Archive for April 14th, 2008
The Martial Law Act of 2006
by James Bovard, Posted April 9, 2008
Martial law is perhaps the ultimate stomping of freedom. And yet, on September 30, 2006, Congress passed a provision in a 591-page bill that will make it easy for President Bush to impose martial law in response to a terrorist “incident.” It also empowers him to effectively declare martial law in response to what he or other federal officials label a shortfall of “public order” — whatever that means.
It took only a few paragraphs in a $500 billion, 591-page bill to raze one of the most important limits on federal power. Congress passed the Insurrection Act in 1807 to severely restrict the president’s ability to deploy the military within the United States. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 tightened those restrictions, imposing a two-year prison sentence on anyone who used the military within the United States without the express permission of Congress. (This act was passed after the depredations of the U.S. military throughout the Southern states during Reconstruction.)
But there is a loophole: Posse Comitatus is waived if the president invokes the Insurrection Act.
The Insurrection Act and Posse Comitatus Act aim to deter dictatorship while permitting a narrow window for the president to temporarily use the military at home. But the 2006 reforms basically threw any concern about dictatorial abuses out the window.
Section 1076 of the Defense Authorization Act of 2006 changed the name of the key provision in the statute book from “Insurrection Act” to “Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act.” The Insurrection Act of 1807 stated that the president could deploy troops within the United States only “to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” The new law expands the list of pretexts to include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition” — and such a “condition” is not defined or limited.
One might think that given the experience with the USA PATRIOT Act and many other abuses of power, Congress would be leery about giving this president his biggest blank check yet to suspend the Constitution. But that would be naive.
The new law was put in place in response to the debacle of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. There was no evidence that permitting a president far more power would avoid future debacles, but such a law provides a comfort blanket to politicians. The risk of tyranny is irrelevant compared with the reduction of risk of embarrassment to politicians. According to Washington, the correct response to Katrina is not to recognize the failure of relying on federal agencies a thousand miles away but rather to vastly increase the power of the president to dictate a solution, regardless of whether he knows what he is doing and regardless of whether local and state rights are trampled.
The new law also empowers the president to commandeer the National Guard of one state to send to another state for as many as 365 days. Bush could send the South Carolina National Guard to suppress anti-war protests in New Haven. Or the next president could send the Massachusetts National Guard to disarm the residents of Wyoming, if they resisted a federal law that prohibited private ownership of semi-automatic weapons. Governors’ control of the National Guard can be trumped with a simple presidential declaration.
Section 1076 had bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, including support from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Since the law would give the feds more power, it was very popular inside the Beltway.
On the other hand, every governor in the country opposed the changes. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned on September 19, 2006, that “we certainly do not need to make it easier for presidents to declare martial law.” Leahy’s alarm got no response. Ten days later, he commented in the Congressional Record, “Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy.”
A U.S. Enabling Act
The new law vastly increases the danger from the actions of government provocateurs. If there is an incident now like the first bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993, it would be far easier for the president to declare martial law — even if, as then, it was an FBI informant who taught the culprits how to make the bomb. Even if the FBI masterminds a protest that turns violent, the president could invoke the “incident” to suspend the Constitution.
“Martial law” is a euphemism for military dictatorship. When foreign democracies are overthrown and a junta establishes martial law, Americans usually recognize that a fundamental change has occurred. Perhaps some conservatives believe that the only change when martial law is declared is that people are no longer read their Miranda rights before they are locked away. “Martial law” means: Obey soldiers’ commands or be shot. The abuses of military rule in Southern states during Reconstruction were legendary, but they have been swept under the historical rug.
Section 1076 is an Enabling Act-type legislation — something which purports to preserve law and order while formally empowering the president to rule by decree.
Bush can commandeer a state’s National Guard any time he declares a “state has refused to enforce applicable laws.” Does this refer to the laws as they are commonly understood — or to the “laws” after Bush “fixes” them with a signing statement? Unfortunately, it is not possible for Americans to commandeer the federal government even when Bush admits that he is breaking a law (such as the Anti-Torture Act).
Section 1076 is the type of “law” that would probably be denounced by the U.S. State Department’s Annual Report on Human Rights if enacted by a foreign government. But when the U.S. government does the same thing, it is merely another proof of benevolent foresight. The “comfort blanket” on Section 1076 is that the powers will not be abused because the president will show more concern with the Bill of Rights than Congress did when it rubberstamped this provision. This is the same “pass the buck on the Constitution” that worked so well with the PATRIOT Act, the McCain Feingold Campaign Reform Act, and the Military Commissions Act. As long as there is hypothetically some branch of the government that will object to oppression, no one has the right to fear losing his liberties.
