Later today, President Obama will sign an executive order to impose sanctions against foreigners who use technology to carry out human rights abuses. He finds it unacceptable that the governments of Syria and Iran have used social media and cellphone technology to crack down on dissent and conduct surveillance. It will also target companies and individuals who assist these governments in same. The executive order will not, apparently, impose sanctions on the US government for doing the same thing here, nor on US companies that help our government do so here. But it will sanction US individuals or companies that “help” the Iranian or Syrian governments. Will we sanction ‘facebook’ for helping the (foreign) British government crack down on protesters last year in the UK? In a word – no. [See update. Maybe we will sanction ‘facebook’ and prevent them from operating here in the US, just not for giving private information to the US or UK governments. Guess if this executive order shuts down certain social medias in the US, that would just be such a pity, but nonetheless a necessary action.]
US President Barack Obama will issue an executive order Monday allowing sanctions to be imposed against foreigners who use technologies to carry out human rights abuses, The Washington Post said.
The order would target those found to have used technologies including cellphone tracking or the Internet to carry out violations.
Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said the governments of Syria and Iran have used social media and cellphone technology to crack down on dissent and conduct surveillance.
The executive order, which Obama will announce during a Monday speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, will also target companies and individuals assisting the governments of Iran and Syria, the paper said…
Can he even do this? All by himself, without waiting for some discussion and/or vote from Congress, he can impose sanctions (consisting of what, exactly, we are not sure yet) on foreign governments and foreign individuals acting in foreign countries? Not only king of the US, but king of the world. Well, why not? Apparently, foreign countries submit to our Depts. of Homeland Security and Immigration telling their citizens who is allowed to fly, and where, all the time now. If you are, say, a British citizen who wants to fly to Germany on vacation, you can be prevented by the US Homeland Security people, who may (for reasons that they needn’t explain) have you on a no-fly list. Why other countries tolerate this shit from us is inexplicable.
This follows hard on the heels of Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died Clinton’s opening speech to the Open Government Partnership forum last week. She actually said these words out loud and in front of a hearing audience.
Thank you very much, and it’s a great pleasure to be here at this first high-level conference of the Open Government Partnership.
….When President Rousseff and President Obama launched the Open Government Partnership last fall on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, six other founding governments and eight civil society organizations were present. At that time, President Obama made clear that the purpose of the Open Government Partnership was to advance specific initiatives to promote transparency, fight corruption, and energize civic engagement and to leverage new technologies so that we strengthen the foundation of freedom in our own countries while living up to ideals that can light the world.
In the 21st century, the United States is convinced that one of the most significant divisions among nations will not be north/south, east/west, religious, or any other category so much as whether they are open or closed societies. We believe that countries with open governments, open economies, and open societies will increasingly flourish. They will become more prosperous, healthier, more secure, and more peaceful.
By contrast, those governments that hide from public view and dismiss the idea of openness and the aspirations of their people for greater freedom will find it increasingly difficult to maintain peace and security. Those countries that attempt to monopolize economic activity or make it so difficult for individuals to open their own businesses, they will find it increasingly hard to prosper. And those societies that believe they can be closed to change, to ideas, cultures, and beliefs that are different from theirs, will find quickly that in our internet world they will be left behind…
But what we have to do is make a convincing case that those of us who have joined up to the Open Government Partnership really mean what we say. It’s not enough to assert that we are committed to openness. We have to deliver on the commitments that we have made…
Let me mention a few examples of how that is already occurring. Chile, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Peru, Romania, Spain, and Tanzania are all creating websites to make public data available to citizens on everything from crime statistics to political party financing to local budgets and procurement.
Bulgaria, Croatia, and Tanzania are creating “citizens’ budgets,” to explain in plain, accessible language how public resources are spent.
Ukraine, the Slovak Republic, Montenegro are introducing “e-petitions” on websites to make it easier for citizens to send their ideas and opinions directly to policymakers, and I want to commend the Slovak Republic and Montenegro for also introducing whistle-blowing protection laws to ensure that those who expose corruption are not punished or harmed…
These initiatives are designed to reduce corruption because we know corruption kills a country’s potential. It drains resources. It protects dishonest leaders. It takes away people’s drive to improve themselves or their communities. So the cure for corruption is openness, and by belonging to the Open Government Partnership, every country here is sending a message to their own people that we will stand for openness. And we’re going to hold ourselves accountable. As this process moves forward, we’re going to have to have report cards about whether we are living up to our own pledges of openness or not…
Too bad we don’t get some of the same things the citizens in Estonia, Romania, Tanzania, and Croatia are getting. A shame we don’t get protection for whistleblowers like the Ukraine and Montenegro. We may not score too well on that report card she mentions, although I suspect that the US may assign itself the role of grading the exams and decide to use the curve when it comes to our own grade. That’s the way it works when we give ourselves the rights of oversight. This is an interesting word, “oversight”, in that it can express two diametrically opposing ideas.
