FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from
(DV) Whitney: Martial Law and the Advent of the Supreme Executive







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

Send this page to a friend! (click here)


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 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 Redlener.

“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:

View this feed in your browser

Related Articles

* A Horrid Reality by Sheila Samples
* Complete archive of DV articles on Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath

Other Articles by Mike Whitney

* The Evil of Torture and the Power of Non-Violence
* Why Not Torture Judith Miller?
* The Occupation of New Orleans
* Brownie's Comic Opera
* Apartheid Justice in America: Krugal vs. Padilla  
* The Impending Cakewalk in Iran
* Farewell to the Democratic Party

* Basra: Another Milestone in the War on Terror
* The Inevitable War with Iran
* Let Them Die Or Let Them Go
* Who’s Blowing Up Iraq?
* The Second American Revolution
* Hurricane Hugo at the UN
* Tal Afar: Crackdown in the Sunni Heartland
* John Roberts’ Role in the Guantanamo Hunger Strike
* Jose Padilla and the Death of Personal Liberty
* Rodney King in New Orleans
* Rehnquist Paved the Way for the Imperial Presidency
* The New Orleans Looters Are the Bush Progeny
* The Devastating Impact of Hurricane George
* “Transformation”: How Rumsfeld Smashed the National Guard

* The Lords of War
* Robertson’s Fatwah: “A Whole Lotta Smitin’ Goin’ On”
* Turning Cindy Sheehan’s Victory Into Defeat 
* “My Son Died for Nothing”
* "Shoot to Kill": Tony Blair’s First Trophy
* Greenspan’s Role in the Housing Bubble
* Failing in Iraq
* Revving Up World War III
* Pretty Hot in Crawford, Pretty Hot in Hell
* Straight-Shootin’ George Galloway
* “Operation Community Shield”: Comrade Chertoff’s Preemptive Crackdown
* Kristallnacht: What Happens When the Public Says Nothing? 
* Burying Blair: Post-Mortem for the British PM
* “Withdrawal” from Iraq?: Forget About It

* The Globalization of State Terror
* Tom Friedman: Fabricating the Roots of Terror
* Doomsday: The Final Months of the “Housing Bubble”
* John Roberts and the National Security State
* Guantanamo: the Calculus of Human Misery
* Did Greenspan Know About the London Bombings Two Days Before?
* Another Casualty in Rumsfeld’s Information War
* Genesis of an American Gestapo
* Bush's Orgy of Carnage
* Goodbye to Sandra Day O’ Connor . . . and Good Riddance
* The Rumsfeld Solution: “Liberating Iraq, One Journalist at a Time”
* Show Your Independence on the 4th -- Burn a Flag
* "Up in Smoke": Bush Flops in Prime Time
* More Rumsfeld Lies About Insurgent Meetings
* Incinerating Iraqis: The Napalm Cover-Up
* Guantanamo: The New-World Icon
* The Bush Radio Address: More Delusional Blather While Iraq Bleeds
* The Friedman Solution: Reinstate the Draft
* Body Slamming the 4th Amendment
* Operation Desperation: Rumsfeld’s Baghdad Fiasco
* The EU Constitution: Don’t Believe the BS
* Protecting the Plutocrats
* What Was Laura Bush Doing at the Al Aqsa Mosque?
* Free Jose Padilla!
* Alberto Gonzales’ Kristallnacht: Purges for a Safer America
* Tom Friedman: The Imperial Chronicler
* Gods, Gays, and George Bernard Shaw
* A Tentative Strategy for Ending the War
* The Specter of Violence in America

* Free Speech in the Crosshairs
* Why America Needs to be Defeated in Iraq
* More Madness at the Bush News Conference
* Ratzinger’s Plan to Hide the Pedophiles
* Let’s Let Atheists Back into Politics
* Pope Ratzinger: More “Pie-in-the-Sky” for the Struggling Masses
* The Purveyors of Violence: The NY Times in Falluja
* Screw You, Paul Volker!
* Pope TV and the New World Media
* The Economic Tsunami: Sooner Than You Think
* Destroy Abu Ghraib!
* Terri Schiavo and the Battered Judiciary
* Railroading Moussaoui
* The Wolfowitz Appointment: A Red Flag for the Coming Wars
* “Economic Meltdown” -- Sorry, but We’re Toast
* John Bolton and the Road to Tehran
* Clearing the Way for the American Police State

* Challenging the Language of Violence
* Jose Padilla and the 10 Commandments
* Crushing the UN for a Stronger America
* Europe to Bush: “Hands Off Iran”?
* The Incredible Shrinking Dollar
* Assassinating Al-Hariri Fits Washington’s Plan
* Washington’s Plan to Foment Civil War in Iraq
* Condi’s Euro-Tour
* Folksy Tom Friedman and New Age Imperialism
* Government Without Consent
* The Desperate State of the Union
* Iraq’s Election Fiasco
* Boarding Up the “Window of Opportunity”
* KGB Chieftain Finds Home at Homeland Security
* Bush’s Grand Plan: Incite Civil War
* Pink Slips at CBS