I’m exaggerating. It’d be de rigeur for any dictatorship worthy of the name. But the latest Executive Order of President Barack Hussein Obama, National Defense Resources Preparedness, signed last Friday with virtually no fanfare at all, is gob-smacking in its scope and abandonment of all pretence of congressional democracy. Go have a read.
Here’s a sample:
The authority of the President conferred by section 101 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071, to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads:
(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;
(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;
(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;
(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;
(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and
(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.
Under this decree, which revokes similar but weaker executive orders issued by Presidents Reagan (1988) and Clinton (1994), and is a tremendous expansion of the powers granted under the 1950 Defense Production Act—written at a time when the United States was under imminent threat of communist infiltration from within, and nuclear attack from without, and considered excessive even then—Obama can simply bypass Congress, at his whim, to commandeer, as you can see above, pretty much everything in the country; grant power of subpoena to Cabinet Secretaries to afford compulsion of these directives; require contractors to work for the government, without compensation, and then legally bar them from suing for compensation afterwards.
Worse, these provisions can be enacted by the president without a formal congressional Declaration of War; in other words, at any time the president deems, at his sole discretion, the situation to be an emergency. In other words, at whim.
Why now? The United States does not face any imminent prospect of war (beyond the regional skirmishes in which it is currently mired). We know there’s no prospect of imminent economic catastrophe—Obama told us so himself, right? So why, at this time, is he massively beefing up a national security law enacted over sixty years ago, in a time of genuine crisis? What is he anticipating? There is simply no way, at all, that his spin doctors can credibly dismiss this presidential order as a mere updating of an antiquated piece of legislation, or any similar excuse (such as Iran threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz). If such were the case, then why not propose legislation in Congress, in the normal, democratic, American manner? Why by presidential decree? What’s the urgency?
I made the point back here a few months ago; but the current presidential decree appears to be lifted—almost word for word—from a 1957 work of fiction I would have bet my house Obama had never even read. This is martial law, enacted in peacetime. And it holds the government unaccountable, blameless, and above the law:
This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
March 16, 2012.