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  Print view: Obama Declares Another National Emergency When None Exists
FACTS & COMMENTARY:

Obama Declares Another National Emergency When None Exists

Is Democracy's handicapped ability to quickly and surely adapt to necessary changes the root underlying problem?

by Stephen Lendman
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Continuity of Government (COG) Authority created coup d'etat authority in America. What justifies such an emergency? In simplest terms, whatever the president says it is.

Well, not exactly. In fact, he renewed, for the second, time, the Bush administration's 9/11 one, a White House press release saying:

"Letter from the President on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attack"

"Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act, 50 USC 1622(d), provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. Consistent with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register the enclosed notice, stating that the emergency declared with respect to the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, is to continue in effect for an additional year."

"The terrorist threat that led to the declaration on September 14, 2001, of a national emergency continues. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue (it) in effect after September 14, 2010, the national emergency with respect to the terrorist threat."

In fact, no threat existed nine years ago or today. Declaring one, however, lets Washington maraud globally and at home, committing state terror. It's the only kind that matters, given America's destructive power and intent to wage it as part of the nation's permanent war agenda. Peace for this country is anathema, a topic two previous articles addressed, accessed through the following links:

Continuity of Government (COG) Authority

An earlier article explained it in detail, including its historical roots.

Initially planned and developed under Ronald Reagan, it's renewed annually, Obama's 9/10/10 "Continuation" extending it another year, a process repeating ad infinitum despite no justification for doing it.

COG created coup d'etat authority in America, its pretext being:

"a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency."

If implemented, the president and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will have unprecedented police state powers to declare martial law without congressional approval - to rule extrajudicially, free from constitutional constraints. As a result, personal freedoms will be suppressed for our own good, replaced by tyranny, the kind of America no one wants but one day may arrive full blown, ready or not.

Other Obama-Declared National Emergencies

Remember last year's Swine Flu "threat." The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global pandemic affecting "as many as two billion people (over) the next two years," calling the virus "unstoppable." It was falsified hype. Yet, on April 26, 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a "Determination that a Public Emergency Exists," and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano "issued a public health emergency declaration" on April 27.

Then on October 24, Obama declared a "National Emergency with Respect to the 2009 H1N1 Influenza Pandemic," although none existed. Though none of what was feared happened, it gave Washington, state and local governments unprecedented power to order mass inoculations, those refusing subject quarantines, fines, or imprisonment.

In June 2010, S. 3480: Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act was introduced, referred to committee, approved unanimously, but so far not enacted. Called an Internet Kill Switch bill, it empowers the president (on national security grounds) to shut down the Internet, disconnect its networks, and force web sites, blogs, providers, search engines and software companies to "immediately comply with any (DHS) emergency measure or action," or face fines or closure.

In other words, on the pretext of a national emergency, true or false, the Executive may shut down the media's last free and open space, quashing First Amendment freedoms, Obama in May 2009 saying:

"In this information age, one of your greatest assets - in our case, our ability to communicate to a wide range of supporters through the Internet - could also be one of your greatest vulnerabilities, (adding that) America's economic prosperity....depend(s) on cybersecurity, (at the same time claiming) Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups (might) unleash a cyber attack on our country (by) a few key strokes on a computer - a weapon of mass destruction."

The Kill Switch threat remains, perhaps only after declaring a cyber emergency. Anyone disobeying will be fined or imprisoned, even if no danger exists. It shows presidential excesses greatly imperil our freedoms, a risk always to remember and fear. Here's why.

National Emergency Powers

In August 2007, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) prepared a "National Emergency Powers" report for members of Congress, explaining what can be used in times of "crisis, exigency, or emergency circumstances (other than natural disasters, war, or near-war situations)."

These powers may be explicit or implied by the Constitution, or "inferred from or specified by statute." Yet limits exist, or should, the Constitution allowing no suspension of its provisions at times of crisis, even though, in fact, presidents are de facto dictators during wars. It was true for Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, and others who followed, especially post-9/11.

Yet, since 1976, presidents have been subject to procedural formalities in using statutorily delegated emergency authority. Or that's how it's supposed to be by law, if not in fact.

Under the National Emergencies Act (50 USC 1601-1651), Congress may check open-ended presidential national emergency powers, limiting them to two years, subject to renewal. It also requires the formal declaration of an emergency, specifying under what statutory authority, Congress then has final say on whether it's implemented. Again, that's how it's supposed to work.

If exercised, presidents may:

  • seize property;
  • organize and control the means of production;
  • seize commodities;
  • deploy military forces abroad and now at home;
  • declare martial law;
  • seize and control all transportation, communications, and commerce;
  • restrict travel, and
  • in most ways control the lives of US citizens, including arresting and detaining them.

Some analysts say the Constitution only delegates Congress emergency powers under Article I, section 8, granting it authority to "provide for the common Defense and general Welfare....regulate Commerce....declare War, (organize and arm a) Militia," as well as the "necessary and proper" clause empowering it to enact laws required to exercise these powers, and all others.

Yet presidents have assumed them on their own despite legislative constraints, most recently post-9/11 through Executive Orders, National Security Presidential Directives, and other means, including George Bush claiming "Unitary Executive" powers, what Chalmers Johnson called a "ball-faced assertion of presidential supremacy dressed up in legal mumbo jumbo," but getting away with it because Congress and the courts didn't constrain him.

What then is an emergency? In simplest terms, whatever the president says it is, having broad latitude to take advantage without implemented checks and balances countermanding him. Merriam-Webster calls it "an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action."

During 1973 congressional hearings, the following description was offered:

"It denotes the existence of conditions of varying nature, intensity and duration, which are perceived to threaten life or well-being beyond tolerable limits."

Fair enough, but who's to decide or prove if true, and if so, does it warrant supreme presidential power to address? Laws exist for a reason - to maintain order, curb excesses, and prevent abuses of authority. No emergency should dismiss them for expediency. Doing so risks an even greater one, dictatorial rule over democratic freedoms, too valued to let one leader subvert, especially if the declared threat is bogus.

Post-9/11, police state powers seized and enacted are a reminder of what never should be allowed to happen but did. They continue to haunt us, threaten to worsen, and Obama's September 10 COG authority renewal should alert everyone to the danger.

Perhaps martial law and suspension of constitutional protections will follow the next declared emergency, whether or not it's real. Abuses of power beget greater ones. It's just a matter of time until the worst arrive unless an alert public is aroused enough to stop them. Once in place, it's too late.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on September 14, 2010.
 

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