The Power Trump Can Wield Like a Dictator – The New York Times

This weekend will mark one year since President Trump declared a sham emergency at the southern border to secure money for a wall Congress refused to fund. During that time, federal judges in three cases have declared the president’s move illegal, and Congress has made history by twice voting to terminate the emergency.

Yet the emergency declaration remains in place, even as Mr. Trump announced triumphantly in his State of the Union address that “our borders are secure.”

The lesson is clear: The law governing national emergencies is broken and must be fixed while there is a window of opportunity before the election —  and before our democracy pays a hefty price.

The law in question is the National Emergencies Act. This statute authorizes the president to declare a national emergency, which in turn gives him access to special powers set forth in more than 100 other provisions. Some of these powers seem more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy, like the authority to shut down communications systems, freeze Americans’ bank accounts and lend armed forces to other nations.

In February 2019, Mr. Trump declared that “unlawful migration” at the southern border was a national emergency. At the time, official statistics showed that illegal border crossings were hovering near historic lows. Moreover, Mr. Trump freely admitted that the purpose of using an emergency declaration was to get around Congress, which had refused to fund his pet project, a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico. His administration then announced that it would use emergency powers to raid funding from 127 military construction projects, including ones for weapons maintenance shops, crash fire rescue stations and cyberoperations facilities.

When Congress passed the Emergencies Act in 1976, it included a critical check against just such abuses. Congress would be able to terminate any emergency using a so-called legislative veto, a law that takes effect without the president’s signature. But in 1983, the Supreme Court held that legislative vetoes are unconstitutional, and Congress was forced to amend the law. As it now stands, lawmakers effectively have to muster a veto-proof supermajority to end an emergency. Before last March, Congress had never even attempted such a vote, even though presidents had issued 59 emergency declarations since the law went into effect.

It is proof of the unpopularity of Mr. Trump’s declaration that Congress voted, not once but twice, to terminate the border emergency. In the Senate, 12 Republicans broke ranks to register their disapproval — an extraordinary showing given the party’s record of fealty to Mr. Trump. To achieve a veto-proof supermajority, though, 20 Republicans would have had to defy the president on something that he had made a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. The result was predictable: Mr. Trump twice issued a veto, and Congress was unable to override it.

That left the courts as the sole institutional backstop. To date, federal judges have issued rulings in three cases holding the president’s actions unlawful. Other lawsuits, however, have been thrown out based on findings that the plaintiffs had no right to sue. Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has won the right to continue dipping into the funds while the government appeals the adverse rulings — and has built 101 miles of new border wall.

Lawmakers from both parties have recognized that the system isn’t working. Last July, the Senate Homeland Security Committee voted 12-2 to pass the Article One Act, introduced by Mike Lee, Republican of Utah. Under this bill, presidentially declared emergencies would generally terminate after 30 days unless Congress voted to approve them. This would give the president flexibility when he most needs it — in the moment of crisis — but would ensure that Congress could meaningfully weigh in once the dust cleared. The legislation has broad bipartisan support, as the 2020 presidential election looms and each party considers how these powers might be used if the other side wins. But the bill, like all other legislation, was moved to the back burner during the impeachment proceedings.

It would be unwise to wait much longer. Mr. Trump periodically threatens to use emergency powers in new ways — to impose tariffs against Mexico, for instance, or to order American companies out of China. And while some Democratic hopefuls in the 2020 presidential race have embraced the idea of using emergency powers to fight climate change, the risk we take by leaving Congress powerless to stop abuses is far greater than any likely benefit. There are emergency powers that a president could potentially use to shut down the internet, but none that provide all the authorities and resources that will be necessary to address global warming.

Without sufficient checks, emergency powers have the potential to undermine democracy and core civil liberties. Congress needs to restore those checks now, when both parties are operating behind the veil of ignorance as to who will wield these breathtaking powers in January.

Elizabeth Goitein is a co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: [email protected].

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

The door to dictatorship is wide open – Hays Free Press

The American Revolution was a gift from God, to the entire world. Thirteen loosely-allied, rag-tag colonies went up against the mightiest empire on Earth, and against all odds, prevailed. And in prevailing, they established a new form of government, based on the assumption that all men are created equal – that we don’t need a king to rule over us, that we can govern ourselves, by democratic processes, in a republic. 

Then they wrote an ingenious Constitution, establishing a government with three co-equal branches, each with the power to check the other. They did this mostly and mainly to prevent the rise of a dictator who would destroy the republic. And this Constitution, with its balance of power, has successfully safeguarded the freedoms granted to us in the first 10 amendments, collectively known as The Bill of Rights, for 237 brilliant, priceless years. The freedom of speech. The freedom of religion. The freedom to keep and bear arms. The freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. And all the others. And that revolution of freedom has reached far and wide, waking billions of formerly benighted people to the possibilities of liberty from government oppression.