The military on the home front
Section 1076 is more ominous in light of the Bush administration’s long record of Posse Comitatus violations. Since 2001, the Bush administration has accelerated a trend of using the military as a tool in the nation’s domestic affairs. From its support of the Total Information Awareness surveillance vacuum cleaner, to its use of Pentagon spy planes during the Washington-area sniper shootings in 2002, to the Pentagon’s seizures of Americans’ financial and other private information without a warrant, the Bush administration has not hesitated to use military force and intimidation at home whenever convenient. And Americans may have little or no idea of how far the military has actually gone on the home front, given the Bush team’s obsessive secrecy.
The Pentagon has sent U.S. military intelligence agents on domestic fishing expeditions. In 2004, two U.S. Army intelligence agents descended on the University of Texas’s law school in Austin. They entered the office of the Journal of Women and the Law and demanded that the editors turn over a roster of the people who attended a recent conference on Islam and women. The editors denied having a list; the behavior of one agent was described as intimidating. The agents then demanded contact information for the student who organized the conference, Sahar Aziz. University of Texas law professor Douglas Laycock commented,
We certainly hope that the Army doesn’t believe that attending a conference on Islamic law or Islam and women is itself ground for investigation.
Military officials later declared that U.S. Army intelligence agents had overstepped their bounds. But this did not stop the Bush administration from having a provision inserted in a bill passed in secret session by the Senate Intelligence Committee that would allow military intelligence agents to conduct surveillance and recruit informants in the United States. Wired.com reported,
Pentagon officials say the exemption would not affect civil liberties and is needed so that its agents can obtain information from sources who may be afraid of government agents.
The provision would authorize military agents to go undercover and never inform their targets that they were dealing with a G-man. Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, denounced the provision:
This … is giving them the authority to spy on Americans. And it’s all been done with no public discussion, in the dark of night.
The controversy over the amendment scuttled its enactment, though it is unclear whether that has deterred the military from expanding its domestic spying.
There is no Honesty-in-Absolute-Power mandate in the federal statute books. The more power government seizes, the more easily it can suppress the truth. There is nothing to prevent a president from declaring martial law on false pretexts — any more than there is to prevent him from launching a foreign war on false pretenses. And when the lies become exposed years later, it could be far too late to resurrect lost liberties.
James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy  as well as The Bush Betrayal , Lost Rights  and Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave-Macmillan, September 2003) and serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.
This article originally appeared in the January 2008 edition of Freedom Daily. Subscribe to the print or email version of Freedom Daily.
© 2001-2007 The Future of Freedom Foundation. All rights reserved.
There never was a good
war or a bad peace.
— Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Josiah Quincy [September 11, 1773]
According to polls, a majority of people could accept a genuine ET reality without losing their faith in God.
by Thomas Horn
Portland, April 20, 2007 / RaidersNewsNetwork.com / — NASA’s recently released ultra high resolution pictures of the "face on Mars" reveal details as small as a few inches across including what some believe to be girders, windows and walls from ancient structures. Richard Hoagland and his Enterprise Team believe this is the smoking gun. "The debate is over," he says. "I no longer need to prove that these are ruins, my critics need to prove that they are not."
A few years ago the movie "Mission to Mars" sent NASA Commander Luke Graham (Don Cheadle) with a crew of four astronauts to the red planet. While exploring strange geological formations on the Martian landscape, the truth about the Face on Mars and the origin of mankind was discovered.
At the time, director Brian De Palma admitted, "Mission to Mars is set in 2020 because that’s the date the experts predict we should have a manned landing on Mars."
The film insinuated that, when we do set foot on Mars, the discovery of past alien presence could be made near the Sphinx-like "face" and pyramidal shapes photographed by the Viking Mars probe.
Benevolent Creator Astronauts Theory (ET=God)
A staple doctrine among many ufologists is that such a discovery would lead to the conclusion that the origin of myth as well as the creation of man was the direct result of intelligent extraterrestrial activity, or benevolent creator astronauts.
In the introduction to his best selling book, CHARIOTS OF THE GODS?, Erich von Daniken, who, it might be argued, is one of the fathers of modern ufology, said:
"I claim that our forefathers received visits from the universe in the remote past, even though I do not yet know who these extra-terrestrial intelligences were or from which planet they came. I nevertheless proclaim that these "strangers" annihilated part of mankind existing at the time and produced a new, perhaps the first, homo sapiens."
