On Friday President Obama signed an executive order titled “National Defense Resources Preparedness,” and by Saturday the conservative Twitterverse had erupted into righteous indignation, organized under the hashtag #ExecOrder. But the 140-character expressions of outrage and the anti-Obama tea party angst masked the fact that very little in the presidential proclamation is new.
While Obama’s executive order is written in sophisticated legislative verbiage, its aim should be clear to anyone who reads it from front to back as I did. (You’re welcome.)
And Microsoft Word has a nifty “compare” feature that combines two documents into a single version with every single difference, no matter how small, spelled out in red. It’s a huge time-saver.
So what’s new since 1994?
When Bill Clinton issued his version of the plan to prepare the country for some unstated national military emergency, most disaster response functions were assigned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Today, those functions belong to the Department of Homeland Security, whose sub-agencies include FEMA. Most of the significant changes from Clinton’s order to Obama’s involve reassigning FEMA’s old duties to DHS — which didn’t exist when Clinton was president. Obama did this in 10 separate places.
But in large part, the function of this executive order — in all its historical incarnations — is to clearly delineate what each cabinet secretary is responsible for if the country should go kablooey.
Obama also axed the FEMA director’s prior role as a tie-breaking vote whenever two cabinet secretaries might disagree about allocating resources in a time of emergency. From now on that decision will land on the president’s desk.
After the black eye FEMA got — deserved or not — following Hurricane Katrina, this is at minimum a smart PR move.
Obama also red-lined the Export-Import Bank of the United States from Clinton’s order completely. But even that is probably meaningless: The Ex-Im Bank’s charter is set to expire this year, but Obama is strongly in favor of its renewal.
Another curious change involves the Department of Agriculture’s mandate. New language from Obama includes, for the first time, “livestock resources, veterinary resources, [and] plant health resources.”
It also expands the definition of ”food resources” to include “potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers.” On the other hand, Obama has curiously eliminated tobacco form the list of things the government can — and has been able to since before any of us were born — control if an unfriendly power should ever drop the big one on New York City.
All of this seems completely sensible.
Still, breathless statements flooded Twitter over the weekend, by Sunday reaching a pace of about 20 per minute.
“To Obamabots and other asleep #Americans: Wake the hell up! New Executive Order dated March 16th. Prepare yourselves!” read one.
“Obama’s ‘Dictator’ executive order. Read it & tell me if you REALLY believe Hitler comparisons are legit,” said another.
Other tweets warned that Obama aims to “make it easier to push America N2 totalitarianism like China” and had seized “the power to STOP ALL ELECTIONS.” One Twitter user said that in the wake of the executive order, “I’ve decided to buy stock in Guillotine companies.”
The most common tweeted phrase about the executive order, by far, was “peacetime martial law.”
The narrow span of initial reactions from conservative websites ranged from “stunning” and “harassing” to “totalitarian” and “the blueprint for Peacetime Martial Law.” One typical thread simply declared that the president had “gone too far.”
What’s maddening about this, aside from the fact that so few commentators, clearly, had actually read the order, is the knee-jerk assumption that Barack Obama is somehow less trustworthy — at the molecular level — with his constitutional powers than was Bill Clinton.
Yes, the Internet has turned political events into tinder with a ferocity Clinton never faced. And yes, the political right harbors an intense distrust of the Oval Office’s current occupant.
But the idea that he would, in an election year, suddenly declare himself the singular steward and controller of all private property, or put himself in solitary control of the water supply or reinstitute the draft — all accusations I’ve read online in the past day — is ludicrous.
If you want to see what any legislative or regulatory language really means, skip over all the nouns (like food, water, fertilizer and fuel) and look at the verbs.
Columnist Ed Morrissey spotted a few in Obama’s executive order: “identify,” “assess,” “prepare,” “improve,” “foster [cooperation],” “provide.” These aren’t exactly words that suggest lots of action. I don’t see “usurp,” “hijack” or “shanghai.”
I also don’t see anything in the executive order that establishes a new legal authority of any kind. Not only is the language old hat, but it spells out which laws the White House is relying on for its authority.
So this is all pretty thin soup.
If we can’t trust the president — any president — to look at what’s going on and make his cabinet secretaries play nice, we have bigger problems than who’s going to control the next corn crop if Putin starts punching in launch codes instead of his ATM password.
