President Obama has issued an alarming executive order that would allow the government to crackdown of U.S. citizens and other individuals who “indirectly” oppose U.S.-backed Yemeni President, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Hadi was the right-hand man to the prior dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh and won an “election” composed only of himself. We, of course, immediately embraced Hadi and the Obama Administration is now threatening anyone who opposes him, including our own citizens. The Administration appears delighted that, while opponents are not welcomed in the country, American drones are.
The executive order Wednesday gives the Treasury Department authority to freeze the U.S.-based assets of anyone who “obstructs” the political transition in Yemen, including U.S. citizens who are “engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen, such as acts that obstruct the implementation of the Nov. 23, 2011, agreement between the Government of Yemen and those in opposition to it, which provides for a peaceful transition of power . . . or that obstruct the political process in Yemen.” One Obama official is quoted as saying that the order is meant to deter people opposing the regime to “make clear to those who are even thinking of spoiling the transition” to think again. . . .” That would be called a chilling effect designed to deter opponents of the regime.
One of the greatest threats posed by this order is that it places such actions in the the administrative law process on the agency level. Citizens are given fewer protections in that process and agencies given absurd levels of deference by federal courts. Various organizations have complained about that process in being detailed as aiders or abettors of terrorism. Glenn Greenwald has an article below discussing the new order.
The executive order appears to fall into that ever-widening category of extreme presidential powers claimed under the “Trust me I am Obama” rationale. Once again, Democrats and liberals are silent despite the fact that they would be outraged if this had been done by Bush. Once again, Obama’s failure to respect constitutional principles are excused by saying that others like Romney would be worse. This short-sighted and relativistic approach by Obama supporters will likely come back and haunt them when later presidents not of their liking invoking the same authoritarian measures created by Obama. What will be said then? These were really just for Obama? If Obama can do this with Yemen, how about critics of Israel or Saudi Arabia? You can question the factual need to support “stability” in these countries, but the question is one of the authority to order it. Once the authority is accepted, the rest is left to the discretion of the President, whoever that may be.
Note that the government already has ample means to move against any terrorist organizations and a material support law that has been denounced as so ill-defined as to cover the most minor interaction or contact with targeted groups. It also has laws barring efforts of citizens to lend military or violent means to support opposition to the regime. This executive order was intentionally written broadly to capture areas that are presumed to be protected like free speech.
While Section 11 contains vague boilerplate language, the obvious thrust of the law is to allow for greater government action against opponents to the Yemeni government than already exists on the books. Note that such opponents would not be terrorists to be nailed under this law, just indirect threats to stability.
The Administration has not shown how the existing laws would not be entirely ample in combatting unlawful activities by U.S. citizens and others in the country. Now however you can have your property seized and pulled into a government investigation if you “materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services” that are viewed by Obama officials of “indirectly” threatening or obstructing the “stability” of the Yemeni government. Of course, nothing is more stable than an election with only one candidate — an election praised by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a great triumph for democracy.
This executive order was written by people without a scintilla of concern for free speech or due process. It also reflects a perception of immunity by the Obama Administration when it comes to civil liberties.
It appears that a man elected in an election of one fits nicely into our plans for fighting Al Qaeda. As a result, things like the first amendment in the United States are deemed as expendable by our own supreme leader.
Here is the executive order:
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BLOCKING PROPERTY OF PERSONS THREATENING
THE PEACE, SECURITY, OR STABILITY OF YEMEN
By 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 (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Yemen and others threaten Yemen’s peace, security, and stability, including by obstructing the implementation of the agreement of November 23, 2011, between the Government of Yemen and those in opposition to it, which provides for a peaceful transition of power that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people for change, and by obstructing the political process in Yemen. I further find that these actions constitute 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. All property and interests in property 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 any United States person, including any foreign branch, 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, to:
(a) have engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen, such as acts that obstruct the implementation of the agreement of November 23, 2011, between the Government of Yemen and those in opposition to it, which provides for a peaceful transition of power in Yemen, or that obstruct the political process in Yemen;
(b) be a political or military leader of an entity that has engaged in the acts described in subsection (a) of this section;
(c) have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the acts described in subsection (a) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(d) be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:
(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 4. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order apply except to the extent provided by statutes, 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 effective date of this order.
Sec. 5. Nothing in section 1 of this order shall prohibit transactions for the conduct of the official business of the United States Government by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.
Sec. 6. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 7. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;
(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and
(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.
Sec. 8. 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 those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec. 9. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, 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.
Sec. 10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).
Sec. 11. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.