1. an omission or mistake, esp one made through failure to notice something
We always assume that when a politician talks about ‘oversight’ or an ‘oversight committee’, he means the second definition. But maybe this is one of those big cons of the modern age. Maybe when an agency is formed to have oversight of an industry, the real purpose is to overlook and hide mistakes and omissions. The way this works is that we may think that the FDA, for example, is set up to watch over our environmental safety. The politicians want us to believe this. Meanwhile, with increasing frequency these days, the job of the FDA is to provide cover for corporations that are killing us with unsafe and contaminated practices in food production and environmental practices. When the truth eventually comes out, they whip out the other definition of the word oversight: “Sorry about that Agent Orange in your corn. That was an oversight.” An oversight in our oversight mechanisms, so to (double-) speak. I am kidding about the FDA apologizing for the toxic corn. They actually have not yet confessed to the Agent Orange in the food crops, since we have not as a group glommed onto the poisonous crap they are allowing our foodstuffs to be treated with and complained about it very much so far.
Imagine that you live in a country where one company, which seeks domination over the entire agricultural production of the globe and which is modifying the genetics of seeds in ways which are now thought to cause cancer and which certainly causes mutation in weeds and insects was being helped in its quest by the government itself. Imagine that although it is known that the genetic modification of plant life was known to cause major health problems in humans, the government of this country was allowing the company to gain control of the entire food chain so that the citizens had no choice but to eat their products. The citizens were being used as ipso-facto guinea pigs in this experiment. Imagine that this company was stripping the land of its nutritional properties, so that the soil was left sterile and the food grown on it contained only 10% the nutrients it used to. Imagine that although there are supposed to be regulations protecting the people from unsafe food products, and rules about the safe management of crops, the people assigned to see to the food safety and regulations work for this company. Imagine that the State Dept. of that country was seeking to force every other country on the globe through the threats to the economic well-being of those countries to have to use this company and only this company to produce their food. Doing this even in countries which are allies and which have done research showing such alarming findings about genetic modification of seeds that they have banned these crops. Imagine that the State Dept and one of the main humanitarian outreach programs operated by this government hired people who also worked for this corporation and that all employees in the agricultural branches of the State Dept and this humanitarian aid group were told to promote this company.
That would be the US. The company is Monsanto. It is our State Dept. and the humanitarian group is USAid. [See: Why Is the State Department Using Our Money to Pimp for Monsanto? http://www.alternet.org/food/152921 ] If another country did this, our elected officials would liken it to a Nazi experiment and call for sanctions. Since it is the US, we handle it like this: the President appointed a former Monsanto executive to run the FDA and refuses to answer questions about White House ties to Monsanto lobbyists, as it would “hurt Monsanto’s bottom line”. http://on.rt.com/wzmp53 So much for that transparency thing. The Bush administration was very aggressive in its quest to spread Monsanto products globally; Obama is simply treading in his footsteps. [See: http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/23/wikileaks_cables_reveal_us_sought_to ]
The US Dept. of Agriculture has decided to speed up approval times for Monsanto products (“Monsanto is losing money while it is waiting for approvals,” they worry). http://www.nationofchange.org/usda-give-monsanto-s-new-gmo-crops-special-speed-approval-1330267848
Judges are also siding with Monsanto against suits brought by local farmers whose crops are being contaminated with Monsanto seed and pesticides. http://www.nationofchange.org/judge-sides-monsanto-ridicules-farmers-right-grow-food-without-fear-contamination-and-economic-harm- Because Monsanto (and Bayer) pesticides are now linked to the bee colony collapse, they did what any self-respecting corporation would do: they bought a major bee research company. http://www.nationofchange.org/blamed-bee-collapse-monsanto-buys-leading-bee-research-firm-1334850010. The EPA has just decided not to ban the pesticide 2,4-d, after making petitioners wait years for their decision, despite the fact that 2,4-d is – all kidding aside – literally the key ingredient in Agent Orange. http://rt.com/usa/news/epa-pesticide-24-d-petition-831/
And now, the US government has just given permission for Monsanto to use pretty much the entire western section of the US as an experimental lab, giving them the right to grow crops to test some of their genetically modified seed in arid conditions.
…The government has agreed to let Monsanto test out the biotech crop on farms owned by the company from the state of South Dakota down through Texas to see if the seed stands to be commercially viable; if so, it is expected to be made available for purchase in 2013. With America’s small-time agriculturists in danger — and already largely threatened by industry giant Monsanto — a success for the seed could see yet more farmers finding themselves unable to compete and forced to throw in the towel.
It’s not all about Monsanto, of course. The EPA, our agency of oversight, has decided not to ban a chemical known by the rest of the entire globe to cause serious health risk – hell, even manufacturers are starting to end the use of BPA in their canned products.
