Obama’s power grab / Executive order expands presidential prerogative (WASHINGTON TIMES COMMENTARY) By Jeffrey T. Kuhner 03/23/12)
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President Obama has given himself the powers to declare martial law -
especially in the event of a war with Iran. It is a sweeping power
grab that should worry every American.
On March 16, the White House released an executive order, “National
Defense Resources Preparedness.” The document is stunning in its
audacity and a flagrant violation of the Constitution. It states
that, in case of a war or national emergency, the federal government
has the authority to take over almost every aspect of American
society. Food, livestock, farming equipment, manufacturing, industry,
energy, transportation, hospitals, health care facilities, water
resources, defense and construction - all of it could fall under the
full control of Mr. Obama. The order empowers the president to
dispense these vast resources as he sees fit during a national crisis.
“The United States must have 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,” the order
says. “The domestic industrial and technological base is the
foundation for national defense preparedness. The authorities
provided in the act shall be used to strengthen this base and to
ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of
the United States.”
In short, the order gives Mr. Obama the ability to impose martial
law. He now possesses the potential powers of a dictator. The order
is a direct assault on individual liberties, private property rights
and the rule of law. It is blatantly unconstitutional. The executive
branch is arrogating responsibilities precluded by the Constitution
without even asking the permission of Congress. The order gives Mr.
Obama a blank check to erect a centralized authoritarian state. This
is a law one would expect to find in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela or
Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The backdrop to the executive order is the looming showdown with
Iran. The administration says the “window for diplomacy is closing.”
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned Tehran’s mullahs that “all
options are on the table” - including military intervention. Mr.
Obama stresses that his patience is running out. He vows that Iran
will not acquire the bomb. Mr. Obama wants several more months for
sanctions and international isolation to bring the ayatollahs to
heel. Yet the signals are clear: Mr. Obama may be ready to launch
devastating airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
If that should happen, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has
promised massive retaliation. American troops will be targeted by
Iranian proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan. American embassies will be
struck across the Middle East and North Africa. Most ominously,
Iranian-backed Hezbollah cells could launch devastating terrorist
attacks in major U.S. cities, killing numerous citizens. The war may
well come home, triggering domestic chaos. These are the very real
risks of a major conflict with Iran.
Which begs the question: Would that tempt Mr. Obama to claim a state
of emergency and thereby implement his executive order? No one knows
the answer. And we shouldn’t have to find out. The president does
not - and should not - have the authority to subordinate the entire
private economy to the government, especially without the consent of
Congress and the American people. It is national socialism
masquerading as military security.
This is why conservatives - those who are serious about defending our
constitutional republic - should demand that the executive order be
repealed immediately. Liberals argue that President Clinton issued a
nearly identical mandate. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the
first national defense resources preparedness order, which has been
amended by successive presidents, including George W. Bush. Hence,
according to the progressive left, if it was good enough for FDR, Mr.
Clinton and Mr. Bush, why not Mr. Obama?
The answer is simple: Because the Constitution matters - or at least
it should. For more than 70 years, liberal Democrats and corporatist
Republicans have been slowly dismantling the old republic, imposing a
creeping social democracy. The Founding Fathers’ vision of limited
government and federalism has been replaced by a new ruling class.
FDR, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Bush - all of them were militarists expanding
the size and scope of government. They were Wilsonian globalists, and
they shamelessly violated civil liberties. FDR was the worst, by
forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps.
Mr. Obama’s executive order represents the culmination of the welfare-
warfare state. He is walking in the footsteps of his predecessors,
those who enabled the rise of the imperial presidency. And it leads
to only one tragic end: the gradual deterioration of our democracy.
(© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 03/23/12)
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