As was illustrated in the Hollywood films Contact and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Erich von Daniken’s hypothesis took America by storm in the 1960′s with the proposition that mankind was possibly the offspring of an ancient, even ongoing, extraterrestrial experiment.
Ufologists like Daniken assert that the Sphinx, the Pyramids and myths of ancient cultures are potential evidence of an encounter with these other-worldly beings. They claim ancient men would have considered space travelers as gods and would have recorded their arrival, their experiments, and their departure, in hieroglyphs, megaliths, and stone tablets as a "supernatural" encounter between gods and men.
Mr. Daniken continues:
"While [the] spaceship disappears again into the mists of the universe our friends will talk about the miracle—"The gods were here!"….they will make a record of what happened: uncanny, weird, miraculous. Then their texts will relate—and drawings will show—that gods in golden clothes were there in a flying boat that landed with a tremendous din. They will write about chariots which the gods drove over land and sea, and of terrifying weapons that were like lightning, and they will recount that the gods promised to return. They will hammer and chisel in the rock pictures of what they had seen:"
Von Daniken also claims that the odd appearance of some of the gods as depicted in various hieroglyphs (human-like creatures with falcon heads; lions with heads of bulls, etc) could be viewed as evidence that "aliens" conducted experiments of cloning and cross-mutating ancient people and animals.
Daniken’s hypothesis is accepted by some as an alternative to the traditional account of creation. It’s uncertain how many people believe the Daniken (and Sitchen) theory, but approximately 70% of Americans believe in the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Some, like the 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult that committed suicide in Rancho Santa Fe, California and believed they were being summoned by a UFO trailing the Hale-Bopp Comet, take it a step further. They merge ufology and religious cosmology to produce hybrids of conventional religion and/or esoteric mysticism. Of course the remaining 30% minority reject the entire notion as ridiculous.
Malevolent Non-Creator-Astronauts Theory (ET=Satan)
One of the more troubling aspects of the benevolent creator-astronaut view is the related "abduction" scenario associated with certain types of aliens–the taking of a person against their will, often followed by intrusive probes, genetic tinkering, embryo farming and other experimental processes. The abduction by shadowy forces for reasons unknown is viewed by most experiencers and researchers as impersonal, malevolent, demonic.
Associate professor of psychology Elizabeth L. Hillstrom points out in her book, Testing the Spirits, that a growing number of academics also associate UFOnauts–whoever, or whatever, they are–with historical "demons".
"From a Christian perspective, Vallee’s explanation of UFOs is the most striking because of its parallels with demonic activity. UFO investigators have noticed these similarities. Vallee himself, drawing from extrabiblical literature on demonic activities, establishes a number of parallels between UFOnauts and demons….Pierre Guerin, a UFO researcher and a scientist associated with the French National Council for Scientific Research, is not so cautious: "The modern UFOnauts and the demons of past days are probably identical." Veteran researcher John Keel, who wrote UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse and other books on the subject, comes to the same conclusion: "The UFO manifestations seem to be, by and large, merely minor variations of the age-old demonological phenomenon."
Yet if a portion of "flying saucer" activity is in the biblical sense demonic, what nefarious purpose would be served by the stealthy nature of UFO phenomena?
According to some, the answer is diabolical. UFO-ism, they say, is aimed at preparing the earth for an extraterrestrial "return of the creator gods." To put it bluntly, some believe we are being prepared for the collapse of man’s dominant religions. This will happen in two ways:
First, alien religion–as reported in hundreds of abduction cases–is one of evolutionary humans "on the verge of extraordinary telepathic and technological emergence" in which transhumanism will pave the way for harmonic and spiritual convergence to the community of space brothers.
Second, from a technological standpoint, UFO sightings challenge the claim of human superiority and dispute our unique role in the universe. We are made to feel shallow, undeveloped, unenlightened if we consider rejecting the new universal religion.
ETs bearing this message often point out that "they" will be reappearing at any moment to assist us in this–our next big evolutionary, spiritual, and technological step forward.
Supported By Historical and Religious Texts
Claims of extraterrestrials visiting the earth in ancient times and interacting with men is referenced throughout ancient history, including sacred texts. As illustrated in the two views above, ufologists differ in the definition of who these creatures were and what they were doing. For instance, both Daniken and Sitchen refer to the figures in the Bible here (Interlinear Hebrew):
"The benei Elohim saw the daughters of Adam, that they were fit extensions. And they took wives for themselves from all those that they chose…The Nephelim were in the earth in those days, and even afterwards when the benei Elohim came in to the daughters of Adam, and they bore to them—they were Powerful Ones which existed from ancient times, the men of name. (Gen. 6:2,4)"
We are told these benei Elohim were "extraterrestrial" creatures known elsewhere as "watchers," "sons of God," and "rephiam." These visited the earth during antiquity and used the daughters of Adam as "fit extensions" or instruments through which they extended themselves into the physical world. They represented themselves as "gods," and their offspring, the Nephilim ("fallen ones"), made war with the Hebrews.
