OF THE STATE
By Jon Christian Ryter
October 3, 2004
An excerpt from the book, Whatever Happened To America?
In 1917 Woodrow Wilson's Congress enacted the Trading With the Enemy Act to regulateónot forbidótrade with belligerent nations. The language of this piece of legislation defined precisely who was, and who was not, an enemy of the United States. Specifically excluded from that classification were the citizens of the United States. That was an oversight that would be corrected three days after Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed the mantle of the presidency on March 6, 1933.
During the first 100 days of Roosevelt's administration, Congress passed a litany of legislative programs ostensibly designed to stimulate the economy and send America back to work. Most of this legislation was expediently enacted with about as much congressional forethought as the Emergency Banking Relief Act. A great deal of it, like the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Congressional Gold Repeal Joint Resolution, violated the Constitution of the United States, and portions of those acts would be declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1935.
The first of three laws designed to wrest control of the United States away from the States and the people was engineered on May 9, 1933. This law, enacted without a single Congressman or Senator reading it—and after only 40 minutes of debate in both houses of Congress, by both parties—was the Emergency Banking Relief Act.
There were at least two reasons Roosevelt didn't want Congress looking too closely at the language of the Emergency Banking Relief Act. First, it restructured the banking system of the United States and placed even more monetary control in the hands of the central bankers. Second, it gave Roosevelt war powers control over the United States of America in peacetime. But most important, it changed the language of the Trading with the Enemy Act, effectively classifying the citizens of the United States as the enemies of their own central government. And, it did one other thing. It granted Roosevelt (or whomever would follow him into the White House) the right to redefine the ownership of private property in the United States.
Such redefinition was necessary since the war powers authority Roosevelt was being accorded to deal with the national emergency granted him the right to seize the property of those who failed to comply with the laws which were being enacted. The right to seize the property of American citizens without due process would be one of the paramount weapons the government would continue to use long after the emergency expired. It would be a much-used weapon by the Internal Revenue Service, which has not hesitated to seize any asset or property of any American citizen without due process since 1934. In the last few years, that right has also been assumed by State and federal police agencies who now seize the assets of drug dealers and those charged with violations of the RICO act—at the time of arrest, not conviction. Gone forever is the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Municipalities do the same when they seize the vehicles driven by johns arrested for seeking the illicit pleasures of prostitutes in hundreds of sting operations launched each year by countless brigades of city and county police agencies throughout the country. All such laws, regardless of their deterrent qualities, and regardless if they are upheld by the courts, violate the Constitution of the United States because they deny the accused the right to due process before seizure takes placeóan inalienable right they possess under the Constitution of the United States.
It is a troubling sign of our times that courts of law in America, regardless of the compelling interest of society to eradicate the proliferation of illegal drugs that are taking such a devastating toll on human life and dignity while breeding all other forms of crime from petty larceny to murder, would wantonly violate the Constitution of the United States under the guise of providing a safer and more secure America.
The redefinition of private property rights is found in Senate Document 43 that examined, and attempted to justify, the ramifications of the powers delegated to the President under the War Powers Act—albeit after-the-fact. On page 9 of that document, the Senate brazenly declared: "The ultimate ownership of all property is in the State; individual so-called 'ownership' is only by virtue of the Government, i.e., law, amounting to mere user..." That particular facet of Document 43, further clarified by Senate Report 93-549, has become codified by precedent.
As the Senate began to examine exactly what powers they had granted the President by amending the Trading With the Enemy Act on March 9, 1933, they concluded that: "Under these powers the president may: seize property; organize and control the means of production; seize commodities; assign military forces abroad; institute martial law; seize and control all transportation and communication; regulate the operation of private industry; restrict travel, and in a plethora of particular ways, control the lives of all American citizens." (Senate Report 93-549.)
It is important to note that every dictatorship in the modern world has abrogated the rights of private ownership, seized property at will, organized and controlled all production within its society, seized and controlled the transportation infrastructure of the nation, nationalized communications to censor the free expression of opinion—and restricted the movement of its citizens. This is usually done with an internal passport which the citizens of every authoritarian country are required to carry with them at all times. Whenever these steps are taken by any government, democracy dies a bittersweet death and totalitarianism is born in the ashes of lost freedom.
The Roosevelt brain trust, in paving the way for Roosevelt to implement his New Deal programs, privately acknowledged that most of the economic and social programs they were constructing even before Roosevelt assumed the White House would be legally problematic when viewed in the context of the constitutionality of a United States president's authority in peacetime. In times of war, the Constitution allows for the broadening of presidential powers by the Chief Executive to deal with extraneous, albeit temporary, emergencies that seriously threaten the security and welfare of the nation.
However, in 1933 America was not at war. It was a dilemma the brain trust would quickly solve by modifying the Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917 to include any national emergency. In doing so, it was also necessary to redefine the enemy since the extraneous authority granted the President under the terms of Public Law 91 was directed only at the enemies, and allies of the enemies, of the United States. A peacetime application of the Trading With the Enemy Act without some form of universal modification that would allow Roosevelt to apply the tenets of that law against the citizens of the United States would be meaningless.
