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Martial Law and the Advent of the Supreme Executive 

Martial Law and the Advent of the Supreme Executive 
by Mike Whitney October 7, 2005   October 7, 2005

On Tuesday, President Bush warned the nation that outbreaks of Bird 
Flu may require massive quarantines enforced by the US Military. He 
said that the military would be better able "to prevent people from 
coming in to get exposed to the flu", although he failed to explain 
why that task couldn't be carried out by the National Guard.  Bush's 
comments echoed the same themes we've heard repeatedly since 
Hurricane Katrina: that the president needs the power to deploy 
troops within the country at his own discretion and without any 
legal restrictions. It is a conspicuous attempt to militarize the 
country and declare martial law, although the media has scrupulously 
avoided the obvious conclusions.

Bush now claims that he will need to deploy the military following a 
terrorist attack, a national disaster, or after the outbreak of a 
flu-epidemic. "Sending in the troops" has seemingly replaced "tax-
cuts" as the one-size-fits-all answer for every question asked of 
any member of the hard-right administration.

"I am concerned about avian flu" Bush opined. "I'm concerned about 
what an avian flu outbreak could mean for the United States and the 
world. If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we 
not then quarantine that part of the country? And who best to be 
able to affect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military 
that's able to plan and move. So that's why I put it on the table. I 
think it's an important debate for Congress to have…. I think the 
president ought to have all options on the table to understand what 
the consequences are -- all assets on the table, not options -- 
assets on the table to be able to deal with something this 

Even before Katrina, Donald Rumsfeld had repeatedly expressed 
interest in using the military domestically. According to many 
reports the delay in getting relief to the victims of the hurricane 
was the result of a power-struggle between the administration and 
local officials (Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor Ray Nagin) over 
who would control the operation. The administration was determined 
from the onset to federalize the effort and put the Pentagon in 
charge. This caused a 3-day holdup in the federal response to the 
tragedy. The choice was made to withhold aid until the governor 
capitulated. It is impossible to calculate the number of lives that 
may have been lost by this decision.

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.

A careful look at New Orleans shows the danger of this. The military 
presence has been used to establish order and to set the precedent 
for future deployments. Blackwater mercenaries are not really part 
of the relief effort at all, but are employed to harass and 
intimidate the locals and to protect private property. One of their 
many functions was to force the evacuation of local homeowners and 
to strip them of their legally registered firearms, a clear 
violation of the 2nd Amendment. Their presence is intended to soften 
the attitudes of citizens to seeing military personnel on their 
streets and to help them adjust the effects of a transformed America.

Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate Dean of Columbia University's School 
of Public Health for Disaster Preparedness, told the Associated 
Press that giving the military a law enforcement role would be 
an "extraordinarily Draconian measure" that would be unnecessary for 
the distribution of vaccines.

"The translation of this is martial law in the United States," said 

"Gene Healy, a senior editor at the conservative Cato Institute, 
said Bush would risk undermining `a fundamental principle of 
American law' by tinkering with the act, which does not hinder the 
military's ability to respond to a crisis."

"What it does is set a high bar for the use of federal troops in a 
policing role. That reflects America's traditional distrust of using 
standing armies to enforce order at home, a distrust that's well-
justified." The use of the military "can result in serious damage to 
American life and liberty," Healy added. (CNN)

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.

This is the context in which we should evaluate the push to use the 
military in domestic affairs. Every change that has taken place 
within the government has been designed for one purpose alone: to 
increase the power of the president. If the congress chooses to 
overturn the Posse Comitatus Act, they will have removed 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.

This is the essential vision of the globalists who currently control 
all the levers of state-power in Washington. They've now articulated 
their intention to use any conceivable national tragedy to achieve 
their objective of colonizing America through force of arms and 
establishing the supreme authority of the president. 

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at:


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