So everyone just chill, okay? It’s time to crumple up those tinfoil hats. At least for a week or so.
Obama's NDRP Executive Order a Strong Move
By L. Vincent Poupard | Yahoo! Contributor Network – Tue, Mar 20, 2012
COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama signed an executive order to change the flow of power over national defense in a time of emergency, according to Fox News. The article points out how legal minds are arguing over the scope of the order. As a political scientist, I would expect conspiracy theorists to read more into the move than it is worth. As someone who rarely agrees with President Obama, I see this as a strong move on his part.
The National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order alters some of the existing procedures for mobilizing the military, government workers, the civilian workforce and technical and industrial resources already under the command of the government or under the command when needed. The new order places the control of these aspects under the Office of Homeland Security and the Cabinet. I do not see this giving more power to the president but creating a stronger organization for the flow of information and command.
On 9/11, the government scrambled to process the information coming in and worked feverishly to send the identifiably correct information to the proper areas. President George W. Bush set up the OHS in an attempt to work as a centralized location for the information flow in the future. President Obama's NDRP executive order strengthens this flow and places the Cabinet into the stream so each Cabinet member can assist in the area of his or her expertise. I see this as a move to assist the OHS, the military and the American population since the OHS does not specialize in each area falling under the Cabinet.
Questions about martial law and government takeovers have been around for decades. The concern is often spread by conspiracy theory groups but is nothing more than a push to make people paranoid about the power held in the government. 9/11 was the closest we ever came to a national security state of emergency and we did not enter a state of martial law.
The executive order is an easy target for conspiracy theorists who flip out whenever they hear anything about emergency powers. If they sat down to think they might realize it is best for the government to have plans in place in case of emergency. Orders like this help to ensure our prosperity, not take it away.
Complete U-Tube explanation Obama's most recent Executive
National Disaster Responce Team
NDRT is The Cold War equivalent of Marshal Law
What the Patriot Acts #1 & #2 and NDAA S.1867 and Defence Secretary
Penetta advising Congress that Nato and the U.N. now command the
U.S.military not Your Representatives in Congress did not take away from
you this NDRT Executive Order does !
Listen to this U-Tube audio explanation of all the things this
Executive order takes over, Water, Electricity, Food, etc etc and even
making Americans into unpaid slave workers for the government plus much
Listen and then pass it on, It is long 2 hours but worth while, Do not
miss the list of bills and executive orders Obama has passed in the last
year all heading toward Communism and complete control of all Americans
coming soon possibly when the U.S.dollar and banking system collapses.
YouTube - Alert! Obama Declares/Updates MARTIAL LAW Implementation -
Executive Order Explained
National Disaster Responce Team (NDRT)
NDRT - Google Search
Pass it on !
T Lee Buyea - Editor in Chief
Fla. News Service - Miami, Fl. USA
News with Views
Another Obama Executive Order Allows Seizure of Americans’ Bank AccountsWritten by Bob Adelmann
The latest executive order (EO) emanating from the White House October 9 now claims the power to freeze all bank accounts and stop any related financial transactions that a “sanctioned person” may own or try to perform — all in the name of “Iran Sanctions.”
Titled an “Executive Order from the President regarding Authorizing the Implementation of Certain Sanctions…” the order says that if an individual is declared by the president, the secretary of state, or the secretary of the treasury to be a “sanctioned person,” he (or she) will be unable to obtain access to his accounts, will be unable to process any loans (or make them), or move them to any other financial institution inside or outside the United States. In other words, his financial resources will have successfully been completely frozen. The EO expands its authority by making him unable to use any third party such as “a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, subgroup or other organization” that might wish to help him or allow him to obtain access to his funds.
And if the individual so “sanctioned” decides that the ruling is unfair, he isn't allowed to sue. In two words, the individual has successfully been robbed blind.
But it’s all very legal. The EO says the president has his “vested authority” to issue it, and then references endless previous EOs, including one dating back to 1995 which declared a “state of emergency” (which hasn’t been lifted): Executive Order 12957.
EO 12957 was issued by President Bill Clinton on March 15, 1995, which was also obliquely related to the Iran “problem”:
I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of the Government of Iran to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
Clinton’s EO further delegated such powers as were necessary to enforce the EO to the secretaries of the treasury and state “to employ all powers … as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government.”
