who is "undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq" can have their assets frozen. Naturally, the "war" in Iraq is one of those efforts. So if you try to "undermine" it, which could mean protest, or could mean physically blocking it, they can freeze your assets. This is likely to be tested in court, and likely to procede to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, any threat will be neutralized. It's the classic time gambit. You can get a lot done breaking the law if you have 5 or 10 years before any judgement will be made on your actions. I've always thought the executive order was far to broad. It would be a good power if used for good and not evil, but when you are corrupt (documented corrupt, such as those videos of Bush addressing the rich people) the power has the ability to destroy freedom. We're paying the price for complacency.

      People, please donate to the ACLU [aclu.org]. Put your money where your mouth is, and give it to the people whose job it is to question this stuff full time.

    • by ecklesweb (713901) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:24PM (#19916767)
      You left out a significant bit, when I've reinserted with emphasis:

      any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.

      Your anti-war demonstration scenario is only going to get your property frozen if it's a violent demonstration.

      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:59PM (#19917463)

        Your anti-war demonstration scenario is only going to get your property frozen if it's a violent demonstration.


        Or, rather, if executive branch officials without outside review decide that your demonstration suggests some potential future inclination toward violence.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Peter Trepan (572016)

        Your anti-war demonstration scenario is only going to get your property frozen if it's a violent demonstration.

        If only one person in a thousand is the type who gets violent at a demonstration, and your demonstration has five-thousand people, your demonstration will probably contain violence. Then you are the ringleader of a violent demonstration with the aim of destabilizing Iraq (by bringing the troops home, for instance.) Then anyone who has donated to your PAC is guilty of providing financial support

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lena_10326 (1100441)
        You can be arrested for assault if you gently place the tip of your index finger on a police officer. And, any type of assault is violence as far as the government is concerned.

        You can also be charged with assault if an officer trips over his clumsy feet, falls down, and hits his head while pursuing you, trying to apprehend you, or forcing you to leave the scene. You could very well be in the right, but if the officer gets hurt while dealing with you, you will be charged with assault.

      • by Mojojojo Monkey Inc. (174471) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @02:25PM (#19917885)
        Since legalese can be difficult to decipher, I'll give you a break on this one. Keep reading, and note the parts that use the word "or". Here, I've re-reinserted it with another emphasis.

        any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq *or* undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.


        Since that clause includes multiple uses or "or", any one of those conditions can cause you to get screwed, since the language is so purposely vague. That would include donating money or items to a charity that the US Gov't labels as an organization that undermines economic reconstruction or political reform in Iraq. Or, even just giving "emotional support" to such organizations through your words on a blog or on Slashdot.
    • by Irvu (248207) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:31PM (#19916909)
      See this part:

      Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, 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 these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.


      In this section the President specifically states that he is aware that the U.S. Citizens affected by this may have Constitutional rights that this order violates. However, because of the ongoing (6+ years now) "National Emergency" said rights are nullified in the interests of efficiency.

      So basically what he's doing is selectivly removing consitutional rights by executive order because the present circumstances, in his opinion alone, demand it.

      He's explicitly and clearly attacking our rights because he says that he feels its necessary, no oversight, no checks, no balances, nothing.

      If this is accepted it means that any president at any time can strip legal rights from U.S. Citizens, even if those rights are literally embedded in the Constitution just because he wants to. This means that the rule of law, the rule of the Constitution, is null and void.

      And in this part:

      Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken.


      They explicitly grant themselves the right to expand this power to anyone else they wish to. That is, the proactive seizure could be handed over to the DEA, the IRS, the ATF, etc if they feel necessary. No future executive order, no public record, will be necessary. Anyone up for proactive seizure of property because you may have cheated on your taxes? Keep in mind that the no fly list includes a large number of people who have committed the crime of having the same or similar sounding names as 'bad' people and no mechanism exists to get them removed from the list. How'd you like to have your house and money taken because you look kind of like a bad person only to have no means of picking back up because that's someone else's department?

      What to do:
      1. Contact your House Rep [house.gov]
      2. Contact your Senator [senate.gov]
      3. Forward this article to your local paper.
      4. Send it to your local radio station, especially any drive-time station.
      5. And forward this to your local TV station, and national stations.
      6. Write clear and concise e-mails about how bad this is to your friends and family urging them to do the same.


