Monday, July 23, 2007

The Slippery Slope

Longtime FotF The Velvet Bulldog alerted us to this executive order issued last week by Dear Leader, which (as noted by TPM Muckraker):
...directed the Treasury Department to block the U.S.-based financial assets of anyone deemed to have threatened "the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq" or who "undermin(e) efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq."

Walter Pincus at the WaPo has some more today:
In the extreme, it could be interpreted as targeting the financial assets of any American who directly or indirectly aids someone who has committed or "poses a significant risk of committing" violent acts "threatening the peace or stability of Iraq" or who undermines "efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform" in the war-torn country.
[...]
White House press secretary Tony Snow offered further clarification at a briefing on Tuesday: "What this is really aimed at is insurgents and those who come across the border . . . or anybody who is caught providing support or poses a significant risk of providing support to those who may come across the border."

However, the text of the order, if interpreted broadly, could cast a far bigger net to include not just those who commit violent acts or pose the risk of doing so in Iraq, but also third parties -- such as U.S. citizens in this country -- who knowingly or unknowingly aid or encourage such people.

Under the order, the Treasury secretary -- in consultation with the secretaries of defense and state -- creates the list of those whose assets are to be frozen. However, the targeting of not just those who support perpetrators of violence but also those who support individuals who "pose a significant risk" of committing violence goes far beyond normal legal language related to intent and could be applied in a highly arbitrary manner, said Bruce Fein, a senior Justice Department official in the Reagan administration and a frequent Bush administration critic.

We'll keep tracking this one to try to get a better handle on it, but it plainly seems like yet another assault on our civil liberties by the power hungry, authoritarian-loving BushCo administration.


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