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Clinton Judge: Bush Can’t Say Who’s Terrorist

From the DNC’s Associated Press:

Judge strikes president’s authority to designate terrorist groups


LOS ANGELES – A federal judge has ruled that a portion of a post-Sept. 11 executive order allowing President Bush to create a list of specially designated global terrorist groups is unconstitutionally vague.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins, in a Nov. 21 ruling released Tuesday, struck down the provision and enjoined the government from blocking the assets of two foreign groups which were placed on the list.

The ruling was praised by David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

"This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists," he said. "It was reminiscent of the McCarthy era."

Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said, "We are currently reviewing the decision and we have made no determination what the government’s next step will be."

The judge’s ruling was a reversal of her own tentative findings last July in which she indicated she would uphold wide powers asserted by Bush under an anti-terror financing law. She delayed her ruling then to allow more legal briefs to be filed.

The long-running litigation has centered on two groups, the Liberation Tigers, which seeks a separate homeland for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan, a political organization representing the interests of Kurds in Turkey.

Both groups have been designated by the United States as foreign terrorist organizations.

The judge’s 45-page ruling granted in part and denied in part a legal challenge brought by the Humanitarian Law Project, which seeks to provide training to the groups in human rights advocacy and provide them with humanitarian aid.

The judge outlined the history of Bush’s Executive Order 13224 issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He declared then that the "grave acts of terrorism" and the "continuing and immediate threat of future attacks" constituted a national emergency.

He blocked all property and interests in property of 27 groups or individuals named as "specially designated global terrorists (SDGT)." Bush also authorized the secretary of the treasury to designate anyone who "assists, sponsors or provides services to" or is "otherwise associated with" a designated group.

Collins found that Bush’s authority to designate SDGTs is "unconstitutionally vague on its face." She also found that the provision involving those "otherwise associated with" the groups is vague and overbroad and could impinge on First Amendment rights of free association. She struck down both provisions.

However, she let stand sections of the order that would penalize those who provide "services" to designated terrorist groups. She said such services would include the humanitarian aid and rights training proposed by the plaintiffs.

Cole said the Humanitarian Law Project will appeal those portions of the executive order which were allowed to stand. He said the judge’s ruling does not invalidate the hundreds of SDGT designations already made but "calls them into question."

Cole said the value of the decision is it "says that even in fighting terrorism the president cannot be given a blank check to blacklist anyone he considers a bad guy or a bad group and you can’t imply guilt by association."

Yet another dictat from our black robed mullahs.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, November 28th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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