Bush Moves Toward Martial Law
Bush Moves Toward Martial Law
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."
The main obstacle to Bush's militarization-scheme is the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. The Act bans the military from participating in policing activities on US soil. It does not, however, prevent the military from helping out in national disasters. This is what is so troubling about Bush's request to change the law; it shows a clear intention to assert military authority wherever the troops are deployed. It is clearly not an attempt simply to help out.
The intention to use the military in a "policing role" creates a permanent state of martial law that can't be fully grasped out of context. In the last few months the administration has made a number of dramatic changes to the system which have upset the critical balance between the co-equal parts of government.
Just three months ago, Bush issued an executive order that created the National Security Service (NSS); a branch of the FBI that now works entirely under his authority. It is America's first secret police; no different than the East German Stasi or the Soviet Union's KGB. It operates completely beyond congressional oversight and is answerable to the president alone. It is Bush's personal Gestapo.
Also, less than a month ago the 4th Circuit Court ruled that the president had the power to declare any American citizen an "enemy combatant" and summarily rescind all of his human and civil rights; including even the right to know the reason for which he is being he imprisoned. The ruling confers absolute authority on the president and ends of any meaningful notion of "inalienable rights".
Also, just last week the Senate Intelligence Committee "approved legislation that allows Pentagon Intelligence operatives to collect information from US citizens without revealing their status as government spies."
The Pentagon may now conduct clandestine investigations of American citizens without the traditional safeguards that are applied to FBI. In effect, the legislation revokes the fundamental guarantees of privacy under the 4th amendment and "green-lights" the Pentagon to operate covertly against American citizens whether they are legitimate terrorist suspects or simply political enemies.
In another shocking development, President Bush said he will veto the upcoming Pentagon budget of $435 Billion if the bill contains any provision that limits the "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners". The President's action implies that he has the right to torture and abuse according to his own judgment, a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, the 1996 Treaty on Torture and the 8th amendment.
And, finally, the revised version of Patriot Act is quickly moving through the Congress. The new edition eviscerates the last feeble strands of the 4th amendment and paves the way for "administrative subpoenas", which allow law enforcement to carry out searches without judicial oversight.
The Posse Comitatus Act, is the last bit of rickety scaffolding that protects the country from becoming a de facto military dictatorship. The power to deploy troops within the nation is the power to use the military against American citizens. It transforms the "people's army" into a direct threat to the democracy it is supposed to serve.
Bush’s Martial Law Act of 2007 modifies the Insurrection Act and deals yet another blow to the Posse Comitatus Act. “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.’”
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*Bush’s Martial Law Act of 2007