June 15, 2013
Well, we just had one of those whiz-bang Ozark thunderstorms, with a lightning strike that shut down power (and therefore, my computer) just long enough to erase everything I’d written for the blog post at the time.
So, let me begin again. What I had written about was an article in the Guardian, yesterday, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/earth-insight/2013/jun/14/climate-change-energy-shocks-nsa-prism and its link to this article: http://www.longislandpress.com/2013/05/14/u-s-military-power-grab-goes-into-effect/ .
Both articles quote the following unilateral change to US military laws which “formally grants the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance””:
“Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.”
The Long Island Press article discusses the legal implications of this change, while the Guardian article discusses possible reasons the military would make such a change. Both are worth your scrutiny.
As the LIP articles states, “The U.S. military is prohibited from intervening in domestic affairs except where provided under Article IV of the Constitution in cases of domestic violence that threaten the government of a state or the application of federal law. This provision was further clarified both by the Insurrection Act of 1807 and a post-Reconstruction law known as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (PCA). The Insurrection Act specifies the circumstances under which the president may convene the armed forces to suppress an insurrection against any state or the federal government. Furthermore, where an individual state is concerned, consent of the governor must be obtained prior to the deployment of troops. The PCA—passed in response to federal troops that enforced local laws and oversaw elections during Reconstruction—made unauthorized employment of federal troops a punishable offense, thereby giving teeth to the Insurrection Act.”
I’m not well versed in the law, but even George Bush’s “infamous” NSPD-51, (continued unchanged by President Obama,) which gave the President what some considered to be dictatorial powers in a “catastrophic emergency”, at least gave a nod to the Constitution’s Presidential succession or the exercise of its powers: http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/nspd-51.htm
(20) This directive shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved. Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions.
So, it’s hard for me to see how, in light of those Constitutional provisions, the military would need the power it just granted itself in extraordinary emergency circumstances, even if prior authorization of the President is unavailable.
The Republic, to which flag we all pledged alligience as children, is now, of course, an Empire and, as I noted last week, a declining one beset by many problems – financial, climate change related and – despite our new sources of unconventional oil and gas – geologically related.
The Guardian article documents many of these concerns as they relate to the increasing powers of both the military and intelligence communities of the Empire. Both are well aware that we live in perilous times. Both are also aware that, as these problems crowd in on the declining empire, there will be a corresponding rise in civil discontent, eventually spilling over into violence.
It would not be unusual, in the histories of declining empires, for there to be a power struggle for control of this Empire between elements of the military,the intelligence communities and the corporations who enjoy a symbiotic relationship with both. Perhaps we’ve caught glimpses of this in the news items of the last couple of weeks; indeed, the last few years. (Among others, the Petraeus scandal comes to mind.)
Perhaps we are getting a break here. Since both seem to have evaded Congressional scrutiny (or enjoyed Congressional collusion) previously, we may be lucky these glimpses have come at a time when that Congress still has some power to reign them in. Though it will certainly take more than a fleeting ruckus by a few frightened citizens.
The Republic is long gone; the Empire continues its decline; the nation that spanned the two is in extreme peril, much of it of our own doing. Do we, the people, have the wit to recognize this or the will to do more than frightened grumbling? The door is fast closing on what will come after. If we do nothing to demand better, we deserve nothing better. A young man none of us had ever heard of until last week risked everything to put his foot in that closing door. What will we do, now?