Such EOs are the perfect embodiment of what the Founders feared the most: the combining of the legislative, executive, and judicial functions into one body. Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution says: “All legislative powers herein shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” As Thomas Eddlem, writing for The New American, expressed it, “then it stands to reason [that] none is left for the president.”
But Joe Wolverton, also in The New American, pointed out the particular piece of language the Founders used to limit the powers of the president which totalitarians have twisted to allow such powers to expand: the “take care” clause, to wit: Article II, Section 3: he [the president] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…
With every EO, the president avoids the cumbersome constitutional safeguards spelled out by the Constitution, and uses them to implement policies he "knows" are right. Says Wolverton: "With every one of these … executive orders, then, the president elevates his mind and will above that of the people, Congress and the courts."
The current administration has had a lot of help in justifying and codifying the legitimacy of executive orders, going all the way back to President George Washington who in 1793 issued his “Neutrality Proclamation,” which declared that the United States would remain neutral in the current conflict between France and Great Britain, and would bring sanctions against any American citizen who attempted to provide assistance to either party. The language of Washington is eerily similar to that used by President Obama in the present case:
I have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid toward those powers respectively, and to exhort and warn the citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsoever which may in any manner tend to contravene such disposition…
I have given instructions to those officers to whom it belongs to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons who shall, within the cognizance of the courts of the United States, violate the law of nations with respect to the powers at war, or any of them.
When James Madison protested Washington’s usurpation of powers not intended for the president, Congress acquiesced and passed, retroactively, the Neutrality Act of 1794, validating Washington’s usurpation.
President Lincoln engaged in similar usurpations, using presidential “directives” to run the early months of the Civil War, presenting Congress with, as Todd Gaziano put it,
the decision either to adopt his [directives] as legislation or to cut off support for the Union army.
Within his first two months in office, on April 15, 1861, Lincoln issued a proclamation activating troops to defeat the Southern rebellion and for Congress to convene on July 4.
He also issued proclamations to procure warships and to expand the size of the military; in both cases, the proclamations provided for payment to be advanced from the Treasury without congressional approval.
These latter actions were probably unconstitutional, but Congress acquiesced in the face of wartime contingencies, and the matters were never challenged in court.
President Franklin Roosevelt often overlooked the niceties of constitutional restraints as well. As Gaziano expressed it, “FDR also showed a tendency to abuse his executive order authority and [to] claim powers that were not conferred on him in the Constitution or by statute.”
As far as numbers of executive orders issued, Obama is a piker. At the moment, although the list is growing, his administration has issued only 900 or so executive orders. President Theodore Roosevelt issued 1,006 while President Woodrow Wilson issued 1,791. Even President Calvin Coolidge used the EO “privilege” 1,253 times.
The granddaddy of them all, FDR, issued an astounding 3,728 executive orders, but of course he was in office longer than Obama.
President Bill Clinton issued only 364 executive orders, but he made the most of them, using this extra-legal power to, among other things, wage war in Yugoslavia without congressional approval. Cliff Kincaid collated the numerous EOs issued by Clinton in 1998 and 1999, and concluded:
Clinton waged his war on Yugoslavia through executive order and presidential directive. Clinton used executive orders to designate a "war zone," call up troops, proclaim a "national emergency" with respect to Yugoslavia, and impose economic sanctions on the Belgrade government.
Clinton claimed war-making presidential authority through his "constitutional authority" to conduct "foreign relations," as "Commander in Chief" and as "Chief Executive." Under this self-designated authority, Clinton delegated command-and-control of U.S. forces to NATO and its Secretary-General Javier Solana, who decided when the air war would be discontinued…
The most outrageous executive order of all time was that issued by President Roosevelt that allowed the enforced internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans: 9066.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) called EOs patently unconstitutional. When asked about them by Fox News’ Megan Kelly, Paul responded:
The Constitution says that only Congress passes laws. The executive branch is not allowed to pass laws, nor should the judicial system pass laws. So it is clearly unconstitutional to issue these executive orders.
They’ve been done for a long time, both parties have done it, but the Congress is careless. They allow and encourage and do these deals … to get the president to circumvent the Congress. If something’s unpopular and he can’t get it passed, well, let’s just sign an executive order. So I think that is blatantly wrong. I think this defies everything the founders intended. I think it’s a shame that Congress does it, and I think it’s a shame that the American people put up with it.
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