Monday, March 19, 2012

The velvet glove of martial law?

On Friday, March 16th President Obama continued the breakdown of the Bill of Rights started with the Patriot Act in 2001. That is the opinion of much of the Internet, and a quick read of Executive Order -- National Defense Resources Preparedness seems to confirm it. But such things seldom occur in a vacuum, and this is no exception. The text is basically an update of executive orders going back to 1950, including EO's by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

I haven't read the full order, but I've read enough of it to know that I could easily, if I wanted to, write a long, point by point blog on the potential dangers of each section. The language would be easy to use for fearmongering. But the fact is, to take any one section of the economy under complete government control would require not just an executive order, but a clear and present danger of a type I'm not sure anyone could have been convinced existed even immediately after September 11, 2001. To create true martial law over the entire country would be far more difficult. It could probably be done, but it would probably require more resources than are available without pulling troops home from foreign posts - assuming the troops would go along with it.

The reality is that any competent entity, public or private, will have disaster preparedness documents. That's what this executive order does. It spells out who is in charge of what in the event of natural or manmade disasters. It makes some changes to take recent developments into account, but does very little to significantly change what was done by earlier presidents.

Like any other leader, President Obama has done plenty of things to disagree with and fight about. This just isn't one of them.