Darren Weeks

Crushing the Resistance by Seizing Their Assets: The USA Patriot and Magnitsky Acts and Executive Order 13438

resist fistDarren Weeks
Coalition to Govern America
November 29, 2018

On July 17, 2007, President George W. Bush signed executive order 13438, a broad measure which is dedicated to “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.”

In the order, Bush cited the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), found in Title 50, United States Code, Section 1701 and 1702, which gives the president authority to deal with “any unusual and extraordinary threat which has its source in whole or substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States, if the President declares a national emergency with respect to such threat.”

Such a national emergency has already been declared in the form of executive order 13303, signed on May 22, 2003, and was later expanded by executive order 13315. Furthermore, even though the text above talks about threats originating "outside the United States", and laws cited in EO 13438 appear to address foreign entities, a careful study of the order, itself, reveals that it doesn’t make any distinction between “persons” foreign or domestic. More on that later in this article.

The IEEPA grants authorities to the president to prohibit foreign transactions and to confiscate property of foreign persons, organizations, and countries, if the president or the secretary of the treasury determines the aforementioned entities are working to “threaten stability” in Iraq.

Concerns were raised, after the signing, that executive order 13438 could be extended to include Americans who protest the administration’s war policies. Such concerns are not easily dismissed in light of certain provisions found in the USA Patriot Act, passed days following the orchestrated “attacks” of September 11, 2001.

The Patriot Act, provides for the confiscation of the property of any individual or entity that participates in or plans an act of domestic or international terrorism. Provisions found in 18 U.S.C. section 981(a)(1)(G) are derived from section 806 of the Patriot Act. It says that the following property is subject to forfeiture:

All assets, foreign or domestic— (i) of any individual, entity, or organization engaged in planning or perpetrating any act of domestic or international terrorism (as defined in section 2331) against the United States, citizens or residents of the United States, or their property, and all assets, foreign or domestic, affording any person a source of influence over any such entity or organization; (ii) acquired or maintained by any person with the intent and for the purpose of supporting, planning, conducting, or concealing an act of domestic or international terrorism (as defined in section 2331) against the United States, citizens or residents of the United States, or their property; or (iii) derived from, involved in, or used or intended to be used to commit any act of domestic or international terrorism (as defined in section 2331) against the United States, citizens or residents of the United States, or their property.

You may feel safe in knowing that you would never plan or participate in an act of terrorism. But one must keep in mind that “international terrorism” has a very broad definition in section 2331. It is defined as “activities that appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.

Note the language here! You don't even have to use intimidation or coercion. They could just say that your activities "appear to be" intended to do so.

And how broadly can threats of "intimidation and coercion" be defined? If I call my Congressman and tell him or her that I will work for their defeat in the next election if they vote for Bill X, could that constitute intimidation or coercion? Could peaceful war protesters fall into this category? Could any civilian activist, peaceful or otherwise, fall into this category? If so, they might find their bank accounts frozen, their properties seized, and their loved ones placed in the same jeopardy if they attempt to assist them.

We have already read news stories about individuals that have been falsely placed on “Do Not Fly” lists at the airport by the Department of Homeland Security. Asset forfeiture, for those accused of being “terrorists” — however broadly defined — is an even worse menace to the freedom of Americans and serves as a potential weapon against critics of an administration’s policies.

Under Executive Order 13438, a certain individual would not have to actually be engaged in an act of planning a terrorist event. Simply having the “significant risk of committing” an act of violence would be enough to have that person’s property transfers frozen. Arguably, just by drawing breath into one’s lungs, there could be a “significant risk” that they might commit an act of violence.

Furthermore, the taking of action against an accused person would be at the sole discretion of the secretaries of the Treasury, State, and Defense departments. And such an action could be taken against a person or entity without any prior notice. Section 5 says,

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 these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Where is the recourse for those who have had such a drastic action taken against them wrongfully? Does it not cost money to fight in the courts? From where would that money come, if one’s assets were frozen?

As we stated earlier, even though the laws cited in EO 13438 appear to address foreign entities, the reader must note that the order, itself, doesn’t make any distinction between “persons” foreign or domestic. It simply says, “any person…”

Quoting again from the 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.

Again, you may think that you are safe if you haven't committed or are at risk of committing any act of violence, etc. But the point everyone must remember is that the treasury secretary will decide whether you are such a person. There is no trial or talk. If you get in the way of their agenda, you could wake up one day and find that all of your accounts are seized and / or frozen. Furthermore, under this presidential action, not only are the transactions of the accused to be blocked, but also the property of anyone who attempts to assist them after the federal assault has taken place.

It is important to note that, even though executive orders do not have the force and effect of law, they set policy for the president's cabinet. Due to Congressional mismanagement, dereliction of duty, and complete giving away of their Congressional oversight responsibilities, the executive branch has extended its authority through the decades. Over the course of several administrations, it has grown to be a massive behemoth of alphabet soup bureaucratic agencies whose reach wraps its tentacles around every American, threatening to choke off any spark that remains of our liberty.

This executive order is very similar to Congressional legislation that was signed into law during the Obama administration. The Magnitsky Act gives the sitting U.S. president the authority to unilaterally sanction a foreign entity or person, through the United States Treasury Department. Under the Magnitsky Act, the wealth of foreign individuals can be seized and / or frozen for no other reason than the fact that you are deemed an enemy of the United States. Political rivals of rich billionaires, who have the politicians in their pockets, are targeted. There doesn't have to be any crime committed, only an allegation of a human rights violation. Again, we jump straight to the penalty stage — no jury, no trial, no due process.

Even though the U.S. Magnitsky Act doesn't apply to American nationals — only to foreigners — similar legislation is being pushed in other countries that would make it possible for Americans to be sanctioned in the same manner. The result is that if an activist pushes too hard against the Establishment, their lives can be destroyed, their wealth taken, and their efforts shut down.

In conclusion, it appears that a decades-long trend is being set toward asset seizure and forfeiture with the end result being that so-called "terrorists" — a term that can be defined as broadly or narrowly as one wishes — can have their assets stolen by the state. In the future, this could well result in a chilling effect upon free speech and activism. In an age where social media giants and payment gateways are already engaging in censorship, this is especially alarming. With the "Big Tech" deplatforming of activists and purveyors of speech with whom they disagree, it isn't hard to imagine a future where credit card companies, banks, credit unions, and grocery and department stores will all join in the fray. This is especially true as the world moves further and further toward a world without cash.

If we are not careful, the day is quickly approaching where resisters will be deemed non-persons, having had their property and homes stolen, and their friends and families will risk similar punishments for aiding them. Meanwhile, the social justice warriors think they are resisters, but go along with every aspect of the totalitarian technocratic plan. They will continue to cheer the demise of the conservative "haters" and "racists", without ever realizing that they are the next targets. Useful idiots are kept around only as long as they are useful.


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