WASHINGTON, D.C. — In what is turning out to be a very poorly timed April 1, 2015 press release, the White House announced a new executive order signed by Barack Obama. The order titled “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” is a very generic and vaguely written executive order allowing the Federal Government to confiscate all property of persons engaging in cyber activities which may be deemed inappropriate.
The order allowed for the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to confiscate all property of persons which are deemed to be responsible for or complicit in “cyber-enabled activities.”
It is not very clear what “cyber-enabled activities” means, however the actions resulting in the following seem to be banned by this order:
(A) harming, or otherwise significantly compromising the provision of services by, a computer or network of computers that support one or more entities in a critical infrastructure sector;
(B) significantly compromising the provision of services by one or more entities in a critical infrastructure sector;
(C) causing a significant disruption to the availability of a computer or network of computers; or
(D) causing a significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources, trade secrets, personal identifiers, or financial information for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain; or
(A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, the receipt or use for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain, or by a commercial entity, outside the United States of trade secrets misappropriated through cyber-enabled means, knowing they have been misappropriated, where the misappropriation of such trade secrets is reasonably likely to result in, or has materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States;
(B) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, any activity described in subsections (a)(i) or (a)(ii)(A) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;
(C) 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; or
(D) to have attempted to engage in any of the activities described in subsections (a)(i) and (a)(ii)(A)-(C) of this section.
By using “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” as the vehicle to push this agenda, Barack Obama has bypassed all the Constitutional rights to due process that an American citizen has. Just like the Patriot Act has done, this order allows for government agents to take someone’s private property or the contents of a bank account without due process and without criminal charges being brought against someone.
As the order clearly defined who it affected by this promulgation, 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.
The language of the order also includes persons which are deemed to be complicit in such actions language which is believed to be aimed at punishing financial supporters of Edward Snowden or other detractors and whistle blowers that have exposed the criminal and unconstitutional activities in which the United States government has been engaging.
The language clearly specifies that those targeted under this order will receive no prior notification of their funds and property being confiscated: “…there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.“
Fortunately there are alternative means to pseudo-anonymously provide financial support to Edward Snowden. An official legal support fund has been created which accepts Bitcoin donations: https://blockchain.info/address/1snowqQP5VmZgU47i5AWwz9fsgHQg94Fa
While the Obama administration claims to be the most transparent administration in history, reality paints a different picture. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based journalist advocacy organization, released Washington Post’s Leonard Downie’s findings in its first comprehensive look at press freedom in the United States: “The Obama Administration and the Press: Leak investigations and surveillance in post-9/11 America.”
The conclusion is shocking. In the words of David Sanger, a correspondent for The New York Times, “this is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered.” Marcus Brauchli, the former Washington Post executive editor, said the Bush administration had a worse reputation” for transparency, but “in practice, it was much more accepting of the role of journalism in national security.”
“What I see here is that Obama campaigned against excessive secrecy, promised to have the most transparent government in American history, signed presidential directives in his first day of office with a lot of fanfare, continues to say in speeches and interviews and press conferences that transparency is a high priority for him, and it hasn’t happened,” Leonard Downie said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s a Republican or Democrat. It matters what he has promised and has not delivered.”