      In all cases make it clear why you oppose this and why it is fundamentally wrong. It isn't a guarantee that they will rethink it but unless this stuff is exposed, discussed, and ultimately attacked then nothing will happen. And it won't be unless we spread this off /..

      Democracy dies when noone is looking.
      • by Irvu (248207) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:55PM (#19917397)
        Below is a sample letter to your House Rep and Senators. Feel free to take it, rewrite it as desired and to send it in. Also try to keep it concise. They like short letters. When sending it the best way is to actually fax it to their D.C. offices (you will need to call for the fax number probably) or so mail it to one of the local regional offices for forwarding. Mail sent directly to D.C. is first sent out to Maryland to be irradiated and usually arrives several weeks late.

        Sample Letter:
        Dear (Congressman|Senator) X.

        I am writing to you today regarding A recent Executive Order signed on the 17th by President Bush. Said order entitled: "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq" represents a blatant violation of the rule of law. And an assault on our Constitution.

        Section 5 of the order states:

        Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, 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 these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.


        That is, in the President's determination alone it would be too hard or too slow to actually follow due process. Therefore he has determined that it is unnecessary to follow constitutional law.

        This is a very very dangerous precedent. If accepted it would allow any President to simply turn off or ignore selected portions of the Constitution if, in their opinion alone, it is necessary. No oversight from Congress, No Judicial review, nothing. In this case the President himself declared a state of emergency and now is selectively eliminating portions of the Constitution because of that Emergency. Congress you'll note, was not consulted, neither was the Judiciary. Most importantly, neither were the American People.

        While the President states that this is only intended for Terrorists, that is not a long-term guarantee. We have already seen PATRIOT act powers used in Tax cases that have nothing to do with terrorism and this order, if accepted would pave the way for many more of its kind. If, for example the IRS found seizure of property too difficult via the courts then they could argue, along the lines of this order that in order for them to be 'effective' they need to proactively seize the belongings of accused violators.

        This Order cannot be allowed to stand. It violates the basic structures set forth in the Constitution, a document that both you and the President are sworn to uphold and defend. I refuse to sacrifice our own rule of law, our own basic structures for the sake of "effectiveness".

        We cannot allow the Constitution of the United States to simply be declared "Ineffective" and tossed out with the trash.

        Sincerely,

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @02:15PM (#19917729) Journal
      Here's the part everyone misses (emphasized):

      Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, 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: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

      First off, the IEEPA. read it [wikipedia.org], because that's the limit, safety-valve, maximum, etc. ( the unabridged version is here [treas.gov] (PDF format). It says, in a nutshell, that:

      1. there is an annual renewal period after the first 12 months, by Congress. This wee presidential order is by nature restricted to that as well.
      2. It can be terminated by Congressional legislation at any time
      3. There is a list of people which you're not allowed to do biz with (the Wikipedia link shows the current list). If you do biz with those folks under stated conditions, you get your funds seized... not because "they don't like your politics" or other such happy hyperventilated horse excrement. They have to prove you're doing business with someone on that list.

      So can we shut down the klaxons now? Or at least show me where (specifically) I may have produced an error (with proof, please).

      /P

      • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:26PM (#19918519) Homepage Journal

        Read it again.

        You're not in error, you're simply not reading it from the perspective of what the power claimed in the Executive Order can be used for. The stuff you talk about in item #3 in your list isn't a limitation on that power, and the Executive Order is expanding it.

        Also, let's say that Congress does repeal IEEP. That means that the few limits on the power (items of non-value, CD's, microfiches, etc.) would be wiped out, and it would give the President the power to pretty much do whatever he (or she) wants. That's what the IEEP was passed in the first place, to say that the power isn't without limit.

        Of course, this administration doesn't recognize any limits on its power. When it does run up against a legal wall, it simply ignores the wall and does whatever it wants to anyway. Like I said, if you trust these guys, I think you're a bit naive and I obviously disagree with your assessment of their character. But more importantly, you're also setting the precedent that whomever is in office next (likely one of those evil liberal Democrats) will have the same powers.

        If that's okay with you, then sure, go ahead and ignore the klaxons. It's not so okay with me, though.

