Can Internet curb Clinton power?

By Sarah Foster

Inspired in part by the successful use of the Internet in derailing
the “Know Your Customer” regulation promulgated by the Federal Deposit
Insurance Agency, a group of 14 congressmen and eight constitutional
attorneys plan to take the fight for American liberties and national
sovereignty to cyberspace.

The Liberty Study Committee,
organized by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, will focus on three interrelated
issues: privacy, including efforts to require Americans to have a
national ID; presidential executive orders; and the United Nations.

“I am sorry and dismayed that our liberty is indeed being taken,”
Paul says, explaining the mission of the committee. “However, regret and
disappointment are not the same as surrender. We are not surrendering,
we are fighting back.”

And they are doing so with determination. According to Kent Snyder,
the group’s executive director, the Liberty Study Committee is not a
think tank or research foundation, but an “action-oriented organization”
that will enable Americans to make their voices heard in Congress.

“Everything we do is to advance the legislative remedy to a problem,”
Snyder told WorldNetDaily. “That’s priority one for the Liberty Study
Committee. There are plenty of organizations that do research, and we
encourage that, but our primary focus is not education but the
legislative solution. Everything we do must advance the solution — a
specific piece of legislation. And we will use the Internet to do it.”

Although it’s a new group, the Liberty Study Committee has already
made its presence felt on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year they set up a
website, NoNationalID.com. With a
click of a mouse, people could write what they thought about national
IDs and e-mail the message directly to their representative and the two
senators from their state.

On Oct. 1, the House passed the Omnibus Transportation Bill, which
included a rider by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., repealing a section of
a statute passed in 1996 requiring that, as of Oct. 1, 2000, Americans
would be forced to carry a national ID. Under provisions of the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act, without an ID no one would be
allowed to board a commercial flight, purchase a handgun, receive
federal benefits or take a new, private sector job.

Although the repeal language survived the House Appropriations
Committee, there was concern that it might be deleted on the floors of
the House and possibly the Senate.

That didn’t happen. The repeal language was kept by both houses —
thanks in large part to public response flooding congressional offices
with e-mails, faxes and letters.

“This is a great moment for all Americans,” said Paul, who led the
fight in the House. “We have succeeded in defeating a program that would
have deprived Americans of constitutional liberties, while imposing a
massive federal bureaucracy to monitor their every step from cradle to
grave.”

Snyder detailed the victory to WorldNetDaily.

“We had a lot of people going to the site, a lot of people sending
messages at the very last minute,” Snyder said. “Sources who were
involved in the process admitted that our presence was definitely felt.”

Although elated, Snyder cautioned that “the issue isn’t going to go
away.”

“The committee must remain alert for any push for any form of a
national ID card,” he said. “We know that the forces that want a
national ID will continue to work for it, and we’ll continue to fight
it.”

With one victory to their credit, the Liberty Study Committee is
turning attention to other areas of concern.

“The 72-hour effort was a practice run for a much larger effort,”
said Snyder.

“The effort to stop the national ID within a 72-hour period was a
success … so we are taking that success and using it as a first step
towards a similar effort on executive orders, the United Nations, and
the other issues related to a national ID. We have the model, we have
activists nationwide who have used it, we are becoming better known by
liberty-minded individuals throughout the country.”

At present, the Committee is focusing on the president’s practice of
issuing executive orders to expand presidential power and set policy
agendas, something Paul and his colleagues find particularly egregious.

“By using executive orders and declarations of emergency, President
Clinton is vastly increasing the power of the national government over
us,” says Paul. “He is also concentrating more power in his hands alone
by taking the legislative power that rightfully belongs to the 535 men
and women of the United States Congress. With each stroke of his pen, he
is effectively rewriting our Constitution.”

Paul cites as examples:

  • Presidential Decision Directive 25 enables the U.S. military
    to be moved under U.N. command without congressional approval.

  • Executive Order 12919 directs cabinet officials to take over all
    aspects of the economy during a declared state of emergency. It
    effectively puts the entire United States under the control of the
    Federal Emergency Management Agency. Currently, the U.S. operates under
    14 states of emergency.

  • Executive Order 13133, titled “Working Group on Unlawful Conduct
    on the Internet,” was issued Aug. 7, 1999, stipulating that a group of
    agency heads will define “unlawful conduct.”

President Clinton has signed over 300 executive orders since
assuming office in January 1993. The number doesn’t include the
presidential directives (which are kept secret), the various initiatives
— such as the Clean Water Initiative — that also provide a way for the
administration to make end runs around Congress and justify federal
intervention in state and local governments.

“We’d need a lifespan of 300 years to fight all the executive orders
and initiatives if we take them on one at a time,” said Snyder. “If we
attack the orders in a piecemeal way, we’d be going round and round like
gerbils in a cage.

“The only solution is a comprehensive bill — right now that’s Rep.
Paul’s HR 2655 — the Separation of Powers Restoration Act.”

Paul introduced HR 2655 this July, with co-author Jack Metcalf,
R-Wash. It builds on House Concurrent Resolution 30 which Metcalf
introduced in March, but which failed to get out of committee. HR 2655
is far broader than its predecessor.

If enacted, HR 2655 would:

  • Repeal the War Powers Resolution and end all states of
    national emergency.

  • Require that treaties and executive agreements purporting to
    assign powers not amongst those specifically granted to the federal
    government by the Constitution would be non-binding.

  • Require that the president, in issuing executive orders, cite the
    specific congressional enactment and the constitutional authority on
    which it’s based.

  • Prohibit delegation of power to a foreign government or
    international body when no such delegating authority exists under the
    Constitution.

  • Grant legal standing to individual members of Congress, state
    officials and private citizens who believe a presidential executive
    order is unconstitutional.

As it did to fight the national ID law, the Liberty Study
Committee has set up a special website, executiveorders.org with information about an executive order —
what they are, how they work, what they do, as well as a bibliography
about executive orders and emergency powers for people who want to
explore the issue in depth.

“At this juncture, we want to make the public aware of the subject of
executive orders and the abuses,” said Snyder. “There will be an endless
list of abuses — examples of the usurpation by the president of
congressional powers. They represent the total breakdown of the
separation between the presidency and the Congress. Our first step is to
throw some light on this subject.”

Asked what people should do about the problem, Snyder urged that they
use the website, just as they did to oppose the national ID.

“I’d advise them to go to our site to read about executive orders —
then find out online if their representative is a co-sponsor of HR 2655.
If they are not, then send them a message urging them to become a
co-sponsor. Currently we have eight. There are a lot that have not
signed on. If they are co-sponsors, then send a message of thanks.

“We’re involving the public step by step in the legislative process.
It’s very simple: Here’s the issue, here’s the remedy. They must urge
their representatives to take a stand on the issue of presidential
executive orders by supporting HR 2655.”

Selected related stories:

  • Strange bedfellows battle national ID
  • Executive orders go too far?
  • Executive Order 13083 replaced with new one
  • A curb on Clinton power?
  • Clinton’s latest executive order
  • Clinton’s EO from Hell