Bush Moves Toward Martial Law
By Frank Morales
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 conspiracy."
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
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
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
(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.