In his latest column at Capitol Hill Blue, Doug Thompson paints a bleak picture of the potential consequences of Bush's quest for unbridled power, laws be damned.
Thompson's dramatic opening paragraph might seem an exaggeration, but now is not the time to dismiss these threats to our Constitutional rights and freedoms.
I am convinced that Bush presents a much greater threat to democracy than Osama does, and Osama is no nice guy.
And, during his confirmation hearings this past week, Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito found numerous ways to avoid answering questions about out-of-control presidential power.
President George W. Bush has signed executive orders giving him sole authority to impose martial law, suspend habeas corpus and ignore the Posse Comitatus Act that prohibits deployment of U.S. troops on American streets. This would give him absolute dictatorial power over the government with no checks and balances.
Bush discussed imposing martial law on American streets in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by activating "national security initiatives" put in place by Ronald Reagan during the 1980s.
These "national security initiatives," hatched in 1982 by controversial Marine Colonel Oliver North, later one of the key players in the Iran-Contra Scandal, charged the Federal Emergency Management Agency with administering executive orders that allowed suspension of the Constitution, implementation of martial law, establishment of internment camps, and the turning the government over to the President.
John Brinkerhoff, deputy director of FEMA, developed the martial law implementation plan, following a template originally developed by former FEMA director Louis Guiffrida to battle a "national uprising of black militants." Gifuffrida’s implementation of martial law called for jailing at least 21 million African Americans in "relocation camps." Brinkerhoff later admitted in an interview with the Miami Herald that President Reagan signed off on the initiatives and they remained in place, dormant, until George W. Bush took office.
Brinkerhoff moved on the Anser Institute for Homeland Security and, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, provided the Bush White House and the Pentagon with talking points supporting revised "national security initiatives" that would could allow imposition of martial law and suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the law that is supposed to forbid use of troops for domestic law enforcement.
Brinkerhoff wrote that intentions of Posse Comitatus are "misunderstood and misapplied" and that the U.S. has in times of national emergency the "full and absolute authority" to send troops into American streets to "enforce order and maintain the peace."
The Department of Homeland Security established the "Northern Command for National Defense," a wide-ranging program that includes FEMA, the Pentagon, the FBI and the National Security Agency. Executive orders already signed by Bush allow the Northern Command to send troops into American streets, seize control of radio and television stations and networks and impose martial law "in times of national emergency."
The authority to declare what is or is not a national emergency rests entirely with Bush who does not have to either consult or seek the approval of Congress for permission to assume absolute control over the government of the United States.