Sunday, October 29, 2006

Martial Law One Pen Stroke Closer

It seems my previous post spoke too late.... On Oct. 17, Bush, in a quiet, surreptitious move signed into law the fiscal 2007 appropriation bill which includes a measure giving him unilateral authority to declare martial law in any state or territory and use both federal and state troops/national guard. For the relevant section in the 486 page act (you can also find it here), see section 1076.

It reads:
SEC. 1076. USE OF THE ARMED FORCES IN MAJOR PUBLIC EMERGENCIES.
(a) USE OF THE ARMED FORCES AUTHORIZED.--
(1) IN GENERAL.--Section 333 of title 10, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:`` 333. Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law
``(a) USE OF ARMED FORCES IN MAJOR PUBLIC EMERGENCIES.--
(1) The President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to--
``(A) 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--
``(i) domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order; and
``(ii) such violence results in a condition described in paragraph (2); or
``(B) suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such insurrection, violation, combination, or conspiracy results in a condition described in paragraph (2). `
`(2) A condition described in this paragraph is a condition that--
``(A) so hinders the execution of the laws of a State or possession, as applicable, and of the United States within that State or possession, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State or possession are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or
H. R. 5122--323
``(B) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.

As I have been writing lately, the Military Commissions Act, Patriot Act, NSA eavesdropping, and now the redefinition of the Insurrection Act all lead us toward one direction, loss of our civil liberties and the corruption of total power in the form of martial law.

Toward Freedom website has an interesting analysis. Here is an excerpt:

"In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law (1). It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.

Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122) (2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, 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."

President Bush seized this unprecedented power on the very same day that he signed the equally odious Military Commissions Act of 2006. In a sense, the two laws complement one another. One allows for torture and detention abroad, while the other seeks to enforce acquiescence at home, preparing to order the military onto the streets of America. Remember, the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is "martial law."

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7 Comments:

Blogger Dave Schroeder said...

Given the process required for a bill to become law and the fact that the changes were passed by a bipartisan majority of both houses of Congress (94-0 in the Senate, and 398-23 in the House), I thought some of you may be interested to know about the actual changes made to the Insurrection Act of 1807. In order for military forces to be used under these provisions, the following conditions must be met:

(i) domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order; and

(ii) such violence results in a condition described in paragraph (2); or

(B) suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such insurrection, violation, combination, or conspiracy results in a condition described in paragraph (2).

(2) A condition described in this paragraph is a condition that--

(A) so hinders the execution of the laws of a State or possession, as applicable, and of the United States within that State or possession, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State or possession are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or

(B) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.

These are the same conditions that must be met under the old wording of the statute; however, the surrounding language has been expanded to include application to any event that is still also determined to meet these conditions, such as major public emergencies, terrorist incidents, and so on, as opposed to only "insurrection" specifically. Congress must also be informed immediately and every 14 days thereafter during the exercise of such authority, which was not required under the old statute.

The changes to this law are likely the result of public outcry in response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, particularly President Bush's refusal to activate National Guard elements by federal or presidential order given the previous restrictions to such an order. This expansion of the wording would have, for example, allowed Hurricane Katrina to fall under the guidelines as a "natural disaster", whereas previously "insurrection" was required.

Here is the old text:

-----
333. Interference with State and Federal law

The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—

(1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or

(2) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws. In any situation covered by clause (1), the State shall be considered to have denied the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution.
-----

And here is the new text:

-----
333. Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law

(a) USE OF ARMED FORCES IN MAJOR PUBLIC EMERGENCIES.--

(1) The President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to--

(A) 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--

(i) domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order; and

(ii) such violence results in a condition described in paragraph (2); or

(B) suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such insurrection, violation, combination, or conspiracy results in a condition described in paragraph (2).

(2) A condition described in this paragraph is a condition that--

(A) so hinders the execution of the laws of a State or possession, as applicable, and of the United States within that State or possession, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State or possession are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or

(B) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.

(3) In any situation covered by paragraph (1)(B), the State shall be considered to have denied the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution.

(b) NOTICE TO CONGRESS.--

The President shall notify Congress of the determination to exercise the authority in subsection (a)(1)(A) as soon as practicable after the determination and every 14 days thereafter during the duration of the exercise of the authority.
-----

As you can see, the wording REQUIRES that the identical conditions be met (included in paragraph 2), as well as both requirements under (a)(1)(A). The only real difference is allowing the conditions to be met during "a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition" as opposed to "insurrection" specifically. (Besides, can't it be argued that "insurrection" can be broadly defined, too, if the real interest is to declare martial law?)

Just because there is now "or other condition" wording in the revised statute does NOT mean they can just arbitrarily decide there is an "other condition" and deploy the military or national guard. The condition still MUST meet the guidelines above; it's just that now it's not an "insurrection" that also meets those conditions, it's any event that meets those conditions. But the conditions themselves are specific, and are actually carefully worded to guarantee Constitutional protections.

Regards,

Dave Schroeder
University of Wisconsin - Madison
das@doit.wisc.edu
http://das.doit.wisc.edu/

5:04 PM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Public Law 109-364 is an addition to the spirit of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. It seems to have come into existance without notice.

Considering what this country did to the Japanese in America during WWII, you have outlined a dangerous path.

A martial law state still doesn't describe this trend. As of now another day in bourgeoise democracy.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A martial law state still doesn't describe this trend. As of now another day in bourgeoise democracy.

After reading Plato, from a conservator point of view, I think Plato would spit on the bourgeoisie that called itself "democracy". There is no democracy in this world in the XXIst century, it is all about economics against religion inside theopolitics like the values of the Bush administration (economics) against "terrorists" in the Middle-East. Anyone in the middle-east is a terrorist as long as he does not want to work with the US, and usually this person acts against its own democracy in the Middle-East (Syria, Egypt for example) for economic intersts with the US. In the Middle-East they question spiritual values encapsulated with their religion, because they have also the right to exist. It is a very complicated thing, it is all about culture first, and the Bush administration does not care about culture, so why should people care about this lousy President or even Americans abroad since there is no democracy in the US?

2:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very familiar with culture, I can understand lots of things, but I just don't like ignorance. Ignorance is not a bliss though :) Ignorance needs to be adressed, that is all, but sometimes nations of people need to react faster.

2:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My above post was for the pro-bush partisans :)

2:19 AM  
Anonymous SAURON said...

During our 90 year struggle for Democracy and Freedom the U.S. fought three major wars.
In the last, Lincoln suspended State legislators, the Supreme Court, and Habeas Corpus.
Jefferson insisted on the "Right to Bear Arms" in our Constitution not to protect us from criminals.
Rather he felt the citizens must rise up against the Federal Govt, when such actions deem it.
Unlike Mid-East nations, no U.S. community will bend to Federal military intervention while citizens are armed and able...

10:39 AM  
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