President Obama signed a new EO a couple of days ago that describes what powers the executive branch will assume during a self-declared national emergency. The 16mar12 EO references and updates previous EOs that have been in force to handle similar extreme situations in the land, but there are some items in this one that make my neck hairs tingle. Maybe it’s just because I’ve lived under the tender mercies of two all-encompassing and benevolent states run by Uncle Joe and Der Adolph.
When I finished reading the EO it was clear that the general provisions for such an EO are needed in times of a national emergency such as a war, massive natural disaster, or wholesale terrorist attack. During times like these it is important that available material, service, and security/defense resources come under co-ordinated central control for the duration.
But the 16mar12 EO requires no such massive emergency to have its provisions kick in. Instead, the Secretary of Homeland Security is empowered to declare one by simple fiat. Once invoked, the EO becomes the autocratic law of the land for an indefinite period, and with no provisions for or requirement to seek the advice and consent of Congress. Nowhere is Congress required for implementation of these prescriptions which effectively allow the takeover of the country by the executive branch for as long as the President deems fit.
The EO also provides for a new 'Praetorian Guard' surrounding the President that effectively isolates his cabinet from bringing their problems and conflicts to his resolution. They must communicate such problems, sure to arise in profusion, through intermediaries empowered to summarily resolve them. Additionally, provision is made to implement a new legion of czars who can be assigned across the land to carry out ad hoc provisions of the EO as they are needed. In short, a whole new scheme of governance is enable by this EO that totally bypasses what is provided in the Constitution.
The new EO is not that long, and I recommend that you read it (here) In addition to the above, please note that in the guts of it the President isolates himself from his Cabinet whose contending members must come to him only through his new Praetorian Guard. And also note, that the contemplated ‘emergencies’ may last for years during which Congress is advised only through annual reports. This looks like the basis for running the country under a new kind of command authority that is effectively a form of martial law under civilian control, in short, a means of establishing autocracy over the land.
This EO has every appearance of being the basis for the promised fundamental transformation under the guise of an update and extension of previous provisions to handle more normative national emergencies.
I would be more comfortable if Congress would raise its hackles and demand a review of the EO's invocation provisions, the breadth of its implementation, and its exclusion of Congress from any ongoing role in governance once the EO is invoked. (A correspondent has already questioned the evolution of this body into the new “Candyass Congress”.)
The lamestream media’s silence on the matter is understandable. However, Fox News’ reticence to critically analyze the impact of this EO seems to fit in with the recent withdrawal from its traditional aggressive coverage of the portents of big government growing bigger. It’s almost as if the feds had some dirty pictures of Rupert Murdoch with which they could shut down his US operations.