Updated on this post: Congress Quietly Repeals Martial Law Provision by James Bovard
by James Bovard
Speaking Truth to Power
11 April 2008
[According the the New York Times, the world is now in an unprecedented food crisis. A lot of very hungry people are likely to be in the streets in the not too distant future. Between the prices of food and Peak Oil’s impact on food transport, we can anticipate food riots in America just as so many other nations have experienced them throughout history.–CB]
Martial law is perhaps the ultimate stomping of freedom. And yet, on September 30, 2006, Congress passed a provision in a 591-page bill that will make it easy for President Bush to impose martial law in response to a terrorist “incident.” It also empowers him to effectively declare martial law in response to what he or other federal officials label a shortfall of “public order” – whatever that means.
It took only a few paragraphs in a $500 billion, 591-page bill to raze one of the most important limits on federal power. Congress passed the Insurrection Act in 1807 to severely restrict the president’s ability to deploy the military within the United States. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 tightened those restrictions, imposing a two-year prison sentence on anyone who used the military within the United States without the express permission of Congress. (This act was passed after the depredations of the U.S. military throughout the Southern states during Reconstruction.)
But there is a loophole: Posse Comitatus is waived if the president invokes the Insurrection Act.
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