Without that system of checks and balances between three co-equal branches of government, however, our rights as American citizens come under direct threat, and the candle flame of liberty may more easily be snuffed out.  The Congress’ coequal status lies in its ability to impeach the President, and from that power flows the Congress’ power to oversee the administration and demand accountability.

This President’s strategy has been to simply defy the Congress, in its constitutionally authorized subpoenas of witnesses and documents. He allowed nobody from his administration to testify before Congress. On his orders, no documents were turned over. When Congress sued, he slow-walked the courts as he always does, to prevent the Congress from doing anything about it, while he blatantly cheats in the upcoming election.

By choosing to turn a blind eye to the unprecedented obstruction of Congress by the current President, the Senate Republicans have destroyed that balance of power. Congress is no longer a co-equal branch of the U.S. government. No President need ever cooperate with any Congressional committee in any investigation of his or her administration, ever again. The impeachment power is dead, and the Senate Republicans are the ones who have killed it, and along with it, their own ability to check the abuses of this or future Presidents.

The Senate Republicans have written the President a blank check, to cheat all he wants to, in the upcoming election. We may never have another free and fair election in this “land of the free.” They have also left only the courts standing in the way of this would-be dictator, this frank admirer of Vladimir Putin. And the courts are no problem for Donald Trump. He has been clogging them up and slow-walking them for years. That’s his business model. He has appointed more judges than any President in American history. The courts will not stand in his way, and even if they did, he would appeal to the Supreme Court. The Republican-appointed judges on the highest court in the land are unlikely to have any more courage to stand up to this tyrant than the Senate Republicans.

The door to dictatorship is wide open. If you ever wondered what you would have done, if you had been a German citizen during the rise of Hitler, now is your chance to find out. At stake is not just liberty in the Divided States of America, but freedom throughout the world.

Democrats need to stop pretending they live in a dictatorship – CNN

Lev Golinkin
This shouldn’t be surprising. It’s becoming clear that the fault lies neither in the White House nor in the American public, but in a troubling undercurrent at the heart of the Democrat-led resistance to the Trump administration. Unless we acknowledge and address this, we’re looking at a repeat of 2016.
In nearly every other use of “the resistance” — from World War II to “Star Wars” films — the term refers to individuals battling actual tyranny while actually risking their lives. People saving Jews in Nazi-occupied France didn’t advertise their bravery. Harriet Tubman didn’t walk around the South soliciting accolades. For them, being discovered meant being literally slain. For them, there were consequences.
Democrats whine while Republicans govern
Conversely, Democratic resistance leaders have often accommodated Trump while simultaneously casting themselves as martyrs in primetime passion plays, appropriating historic tragedies and pretending they live in a dictatorship.
In 2018, after Trump held a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, lawmakers and commentators compared the meeting to the Japanese slaughter of two thousand Americans at Pearl Harbor. Others went further, likening the Trump-Putin meeting to the Nazi pogrom of Jews on Kristallnacht.
Last year, California Rep. Eric Swalwell invoked the Holocaust after the Trump campaign issued a memo telling television producers Swalwell and other members of Congress weren’t trustworthy. It was pure trolling, malicious yet toothless. But that didn’t stop Swalwell from comparing himself to Holocaust victims by referencing Pastor Martin Niemöller’s “First they came for the…” poem about vulnerable groups targeted by the Third Reich. The need to explain why a powerful member of Congress in the greatest democracy in the world has nothing in common with Holocaust victims is one of the more depressingly unnecessary exercises of the past three years.
Trump gets an unwelcome surprise
The Niemöller poem resurfaced this week, when prominent Resistance member Benjamin Wittes tweeted “First they came for Comey, and I said nothing.” Anne Frank huddled in an attic, then died in a Nazi concentration camp. James Comey was fired from the FBI and is currently raking in millions from book sales and speeches.
Apparently to some people, those two situations are comparable.
The performances aren’t limited to Twitter. Last month, during Trump’s impeachment trial, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler publicly called the President “a dictator” from the Senate floor. Again, it’s hard to explain just how absurd and insulting this is, especially for someone like me, who came to the US as a refugee from an actual dictatorship.
But perhaps the most telling encapsulation of these theatrics is the video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tearing up Trump’s State of the Union address. The problem with Pelosi’s gesture is that last June, she and the rest of the House leadership bankrolled Trump’s dark vision for America by approving the Senate’s emergency funding border bill. Other than curtailing the amount toward building Trump’s wall, the bill had nearly everything the president wanted.
The House Democrats couldn’t stop ICE’s predations on vulnerable immigrants and asylum seekers. They couldn’t negotiate delivering basic sanitation supplies to the camps. They couldn’t even bring themselves to censure Iowa Rep. Steve King, who has a track record of spewing the same talking points as white supremacist terrorists.
But they sure could preen during the State of the Union.
Over the past three years, the US courts, human rights groups, media organizations and countless ordinary Americans have stood up to the White House’s attempts to circumvent our democracy. But those actions stand in stark contrast to the cynical choreography of prominent resistance champions. And if words matter, and gestures matter, and actions matter, the answer to Trump requires a sober commitment to avoid meaningless words, gestures and actions.
I remember the awful helplessness of living in refugee camps and praying for America to grant asylum to me and my family. Our living conditions were nothing like the horror today’s asylum seekers are going through, but still, they gave me an appreciation of true versus empty acts. And it didn’t take long to realize that the people who helped us the most, bragged the least while the ones who did little, bragged the most.
Comparing America to a dictatorship didn’t aid a single child in the camps. Ripping up the State of the Union speech didn’t help the families huddled in terror of ICE raids, or millions of individuals deprived of food stamps by the Trump administration, or Jews and Muslims fearful of getting gunned down by terrorists. If tearing up pieces of paper is the best that powerful American Democrats can do, is it any surprise to see low voter turnout?
If tearing up pieces of paper is the best we can do, we’re in for a depressing November.

