Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bush abolishes Amendment IV of the Constitution

Last week, president Bush issued another Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq. It sounds harmless enough by its title. After all, doesn't everyone want Iraq to be stabilized? When you understand what Bush wants Americans to sacrifice, it doesn't sound so good anymore.

The order unilaterally gives the Bush administration the power to prevent Americans from "transferring, paying, exporting, withdrawing, or otherwise dealing in" their own "property and interests in property." Of course, this does not apply to any American, only those who the administration has determined:
  1. to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening stabilization efforts in Iraq,
  2. 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, or
  3. 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.
No law abiding American would do such a thing. However, it is not a court of law that determines whether or not someone is threatening stabilization efforts in Iraq; the Bush administration arbitrarily does, and their track record for decision-making is abysmal. Furthermore, "there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to ... this order."

The devil is in the details. The administration does not need to determine that someone has committed such acts, only that they "pose a significant risk of committing" them. How could someone objectively determine this? Or the administration can decide that someone has "provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support" for such acts. What if someone were contracted to, for example, provide technical support for computer systems to be used to destabilize Iraq without knowing they would be used that way? Someone could even be subjected to this order if they're "controlled by ... directly or indirectly" someone else subject to it. That means, hypothetically, an employee of someone who the administration determined is threatening stabilization efforts in Iraq could have their property seized, even if they had no knowledge of their employer's activity.

This executive order is very broad reaching and replete with ambiguity. It effectively makes it very easy for the Bush administration to completely block an American's control over all of their own property without a judgment in a court of law. The criteria the administration applies are highly subjective and completely evaluated according to Bush's standards, so they could easily subject someone to this order who has no knowledge whatsoever of any kind of activities intended to destabilize Iraq.

Bush has established yet another executive order which contradicts the Bill of Rights. This one conflicts directly with Amendment IV, which says:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Al Qaeda's incredible comeback

Al Qaeda has seemingly managed an overwhelming turnaround. The Pentagon reported earlier this year that its attempts before going to war in Iraq to establish links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were contrary to the findings of the intelligence community. In 2005, a CSIS study found that 90% to 96% of the insurgents in Iraq were Iraqi nationals, not foreign elements. Iraq was the location where al Qaeda was having the greatest difficulty establishing a significant presence, even a couple of years after invading it.

Before deserting Afghanistan to invade Iraq, the Bush administration claimed to have decimated al Qaeda leadership, frozen all of its foreign-held assets, and destroyed its bases of operations. Now the latest news is that, in the heat of America's troop surge into Iraq, there are still too few men hunting al Qaeda. It's widely reported that al Qaeda is entrenched in Pakistan, established a stronghold in Iraq, resurged in Afghanistan, and infiltrated England. Could "al Qaeda" have truly mastered such an amazing comeback?