Establishing martial law in the United States

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The John W. Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2006 (PL 109-364), "named for the longtime Armed Services Committee chairman from Virginia," was signed October 17, 2006, by President George W. Bush. The Act "has a provocative provision called 'Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies'," the thrust of which "seems to be about giving the federal government a far stronger hand in coordinating responses to [Hurricane] Katrina-like disasters," Jeff Stein, CQ National Security Editor wrote December 1, 2006.

"But on closer inspection, its language also alters the two-centuries-old Insurrection Act, which Congress passed in 1807 to limit the president’s power to deploy troops within the United States ... 'to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy'," Stein wrote.

"But the amended law takes the cuffs off" and "critics say it’s a formula for executive branch mischief," Stein wrote, as "the new language adds 'natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident' to the list of conditions permitting the President to take over local authority — particularly 'if domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order.'"

"One of the few to complain, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., warned that the measure virtually invites the White House to declare federal martial law. ... It '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,' he said in remarks submitted to the Congressional Record on Sept. 29." [1]

Also see related Posse Comitatus Act section.


Executive Order 12919: "National Emergency"

Should President George W. Bush proclaim and put into effect Executive Order 12919, "the President would put the United States under total Martial Law and Military Dictatorship." [2]

"The President need not wait for some emergency to occur, however. He can declare a National Emergency at any time, and freeze everything. Congress, and the States, are powerless to prevent such an Executive Dictatorship, as long as the President advises Congress in a timely matter." [3]

Executive Authority

Executive Order 12656 "Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities", February 16, 2004 plus Executive Order 13074, Amendment to EO 12656, February 9, 1998.

"Executive Order Number 12656 appointed the National Security Council as the principal body that should consider emergency powers. This allows the government to increase domestic intelligence and surveillance of U.S. citizens and would restrict the freedom of movement within the United States and grant the government the right to isolate large groups of civilians. The National Guard could be federalized to seal all borders and take control of U.S. air space and all ports of entry." [4]

Executive Order 11921 "Adjusting Emergency Preparedness Assignments to Organizational and Functional Changes in Federal Departments and Agencies" allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) [stated as the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency] to "develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution, of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in U.S. financial institution in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when a state of emergency is declared by the President, Congress cannot review the action for six months." [5]

"FEMA's powers were consolidated by President Jimmy Carter to incorporate: The National Security Act of 1947, which allows for the strategic relocation of industries, services, government and other essential economic activities, and to rationalize the requirements for manpower, resources and production facilities; The 1950 Defense Production Act, which gives the President sweeping powers over all aspects of the economy; The Act of August 29, 1916, which authorizes the Secretary of the Army, in time of war, to take possession of any transportation system for transporting troops, material, or any other purpose related to the emergency; and The International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which enables the President to seize the property of a foreign country or national. These powers were transferred to FEMA in a sweeping consolidation in 1979." [6]

For the first time in American history, the reigns of government would not be transferred from one elected element to another, but the Constitution, itself, can be suspended. [7]

Foundation: Executive Orders

Executive Orders (EO) related to Federalism and Emergency Preparedness

  • EO 13132: "Federalism", August 4, 1999.
  • EO 11490: "Federal Departments and Agencies", February 16, 2004.
  • EO 12472: "Telecommunications Functions", April 3, 1984; February 16, 2004.
  • EO 12407 "provides the regional and local mechanisms and manpower" for carrying out the provisions of Executive Order 12919: National Defense Industrial Resources Preparedness. This order, signed February 22, 1983, by President Ronald Reagan, "sets up ten Federal Regional Councils to govern ten Federal Regions made up of the fifty States."

Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Functions, October 11, 2004

The following EOs all fall under EO 12919: [8]

  • EO 10990: "allows the government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports." [9]
  • EO 10995: Federal seizure of all communications media in the US.
  • EO 10997: Federal seizure of all electric power, fuels, minerals, public and private.
  • EO 10998: Federal seizure of all food supplies and resources, public and private and all farms and equipment.
  • EO 10999: Federal seizure of all means of transportation, including cars, trucks, or vehicles of any kind and total control over all highways, seaports and water ways.
  • EO 11000: Federal seizure of American people for work forces under federal supervision, including the splitting up of families if the government so desires.
  • EO 11001: Federal seizure of all health, education and welfare facilities, both public and private.
  • EO 11002: Empowers the Postmaster General to register every single person in the US.
  • EO 11003: Federal seizure of all airports and aircraft.
  • EO 11004: Federal seizure of all housing and finances and authority to establish forced relocation. Authority to designate areas to be abandoned as 'unsafe,' establish new locations for populations, relocate communities, build new housing with public funds.
  • EO 11005: Seizure of all railroads, inland waterways and storage facilities, both public and private.
  • EO 11051: Provides FEMA complete authorization to put above orders into effect in times of increased international tension of economic or financial crisis (FEMA will be in control incase of 'National Emergency').

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