Martial Law

On March 16, 2012 President Obama signed Executive Order 13603. This order describes what some think is the President’s ability to declare martial law. Believe it, or not, this is nothing new. Every President since Truman has been able to declare a state of emergency that would allow the President to, in affect, declare martial law due to a national emergency. What Obama did was consolidate a great number of Executive Orders, and make corrections in the face of what transpired after 9/11; i.e. putting the Department of Homeland Security in charge instead of FEMA. He did not give himself any new power. He just consolidated and expanded that power.

The Defense Production Act of 1950 was created due to the Korean War. It was enacted so that some sort of direction could be applied to the chaos that would surround a national disaster due to a direct, or perceived, foreign threat. This is not the first  time that such an attempt had been made to reign in the agencies responsible for supplying the much needed resources and directions during a disaster striking our country. In 1939 Executive Order 8248 was signed to deal with national defense resource preparedness. Since then every sitting President has, in some way, added to national resource preparedness through the issuance of an Executive Order.

In 1958 President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10789. President Kennedy signed Executive Order 11051 in 1962 as an attempt to combine many of the previous President’s Executive Orders (several of which he, himself, had signed into being) dealing with national resource preparedness.

To continue the growth of the pile of paper coming out of the Oval Office every President has added his own version, or modified previous versions, of a national resource preparedness program in the wake of a national emergency. President Nixon signed Executive Order 11490. President Carter had his turn by signing his own Executive Order in 1979 that made minor adjustments to previous orders.

In 1994 President Clinton signed Executive Order 12919 in an attempt to combine the Defense Production Act of 1950 and all previous Executive Orders dealing with national preparedness into one, concise order. If I’m not mistaken President Bush made two attempts at adding to the list. One common thread through all of these Executive Orders and Acts is that the President of the United States becomes solely responsible for the protection of the citizenry once a state of martial law has been enacted.

What many people do not understand is that our country is currently under the umbrella of martial law, as dictated by Executive Orders dating back 80 years, that is easily enacted through an announcement by the current President. What some don’t understand, though, is that nowhere in the law, or Executive Orders, is it stated that personal property will be seized by the government. Sure, there are directives on how industry, commercial transportation, technology (cellphones, internet, etc.), and such will be controlled, but private individuals have been left alone.

Our constitutional rights will not be compromised. We will not see our guns seized, nor armed troops taking over our homes. Our freedom of religion and speech have not been endangered. What we will see, though, is a drastic change to our everyday lifestyle. There will probably gas and food rationing (that sounds like World War II, doesn’t it?). We will not be allowed to fly across the country, because airlines have been grounded (sounds like the three days following 9/11, doesn’t it?). We will see the news media controlled by the government (not much different than the control the six or seven news agencies have over us now). We might even see limited number of choices in our supermarkets (at that point we’d just be on an even keel with the rest of the world).

What I’ve left out here is that the Executive Order President Obama signed added a stipulation that was not in the orders that preceded it. He added “under both emergency and non-emergency conditions.” So, it now appears that a President can enact Martial Law for any reason, at anytime. Is that right?

Well, for Martial Law to be affective it takes the backing of the military. President Obama is not a favored President of our current military leaders. So, how would he get around such a problem? I believe he would have to rely on local law enforcement, National Guard, and the armed agencies of the federal government that were not previously armed before the formation of Homeland Security. My question is this: Does the current President have the backing of enough armed agencies to affectively carry out an enactment of martial law? You see, he cannot do it alone.