  • Sounds like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:08PM (#19916407)
    Sounds like we should seize a certain ranch in Crawford, Texas if we're going after people who are "threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq" (Section 4.1.a of the order)
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:08PM (#19916409) Journal
    "The new authority will only be used to go after terrorists..."

    Uh-huh. And the FBI isn't going to spy on ordinary Americans.

    Where's the outrage?
  • by raitchison (734047) <robert@aitchison.org> on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:08PM (#19916417) Homepage Journal

    This isn't about seizure of anything, it's about freezing of assets, something that has been going of for who knows how long (possibly since the 18th century)

  • Except (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lazyl (619939) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:09PM (#19916451)
    the new authority will only be used to go after terrorists.

    Ofcourse, who is and who isn't a terrorist will be determined by the Secretary in secret after the fact.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:09PM (#19916455)
    with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003
    • MOD UP (Score:3, Interesting)

      May be an AC but I don't think many Americans knew that we were officially in a "State of Emergency".

      Even if we mod the parent up, though, I don't hold much hope that many Americans will spend more than a few moments thinking about what that really means.
      • Re:MOD UP (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Petrushka (815171) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @06:01PM (#19920121)

        I wonder how many people commenting here are aware of the nature of this "emergency". Here's a WP article on it [wikipedia.org] that gives the full text of the executive order declaring the emergency. The neutrality of the WP article is "disputed", but here are the salient bits of Executive Order 13303:

        I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that the threat of attachment or other judicial process against the Development Fund for Iraq, Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein, and proceeds, obligations, or any financial instruments of any nature whatsoever arising from or related to the sale or marketing thereof, and interests therein, obstructs the orderly reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and security in the country, and the development of political, administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq. This situation constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

        I hereby order:

        Section 1

        Unless licensed or otherwise authorized pursuant to this order, any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process is prohibited, and shall be deemed null and void, with respect to the following:

        (a) the Development Fund for Iraq, and (b) all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein, and proceeds, obligations, or any financial instruments of any nature whatsoever arising from or related to the sale or marketing thereof, and interests therein, in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest, 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.

        So, yes, the reason the fifth amendment has been overturned is for the express purpose of immunising U.S. oil companies against any legal action relating to anything they choose to do in Iraq.

  • Uh Huh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CWRUisTakingMyMoney (939585) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:10PM (#19916471)
    "...the new authority will only be used to go after terrorists."

    Right, until they redefine "terrorist." Or change the rules. Or just break the rules they have, and then label anyone who calls them out on it as "un-American." This sucks; Something's gotta give eventually, right?
  • by Ravenscall (12240) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:10PM (#19916475)
    I wonder if this will be seen as a tipping point when historians will look back at how the United States became a fascist nation, or if it will be seen as just part of the slow decline that began with the Johnson administration.
  • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:12PM (#19916511) Journal

    Sad to say.

    The root password on the U. S. Constitution is "The Global War on $SUBJECT"

  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:25PM (#19916803) Journal
    I hate to say it but what did you expect?

    Allow a government to get away with as much shit as this current Bush administration has been allowed to, from Guantanamo Bay onwards, and this is what you get.

    I guarantee you that if people had kicked up more of a fuss about the rights of POWs (they're POWs, denying that they're POWs and calling them detainees is just an easy way to avoid giving them basic rights) at Gitmo then you wouldn't be seeing stuff like this today.

    Right now, the winners in the "War on Terror" are Al Qaeda (they have what they wanted: open conflict with the West) and oil companies. The losers are average citizens, not just in the West but in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the occupied territories, etc.

    It's not too late to change things. But it probably is too late to leave it to others and just hope for the best. Get out the pen, get out the paper and write to your representatives. It's your government, so take it back.
  • just shoot me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by planckscale (579258) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:30PM (#19916885) Journal
    Listen Dick (I'd say George but we know who's written this crap), if you're going to arrest me, intern me, drain my bank account, plus confiscate my computers, auction my house and impound my car, instead of going through all that trouble, take that carbine off "safe" and put one through my gray matter. I mean really, it's a lot cheaper in the long run right? And this is what it's all about right? Money. Don't waste your time on lawyers, courts, health care, facilities, and food, just dig a big pit and bury me. What the hell, bullets cost money too, just cuff me and bury me alive! Then again, what the hell, don't even bother with me. Just tax the shit out of my paycheck, tax me for anything and everything, then send my job overseas, send me a monthly pittance, close the supermarkets (like in Detroit), and starve me to death. Because after all, we're not people just like you, we're unmotivated slime that can't cut it in the new world economy. So hey, if it makes you feel better, and you want to put it in writing go ahead and make it legal. Just remember, a hungry mob is an angry mob.

