ALL OF MAINLAND NORTH AMERICA NOW IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY
BUSH WANTS US MILITARY TO CONTROL DISASTERS AFTERMATH
NORTHERN COMMAND CLAIMS AUTHORITY OVER US, CANADA AND MEXICO
By Darryl Mason
With the exception of Alaska and Hawaii, all of the United States are now under a state of emergency. Since August 28, President Bush has used executive presidential orders to declare an emergency in every state, in every county, of the mainland United States.
This is the first time in US history that all the states on mainland North America have fallen under such jurisdiction. The declarations mean the states can apply for federal funds to house and feed and educate Hurricane Katrina evacuees, but less than one third of the ‘emergency’ declared states are actually hosting those who took flight from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
In the past week President Bush has been softening up Americans to get used to the presence of the US Military patrolling their streets, manning checkpoints, taking part in heavily armed house to house searches and roaming suburban neighbourhoods in Humvees and troop transports.
Active duty troops are blocked in the US from undertaking domestic law enforcement activities by Posse Comitatus, created when British troops still roamed the US, and the Insurrection Act.
Only the National Guard has the authority to enforce law, even in a state of emergency, and they are controlled by the governors of their respective states.
While active duty troops are at work in the Gulf rescue and recovery operations, they are officially only allowed to supply logistical support and humanitarian aid under Posse Comitatus.
Republican senators have begun a campaign for the lifting of Posse Comitatus, the major law blocking US troops from undertaking law enforcement.
In a letter addressed to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Virginia senator John Warner said there would be an investigation into "the entire legal framework governing a President's power to use the regular armed forces to restore public order in ... a large-scale, protracted emergency.”
Warner pushed for Rumsfeld to seek ways to make this possible, and it appears word filtered up to the top.
Bush is now pushing hard for Americans to accept the necessity of US troops being deployed in disaster zones, and is edging Congress to grant him further powers to deploy troops wherever he deems necessary within the national state of emergency.
To be granted such authority (which his chief adviser Karl Rove admitted in a speech last week could have allowed the White House to “over-ride” the governors of Louisiana and Mississippi) would see Bush gaining powers unheard of in any Western democracy.
If further disasters were to hit the US, such authority would allow Bush to install Military rule without needing to seek the permission of Congress.
In a Q & A with reporters last week, Bush laid out the reasons for why he believed Military deployments in the homeland were vital.
“...a storm, for example, of a certain category, which will require an overwhelming response by government that can only be provided by, say, the United States military through NORTHCOM, because of its ability to muster....logistics and supplies so quickly.”
While the shocking images of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath has quietened resistance across the country to the idea of US troops ‘occupying’ cities and towns, Bush now plans for such deployments to become standard during any national disaster, including the outbreak of a bird flu pandemic.
Through a series of speeches following Hurricane Katrina, Bush made it clear he would act quickly to deploy “all assets” of the Military to deal with the disastrous panic and social disorder following the declared outbreak of a killer virus, but he needed Congress to grant him the power to do so.
“If avian (bird) flu were to hit this country, do we have the proper response mechanisms?” Bush said. “Does the federal government have the authorities necessary to make certain decisions?”
Bush repeatedly painted vivid scenarios requiring Military control, referencing the panic and looting that swamped New Orleans two weeks ago.
During his address to the nation, President Bush said he viewed the aftermath of Katrina as “an opportunity” during which Congress should “review all different types of circumstance to make sure that the President has the capacity to react....”
With virtually all of the United States now in a state of emergency, and no deadline for removing the declarations, Bush now has the “opportunity” to be granted the powers he desires to install Military rule under the auspices of Northern Command, who already claim on their website to have authority over the US, Canada and Mexico, plus territory five hundred miles out to sea off all coasts.
With the looming threat of further massive hurricanes, a bird flu outbreak, previously unknown volcanic activity in Oregon and earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault in California, it seems unlikely Bush’s plan will meet much resistance in Congress.
No American politician could stomach repeat scenes of the screaming, dying women and children of New Orleans filling television screens and front pages. In the aftermath, senators rushed to the cameras to declare such tragedies would never be allowed to happen again.
US senators are also further distracted by the $200 billion costs of post-Katrina rebuilding and the recently floated Bush plan for using pre-emptive nuclear strikes on perceived enemies hiding WMDs.
In fact, the President’s calls to be handed the power to install Military rule across the US, if he deemed it necessary, have barely caused a ripple in the op-eds and letters pages of American newspapers.
Bush once infamously said he could see the benefits of a dictatorship, “as long as I’m the dictator.”
With the entire resources of the US Military at his command, and control by Northern Command proxy of the territories of Canada and Mexico, Bush would quickly learn what it feels like to be the most powerful dictator in the history of the world.