US Defense Contractor Seeks Cryptocurrency Exploiters

BAE Systems, Inc., a United States-based contractor that provides support and service solutions for defense, intelligence, and civilian systems, is seeking cryptocurrency exploiters.

BAE Systems listed an open position for so called cryptocurrency exploiters on employment-oriented platform LinkedIn. Those in the position are set to support a company’s client’s operational requirements in the Washington Metropolitan Area. The job post requirements read:

“Successful candidates will demonstrate proficiency in cryptocurrency with recognized and verifiable credentials in the field. This position will preferably be filled by a Certified Bitcoin Professional (CBP), Certified Bitcoin Expert (CBX) or a candidate with a substantive understanding and depth of applied Cryptography including elliptic curve (ECDSA) signature algorithms, Schnorr signatures, and Zero Knowledge Proofs.”

In addition, candidates should have understanding of privacy coins, wallet types, full and light nodes, as well as how cryptocurrency networks operate. 

BAE Systems — which claims to have generated $10.8 billion in sales in 2018 — develops and manufactures electronic systems for both military and commercial applications. The company also produces security and protection products and provides IT expertise to systems development, integration, and operations and maintenance services.

Military-focused organization’s interest in blockchain

Other U.S.-based military-focused organizations have also demonstrated interest in blockchain technology. Most recently, the Naval Air Warfare Center, a California-based research group of the U.S. Navy, gave blockchain software startup Simba Chain nearly $10 million to put a secure messaging platform in play.

Last year, the U.S. Air Force was looking seriously at new tech to shore up supply chains and rearrange data as the agency tasked Simba Chain with prototyping a blockchain approach for the registration and tracking of additive manufacturing — also known as 3D printing — components throughout their lifecycles.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) also released plans for blockchain tech in its four-year roadmap in July 2019, entitled “DoD Digital Modernization Strategy: DoD Information Resource Management Strategic Plan FY19–23.”

At the time, the organization noted that there were potentially valuable use cases for blockchain in data storage, saying:

“Technologies for distributed consensus protocols have been revolutionized by their prominent role in cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies. These technologies have dramatic implications for the security and resilience of critical data storage and computation tasks, including for the Department of Defense.”

CFTC’s Fintech Research Unit to Hold Office Hours for Innovators

The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s fintech lab will host office hours during New York Fintech Week.

In April, the CFTC’s fintech research unit, LabCFTC, will host office hours during New York Fintech Week to engage with innovators in the field, according to a recently published announcement.

LabCFTC’s objective is to promote market-enhancing fintech innovation and competition, as well as provide the CFTC with a better understanding of emerging technologies. The office hours will enable interested parties to participate in dedicated discussions and give a presentation to regulators. 

LabCFTC as a beacon in the emerging world of fintech

The CFTC established LabCFTC in 2017, with the department reporting directly to the authority’s chairman Heath Tarbert. Tarbert then said:

“Blockchain, digital assets, and other developments hold great promise for our economy. Now is the time for LabCFTC to play an even greater role as we work to develop and write the rules for these transformative new products. That reality requires engagement at the highest levels within the CFTC, which is why I am elevating LabCFTC to be an independent operating office of the agency and a direct report to me.”

In October 2019, the CFTC awarded LabCFTC status as an independent operating office. In addition to LabCFTC’s new status, the office also released its primer on artificial intelligence in financial markets.

Helping enter the market

As the fintech sector continues to mature, major industry players are keen to contribute to its development. Thus, last August, Bitcoin SV (BSV) blockchain developer and blockchain organization service Open Directory creator synfonaut launched an office hours consulting service.

The service connects developers in need of assistance with experienced Bitcoin SV developers for help on Bitcoin SV projects.

Also last year, New York-based blockchain firm ConsenSys released a new Blockchain and DApp Developer Job Kit to help aspiring Ethereum blockchain developers enter the market.