While the country prepared for St. Patrick Day celebrations on March 16, 2012 Friday night, the White House Press Office discreetly released Executive Order, `National Defense Resources Preparedness‘ which in a time of `national crisis’ arbitrarily determined by the Federal Government, shifts control of private business, industry, travel and even the labor of professionals and specialists that are deemed critical to operations into the possession of the Federal Government.
Now, at first blush and within the backdrop of present day societal economic and foreign diplomatic challenges seems like a radical and dangerous Executive Order (EO); this Order actually has a genesis from an FDR EO from 1939. There have been several additional amendments and several similar orders that were crafted to protect homeland threats from abroad. But what has happened though in the cloak of legislation to protect American Liberties? In 1950 EO10323 (Defense Production Act of 1950) by President Truman, it moved designated business equipment production under federal power during attacks (Korean War). EO12656, under President Reagan in 1988 put language in previous EOs to include Nuclear Engagement. In 1994 under President Clinton, EO12919 entered the language to include Terrorism and recognized the potential for domestic attacks. The National Defense Resources Preparedness by President Obama, the most recent EO, which seeks to broaden even further language to protect US financial, agricultural, transportation, military and utilities structures against the threat of `extremists’ and others as a result of both foreign and domestic crises is arbitrarily defined by the Federal Government; it has dismantled further constitutional separation of power and consolidated federal powers and opens up the ability of the federal government to step in during an economic or civil unrest crisis that it deems potentially threatening to US society.
Also, because of recent legislation through Congress: the Patriot Act 2001, which was resigned by President Obama in May 2011 and the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2012 give the federal government even more power to control the freedoms and property of US Citizens, this EO by President Obama is even more potent than past orders. Also, this EO revokes Reagan and Clinton’s EOs which while nuanced is very important to recognize. There was language in those that recognized the US Constitution as the final arbiter between the powers of the federal and state governments. Also, there was language in both that recognized the coordination of powers between the federal and state government. As of President Obama’s EO these `bumpers’ on federal power have been removed. The danger of abuse either by pragmatic overreach of government in a time of crisis or the potential for tyrannical power has just been increased.
Another change that could have great impact is in the Loan section 300, where instead of the Treasury raising money in the market (Import-Export Bank, etc) it is now authorized to go behind closed doors with the Federal Reserve. This means the potential for mischief has increased. Solyndra type debacles could be bailed out without public scrutiny and banks now have `Speakeasy’ access to credit.
In Section 700, it names a `governing committee’ which names most federal agency heads but includes a few private institutions that oversea potential threats and the management of preparedness in the order of a FEMA type operation. Oddly though, there is no state representation on the committee: No Board of Governors, nothing.
- Section 300: Loans done through Federal Reserve (banks) coordinated by Department of Treasury so theoretically hidden from public scrutiny and the possibility of Solyndra-type financial problems being buried and the abuse of `Crony Capitalism’.
- Previous legislation (EO 12656 -Reagan 1988, EO12919 -Clinton 1994) referred to State level coordination and adherence to constitutional design and limited actions to Defense, that would limit the scope of homeland federal abuse, this Executive Order removes that language.
- Adds the word `Threat’ to the language which could allow for preemptive actions by federal authorities and the possibility of state, local and individual (property) overreach.
- This Executive Order dovetailed with NDAA 2012 broadens the scope of Homeland (domestic) security to include `enemy combatants’ and non-defense threats with loss of due process protections.
- Changes to Section 300 where access to Loans by banks and business is through Federal Reserve and opens the door to mischief and abuse.
Christopher M. Mahon, Editor