Monday, March 10, 2008

WH cites terrorism in considering unilateral sanctions on Venezuela

According to this news article from McClatchy, the Bush Administration directed its lawyers to determine what criteria must be used to designate Venezuela as a "State Sponsor of terrorism". If the WH is successful in placing this designation on Venezuela, the country will immediately be subject to severe U.S. sanctions.

Apparently the Secretary of State has the authority to make this designation. A brief search through the State Department's website does not reveal any specific criteria to be used in making such a determination.

It does however, have a page detailing the penalties resulting from the designation. It begins with a convoluted (some might say circular) definition:
"Designating countries that repeatedly provide support for acts of international terrorism (that is, placing a country on the terrorism list) imposes four main sets of U.S. Government sanctions..."
Basically, this appears to amount to a standard of "it is what we say it is". But this would be a decision with powerful results, including:
A ban on arms-related exports and sales
Controls over exports of dual-use items
Prohibitions on economic assistance
Imposition of miscellaneous financial and other restrictions, including:
Requiring the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank and other international financial institutions
Denial of duty-free treatment of goods exported to the United States;
Authority to prohibit any U.S. citizen from engaging in a financial transaction with a terrorist-list government without a Treasury Department license
These are, or certainly could be, crippling sanctions. Essentially, all or a large part of trade between Venezuela and the U.S. could be shut down. The shutdown would occur on the say-so of one person: Condoleeza Rice.

The Bush Administration doesn't like Venezuela's government. It doesn't like Venezuela's economic system (socialist). It doesn't like Hugo Chavez, especially with his constant public satire directed at GWBush. And the Bush Administration has not yet found a pseudo-plausible reason to bomb or invade Venezuela yet. But, ever wily, the WH believes it has found a simple method of doing damage to and imposing its will upon Hugo Chavez and his recalcitrant country.

The authority for the Administration to do this is found, at least in part, in Section 310 of the Export Administration Act of 2001. This section mentions various hoops that must be jumped through for states to get off the list and/or to acquire waivers ("licenses"). These hoops include congressional notification, reports, and analysis. But for a country to get on the list? No congressional notification, consultation, or anything else. In fact, the statute contains the same "standard" for determination of terrorist state as is mentioned, in passing, on the State Department's website. It is as follows:
...the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism...
And that is all. Such a succinct standard, with no objective elements to speak of, is perfect if you are in favor of an omnipotent executive. (Apparently the circa-2001 Congress was not much interested in overseeing these types of decisions.) This standard could, if the executive and his subservient Secretary were so inclined, be satisfied by almost any shreds of trumped up innuendo, rumors, and half-truths. And yet, we probably shouldn't worry. Because this particular executive and his associates have always in the past been known to act honorably and in good faith.


Gleemonex said...

Oh yes, I trust those two completely! I'm sure they wouldn't use ill-thought-out statutes for personal or political reasons! If they say Venezuela is bursting at the seams with terroristas, well then, that's good enough for me! Righty-o!

Anonymous said...

of course, they are completely trustworthy. and George Bush is so totally above using "terrorism" to advance a personal agenda (in this case, putting a beatdown on Chavez for calling him names).

HHL said...

Right. And naturally it matters not that the direct effects of such a move would increase the suffering of ordinary Venezuelans, who are already suffering economically -- and facing shortages of ordinary food items -- by virtue of living under Chavez's crackpot socialism. Something I'm sure Bush would want to avoid, like he has in Cuba. Oh, wait...

Not to take the focus off the real issue, which is that -- under the guise of protecting us (and the entire world!) from terrorists, this administration has amassed virtually unchecked power through the passage of laws like this one, which provide no Congressional oversight whatsoever.

Denney Crane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denney Crane said...

Hate to rain on anybody's parade here, but it has been reported that Afghan, Pakastanian and Iranian rebels/terrorists are being allowed to stage their entry into the US from an island belonging to Venezuala.

There are many things happening in that country presently. Russia is sending an undisclosed amount of weaponry there and terrorist organizations are acclimating themselves to the area in an effort to pass as Hispanic Americans. Most of this is funded by certain drug cartels in an effort to get the US to leave their business alone.

As usual, it's about the money. Although, with their oil reserves, terrorism is good for business.

HHL said...

uh, yeah. thanks for demonstrating exactly the kind of trumped up bullshit that could conceivably be used to justify this type of action.

Denney Crane said...

Trumped up???

You think an Admiral would have a sub off their coast at all times because it's trumped up...or the satelite photos you don't get to see are bogus? How about the communications we intercept on a daily basis?

Let me assure you, after what happened in Irag, we will not put sanctions on Venezuela unless we can damn well prove it...

Also, counter intelligence cannot allow some of these things to go public since it would hamper their ability to infiltrate and analyze.

Trumped up...very soon you will get the whole story...after a few explosions.