On May 9th, President Bush issued a Presidential Directive (NSPD 51) that redoes the Continuity of Government in case of an emergency (as if the Constitution did not already address that).
The purpose of the directive:
This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.
There were two alarming things that jumped out at me when I first read this.
First there was this (emphasis mine) :
"Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely effecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;
Notice the use of the word "or". That means there does not have to be "mass casualties" or "damage" and the highlighted part means it doesn't have to happen here in the U.S.
That means that something that happens overseas, like in Iraq for instance, which merely disrupts our economy (such as OPEC raising the price of oil), would be enough for the President to invoke this and take control of the U.S. Government.
Then there is the key to this whole thing and what makes it so dangerous in my mind:
"Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;
This puts the President in charge of the entire federal government and subordinates the other branches beneath him, which is the ultimate enactment of the Republicans' "Unitary Executive" theory, which has until now been considered unlikely because it is blatently unconstitutional.
But since when has Bush ever cared about the Constitution?
I am forcibly reminded of the character Palpatine in Star Wars, who becomes Emperor after tricking the Senate into granting him "emergency powers".
With hurricane season coming up and scientists predicting a busy hurricane season, we might see this enacted sooner than anyone feared.
What happens if we have another Katrina and Bush decides to enact this? What would we do to restore the Constitution?
I spent the better part of this morning on the phone with the offices of my representatives and with the offices of the chairs of certain committes and apparently none of them were even aware the President had issued this directive. Everyone I spoke to and directed to the white house website to read this were just as alarmed as I am.
I urge everyone who reads this and understands why this should be alarming to everyone to contact their representatives in Congress at 866-220-0044.