"The odds of us still having a republic in anything but name only by January 2009 grows more remote every day."
That's Nightshift at Shakesville, writing about this peachy new executive order released by the White House last week. Like him, I can't understand why the news media aren't calling more attention to this, unless it's simply fear. Nightshift's analysis is better than anything I could do, so let me quote it:
Under this order, the Executive Branch can ’starve out’ a person by completely freezing their [economic] assets, without trial, without the need to present evidence, and without appeal. The Treasury Secretary has sole discretion to determine who is in violation of this order, in ‘consultation’ with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. That last part is verbiage; Treasury has the power per this order. Even better, the Secretary of Treasury has the explicit authority to delegate this decision to any flunky or flunkies of his choice per Sec. 6. This order applies to all persons within the United States. If Treasury declares that a person is a ‘SIGNIFICANT RISK’ to commit violence in Iraq, or a ‘SIGNIFICANT RISK’ to support violence in Iraq in any way, or to have assisted in any way a person who is a ‘SIGNIFICANT RISK’ to do so, all their assets are to be immediately frozen.
It is a further violation of the order to make a donation to such a person whose assets have been frozen. (I was being literal when I said ’starve’ them. Such a person would have no legal means of acquiring food, clothing, or shelter. They couldn’t buy it with frozen assets, nor accept it as a gift, and stealing is already illegal.)
Furthermore, those assets can be frozen with no warning, after no judicial proceeding, if someone in Treasury is of the opinion that it should be done. There's nothing like a habeaus corpus provision requiring them to show any cause for this action, much less prove their case. Technically they're just freezing your assets, not seizing them, so they're not bound by the requirement to justify their action or compensate you for your loss. Of course, if you cannot use your assets, you might as well not have them.
So Bush has given himself the power to declare any person or organization an economic unperson any time he wants to, for any or no reason. I suppose he could decide that merely disagreeing with his Iraq policies might constitute "undermining efforts to promote ... political reform in Iraq," so there's no reason Treasury couldn't take action against me for writing this post. Depending on how draconian they're feeling that day, as an unperson I could not receive so much as a sawbuck from my dad to buy a meal without making him and the restaurant into unpersons too. And in case you think this is a spoof or a joke, here's the link to the official announcement by the White House.
Now doesn't that make you feel all comfortable and secure?