This is not about politics. This is about the utter trashing of the US Constitution and a dangerous new development that gravely threatens the liberty of the United States. I care nothing for any of the political parties vying for power, but do care about our fundamental liberty, which is essential for our religion to flourish or survive. And that liberty is facing a critical new assault in the form of a May 9 National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive that essentially bypasses the entire US Constitution, allowing sole power to be placed in the hands of the Executive Branch if there should happen to be some big emergency. And who decides when it’s an emergency and how long it lasts? Guess for yourself.
Did you hear that great flushing sound echoing across this nation? It was the sound of the US Constitution going down the toilet. Maybe that’s putting it too dramatically. You probably didn’t notice, you probably won’t hear any debate about it from Presidential candidates from either of the two major parties, you probably won’t lose any sleep over this silent development, but we are one emergency away from dictatorship, in my opinion. The thread that holds the US Constitution in place is frayed and about to break.
A small handful of sources have picked up on this story. The conservative World Net Daily has an article: “Bush grants presidency extraordinary powers: Directive for emergencies apparently gives authority without congressional oversight.” (Also see a related column by Jerome Corsi.) A search of news on Google using the terms National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive May 9 returns only a few hits, and it appears that only 3 minor US news sources mention the directive. But the directive is there, at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070509-12.html.
According to the May 9 Presidential Directive, dictatorship, or rather, a nation under the sole power of the Executive branch of government, can be implemented if there is a “Catastrophic Emergency.” What’s that? It is explicitly defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.” So, could we face an emergency in the form of “disruption” of the economy – perhaps a speech by Al Greenspan? Or could it be an environmental disaster, or even a government building burning to the ground (an emergency that helped justify dictatorship in Germany several decades ago)?
There is lip service to the continued existence of other branches of government. But direction will come from the top:
This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes “National Essential Functions,” prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program. . . .
Dictatorship is often justified by its architects as being “necessary for the good of the people.” And if a once-free people will buy that, then they will quickly sell their freedom and almost else they once had. Today, in May of 2007, the American people are being asked (without any discussion) to sit back and trust their President, and all future Presidents, with power to bypass the Constitution and assume sole power if they feel it’s justified by some kind of “emergency.” Perhaps President Bush is our modern Captain Moroni who may need to impose martial law to put down the King Men and execute those who won’t be loyal (watch your head, Michael Moore). But Captain Moroni is about to leave office (unless there’s another Presidential Directive I missed), so are you prepared to trust Captain Hillary with the same power?? Many of my friends have a lot of confidence in President Bush and think he’s a sincere man trying to do good. But even if that’s correct, this directive doesn’t expire in 2008. There’s no hint that it ever expires. Can we trust all future Presidencies as well with the opportunity to seize unlimited power?
If you think I’m crazy, then just ignore my plea here and comfort yourself with these words: “Absolute power doesn’t corrupt. It doesn’t tempt. It doesn’t hurt a thing.” Put it into rap form and chant it over and over – while you’re still free to chant.
Joseph Smith once prophesied that the US Constitution would hang by a thread. I say this to remind you that when there is grave peril to the Constitution, as he hinted, there will be a duty for us to rise up in its defense. We need to do more than just sit on our thrones while our freedoms are at stake.
One doesn’t need to be into conspiracy theories to worry about this. It’s a public document that you can read for yourself. There is a plan, a directive already signed and put into effect that, if not opposed now, could easily be used at some point in the future to transform a single branch of government into the sole ruling branch. Isn’t that radically contrary to anything in the Constitution? Shouldn’t we be concerned, even if we are confident that our leaders are trustworthy and honorable saints with no ambition for power?
I called the offices of my Senators today and asked them to oppose this directive. I hope you’ll also speak up on this issue. I know there are some big advantages to dictatorship, so maybe this request isn’t right for all of you. But if you agree, speak out and ask your elected officials in Congress to do their duty to preserve the checks and balances of the Constitution. There is no need for sole power in the hands of one mortal man, no matter how serious a disaster we face.
27 thoughts on “Dictatorship: It’s for Your Own Good (The New Presidential Directive Flushing the Constitution)”
I wouldn’t trust President Bush with this authority (or anyone for that matter, either.) There HAS to be checks and balances. (sigh)
I’m a Mormon Democrat, and I am pulling for Barack Obama (and second choice would be Hillary). If a Republican has to win, then I’d hope Mitt wins.
Take off your tinfoil hat, Jeff. That is just restating and reinforcing existing continuity of government plans that have existed since the cold war.
Signingtown–He has the authority to issue executive orders. The Supreme Court has the authority to overturn them.
The question is whether this will ever come before the Supreme Court. They’re not really supposed to just jump on things as they come up. That whole legal process and being a court of mainly appellate jurisdiction thing.
I really wish I could agree with you anonymous. I would love to believe that this is just a safety plan in the event of a possible circumstance.
