The top story on Digg right now is “So, as of yesterday, If you protest the war, the Prez can take your stuff” (over 1,000 comments, 5,600+ diggs) and it’s referring to this: Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq
Now, the diggers may be more than a tad alarmist here, as the Order doesn’t refer to protesting specifically. It’s referring to acts of violence, either directly or indirectly through some material support. I’m no lawyer, but when I read it, it seems to be talking about directly assisting the Iraqi insurgency. From the document:
…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…
I think the diggers are flying off the handle here. In fairness, however, there were plenty of them that pointed this out, and I definitely think this is worth debating. The Order does effect U.S. citizens, after all, and it’s somewhat vague in it’s language. In fact, when I read it I was immediately reminded of a letter written by a soldier in Iraq, accusing the media of indirectly assisting the insurgency:
“Hello media, do you know you indirectly kill American soldiers every day? You inspire and report the enemy’s objective every day. You are the enemy’s greatest weapon. The enemy cannot beat us on the battlefield so all he does is try to wreak enough havoc and have you report it every day. With you and the enemy using each other, you continually break the will of the American public and American government.
“We go out daily and bust and kill the enemy, uncover and destroy huge weapons caches and continue to establish infrastructure. So daily we put a whoopin on the enemy, but all the enemy has to do is turn on the TV and get re-inspired. He gets to see his daily roadside bomb, truck bomb, suicide bomber or mortar attack. He doesn’t see any accomplishments of the U.S. military (FOX, you’re not exempt, you suck also).
Also, I haven’t really seen any coverage on this beyond Digg. That in and of itself is a bit odd I think, since the E.O. is talking about property rights of U.S. citizens (not to mention Iraq, which is of course on everyone’s mind these days). Maybe what’s behind the knee-jerk alarmism is the fact that Bush issued it and it seemed to have snuck in under the radar. Or, the problem lies in the “any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense” line. I dunno. Like I said, I’m no lawyer.