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July 19, 2007

Bush vs. the Fifth Amendment

Rob @ 2:50 PM

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states:

"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."

(emphasis mine)

An executive order signed by President George W. Bush this past Tuesday purports to grant the Secretary of the Treasury the right to freeze the assets of:

"any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.."

(emphasis mine again)

Given that the war itself has been rationalized by its proponents as one long "reconstruction" effort, where would a law like this leave someone who just may have been to an anti-war rally any time recently? Or who gives money to the EFF or UFPJ on occasion?

You wouldn't even have actually to have done anything wrong.. you just have to be declared "a significant risk" by the Secretary of the Treasury, who is an unelected adviser appointed by the President.

Thankfully, these so-called "executive orders" really have no actual legal status beyond being a public expression of how the President thinks something "should" be done. Still, it's a pants-wettingly clear picture of the sorts of things he not only wants to make happen, but believes he can make happen.

Coverage:
UK Guardian
Slashdot
(Some interesting responses in the Slashdot discussions: * * * * * *)
FIP

For some reason, this doesn't seem to have gotten much press Stateside, despite happening two days ago. Funny, that.

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