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Is It Martial Law Yet?

by Frank Morales (repost) Thursday, Nov. 02, 2006 at 10:25 AM

In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law.

Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

Frank Morales

October 26, 2006

In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision

which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually

encourage the President to declare federal martial law (1). It does so by

revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's

ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10

U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18

U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement

in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is

seeking to undo those prohibitions.

Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007"

(H.R.5122) (2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th,

2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a

"public emergency" and station troops anywhere in America and take control

of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or

local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

President Bush seized this unprecedented power on the very same day that he

signed the equally odious Military Commissions Act of 2006. In a sense, the

two laws complement one another. One allows for torture and detention

abroad, while the other seeks to enforce acquiescence at home, preparing to

order the military onto the streets of America. Remember, the term for

putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term

is "martial law."

Section 1076 of the massive Authorization Act, which grants the Pentagon

another 0-plus-billion for its ill-advised adventures, is entitled, "Use

of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." Section 333, "Major

public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law" states that

"the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in

Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United

States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious

public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition

in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines

that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted

authorities of the State or possession are incapable of ("refuse" or "fail"

in) maintaining public order, "in order to suppress, in any State, any

insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy."

For the current President, "enforcement of the laws to restore public

order" means to commandeer guardsmen from any state, over the objections of

local governmental, military and local police entities; ship them off to

another state; conscript them in a law enforcement mode; and set them loose

against "disorderly" citizenry - protesters, possibly, or those who object

to forced vaccinations and quarantines in the event of a bio-terror event.

The law also facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention of

protesters, so called "illegal aliens," "potential terrorists" and other

"undesirables" for detention in facilities already contracted for and under

construction by Halliburton. That's right. Under the cover of a trumped-up

"immigration emergency" and the frenzied militarization of the southern

border, detention camps are being constructed right under our noses, camps

designed for anyone who resists the foreign and domestic agenda of the Bush


An article on "recent contract awards" in a recent issue of the slick,

insider "Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International"

reported that "global engineering and technical services powerhouse KBR

[Kellog, Brown & Root] announced in January 2006 that its Government and

Infrastructure division was awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite

Quantity (IDIQ) contract to support U.S. Immigration and Customs

Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency." "With a maximum

total value of 5 million over a five year term," the report notes, "the

contract is to be executed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," "for

establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment

existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) - in the event of an

emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid

development of new programs." The report points out that "KBR is the

engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton." (3) So, in

addition to authorizing another 2.8 billion for the Pentagon, including

a -billion "supplemental provision" which covers the cost of the

ongoing, mad military maneuvers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places, the

new law, signed by the president in a private White House ceremony, further

collapses the historic divide between the police and the military: a

tell-tale sign of a rapidly consolidating police state in America, all

accomplished amidst ongoing U.S. imperial pretensions of global domination,

sold to an "emergency managed" and seemingly willfully gullible public as a

"global war on terrorism."

Make no mistake about it: the de-facto repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act

(PCA) is an ominous assault on American democratic tradition and

jurisprudence. The 1878 Act, which reads, "Whoever, except in cases and

under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of

Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse

comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title

or imprisoned not more than two years, or both," is the only U.S. criminal

statute that outlaws military operations directed against the American

people under the cover of 'law enforcement.' As such, it has been the best

protection we've had against the power-hungry intentions of an unscrupulous

and reckless executive, an executive intent on using force to enforce its


Unfortunately, this past week, the president dealt posse comitatus, along

with American democracy, a near fatal blow. Consequently, it will take an

aroused citizenry to undo the damage wrought by this horrendous act, part

and parcel, as we have seen, of a long train of abuses and outrages

perpetrated by this authoritarian administration.

Despite the unprecedented and shocking nature of this act, there has been

no outcry in the American media, and little reaction from our elected

officials in Congress. On September 19th, a lone Senator Patrick Leahy

(D-Vermont) noted that 2007's Defense Authorization Act contained a "widely

opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National

Guard [adopting] changes to the Insurrection Act, which will make it easier

for this or any future President to use the military to restore domestic

order WITHOUT the consent of the nation's governors."

Senator Leahy went on to stress that, "we certainly do not need to make it

easier for Presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the Insurrection Act

and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of

the central tenets of our democracy. One can easily envision governors and

mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their

shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the


A few weeks later, on the 29th of September, Leahy entered into the

Congressional Record that he had "grave reservations about certain

provisions of the fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill Conference

Report," the language of which, he said, "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." This had been "slipped in," Leahy said, "as a rider with little

study," while "other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these

matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these


In a telling bit of understatement, the Senator from Vermont noted that

"the implications of changing the (Posse Comitatus) Act are enormous".

"There is good reason," he said, "for the constructive friction in existing

law when it comes to martial law declarations. Using the military for law

enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy. We

fail our Constitution, neglecting the rights of the States, when we make it

easier for the President to declare martial law and trample on local and

state sovereignty."

Senator Leahy's final ruminations: "Since hearing word a couple of weeks

ago that this outcome was likely, I have wondered how Congress could have

gotten to this point. It seems the changes to the Insurrection Act have

survived the Conference because the Pentagon and the White House want it."

The historic and ominous re-writing of the Insurrection Act, accomplished

in the dead of night, which gives Bush the legal authority to declare

martial law, is now an accomplished fact.

The Pentagon, as one might expect, plays an even more direct role in

martial law operations. Title XIV of the new law, entitled, "Homeland

Defense Technology Transfer Legislative Provisions," authorizes "the

Secretary of Defense to create a Homeland Defense Technology Transfer

Consortium to improve the effectiveness of the Department of Defense (DOD)

processes for identifying and deploying relevant DOD technology to federal,

State, and local first responders."

In other words, the law facilitates the "transfer" of the newest in

so-called "crowd control" technology and other weaponry designed to

suppress dissent from the Pentagon to local militarized police units. The

new law builds on and further codifies earlier "technology transfer"

agreements, specifically the 1995 DOD-Justice Department memorandum of

agreement achieved back during the Clinton-Reno regime.(4)

It has become clear in recent months that a critical mass of the American

people have seen through the lies of the Bush administration; with the

president's polls at an historic low, growing resistance to the war Iraq,

and the Democrats likely to take back the Congress in mid-term elections,

the Bush administration is on the ropes. And so it is particularly worrying

that President Bush has seen fit, at this juncture to, in effect, declare

himself dictator.


(1) and See also, Congressional

Research Service Report for Congress, "The Use of Federal Troops for

Disaster Assistance: Legal Issues," by Jennifer K. Elsea, Legislative

Attorney, August 14, 2006


(3) Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International, "Recent

Contract Awards", Summer 2006, Vol.12, No.2, pg.8; See also, Peter Dale

Scott, "Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps," New

American Media, January 31, 2006.

(4) "Technology Transfer from defense: Concealed Weapons Detection",

National Institute of Justice Journal, No 229, August, 1995, pp.42-43.

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