Sometimes it takes a film like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to shed some light on our current political culture. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know that professor Deloris Umbridge (Left) is responsible for writing and implementing rules at Hogwarts designed to confine the students in the name of security. The rules get posted on a large stone wall, and as the film progresses, you see the wall filling up with framed copies of these life-stifling rules until there is very little room left.
Something like that is happening over at Ye Olde White House where our Big Daddy George (aka “King George”) has issued an Executive Order that may (and I stress the word “may“) curtail protesting against the war in Iraq. How will that happen? Well, the how about the government taking your property in an effort to shut you up.
It’s possible, but the way the Executive Order is worded, it has a lot to do with going after the broadly defined “terrorists” in the 100 years war on terrorism (KKK and militia groups who blow up federal buildings excluded). However, there are some rather scary parts in the Order that I’ve highlighted in bold:
I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:
Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), 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 date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, 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 United States 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 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;
(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(iii) to 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.
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) 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 (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, 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.
Remember that line in the preamble to the Constitution that goes some like (sing in the School House Rock voice) “Provide for the common defense?” Did you notice that the operative word is “defense?” This Executive Order has a lot of language that may allow for more offensive measures against opposing political views on the domestic front. To wit:
Say you were not thrilled with the way the Iraqi economy was structured around multinational oil interests — interests that the Bush administration supported politically. You made your views publicly known, and more and more people started to agree with you to the point where there was a political movement that put pressure on Congress so they could in turn change the policies in Iraq that Bush and Co. where behind. Couldn’t one make the legal argument that you and even members of Congress were “undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction” if you wanted to go on a witch hunt to persecute political enemies?
What if you gave money to a political organization (something like Move On) so they could advocate on your behalf. Let’s say Move On got their stuff impounded by the government. Wouldn’t you be subject to some kind of fine (or even jail time) because you dropped a few coins in the wrong box? You know, because you violated the rule that states: “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.”
Sure, these things sounds a little “out there,” but just read the language of this Executive Order and such scenarios aren’t too far fetched when you frame them in terms of (currently) legitimate forms of political participation.
Where are the Weasley twins when you need ’em?