Friday, May 25, 2007

Insurrection Act Revision

Bush Moves Toward Martial Law
by repost Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006 at 2:39 AM

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

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

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

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

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) and 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.

“‘Issues’ have the effect of making us imagine demons on one side and
angels on the other. This is a crude and degrading habit of mind, and
stories are one cure for it.” -- Tobias Wolff

“‘Issues’ have the effect of making us imagine demons on one side and
angels on the other. This is a crude and degrading habit of mind, and
stories are one cure for it.” -- Tobias Wolff

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