Mike Whitney
Martial Law and the Advent of the Supreme Executive
Fri Oct 7, 2005 15:19


Martial Law and the Advent of the Supreme Executive

By Mike Whitney

Al-Jazeerah, October7 ,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 significant.”

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
Blanco and Mayor 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 of1878 . 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 the2 nd 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

“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 the4 th 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
the4 th 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 would veto the
upcoming Pentagon budget of $ 435Billion 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 the8 th amendment.

And, finally, the revised version of Patriot Act is quickly moving
through the Congress. The new edition eviscerates the last feeble strands of
the4 th 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.

It came as no surprise to me that Hughes received a verbal lashing from her audience in the three countries she visited. Her encounter in Turkey with some women activists made headlines here after they took her to task over the American occupation of Iraq. Saudi women were equally incensed that Hughes would be too concerned about the fact that they are not allowed to drive in their country. Much as I agree that this is deplorable, there are more critical issues that she could have pursued during this first encounter. The Saudi women seemed confident that the matter would be corrected in due course.



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