With two presidential signatures- one on New Year’s Day and the other issued last week – President Barack Obama has assumed the right to assert dictatorial powers over almost all aspects of the U.S. economy and to hold American citizens indefinitely without trial!
(This is not some “Space Aliens Invade” story. It is really happening).
On New Year’s Day, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund the Pentagon. But smuggled into its language is an explicit authority “allowing him to indefinitely detain [US] citizens” according to Jonathan Turley writing in the U.K. Guardian newspaper.
While the story was buried in the American media, Turley notes that it is “one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties” in American history.
At first, Obama “insisted that he signed the bill simply to keep funding for the troops.” But, Turley reports, “that spin ended after sponsor Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) disclosed that it was the White House that insisted that there be no exception for [US] citizens in the indefinite detention provision.”
Turley is critical of “reporters [who] continue to mouth the claim that this law only codifies what is already the law. That is not true.
The administration has fought any challenges to indefinite detention to prevent a true court review.”
Read the full text of Turley’s article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/02/ndaa-historic-assault-american-liberty
Perhaps even more terrifying is the executive order President Obama signed on Friday, March 16 giving him vast powers to control every aspect of the U.S. economy in the event of war or even during a peacetime “emergency.” Edwin Black, writing for the liberal-oriented Huffington Post, says that the order “may have quietly placed the United States on a war preparedness footing” possibly in anticipation of “an outbreak of war between Israel, the West, and Iran.”
Read the full text of Black’s article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edwin-black/obama-national-defense-resources-preparedness_b_1359715.html
The Order entitled “National Defense Resources Preparedness” gives the president the power “to take control of all civil energy supplies, including oil and natural gas, control and restrict all civil transportation,” according to Black. It also even allows a draft “in order to achieve both the military and non-military demands of the country.”
Obama’s order would be effective both during times of war and times of other emergencies. It says the purpose of the order is to assure that “the United States [has] an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency.” (Emphasis added)
The far reaching order authorizes the president “in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements.”
Likely the president already has most of the enumerated powers as part of his role as commander in chief. So, why the order right now?
Black speculates that it is related to the tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. Is the president reminding big oil that he would take over their industry in the event of war? Or is Obama equipping himself with vast powers to be used even in peacetime as a result of whatever he decides is a “national emergency.” Could the rise in gas prices constitute such an “emergency?” Is the issuance of this order right now a shot across the bow of oil companies to get them to go easy on oil prices? Where are we? Stalinist Russia?
In any case, these two presidential signatures – one on a law and the other on an order – together constitute a massive power grab totally unsuited to a democracy. The idea that he would be preparing to assume dictatorial powers seems so remote that the mainstream media has not even reported on these initiatives. But they should give all of us pause.