The FDA’s decision comes five years since Environmental Working Group’s groundbreaking 2007 study showed that leached from epoxy linings of cans into surrounding food and drink. EWG’s tests showed the highest concentrations of the chemical, a synthetic estrogen, in canned soup, pasta and infant formula. […]
The chemical has been associated with many health problems, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, insulin resistance, reproductive defects, diabetes and miscarriages.
The Dept. of Ag., not to be outdone by the EPA, has decided to let the chicken industry inspect itself. Because self-inspection works so well in other circles, such as the financial and oil industries, where the regulators are pretty much the same people as the lobbyists and industry insiders. http://tinyurl.com/7qtt45m
The EPA is “thinking about” banning the pesticide that is now considered to be a primary cause of bee colony collapse, despite the absolutely alarming bee die-off in the last several years.
I would remind you that without pollinators, we lose one third of our food crops. No food = no people. Although maybe the government has some really keen idea for hiring humans to hand-pollinate all the crops in the US. We are, after all, talking about the same guys who accepted the excuse of “proprietary trade secrets” from fracking companies when asked by citizens to look into exactly what chemicals are being dumped into ground-stream water at fracking sites. Instead of demanding that the FDA and the USDA do their freaking jobs, we allow the politicians in DC to turn them into such useless agencies that we will agree to their eventual and complete defunding and demise, which seems to be the goal of both Democrats and Republicans now. Dismantling these agencies will not save taxpayer monies, if you are trying to think of some positive aspect to all this; your taxes will simply be shifted over to the war department and Homeland Security so that we can be controlled as our food and fresh water resources are poisoned beyond reclamation or simply run out altogether.
We the people need to demand back our right of oversight of our government.
Here is the executive order. It blocks certain persons and entities from entering the US and freezes their assets. It also freezes the assets of any American who is involved with these “entities” or donates anything to these entities, and does so without notice because financial transactions can occur instantaneously over the internet. I.e., it would take too long to warn someone before the fact that their assets are frozen. So, now, wait, if “twitter” or “facebook” is found to be turning over the records of dissidents to the government of Iran so that Iran can crack down on protesters, does that mean “twitter” and “facebook” are banned from doing business in the US? Are their assets frozen? And if you participate in facebook or twitter, are your assets now frozen?
– – – – – – –
BLOCKING THE PROPERTY AND SUSPENDING ENTRY INTO THE
UNITED STATES OF CERTAIN PERSONS WITH RESPECT TO GRAVE
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES BY THE GOVERNMENTS OF IRAN AND SYRIA
VIA INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the commission of serious human rights abuses against the people of Iran and Syria by their governments, facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments, and abetted by entities in Iran and Syria that are complicit in their governments’ malign use of technology for those purposes, threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The Governments of Iran and Syria are endeavoring to rapidly upgrade their technological ability to conduct such activities. Cognizant of the vital importance of providing technology that enables the Iranian and Syrian people to freely communicate with each other and the outside world, as well as the preservation, to the extent possible, of global telecommunications supply chains for essential products and services to enable the free flow of information, the measures in this order are designed primarily to address the need to prevent entities located in whole or in part in Iran and Syria from facilitating or committing serious human rights abuses. In order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergencies declared in Executive Order 12957 of March 15, 1995, as relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps in subsequent Executive Orders, and to address the situation described above, I hereby order:
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property 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 any United States person, including any foreign branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(i) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and
(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with or at the recommendation of the Secretary of State:
(A) to have operated, or to have directed the operation of, information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
(B) to have sold, leased, or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or network disruption, monitoring, or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
(C) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the activities described in subsections (a)(ii)(A) and (B) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
(D) 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 apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.
Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the two national emergencies identified in the preamble to this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:
(a) 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
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 4. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens who meet one or more of the criteria in section 1 of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons. Such persons shall be treated as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions).
Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, 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.
Sec. 6. Nothing in section 1 of this order shall prohibit transactions for the conduct of the official business of the United States Government by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.
Sec. 7. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;
(b) the term “information and communications technology” means any hardware, software, or other product or service primarily intended to fulfill or enable the function of information processing and communication by electronic means, including transmission and display, including via the Internet;
(c) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(d) 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;
(e) the term “Government of Iran” means the Government of Iran, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Iran, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of Iran; and
(f) the term “Government of Syria” means the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities.
Sec. 8. 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 those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the two national emergencies identified in the preamble to this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec. 9. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec. 10. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.
Sec. 11. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 12. The measures taken pursuant to this order with respect to Iran are in response to actions of the Government of Iran occurring after the conclusion of the 1981 Algiers Accords, and are intended solely as a response to those later actions.
Sec. 13. This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on April 23, 2012.