Unfortunately I can’t. President Bush and others have gone to great lengths to build up the power of the Presidency at the expense of the Congress, the courts and the Constitution. This example that Jeff has brought to our attention is just the latest in a long line of similar power plays. One of the most egregious is the executive orders to authorize renditions and the detention of enemy combatants without trial. Neither Congress or the Courts were included in this decision.
When the Constitution was designed the framers envisioned a president as chief executive officer, not as chief agenda setter, coalition builder, and legislative policymaker. It is not supposed to be within the power of the President to create policy, but to enact it.
If I may suggest, please take a good look at this subject. Look under the surface.
If people are just now becoming aware of how much power the executive branch has been hoarding in recent months and years, then far too many have been asleep at the wheel.
This is one more (atrocious) development in a continual series of breaches of our Constitution.
I fear for our nation.
Hey there. Interesting observations. I plan to do more research on it, but I thought I’d give you what I found so far since you mentioned not finding much news coverage on the subject. The Washington Post put out the only “mainstream” commentary on the directive, which can be found here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/09/AR2007050902719.html
I’m sorry, but were you trying to bolster Joseph Smith’s credibility by saying he predicted this?
1. Is this prophecy in an “official LDS source”? Because, according jefflindsay.com, we can’t trust anything other people report on Joseph Smith.
2. Unless Smith included a timeframe in his prophecy, we can’t take it seriously. I could say that a hurricane will “someday” strike New York City, and no one could prove me wrong, dispite the statements absurdity. My prophecy would constantly be in the state of being fulfilled.
On the other hand, if some freak hurricane did hit New York, I would be hailed as a prophet.
It would be interesting to compare the breadth of these comments with attitudes expressed before Hitler took power. Any more scholarly people than myself willing to take this one on?
Seeing that Bush has less than a year left in office, I don’t see anything nefarious occuring.
Sure, he could have some stooge in waiting (or, as is the media’s wont, the stooge’s stooge), but given all of the claims of Clinton never leaving office (and look, his wife is now running), I really have a hard time taking this concern seriously.
And Obbama? The man has spent 3 years in the senate. I need more than that to get excited.
Sorry, Jeff, but you need to put your paranoia back in the box on this one. It is prudent for the administration to present a policy “in order to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and the continuing performance of National Essential Functions under all conditions.”
Previously, there was little likelihood of America’s enemies striking directly at our major cities. The age when Britain’s navy could shell our shore ended in 1812. Today, we are at risk from weapons of almost unimaginable destructive capabilities entering our ports or crossing our borders via land, sea or air. The potential exists that several Hiroshima sized nukes could destroy a large portion of the government along with several major population centers. A bomb doesn’t even have to clear customs but could detonate within a mile of shore and still wreak havoc.
It is prudent, when faced with such destructiveness which could occur without any warning, that the administration direct the Dept of Homeland Security to coordinate plans for the continuance of our rule of government, should the current administrative, legislative and judicial branches be damaged or destroyed. It is NOT a call for sweeping powers be passed to the administration and a “new world order” arise.
As far as definitions, the policy is vague–but I guarantee that if it takes a cataclysmic event to bring the policy to pass, you WILL recognize it. Damage over a multi-state area with deaths in the 10K+ range and injuries in the 100K+ range. All state services disrupted. Highways impassible, relief forces nearly impossible to get in. On a scale magnitudes greater than any hurricane or earthquake. A bird flu pandemic with a mortality rate of 10% would qualify, as would a major NBC (nuclear, biological or chemical) attack on several major population centers simultaneously (or even a minor asteroid strike).
If such a cataclysm came to pass, with many of our federal elected officials dead, a couple cities decimated, the administration dead, the lines of succession in doubt, it behooves us to have a plan to show the world that the American experiment with democracy will survive and that the rebuilding after such an event would be coordinated.
The concept of risk management is to take the worst case scenario and then develop a plan to overcome that scenario. It’s a matter of preparation so IF the worst happens, you’ve got a plan to deal with it.
I have participated in disaster preparedness exercises on a national level. It’s easy to see local services get overwhelmed when an attack or outbreak is confined to a single region. When taken on a national scale, it only makes sense to set a system in place so if the worst happens, America and American ideals as set out in the constitution will survive. -cp
Emergency plans for all such of extreme disasters have long been in place – plans that kept Congress in the loop. Notice the difference here? It’s sole power to the Executive Branch. Almost any disaster – economic, environmental, etc. – regardless of location – can be used as a trigger. It’s a one-way street to disaster.
Freedom depends on checks and balances, with sound mistrust of human leaders. This is a terrible step in the wrong direction.
Same could be said of pretty much every prophet in the Old and New Testaments (if you’re a bible living man).
I believe your concern is valid. All too often legalise is used to consolidate incredible power (I hate to resort to Hitler, but alas, the Nazy Party’s use of the Reichstag burning comes to mind).
Didn’t Great Britain try this in North America once? I seem to recall it didn’t turn out so well for them.
Jeff, take a look at the wikipedia entry under “Continuity_of_Operations_Plan” and you’ll see that these policies have pretty much been around since Ike was president. Yes, the same objections have been raised for the last 60 years that it would be possible, using a national emergency, for a single unelected person to rise to power and do away with the constitution.
Nothing to get alarmed over–one of the functions of government is to prepare contigency plans–especially in an age of WMDs. -cp
When I said, “nothing to get alarmed over,” I meant the fact that the government makes plans.
Of course the idea that a single, unelected official could usurp the constitution–that WOULD be grounds for alarm and a justification for exercising 2nd amendment rights. -cp
Walker: I’m an agnostic. Why do Mormons feel they simply need to their religion better than mainstream Christianity, rather than the presumption that there is no reason to believe in God?
I think that this is scary. And the prophecy by Joseph Smith is that the constitution will be hanging by a thread (not threat). I think that I would not like to give this power to anyone. I clicked on the link to the actual directive, and the wording doesn’t say about what the minimum is for the emergency. Technically, anything could fall under this rule. Even a made up threat could technically fall under this rule, and some severe damage would be done before Congress could impeach the president. Impeachment would still be a valid check and balance for this though. One of my biggest problems with the directive is the power it gives to the director of The Department of Homeland Security.
If this directive is just the same ol’ stuff that has been around for 60 years, why was this new directive needed? Why was Congress left out?
Can you show me anything in previous legislation and directives that rises to this level of totalitarian power?
Wrong wrong wrong! If you think this is about dictatorship in the US, you’re missing what’s going on. Why has no one paid attention to the North American Union, whose framework has been built up in much the same way as this little May 9 directive? Why are you guys overlooking the significance of CFTA, which is a big step towards the union? There have been complaints on this blog about the open borders to the south, but the significane of our “insane” border policy is missed. Doesn’t it seem curious that Bush would work so hard to keep the borders open, even to the point of making plans for a super corridor highway, while Americans are screaming to close the border and seal it tight against terrorists and illegals? isn’t it clear that he’s more committed to his internationalist agenda than to protecting our borders and culture? The Constitution and a few alert American people are the barrier to the North American Union/internationalist dream of Bush and those around him – the real powers in Washington. An “emergency” could be the final step needed to bypass these barriers.
Perhaps the emergency will be one that affects Mexico as well or jeopardizes the whole hemisphere, leading “naturally” to the need for North American “continuity” in a happy union. It’s going to take more than just a couple lame calls to Congress to stop this train, but I agree that Congress is where we should start.
from comments at a Daily Kos diary about this …
The Miami Herald’s Alfonso Chardy wrote a story on July 5, 1987 that linked Oliver North to FEMA planning from 1982-1984 to suspend the Constitution in the event of a national crisis. Jack Brooks (D-TX) tried to ask North about this in front of the cameras, but Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) cut him off by saying that the question dealt with classified matters.
The diary with the video of the Brooks/North/Inouye exchange can be found here …
apparently the exchange occurs about 50 seconds into the video
I completely understand the concerns of handing our democracy over to a dictator. But the government only has the power we give it. Thanks to the constitution we have the right to question our leaders and their directives.
Personally I am not worried about this new directive. Hypothetically speaking, if one of our presidents takes complete power, we can still stand up to him thanks to the second amendment. The power is still in our hands and will always be so long as we are willing to sacrifice for it.
I believe that we are beginning to see the Joseph Smiths prophecy coming true. But, I seem to remember the rest of the prophecy saying that “our help will be requested to restore freedoms” I don’t know the exact wording but its along those lines. So long as we keep our first few, and most precious amendments of the constitution in our hearts, things will not turn out for the worst. There is a reason the amendments of the constitution are in that order.
Hope that makes sense.
Now calm down. I your Goverment will take of you. You will except me as you dictator or we will have socialism and you will be assmimulated and you will learn to like it. First we want your guns, your property, then your religious freedom, then your free speech. It has slowly happening for the last 30 years I have been living in this country. I came from communism and socialism and we just get closer and closer each year. Many of the countries that were freed after the fall of the USSR are free’er then the United States is becoming. Keep sitting around talking about and watch it slowly slip away.
I live in Canada where we are being governed by the _Junior Rethuglicans_, under the guise of the Harper government, which is marching in lockstep with the U.S. Administration. The recent Presidential Directive is cause for concern as it very directly subverts the checks and balances within the U.S. governmental system. I’m wondering how long it will be before the Harpercrit tries to enact similar legislation up here.
By the way, very interesting blog, well written. Keep up the good work.
Jeff, where have you been? These types of executive orders, and the “national emergency” used as their justification started with WWII.
But even in recent history, the real scary ones started under the first George Bush, and continued under Clinton.
This recent one by GWB is merely another link in a chain that has been created since GHWB. Which makes it all the more scarier.
9/11 is indeed America’s Reichstag Fire.
I don’t get it. The Constitution hasn’t been in force for about 100 years. Why the handwringing over minor details now?
I am a mormon and I don’t have a party affiliation but I am going to register as a republican just so I can vote for Ron Paul in the primaries. He is the only candidate out there truly defending the constitution.
Congressman Denied Access To Post-Attack Continuity Plans