I have just skimmed the Executive Order that Pres. Obama issued on Friday, asserting the POTUS’s control over national resources for defense preparedness purposes, and my first thought is that the context for updating this longstanding federal law now might be health care reform and infrastructure. In other words, repairing and/or replacing crumbling infrastructure, and having a unified, national system for ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable health care has a national security aspect to it — a very strong one, in my opinion. With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments in the legal challenge to the health care mandate in the Affordable Care Act, this might be one prong in the legal strategy the Obama administration is preparing.
As I indicated, I have not yet read the E.O. closely, but this was what occurred to me at first glance.
Of course, the usual suspects in rightie blogtopia are shrieking that the President has opened the door to martial law (despite the fact, as mentioned above, that Obama’s Executive Order is only an update to existing law). But rather than giving them undeserved links, I’ll point to this post by Doug Mataconis at the center-right Outside the Beltway:
Given the fact that it came out on a Friday afternoon and many people were likely paying attention to college basketball games and St. Patrick’s Day-related activities, it’s received very little attention in the news media but that hasn’t stopped the (mostly conservative) blogosphere from going into panic mode over it, although this was inspired no doubt in no small part due to the manner in which Kenneth Schortgen Jr. describes it in an Examiner piece:
On March 16th, President Obama signed a new Executive Order which expands upon a prior order issued in 1950 for Disaster Preparedness, and gives the office of the President complete control over all the resources in the United States in times of war or emergency.
The National Defense Resources Preparedness order gives the Executive Branch the power to control and allocate energy, production, transportation, food, and even water resources by decree under the auspices of national defense and national security. The order is not limited to wartime implementation, as one of the order’s functions includes the command and control of resources in peacetime determinations.
The purpose of President Obama signing this new Executive Order is yet unclear, however, it may coincide with information coming out of Israel yesterday that plans for a tactical or strategic strike on Iran are accelerating. Oil prices in Europe rose over $3 a barrel for Brent crude after the Israeli actions, and US oil prices rose $2 for WTI.
The Obama administration appears to be preparing for a long drawn out war in the Middle East, or at the very least, an expected crisis that will require the need to override Constitutional authority and claim dominion over all resources in the United States under the guise of national defense. With the rise in Disaster Preparedness growing for both individuals and states leading up to yesterday’s Executive Order, the mood of the nation points strongly towards some event or disaster that will require massive preparations on a national as well as local scale.
It all sounds pretty scary, and it wasn’t long before the usual suspects were citing this as evidence of some kind of plan for martial law, just as there were people on the left and far-right asserting that George Bush was going to declare martial law and cancel the elections in 2004 and 2008. Considering who it was who was spreading the meme that this was some kind of power grab by the Obama Administration, I wasn’t inclined to believe it to begin with. However, once you actually look at the facts (yes, I know, how dare I muddle up a good conspiracy theory with actual facts) it becomes pretty clear that not only is the reaction to this wildly over the top in some corners, but the Executive Order itself is nothing more than a restatement of policy that has been in place in decades and grants no authority to the President or the Cabinet that they don’t already have under existing law.
Doug also links to more rational commentary on the right.