Yet some think these beings could be planning something now, an "alien invasion" or discovery designed to deceive the human race. We are entering the ‘end times’, the theory goes, where "…fearful sights and great signs…from heaven" (Lk 21:11) will be seen.
2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 is often added to this theory:
"And then shall that Wicked [one] be revealed….whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders….And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
The message is: Beware if world authorities begin "disclosure" by pointing to ancient mysteries, megaliths, pyramids, the Face on Mars, UFOs or anything else as proof of an ancient visitation of planet earth by creator ETs. Deception, we are told, will follow. We will be instructed to believe that ancient astronauts–not God–created the human race, and a great "falling away" of the earth’s major religions will follow.
ET=Neither God Or Satan
Others argue that to depict ET as either godly or satanic is to trivialize the debate; that in a sense ET is neither… and both! Just as "good" and "bad" angels exist or "good" and "bad" people exist, ET comes in all personality types, races, and temperaments. The Grays, who are most usually associated with abduction, might be perceived as evil (or at a minimum impersonal), while other aliens are good guys.
"Don’t buy that for a second," we hear the conservative ufologist shout. "Satan comes as an angel of light!"
Yet I digress.
If evidence of ancient "civilizations" or UFOs are discovered elsewhere in the galaxy, will YOU lose YOUR religion?
Suppose it be “the best
government on earth,”
does that prove its own
goodness, or only the
badness of all other
Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S.
Congressional Critics Want More Assurances of Legality
(Who do they think they are? Questioning King George about Legalities and all that other unimportant stuff-Don’t Question Authority Bow Down You Minions!!)
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 12, 2008; A03
The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation’s most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea’s legal authority.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department’s new domestic satellite surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities — such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.
Sophisticated overhead sensor data will be used for law enforcement once privacy and civil rights concerns are resolved, he said. The department has previously said the program will not intercept communications.
“There is no basis to suggest that this process is in any way insufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans,” Chertoff wrote to Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.), chairmen of the House Homeland Security Committee and its intelligence subcommittee, respectively, in letters released yesterday. (I am sure it will be passed over in any case since
King George wants it! Ed.)
“I think we’ve fully addressed anybody’s concerns,” Chertoff added in remarks last week to bloggers. “I think the way is now clear to stand it up and go warm on it.” (Gee, I feel so much better Ed.)
His statements marked a fresh determination to operate the department’s new National Applications Office as part of its counterterrorism efforts. The administration in May 2007 gave DHS authority to coordinate requests for satellite imagery, radar, electronic-signal information, chemical detection and other monitoring capabilities that have been used for decades within U.S. borders for mapping and disaster response.
But Congress delayed launch of the new office last October. Critics cited its potential to expand the role of military assets in domestic law enforcement, to turn new or as-yet-undeveloped technologies against Americans without adequate public debate, and to divert the existing civilian and scientific focus of some satellite work to security uses.
Democrats say Chertoff has not spelled out what federal laws govern the NAO, whose funding and size are classified. Congress barred Homeland Security from funding the office until its investigators could review the office’s operating procedures and safeguards. The department submitted answers on Thursday, but some lawmakers promptly said the response was inadequate. (I stand by my previous comments Ed.)
“I have had a firsthand experience with the trust-me theory of law from this administration,” said Harman, citing the 2005 disclosure of the National Security Agency‘s domestic spying program, which included warrantless eavesdropping on calls and e-mails between people in the United States and overseas. “I won’t make the same mistake. . . . I want to see the legal underpinnings for the whole program.”
Thompson called DHS’s release Thursday of the office’s procedures and a civil liberties impact assessment “a good start.” But, he said, “We still don’t know whether the NAO will pass constitutional muster since no legal framework has been provided.”
DHS officials said the demands are unwarranted. “The legal framework that governs the National Applications Office . . . is reflected in the Constitution, the U.S. Code and all other U.S. laws,” said DHS spokeswoman Laura Keehner. She said its operations will be subject to “robust,” structured legal scrutiny by multiple agencies. (Of Course they will)