Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Martial Law Worries

In my previous post on the possibility of the Cheney/bush administration declaring martial law to avoid turning over the reins of power -- especially to Obama -- commenter Sheilanagig reminded me of something: the "John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007", signed into law by bush in October of 2006, contained a couple of last-minute provisions inserted at the request of the administration, one of which concerned suspending posse comitatus.

Lycosing* "suspension of posse comitatus act" led me to an article on, entitled "Bush Paves the Way for Martial Law: 2007 National Defense Authorization Act overturns Posse Comitatus Act" which contains the following:

Sec. 1042 of the Act, "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," effectively overturns what is known as posse comitatus. The Posse Comitatus Act is a law, passed in 1878, that prohibits the use of the regular military within the U.S. borders.

Overturning or suspending this Act effectively allows the President (in this case, Cheney) to use the military to intervene in domestic affairs; whenever the Chief Executive thinks it necessary, he can institute martial law, under which the military takes control of civilian governmental administration... like law enforcement.

Sheilanagig also mentioned "Directive 51," referring to National Security Presidential Directive NSPD-51, signed by Commander Guy on May 4, 2007. This little gem of (un)Constitutional law relates to continuity of government operations after a "catastrophic emergency". The directive defines such an emergency as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions." [Emphasis added]

I can certainly imagine Cheney and bush deciding that a President Obama (or even a President McCain [shudder!]) would "severely affect" operations of their government.

This continuity of government would be achieved by the President "coordinating" the activities of the three branches of government. This is scary in that all of a sudden the President is coordinating the activities, as opposed to our current system where the three branches (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) are independent and co-equal. The Wikipedia page on the Directive has lots more scary information.

Yes, continuity of government is a critical factor when considering the aftermath of a terrorist attack (or a natural disaster), but most continuity plans I have seen discussed retain the concept of three separate-but-equal branches of government.

So, even without going into the business of razor wire surrounding FEMA "evacuation camps" and the rest of the "black helicopter" paranoia, there seems to be increasing evidence that Cheney, bush, et al., are at least thinking about the imposition of martial law.

I really do fear for my country these days.

*"Lycosing" is not as mellifluous as "Googling", but as I mentioned in the post immediately below this one, Lycos is now the Official Search Engine of 618Rants.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.