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Mon

23

Jul

2007

Protesting the War may be a Crime
Monday, 23 July 2007 14:07
by Peter Chamberlin

On July 17, 2007, Bush quietly issued an executive order entitled "Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq."   By this order, he made it a crime to commit, or to pose a significant risk of committing..., acts of violence that threaten "the peace and stability of Iraq," or undermine "efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people."

It remains to be seen just how far Bush will stretch this law, in light of ongoing attempts by neocon enemies of America, who charge Americans with "subversive activities" and "providing support to the enemy," for protesting the war.  No one is safe from their crusade to brand most of the American people as "treasonists," for opposing Bush's out-of-control "leadership" of the war effort.   Even Sen. Hillary Clinton has been accused of these "crimes" by neocon stooges like Eric Edelman, who attacked her for requesting a briefing for her committee from the Department of Defense on contingency plans for withdrawal from Iraq.

The new Executive Order authorizes the Sec. or Treasury to seize the property and economic assets of any American citizen who is "threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq...undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq..," or those who "have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such...person whose property and interests...are blocked..."
Bush based this extraordinary measure on his belief that any American who did these things, or supported those who did "...would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in expanded... Executive Order 13315..."  This E.O. is a continuation of the policy set by Jimmy Carter's executive orders, E.O. 12170, 11/14/79 (which blocked Iranian government property) and E.O. 12211, 04/17/80 (which prohibited transactions with Iran).  Following Carter's precedent, George HW Bush used his emergency power to put a "lien" on Iraqi assets when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in Gulf 1.   Little Bush re-adapted his father's "national emergency," to first, attach Iraqi assets and to prohibit transactions with Iraq after Gulf 2 began, which he later rescinded to issue another "emergency" declaration, to protect the Iraqi Development Fund.  The latest order is a bizarre stretch of the law, beyond any imaginable reasonable interpretation, to justify a political clampdown, based on threats to that fund.  This "bizarro" interpretation is the basis for the new threatening order.

Bush cited "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..., the National Emergencies Act..., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code (which pertains to any function which is vested in the President by law)," to justify his actions.   His crazy interpretation of these statutes greatly exceeds all the authority that he claims to have derived from them.

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act clearly defines those powers as the authority to "investigate, regulate, or prohibit... any transactions in foreign exchange... transfers of credit or payments between...,or to any banking institution, to the extent that such transfers or payments involve any interest of any foreign country or a national thereof...,or the importing or exporting of currency or securities..."  The authority granted to the President by this section does not include the authority to regulate or prohibit..."articles, such as food, clothing, and medicine, intended to be used to relieve human suffering, (or the financial means to attain them) except to the extent that the President determines that such donations (A) would seriously impair his ability to deal with any national emergency... The President, in every possible instance, shall consult with the Congress before exercising any of the authorities granted..."  Under penalties listed in Sec. 1705, "...A civil penalty of not to exceed $10,000 may be imposed on any person who violates any license, order, or regulation issued under this chapter..."  Under these regulations, Congress has the authority to terminate any declared "national emergency" by joint resolution.

The National Emergency Powers Act says that the "...emergency powers may be stated explicitly or implied by the Constitution, if the Chief Executive believes that they may be permissible Constitutionally, or inferred by statutes.  There are limits and restraints to the President's authority to exercise the emergency powers that he has assumed.  With the exception of the habeas corpus clause, the Constitution makes no allowance for its suspension, or of any of its provisions during a national emergency..."  He is still bound by the separation of powers and must consult with the legislative and judicial branches before assuming these extraordinary powers.  During a legitimate "national emergency" the President can "... seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens. Furthermore, Congress may modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority..."  

This whole extended "national emergency," which Bush 1 set in motion and Junior extended and modified, is based on Daddy Bush's declaration that "...the policies and actions of the Government of Iraq constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States...," which Iraq clearly is unable to do.  Junior replaced that emergency with his own, parroting Daddy's claims that threats to "...the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq..." pose an "...unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States..."  Just like the imaginary "Iraq threat" that was used to justify Gulf War 2, Iraq has never represented a credible threat to anything but American pride and machismo.

This "national emergency" is the latest move in a succession of Executive Orders and "signing statements" by Bush, that have continuously whittled away at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, justified by the "war on terror."  This follows the last semi-secret signing of NSPD 51 and HSPD 20 (Homeland Security) on May 9,2007.     This Executive Order will, in effect elevate the President and his  National Continuity Coordinator to an unprecedented position above the entire government, when Bush decides to declare the next "national emergency," where he alone, "...shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government...," under the Continuity Of Government program.
According to Prof. Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, "... NSPD /51 HSPD 20 grant unprecedented powers to the Presidency and the Department of Homeland Security, overriding the foundations of Constitutional government...NSPD 51 allows the sitting president to declare a 'national emergency' without Congressional approval...  The adoption of NSPD 51 would lead to the de facto closing down of the Legislature and the militarization of justice and law enforcement...in a'Catastrophic Emergency'..., defined... as any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions..."  NSPD 51 ensures that "...appropriate support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions."  Many of us wonder whether Cheney hasn't already assumed many of these special powers, judging by his elevation of himself above the Congress and the Executive Branch.

The extremely serious threat that these orders represent to American civil liberties and to our Constitutional rights cannot be overstated.  On October 17, 2006, Bush signed into law S. 3930, the Military Commissions Act, which made it acceptable to violate the Geneva Conventions and the Army Field Manual on Interrogations regulations banning torture,  which also enabled him to designate anyone, even American citizens, as "enemy combatants," making Americans susceptible to everything that happens to real terrorists in secret.  The Defense Authorization Act of 2006 (H.R. 1815) empowered the President to declare martial law in the event of a terrorist attack or disruption of "public order," leaving him to determine which "disruption" is serious enough to warrant the declaration.

How much more proof do we need that our Constitution and our liberty are severely imperiled by this administration's approach to the war on terror?  Blind administration support for whatever Israel does in alleged conjunction with the war on terrorism has effectively locked us into an escalating path to war with Iran, at a time of Israel's choosing.  According to Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli government has been told by unnamed NATO and European Union officials that, "If we start military operations against Iran alone, then Europe and the US will support us."     Judging from last summer's Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Administration's great public disappointment with Israel for not finishing Hezbollah off, or not invading Syria, Lieberman's words ring true.

In light of all this evidence that we are about to let Israel start a war with Iran for us to finish, and the warnings about protests which "endanger" Bush's plans for Iraq, our direction for opposing Bush's neocon war of conquest becomes very clear.  All protests against the Iraq war must become protests of the Iran war, the war that Bush claims that he is not planning.  The antiwar movement in America must follow Bush's lead and switch gears.  We have to save our Constitution and we have to oppose Israel and Israel's agents (AIPAC, the American Israeli Political Action Committee in America), who are feverishly waging war against the common will of the American people.  Israel must face the wrath of the American people.  It is time for a total economic boycott of anything Israeli, until the Knesset figures out that they must fight their own wars, especially their wars of aggression.  If it takes a national general strike to save the Constitution from the Republican and Democratic representatives who have joined together to do Israel's will, against the will of the people, then that is what must be done.  If we have to risk freedom itself to preserve the sacred heritage that has been entrusted to our care, then that is what we have to do.
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a guest said:

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Isolate Israel
Bravo Mr. Chamberlin on an article that hits the point. Israel is a rogue country that has refused to join the IAEA, allow inspections of their nuclear facilities. Yet Israel is ready to bomb Iran, a country that is a member of the IAEA and has alowed dozens of inspections of their nuclear plants. Israel has constantly refused to adhere to U.N. resolution 242 calling for a return of al occupied territories taken in the 1967 "6-Day war." Israel loves to use the example of the Palestinians refusal of the 1947 U.N. partitioning of Palestine as a prime example of how the Palestinians could have had their own country but threw the opportunity away. Ironically enough Israel refuses to give up even a small percentage of illegally occupied territory let alone over 50% of their country which is what was originally demanded of the Palestinians in 1947. Since that time Zionists have conducted a merciless campaign of ethnic cleansing and countless war crimes committed against civilians, especialy children. Just since the last Intafada Israelis have murdered well over four times as many Palestinian civilians as Israelis have been killed by Arabs. Israel through AIPAC, Anti-Defamation and a host of other political lobbies have a stranglehold on Congress and the White House. Israeli sypathizers also control Hollywood, the world's largest media machine. It is time to stop the fascists who refuse to acknowledge the Palestinian Holocaust they are responsible for and isolate this rogue country from the international community.
 
July 23, 2007
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