  • Fourth Amendment (Score:5, Informative)

    by Belacgod (1103921) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:30PM (#19916891)
    Not the Fifth. The Fourth. These are unreasonable searches and seizures, not efforts at self-incrimination.
  • As a law student... (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjwaste (780063) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:40PM (#19917085)
    I feel obligated to reply.

    An executive order has absolutely no precedence over established law. I'm pretty sure it was in Youngstown Sheet & Tube (343 U.S. 579 if anyone wants to read it), it was Justice Frankfurter who said it in his concurrence that the executive, when issuing an order, operates in one of three potential spheres of power.

    The first is when the order is complimentary to legislative intent, that is, Congress has already passed law(s) that further an objective and the executive order is in agreement with that. The executive order is in good standing here.

    The second is an executive order upon an issue which Congress is silent. Absent congressional intent for or against, the executive order is valid law. This remainds until the order is rescinded or overruled.

    The last is an executive order that is contrary to the law as passed by Congress. In this case, the executive order is not valid law.

    So the headline here is quite misleading. The President can issue any executive order he or she wishes, but that does not make it valid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PhxBlue (562201)
      What part of whether the executive order is valid or invalid do you think will impact the executive branch's decision to enforce it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Control Group (105494) *
      As a practical matter, though, it is valid until a court says otherwise, since the Dept. of the Treasury will treat it as valid, and so will your bank.

      And as long as it's only used against legitimate threats, courts will be reluctant to declare it invalid, since that will also mean letting some scumbag off. And the more often it's wielded successfully, the more validity it accrues through precedent. Of course it is always possible, no matter how long this has gone on, for a court to strike it down on Consti
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @01:42PM (#19917133) Homepage
    First, the President of the United States does not have any magical "executive order" powers that make new laws or grant new powers. An "executive order" is given by the president to one of his cabinet members. It is just the same as your boss telling you to do something. If you don't do it, or don't do it well, you will be fired.

    Unfortuntaely, somebody didn't tell this to George Bush. Reading the order you can see that he really thinks that he can tell the Treasury department to seize people's money. It's surreal to see this, because I really think that the guy just doesn't know that he doesn't have this power. And it's weirder because people seem to pretend like he does, and actually follow them. Indirectly, I guess that means he does have the power. It's very weird.

    What would help, is if people (including the press) would stop acknowledging them as "executive orders" because they aren't. Call them "strongly worded requests" or "presidential demands" or something. George Bush writing this has no more relevance than if I wrote it. The press should be making him a laughing stock.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @02:04PM (#19917561) Homepage

    By executive order, the Secretary of the Treasury may now seize the property of any person who undermines efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq

    So, would that include:
    • anti-war demonstrators
    • Democrats
    • Republicans who no longer agree with Bush
    • anyone who disagrees with his policies

    I mean, in the irrational world view of Bush et al, you're either WITH us, or you're FOR the terrorists.

    Does thinking that George W. Bush is a criminal, an idiot, an asshole, a thief, and someone who has overstepped his authority both domestically and on the world stage qualify you as someone who seeks to "undermine efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq"?

    How about espousing the point of view that most of the US benchmarks for success in Iraq are hinged upon the Iraqi government passing laws that make it favorable for US oil companies to extract the Iraqi oil reserves for huge profit?

    While history will recognize him for what he is, it'll be too fscking late to fix all of the damage he'll have done.

    I hope that this gets legally fixed, but I fear it won't. The current administration feels they can do anything they want to and that the parts of the Constitution which say that they can't don't apply to them. Because, really, the POTUS doesn't have the authority to override sections of the Constitution, no matter what he thinks.

    If anything, Bush and Gonzales should be hung for treason.
  • by Goobermunch (771199) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @02:08PM (#19917639)
    For those folks having a hard time connecting this to the Fifth Amendment, I provide the following:

    The text of the Fifth Amendment:

    "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."

    The part that the submitter is focused on is: "nor shall any person . . . be deprived of . . . property[] without due process of law."

