Criminalizing the Antiwar Movement

From Global Research

The Executive Order entitled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq” provides the President with the authority to confiscate the assets of whoever opposes the US led war.

A presidential Executive Order issued on July 17th, repeals with the stroke of a pen the right to dissent and to oppose the Pentagon’s military agenda in Iraq.

The Executive Order entitled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq” provides the President with the authority to confiscate the assets of “certain persons” who oppose the US led war in Iraq:

“I have issued an Executive Order blocking property of persons determined 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 the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.”

In substance, under this executive order, opposing the war becomes an illegal act.

The Executive Order criminalizes the antiwar movement. It is intended to “blocking property” of US citizens and organizations actively involved in the peace movement. It allows the Department of Defense to interfere in financial affairs and instruct the Treasury to “block the property” and/or confiscate/ freeze the assets of “Certain Persons” involved in antiwar activities. It targets those “Certain Persons” in America, including civil society organizatioins, who oppose the Bush Administration’s “peace and stability” program in Iraq, characterized, in plain English, by an illegal occupation and the continued killing of innocent civilians.

The Executive Order also targets those “Certain Persons” who are “undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction”, or who, again in plain English, are opposed to the confiscation and privatization of Iraq’s oil resources, on behalf of the Anglo-American oil giants.

The order is also intended for anybody who opposes Bush’s program of “political reform in Iraq”, in other words, who questions the legitimacy of an Iraqi “government” installed by the occupation forces.

Moreover, those persons or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), who provide bona fide humanitarian aid to Iraqi civilians, and who are not approved by the US Military or its lackeys in the US sponsored Iraqi puppet government are also liable to have their financial assets confiscated.

The executive order violates the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the US Constitution. It repeals one of the fundamental tenets of US democracy, which is the right to free expression and dissent. The order has not been the object of discussion in the US Congress. Sofar, it has not been addressed by the US antiwar movement, in terms of a formal statement.

Apart from a bland Associated Press wire report, which presents the executive order as “an authority to use financial sanctions”, there has been no media coverage or commentary of a presidential decision which strikes at the heart of the US Constitution..

Broader implications

The criminalization of the State is when the sitting President and Vice President use and abuse their authority through executive orders, presidential directives or otherwise to define “who are the criminals” when in fact they they are the criminals.

This latest executive order criminalizes the peace movement. It must be viewed in relation to various pieces of “anti-terrorist” legislation, the gamut of presidential and national security directives, etc., which are ultimately geared towards repealing constitutional government and installing martial law in the event of a “national emergency”.

The war criminals in high office are intent upon repressing all forms of dissent which question the legitimacy of the war in Iraq.

The executive order combined with the existing anti-terrorist legislation is eventually intended to be used against the anti-war and civil rights movements. It can be used to seize the assets of antiwar groups in America as well as block the property and activities of non-governmental humanitarian organizations providing relief in Iraq, seizing the assets of alternative media involved in reporting the truth regarding the US-led war, etc.

In May 2007, Bush issued a major presidential National Security Directive (National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive NSPD 51/HSPD 20), which would suspend constitutional government and instate broad dictatorial powers under martial law in the case of a “Catastrophic Emergency” (e.g. Second 9/11 terrorist attack).

On July 11, 2007 the CIA published its “National Intelligence Estimate” which pointed to an imminent Al Qaeda attack on America, a second 9/11 which, according to the terms of NSPD 51, would immediately be followed by the suspension of constitutional government and the instatement of martial law under the authority of the president and the vice-president. (For further details, see Michel Chossudovsky, Bush Directive for a “Catastrophic Emergency” in America: Building a Justification for Waging War on Iran? June 2007)

NSPD 51 grants unprecedented powers to the Presidency and the Department of Homeland Security, overriding the foundations of Constitutional government. It allows the sitting president to declare a “national emergency” without Congressional approval. The implementation of NSPD 51 would lead to the de facto closing down of the Legislature and the militarization of justice and law enforcement.

“The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government….”

Were NSPD 51 to be invoked, Vice President Dick Cheney, who constitutes the real power behind the Executive, would essentially assume de facto dictatorial powers, circumventing both the US Congress and the Judiciary, while continuing to use President George W. Bush as a proxy figurehead.

NSPD 51, while bypassing the Constitution, nonetheless, envisages very precise procedures which guarantee the powers of Vice President Dick Cheney in relation to “Continuity of Goverment” functions under Martial Law:

This directive shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved. Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions.” (NSPD 51, op cit.)

The executive order to confiscate the assets of antiwar/peace activists is broadly consistent with NSPD 51. It could be triggered even in the absence of a “Catastrophic emergency” as envisaged under NSPD 51. It repeals democracy. It goes one step further in “criminalizing” all forms of opposition and dissent. to the US led war and “Homeland Security” agenda.

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