Clinton Latest Executive Order -
Bill Of Rights In Peril?
By Sarah Foster
© 1998
While national attention was focused on the impending impeachment, President Clinton signed an executive order which critics say promotes a globalist agenda and endangers the Bill of Rights.
Dec. 10 marked the half-century anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.
Fifty years ago, representatives of the member states met in Paris and put their signatures on the document that was hailed by many as a great freedom landmark of human history -- on a par with England's Magna Carta and America's Bill of Rights.
The date of the signing has been commemorated annually by presidential proclamation designating it Human Rights Day, and the week following as Human Rights Week.
Taking advantage of the historical significance of this year's celebration, President Clinton, at a morning ceremony at the White House, unveiled a set of eight policy initiatives (including an executive order) intended as a way "to advance human rights at home and abroad."
"Today we commit ourselves to the ideas of the Universal Declaration, to keep moving toward the promise outlined in Paris 50 years ago," Clinton solemnly intoned -- and pledged American resources to combat virtually every iniquity in the world from genocide in Africa, to the suffering of women in Afghanistan, to "hate" crimes and sweatshops in this country.
As a publicity generator, the event fell flat. Although an undisclosed number of dignitaries and members of Congress were present, apparently national attention was so focused on the impeachment proceedings that the White House ceremony was ignored by the public and the press. Not even the president's announcement of the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award -- a new annual award honoring the former first lady and crediting her as the driving force behind the creation and adoption of the Universal Declaration -- could draw attention away from the discussions in progress on the Hill.
Not surprisingly, the initiatives went largely unreported -- until now.
Heading the list was a far-reaching executive order, Number 13107, calling for Implementation of Human Rights Treaties (such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), and directing agencies and departments of the executive branch to set up mechanisms for carrying out the obligations mandated by these treaties. This will require the states to change their laws and programs to assure conformity and bring them into line with the treaties' requirements. A number of human rights treaties (like the Convention for the Rights of the Child) have yet to be ratified by the Senate, despite considerable arm-twisting by the administration.
The executive order creates a new Interagency Working Group on Human Rights Treaties, headed by the assistant to the president for national security affairs and comprised -- for a start -- of policy and legal representatives from the departments of State, Justice, Labor, Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other agencies can be brought on board if the chair deems it appropriate. The working group would develop "effective mechanisms" to make sure that legislation proposed by the administration (as well as that originated by Congress) is reviewed for "conformity with international human rights obligations." The working group is specifically tasked with monitoring the actions and legislation by the states, commonwealths, and territories of the United States -- and the Indian tribes as well -- to ensure that non-federal entities are brought into "conformity" with the treaties.
The other initiatives are not as broad in scope, but expand government powers nonetheless, in some instances, into foreign countries. Here, a synopsis of each:
Establishment of a Genocide Early Warning Center -- run by the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency -- to focus intelligence resources "on situations that could potentially lead to genocide," in various parts of the world, particularly Africa.
To increase U.S. response to human rights "emergencies," $8 million will be given over the next five years to non-governmental organizations "to develop rapid response capacities." The NGOs are to create overseas "assessment teams" and "monitoring units" to keep tabs on "abuses" in foreign countries. To help victims of human rights abuse, several NGOs that assist human rights victims -- for instance Afghan women and survivors of genocide -- will receive funding, and contributions to the U.N. Voluntary Fund for Torture will be increased.
$30 million will be allocated this year to the International Labor Organization's Internation Program on the Elimination of Child Labor.
The federal government will push for legislation allowing illegal aliens who are the victims of "serious abuses" in the U.S. -- for instance, forced labor or forced prostitution -- to gain lawful status if they identify abusers.
New guidelines are to be issued for easier adjudication of asylum claims by children in the United States.
To prevent youth hate crime, the Department of Education will distribute a publication of a guide for schools entitled "Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crimes."