Public Law 1, stemming from H.R. 1491, will long be remembered both as the bill nobody read and the legislation that gave the President of the United States dictatorial power over America. As Americans, many of us criticize those citizens who blindly vote for candidates based solely on their political affiliation without possessing any knowledge of the issues at stake in the election in which they are casting their ballots. Yet, in the Congress of the United States, on March 9, 1933, those we elected to represent us before the federal government of the United States did precisely that very thing themselves. Is it any wonder the electorate of Amer-ica has a herd mentality?
What happened that day in 1933 is more terrifying than the stock market crash and the ensuing Depression combined. Clearly those we elected, and continue to elect, no longer represent the constituents who placed them in office—and have not for several years. Most career politicians have been institutionalized and clearly represent only the interests of big government—and the special interest groups that contribute massive amounts to keep them in office so they can manipulate the reins of government from behind the scenes in the name of the general public they are sworn to serve.
The special session of Congress that met on March 9, 1933 did so because the President of the United States called them to address a national emergency of such extraordinary proportions that it required extraordinary legislation to cope with the crisis. If that fact, in and of itself, was not a red flag (pardon the pun), the failure to read the legislation being considered for rushed passage (another red flag), or the preamble of the legislation itself should have been.
"Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Congress hereby declares that a serious emergency exists and that it is imperatively necessary speedily to put into effect remedies of uniform national application.
TITLE I. Section 1. The actions, regulations, rules, licenses, orders and proclamations heretofore or hereafter taken, promulgated, made, or issued by the President of the United States or the Secretary of the Treasury since March 4, 1933, pursuant to the authority conferred by subsection (b) of section 5 of the Act of October 6, 1917, as amended, are hereby approved and confirmed."
A very large red flag was being waved.
The Emergency Bill begins with an admission that the new President and his Treasury Secretary had already broken the law; and were now seeking not only retroactive exoneration for those deeds, but absolution from future infractions of the Constitution as well. Clearly, Roosevelt and Attorney General Homer Cummings did not want Congress scrutinizing the bill too closely because some of the very subtle textual changes they made in their revisions of the Act of October 6, 1917 might not stand up under the light of day.
Many Congressmen believed the only revisions were those found in Section 5(b) (italicized). "During time of war or during any other period of national emergency declared by the President, the President may, through any agency he may designate, or otherwise, investigate, regulate, or prohibit, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, by means of license or otherwise, any transactions in foreign exchange, transfers of credits between or payments by banking institutions as defined by the President, and export, hoarding, melting, or earmarking of gold or silver coin or bullion or currency, by any person within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof..."
In fact, the Act of October 6, 1917 expressly forbade the President from interfering in banking transactions executed wholly within the United States. Furthermore, Public Law 91, Chapter 106, declares itself to be "An Act to define, regulate, and punish trading with the enemy, and for other purposes" —none of which dealt with citizens of the United States, clearly defined by Section 2(c): "(c) Such other individuals, or body or class of individuals, as may be natives, citizens, or subjects of any nation with which the United States is at war, other than citizens of the United States..." Again, we see the same exclusion. As defined under the Act of October 6, 1917, American citizens were exempted from the classification of an "enemy." However, in the Roosevelt version, the only people under scrutiny for punitive action are American citizens—or those who haplessly fall within the jurisdiction of the United States government. Roosevelt sought, and was granted by Congress, power to engage in an economic war against the people of the United States.
It may well be that the only use Roosevelt intended to make of the expanded war powers authority was to protect his Administration from any potential problems that could have arisen from assuming prerogatives he did not legally possess when he closed the banks over which he had no Constitutional authority. More likely than not, either he or his brain trust—or both—realized that his far-reaching socialist agenda to nationalize the industrial base of America would usurp not only the separation of powers between the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the federal government, but would create insurmountable sovereignty issues between the federal government and the States as well. Realizing that, possessing supra-wartime powers would weigh heavily in disputes with either the States or with Congress.
On September 14, 1976 Congress passed H.R. 3884, the National Emergencies Act (50 USC 1601), Public Law 94-412, to terminate the broad powers previously granted to the President. Exempted from the law were any and all actions taken before the bill became law; or, any fines, assessments or penalties due the government from those actions.
However, what Congress erased with one hand, it rewrote with the other. The only thing permanently taken from the President was autonomy. Section 201.(a) granted virtually the same powers to the Congress, which must now authorize the President to declare states of national emergencies that he could formerly do without their consent.
This slight of hand was important to Congress because it allows Congress, through a concurrent resolution, to terminate any state of emergency declared by the President. Retained, almost in its entirety, was the infamous Section 5(b) which classified the citizens of the United States as enemies of their government. The Trading With the Enemy Act has now been duly codified, and is now a permanent part of the U.S. Federal Code. And the American people have permanently been classified as enemies of their federal government.
Order the book: Whatever Happened to America?
© 2004 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website. E-Mail: BAFFauthor@aol.com
The Emergency Bill begins with an admission that the new President and his Treasury Secretary had already broken the law; and were now seeking not only retroactive exoneration for those deeds, but absolution from future infractions of the Constitution as well.