Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bush Moves
Toward Martial Law

Frank Morales
October 26, 2006

Today a F/friend emailed to me the following disturbing news:
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."

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

For the current President, "enforcement of the laws to restore public
order" means to commandeer guardsmen from any state, over the
objections of local governmental, military and local police entities;
ship them off to another state; conscript them in a law enforcement
mode; and set them loose against "disorderly" citizenry - protesters,
possibly, or those who object to forced vaccinations and quarantines
in the event of a bio-terror event.

The law also facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention of
protesters, so called "illegal aliens," "potential terrorists" and
other "undesirables" for detention in facilities already contracted
for and under construction by Halliburton. That's right. Under the
cover of a trumped-up "immigration emergency" and the frenzied
militarization of the southern border, detention camps are being
constructed right under our noses, camps designed for anyone who
resists the foreign and domestic agenda of the Bush administration.

An article on "recent contract awards" in a recent issue of the slick,
insider "Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security
International" reported that "global engineering and technical
services powerhouse KBR [Kellog, Brown & Root] announced in January
2006 that its Government and Infrastructure division was awarded an
Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to support
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event
of an emergency." "With a maximum total value of $385 million over a
five year term," the report notes, "the contract is to be executed by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," "for establishing temporary
detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE
Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) - in the event of an emergency
influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid
development of new programs." The report points out that "KBR is the
engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton. " (3) So, in
addition to authorizing another $532.8 billion for the Pentagon,
including a $70-billion "supplemental provision" which covers the cost
of the ongoing, mad military maneuvers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other
places, the new law, signed by the president in a private White House
ceremony, further collapses the historic divide between the police and
the military: a tell-tale sign of a rapidly consolidating police state
in America, all accomplished amidst ongoing U.S. imperial pretensions
of global domination, sold to an "emergency managed" and seemingly
willfully gullible public as a "global war on terrorism."

Make no mistake about it: the de-facto repeal of the Posse Comitatus
Act (PCA) is an ominous assault on American democratic tradition and
jurisprudence. The 1878 Act, which reads, "Whoever, except in cases
and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or
Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a
posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under
this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both," is the
only U.S. criminal statute that outlaws military operations directed
against the American people under the cover of 'law enforcement. ' As
such, it has been the best protection we've had against the
power-hungry intentions of an unscrupulous and reckless executive, an
executive intent on using force to enforce its will.

Unfortunately, this past week, the president dealt posse comitatus,
along with American democracy, a near fatal blow. Consequently, it
will take an aroused citizenry to undo the damage wrought by this
horrendous act, part and parcel, as we have seen, of a long train of
abuses and outrages perpetrated by this authoritarian administration.

Despite the unprecedented and shocking nature of this act, there has
been no outcry in the American media, and little reaction from our
elected officials in Congress. On September 19th, a lone Senator
Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) noted that 2007's Defense Authorization Act
contained a "widely opposed provision to allow the President more
control over the National Guard [adopting] changes to the Insurrection
Act, which will make it easier for this or any future President to use
the military to restore domestic order WITHOUT the consent of the
nation's governors."

Senator Leahy went on to stress that, "we certainly do not need to
make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the
Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities
goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy. One can
easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having
to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never
visited their communities gives the orders."

A few weeks later, on the 29th of September, Leahy entered into the
Congressional Record that he had "grave reservations about certain
provisions of the fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill
Conference Report," the language of which, he said, "subverts solid,
longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military's
involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the
President to declare martial law." This had been "slipped in," Leahy
said, "as a rider with little study," while "other congressional
committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to
comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals."

In a telling bit of understatement, the Senator from Vermont noted
that "the implications of changing the (Posse Comitatus) Act are
enormous". "There is good reason," he said, "for the constructive
friction in existing law when it comes to martial law declarations.
Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the
founding tenets of our democracy. We fail our Constitution, neglecting
the rights of the States, when we make it easier for the President to
declare martial law and trample on local and state sovereignty. "

Senator Leahy's final ruminations: "Since hearing word a couple of
weeks ago that this outcome was likely, I have wondered how Congress
could have gotten to this point. It seems the changes to the
Insurrection Act have survived the Conference because the Pentagon and
the White House want it."

The historic and ominous re-writing of the Insurrection Act,
accomplished in the dead of night, which gives Bush the legal
authority to declare martial law, is now an accomplished fact.

The Pentagon, as one might expect, plays an even more direct role in
martial law operations. Title XIV of the new law, entitled, "Homeland
Defense Technology Transfer Legislative Provisions," authorizes "the
Secretary of Defense to create a Homeland Defense Technology Transfer
Consortium to improve the effectiveness of the Department of Defense
(DOD) processes for identifying and deploying relevant DOD technology
to federal, State, and local first responders."

In other words, the law facilitates the "transfer" of the newest in
so-called "crowd control" technology and other weaponry designed to
suppress dissent from the Pentagon to local militarized police units.
The new law builds on and further codifies earlier "technology
transfer" agreements, specifically the 1995 DOD-Justice Department
memorandum of agreement achieved back during the Clinton-Reno regime.(4)

It has become clear in recent months that a critical mass of the
American people have seen through the lies of the Bush administration;
with the president's polls at an historic low, growing resistance to
the war Iraq, and the Democrats likely to take back the Congress in
mid-term elections, the Bush administration is on the ropes. And so it
is particularly worrying that President Bush has seen fit, at this
juncture to, in effect, declare himself dictator.


(1) http://leahy. senate.gov/ press/200609/ 091906a.html and
http://leahy. senate.gov/ press/200609/ 092906b.html See also,
Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, "The Use of
Federal Troops for Disaster Assistance: Legal Issues," by Jennifer K.
Elsea, Legislative Attorney, August 14, 2006

(2) http://www.govtrack .us/congress/ bill.xpd? bill+h109- 5122

(3) Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International,
"Recent Contract Awards", Summer 2006, Vol.12, No.2, pg.8; See also,
Peter Dale Scott, "Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention
Camps," New American Media, January 31, 2006.

(4) "Technology Transfer from defense: Concealed Weapons Detection",
National Institute of Justice Journal, No 229, August, 1995, pp.42-43.


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