Suspension of Constitutional Government?

The political lamp is lit

All of the posturing going on in Washington DC over Iran has the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. “Here we go again” is a thought that just keeps running through my mind. For the first time in… well, ever, I find myself wishing that the 2008 Federal elections were here already. We need to get some rational people in power, FAST.

So I was doing some poking around on the internet, just to convince myself that I was being overly concerned. And in a repeating theme when it comes to my worry over this presidency I discover yet again that I was not worrying enough. I try not to be a conspiracy nut. I really try to remain calm and assume that those in power will remain rational. But I have lost all faith in our current chief executive. I am convinced that he is nothing more than a C class intellect that is grasping for more and more power. All of the tricks that are being used, signing statements to ignore congressional law, executive privilege to protect cronies and vice-presidents, and pardons/”get out of jail free cards” for pals and henchmen pale at what is potentially on the horizon. I sure hope I am just being paranoid.

Back on May 9th, 2007 without fanfare, without the media noticing, without any reverence for the ideals of our nation’s founding fathers, president Bush signed the “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive”. On the surface this could be seen as a good directive. The president wants to ensure that everything keeps running smoothly in the event of another terrorist attack or Katrina like disaster. But there were already executive directives on the books for handling these things.

The new directive revokes the old policy, the “Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations” directive. (I am looking for a better link for this document, but because it is “revoked” it is gone from the White House web pages.) In government bureaucrat speak, “revoke” means it is gone and is treated like it never existed. The more common term used when updating policy is “rescind” which means it was enforceable in the past, but has been replaced. To place in real world terms; if someone represents them self fraudulently, their driver’s license will be revoked, their apartment rental agreement will be rescinded. The distinction is not as a fine one as it appears.

So why the concern? Well the Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations directive provided for the setting up of all branches of government in alternate locations in the event problems that made it necessary to do so. This ensured that the legislative and judicial branches continued to be able to deliver on their roles within our constitutional government.

This new directive states “‘Continuity of Government,’ or ‘COG,’ means a coordinated effort within the Federal Government’s executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency;” and “Recognizing that each branch of the Federal Government is responsible for its own continuity programs, an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall ensure that the executive branch’s COOP (continuity of operations) and COG (continuity of government) policies in support of ECG (enduring constitutional government) efforts are appropriately coordinated with those of the legislative and judicial branches in order to ensure interoperability and allocate national assets efficiently to maintain a functioning Federal Government.”

Well, the bottom line is that with one signature we went from the executive branch being responsible for making sure all branches of our government had continuity in the event of a disaster, to “we will send a guy to coordinate.”

But this is not the worst part. What really scares me is the definition of what a “Catastrophic Emergency” means. In this new directive it is 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.” And of course “extraordinary” and “severely” are not quantified. Let’s face it, those dead birds in Austin, Texas last January severely affected that state’s “government functions” until the all clear was signaled. Just about anything could be used as a trigger to invoke this directive. He could then send a lackey over to coordinate with Congress and the Supreme Court and then just do whatever he damn well pleases.

And for those that say it could and would never happen, let me remind you that up until June 11, 2007 a US resident was held in prison for over five years as an “enemy combatant” with out the right to habeas corpus. No trial, no way to contest being held, no rights whatsoever. People said that our president would not use his powers to do that either. Well he did it. And I am afraid that a well placed sniper could give him reason to use this new directive to suspend our constitutional government.

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