Back in March, Obama issued Executive Order 13603 that, in the name of “national defense resources preparedness,” declared a state of national emergency. A Democrat lawyer had dubbed E.O. 13603 “martial law lite.”
Thanks to the new Citizens Media, Tad Cronn of Godfather Politics, we now learn that the POS has done it again.
Three days ago, on June 25, 2012, and with apparently no coverage from the Establishment Media, Obama signed another executive order, titled “Highly Enriched Uranium,” in which he uses the phrase “(I) hereby declare a national emergency.”
The stated purpose of the order is to protect assets and payments owed to the Russian Federation for converting old Soviet nuclear warheads to plutonium usable in energy production.
Here is the text of the Executive Order as it appears on the WhiteHouse.gov site:
Executive Order–Russian Highly Enriched Uranium
BLOCKING PROPERTY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION RELATING TO THE DISPOSITION OF HIGHLY ENRICHED URANIUM EXTRACTED FROM NUCLEAR WEAPONS
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in view of the policies underlying Executive Order 12938 of November 14, 1994, and Executive Order 13085 of May 26, 1998, and the restrictions put in place pursuant to Executive Order 13159 of June 21, 2000, find that the risk of nuclear proliferation created by the accumulation of a large volume of weapons-usable fissile material in the territory of the Russian Federation continues to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:
Section 1. A major national security goal of the United States is to ensure that fissile material removed from Russian nuclear weapons pursuant to various arms control and disarmament agreements is dedicated to peaceful uses, subject to transparency measures, and protected from diversion to activities of proliferation concern. As reflected in Executive Order 13085, the full implementation of the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation Concerning the Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium Extracted from Nuclear Weapons, dated February 18, 1993, and related contracts and agreements (collectively, the “HEU Agreements”) is essential to the attainment of this goal. The HEU Agreements provide for the conversion of approximately 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium contained in Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium for use as fuel in commercial nuclear reactors. In furtherance of our national security goals, all heads of departments and agencies of the United States Government shall continue to take all appropriate measures within their authority to further the full implementation of the HEU Agreements.
Sec. 2. Government of the Russian Federation assets directly related to the implementation of the HEU Agreements currently may be subject to attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process, thereby jeopardizing the full implementation of the HEU Agreements to the detriment of U.S. foreign policy. In order to ensure the preservation and proper and complete transfer to the Government of the Russian Federation of all payments due to it under the HEU Agreements, and except to the extent provided in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, or that were issued pursuant to Executive Order 13159 of June 21, 2000, all property and interests in property of the Government of the Russian Federation directly related to the implementation of the HEU Agreements that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States persons, including any foreign branch, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in. Unless licensed or authorized pursuant to this order, or Executive Order 13159 of June 21, 2000, any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process is null and void with respect to any property or interest in property blocked pursuant to this order.
Sec. 3. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 4. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;
(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States; and
(d) the term “Government of the Russian Federation” means the Government of the Russian Federation, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, and any person owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Government of the Russian Federation.
Sec. 5. (a) The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Energy, and, as appropriate, other agencies, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their statutory authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
(b) Nothing contained in this order shall relieve a person from any requirement to obtain a license or other authorization from any department or agency of the United States Government in compliance with applicable laws and regulations subject to the jurisdiction of the department or agency.
Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).
Sec. 7. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 25, 2012.
So what exactly does declaring “a state of national emergency” mean?
Wikipedia says that “a state of emergency” is a governmental declaration usually issued during a time of natural or man made disaster, periods of civil unrest, or following a declaration of war or situation of international or internal armed conflict. A government’s declaration of a state of emergency may do the following:
- Suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers;
- Alert citizens to change their normal behaviors;
- Order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. For example, a federal emergency declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to exercise its power to deal with emergency situations; federal assistance also becomes available to areas that are declared to be in a state of emergency.
- Used as a rationale for suspending rights and freedoms, even if guaranteed under the constitution.
Of the four functions, clearly no. 4 constitutes the greatest threat to a democratic polity because it suspends the Constitution and its guarantees of individual rights and liberties.
In the United States, there are several methods for government response to emergency situations. A state governor or local mayor may declare a state of emergency within his or her jurisdiction. This is common at the state level in response to natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, wildfires.
The president of the United States, as head of the executive branch, has the authority to declare a federal state of emergency. The only emergency provisions in the U.S. Constitution are: “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” The writ (legal action) of habeas corpus requires a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court.
Here are some instances of a state of national emergency in U.S. history:
- During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus on April 27, 1861 in parts of Maryland and some midwestern states, including southern Indiana. In 1866, the Supreme Court, in case Ex parte Milligan 71 US 2 1866, ruled that the suspension was unconstitutional because civilian courts were still operating, and the Constitution only provided for suspension of habeas corpus if these courts are actually forced closed.
- During the Korean War, on December 16, 1950, President Harry Truman issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2914, declaring a state of national emergency. In 1952, the Supreme Court ruled in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer that presidents may not act contrary to Acts of Congress during an emergency.
- Despite that Supreme Court ruling in 1952, Congress belatedly discovered in the 1970s while investigating the Watergate scandal of President Richard Nixon, that the U.S. had been in a continuous state of emergency since 1950! As a result, in 1976 Congress passed the National Emergencies Act (NEA), which set a limit of two years on emergency declarations unless the president explicitly extends them, and requiring the president to specify in advance which legal provisions will be invoked. On September 14, 1978, the NEA terminated the extended state of national emergency since 1950.
- On January 24, 1995, President Bill Clinton declared a state of emergency with the signing of Executive Order 12947. In accordance with the National Emergencies Act, the executive order’s actual effect was not a declaration of a general emergency, but a limited embargo on trade with “Terrorists Who Threaten To Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process”. Even before Clinton’s EO 12947, there were other states of emergency — declared on November 14, 1979 regarding the Iran hostage crisis, and on March 15, 1995 with respect to Iran.
- In 1998, by order of President George W. Bush, Clinton’s “national emergency” was expanded to include additional targets such as Osama bin Laden, and has been continued to at least 2008, especially Proclamation 7463 on September 14, 2011, regarding the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
- When he became president, Barack Obama extended George Bush’s Declaration of Emergency regarding terrorism on September 10, 2009, on September 10, 2010, and on September 9, 2011. Obama also crafted his own declarations of emergency via Executive Orders 13603 (National Defense Resources Preparedness) and, the latest, 13085 (Russian Highly Enriched Uranium).
To conclude, before we get all excited about Obama’s latest declaration of a state of emergency, we should know that AMERICA HAS BEEN IN A STATE OF GOVERNMENT-DECLARED EMERGENCY SINCE 1950!
Thus far, Obama’s declarations of a state of emergency seem to pertain to #1 (suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers) and #3 functions (order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans), instead of #4′s suspension of habeas corpus and our other Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and freedoms. The only instance of a state of national emergency which suspended habeas corpus was the one declared by President Lincoln — and that was because America was in a civil war.
Not that knowing this makes me feel any safer under this or future administrations.
H/t FOTM’s tina