In terms of expanding federal power, these human rights initiatives -- in particular, the executive order -- go even further than other Clinton proposals, such as E.O. 13083 on federalism. Had E.O. 13083 not been suspended, critics say it would have wiped out the last vestiges of state authority and given the federal government complete power over state government and the people. These recent initiatives open up the matter of treaties and treaty-based law.
Larry Becraft, a constitutional attorney in Huntsville, Alabama, has made a long-term study of how treaties are used as a tool to expand federal jurisdiction. In a telephone interview he discussed with WorldNetDaily the hows and whys of these latest spinnings from the Clinton White House.
According to Becraft, treaties have been used for decades by both lawmakers and the executive branch to make end runs around the Constitution and loosen its restraints on government power. Executive orders, an administrative tool which Clinton has used freely to forward his own ends, can be either benign or malignant.
"Basically, executive orders are intended to govern the executive branch," Becraft explained. "Under Title 5, Section 301 of the U.S. Code, the president can issue rules and regulations to tell the agencies what to do. If you had a constitutionalist president, he'd be issuing constitutionalist-minded executive orders. If you have a 'Red' president he's going to issue 'Red' executive orders -- like the one he signed about Federalism. So that's what this is. Clinton is directing his departments to start implementing the Human Rights treaties and their provisions. He's using the legal tool he has with Title 5, Section 301, to begin the implementation process.
"Now if you look at these 'human rights' that they're talking about in those treaties, they're not really what we'd call absolute rights -- they're privileges. They're granted by the government. They can be suspended in the time of a declared national emergency, there are a lot of conditions attached," Becraft noted.
In talking about the interagency working group headed by the president's assistant on national security affairs, a part of the National Security Council, Becraft minced no words in his discussion of Clinton's goal of world government and the importance of the military.
"If your agenda is to establish world government -- which Clinton's is -- the military of all nations must be converted into law enforcement," he observed. "If they make these human rights provisions a policy, they've got to have some way to enforce them. Right now they've got the militaries around the world doing it, but I'll rue the day they come up with a world police.
"In all the treaties -- the environmental ones, like the human rights ones -- there's always some international agency that will eventually enforce it. But they need a national one meanwhile. That's what this interagency working group is all about. It will start dictating to the state, territories, and Indian tribes what their legislation is going to be," Becraft said. "That's the objective."
Aaron Zelman is another critic of the new policy initiatives. Zelman heads Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, a non-profit public policy group based in Wisconsin, dedicated to defending the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms.
Zelman believes his is the only civil rights organization that actively promotes the celebration of Bill of Rights Day Dec. 15, the day the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution were ratified in 1791. Presidents issue proclamations formally recognizing the occasion -- at the same time designating Dec. 10 as Human Rights Day. But somehow, the Bill of Rights gets downplayed in the cacophony generated over Human Rights -- a happenstance Zelman believes is very wrong.
"The Human Rights Declaration is a sham," he remarked bluntly.
As Zelman sees it, "The ultimate human right is the ability to keep oneself alive, and the present administration -- through its support of gun control schemes -- has shown a complete disregard for that right and for the right of a people to defend themselves against a government that's gone bad."
Without the Second Amendment, the other rights in the Bill of Rights would not survive, observes Zelman. There would be no right to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press. "The Second Amendment is the insurance policy for the other rights -- and the Declaration of Human Rights ignores this completely," he said. "It does not recognize the right to keep and bear arms." The human rights treaties declare that people have a "right to life, liberty, and security of person," Zelman noted. He then asked, "But how in the world do you support that? Security, like charity, starts at home. The best security for a nation is a heavily armed citizenry. The treaties don't specifically negate the holding of arms -- yet. But they will," he predicted.
Zelman fears government emphasis on the "sham" rights of the Universal Declaration will destroy the Bill of Rights, because the public will in time lose awareness that it even exists.
"The Bill of Rights will be buried because no one is paying attention to it," he said. "Things like the executive order for Human Rights will bury the Bill of Rights. Then the Human Rights Declaration will be substituted in its place."
© 1998 Western Journalism Center