    The question presented is whether a determination by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense is sufficient process to support such a deprivation. Odds are, it's not. At a minimum, constitutional due process requires notice and an opportunity to be heard (though notice may be given ex post facto in the case of an emergency). As this executive order stands, there is no opportunity for an individual whose property has been seized to challenge the seizure. In fact, there's no procedure for such a hearing to occur.

    That's the Fifth Amendment Issue implicated by the Executive Order.

    --G
  • by posterlogo (943853) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @02:16PM (#19917749)
    ...it's completely INVALID (no "executive order" can overrule established law, let alone the bill of rights). What I can't figure out is why is the administration even bothering with this? Where the rights of US citizens are concerned, if the SecTres were to actually seize (or freeze) the assets of a citizen without a court order, dozens of legal organizations would leap at the chance to take it all the way to the supreme court. Although I don't agree with most of the supreme court's recent decisions, I think that if they really are as strict at interpreting the constitution as they claim to be, there is no way this would pass as constitutional. Although, Scalito and Roberts seem to be deferring to executive priveledge at every opportunity, so it is still sort of frightening nonetheless. My guess is this will be narrowly targeted towards non-citizens, either resident aliens or visa holders, who are associated with Islamic charities. It is already illegal to contribute to terrorism, but now the government can act without any evidence at all.


    ---
    Welcome to another edition of... Smells Like Republicans!
    the Orwellian Special!

  • by oohshiny (998054) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:14PM (#19918297)
    People like to talk about "freezing the assets of terrorists" or "people who support insurgents". Who could object to that? Why wouldn't you want to freeze the assets of terrorists or people who support insurgents? I certainly support that.

    The problem is that this debate is framed incorrectly. What legislation like this is really about is giving the executive branch the power to simply declare that someone is a terrorist or supports insurgents, without due process and without benefit of a trial.

    So, what the administration really wants is the power to determine unilaterally, without meaningful legal oversight or possibility for redress, to deprive citizens of property and possibly liberty.

    Republicans: you're always complaining about bureaucracy and intrusive government. You're seeing the most intrusive government being created by your party. Worse, you're destroying the foundations on which this country was founded, the separation of powers. It would be wrong to call this "unprecendented" (after all, the US Constitution co-existed happily with slavery and racial inequality for many years), but you are moving in the wrong direction. Reign in your party, and deliver what you promise: smaller, less intrusive government. Strengthen the separation of powers, reduce government expenses (starting with the military), get government out of our bedrooms, and get the church out of government.
  • Legal Analysis (Score:5, Informative)

    by uncreativeslashnick (1130315) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:22PM (#19918449)
    An attorney's perspective: I have no doubt that at some point the US Supreme court will examine this order and declare that it violates the 5th amendment.

    As others have pointed out, an executive order is not a law, it is merely a directive to an agency of the executive branch. The President has the right to tell the Treasury Department, which is a part of the executive branch, to do whatever he believes is consistent with the Constitution and the law. But the Supreme Court ultimately gets to decide if what the executive branch does is consistent with the Constitution.

    The Fifth Amendment provides, "No person shall ...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." Due process is pretty straightforward - its some means or method for an accused person to dispute the charges. It doesn't have to be via a judge and jury, and can be something as simple as a committee appeal process. But, before the government, ie the President or the Treasury Dept, can seize a citizen's assets, they have to provide that citizen due process. I see nowhere in this executive order where it accords a citizen due process before his assets are seized. It appears to be blatantly unconstitutional.

    Here's how it will happen: the treasury department will seize someone's assets, that someone will get an attorney and sue the US government, the case will go to the supreme court, and the supreme court will strike down the executive order.

    Keep in mind the 5th amendment doesn't apply to non-citizens living outside the United States, but it might arguably be applied to non-citizens with assets here. Remeber, the 5th amendement says, "No person" not "No citizen". Constitutional rights have been afforded to legal aliens residing in the United States by the Supreme Court before. I'm not sure the Supreme Court would extend those rights to people who don't live here and don't have assets here, though, because that would be a matter of foreign policy beyond the purview of the Supreme Court, arguably.
  • Two Words (Score:4, Informative)

    by dmadole (528015) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:20PM (#19922807)
    Ron Paul [ronpaul2008.com]

Is a person who blows up banks an econoclast?

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