Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Easier to Declare Martial Law?

From the listserve comes this link to an article by the San Francisco Independent Media Center describing a provision in the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007." According to the article this provision...

"allows the President to declare a "public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

I haven't had the time to examine the allegations in the article including a claim that:

"Section 1076 of the massive Authorization Act, which grants the Pentagon another $500-plus-billion for its ill-advised adventures, is entitled, "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." Section 333, "Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law" states that "the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of ("refuse" or "fail" in) maintaining public order, "in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy."

But, could it be that this bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, is an another instance of the Bush Cabal attaching a provision to a defense appropriation bill, knowing that a vote against it would open the door to charges, like O'Reilly made on Letterman or like Lynne Cheney made against Wolf Blitzer, that if you're not with us, you must be with the terrorists?

Brings to mind the scene in Fahrenheit 9-11 when Rep. John Conyers admits that many votes are conducted without representatives truly knowing what's contained in them?

Here is a link to Sen. Patrick Leahy's Senate website, which includes this statement:

"Also expected to be included in the conference report is a widely opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National Guard. The conference committee has made changes the Insurrection Act, which governs when the President can call to action the National Guard without the consent of state governors to restore public order. Under the changes, the President would now be able to invoke the Act during such regular occurring events as a natural disaster. Because posse comitatus restrictions that prevent the military’s involvement in law enforcement do not apply when the Insurrection Act is invoked, the changes would nullify these long-standing laws."

As I said, I haven't had time to examine the actual bill that was signed, significantly, the same day the Military Commissions Act was signed.

But if the article's allegations can be verified, the ramifications are chillling, aren't they?

Brings to mind Bush's remarks, made during Katrina's aftermath, (see this CNN link with the headline "Bush Eyes Bigger Role for Military in Disasters") that Posse Comitatus hindered his ability to respond to a natural disaster. I wondered then, as I do now, that Katrina would be used to tear down these restrictions, opening the door not to natural disaster relief, but to the horrifying disaster of a "Unitary Chief Executive" given the power to label "enemy combatants" and to conscript the National Guard to round up "undesirable" protesters, even over the objections of the nation's governors.

Let's hope this story gets investigated and reported outside of the blogosphere. It's like I always say to my friends who question why I like to work as a public defender: "One day you'll realize why you need those rights and it'll be too late to realize you've surrendered them all in the name of cracking down on criminals."

More on this story later...

No comments: