The Executive Order Controversy

American Thinker

On  Friday, 3/16/2012, President Obama issued an executive order called  “National Defense Resources  Preparedness”  (NDRP), posting it on the White House’s official  website.

Almost  immediately, the blogosphere exploded with the news.  Citizens began  calling their TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers, demanding  coverage.  At the time of this writing, the furor has yet to  abate.

The  NDRP traces its origin to the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, which  attempted to establish a framework for placing the nation on a “war footing” as  quickly and in as efficient a manner as possible should events warrant.  In  an age of highly industrialized warfare, the basic building blocks of military  success are composed of mundane elements such as supply chains, resource  availability, parts, access to raw materials, and skilled  labor.

Over  the years, the DPA has seen many revisions, and the executive orders issued to  implement those revisions presupposed an imminent threat of war.  In 1994,  then-President Clinton issued Executive Order 12919, which expanded the provisions of the DPA rather  dramatically, declaring its applicability to peacetime.

The  need for the DPA is legitimate.  A great deal of our energy infrastructure,  utilities, and financial system are in fact entirely private enterprises, not  public/government entities.  Getting the government running again in the  event of a catastrophic attack is one thing, but not providing the same  reconstitution effort for the privately owned elements of the nation’s  infrastructure would still leave us without electric power generation, food  distribution, etc.

In  the event of cataclysmic war or a natural disaster of similar scope, we could  not afford to wait on the private sector to recover at an ordinary pace with  purely private funds.  Under such circumstances, the need would be urgent  and the resources few.

The  issue is how to balance the necessity of granting sufficient power to the only  entity large enough to do the job — government — while still maintaining the  private ownership and control of the means of production and the economy as a  whole.

The  Executive order issued by Obama on 3/16 is largely a restatement of the 1994  Clinton order with a few functional changes.  It moves the authority for  implementing the provisions of the DPA from the director of FEMA to the  Department of Homeland Security, which did not exist at the time of Clinton’s  presidency.  There have been pedestrian additions of renewable energy  sources, such as solar and wind, to the purview of the secretary of energy (as  well as a curiously specific redefinition of bottled water as a “food resource” rather than a water  resource), but nothing is particularly out of step with the order Obama’s EO  supersedes.

So  what is the problem?  Well, considering that the authority of the DPA has  never been meaningfully exercised, and that the pre-emption of authority claimed  by the Clinton-era EO 12919 has been similarly dormant, why would the Obama  administration choose this particular time to update an obscure and unused  authority?  It is this question many believe must be asked and answered,  and sooner rather than later.

In  an attempt to provide that answer, allow me to don an appropriately stylish  tinfoil hat before I present a plausible scenario.

1)  In early March 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it is the  position of this administration that international organizations such as NATO or  the United Nations have at least as much, if not more authority to deploy U.S.  troops, with or without congressional notice or  permission.

2)  A week later, the NAACP petitioned the U.N. Human Rights Council to involve themselves  in our election process — specifically our November presidential election, in  order to monitor the vote for instances of voter suppression.  It is the  fantasy of the NAACP that laws requiring presentation of a photo ID to cast a  ballot are in actuality thinly veiled efforts to keep the poor, elderly, and  non-white populations from voting, presumably for Obama.

3) Attorney General Eric Holder has spent  his tenure creating a hair-trigger system of race-conscious prosecutions, most  notably in reference to cases involving voter fraud.  His previous  employee, J.  Christian Adams, has built a second career from simply exposing the  injustice of Holder’s Department of Justice.

4)  Most recently, Holder struck another blow against the concept of verifiable  voting by forestalling Texas’s proposed Voter ID law, saying it  “goes against the arc of  history.”  Aside from the attorney general basing his  decisions on perceived “historical arcs” rather than clear and established law,  the end result is the same: the creation of an air of uncertainty surrounding  the upcoming election.

Now  (as I adjust my tinfoil hat to a jauntier angle), let me tie these points  together.

By  employing repetitive reporting of “uncertainty about the reliability of the  presidential election tally” by the major media, compounded by expressions of  the same uncertainty by administration officials, the left could install that  narrative amongst the segments of the population that  pay little or no  attention to the day-to-day practice of politics.

Could  the NAACP then, with support from the Department of Justice and the  administration, make the case to the U.N. that the election was in fact tainted,  and subsequently persuade the member nations of the U.N. to declare the election  invalid?  It is possible, and such a declaration is certain to bring chaos  to the streets of every major city in our country, as well as a great deal of  smaller ones.  To restore order, the president might need to deploy  troops.  Should the Congress resist the move, the administration might  simply appeal to the U.N., which could request/order the deployment of troops by  a willing and complicit Secretary Panetta.

And  of course, President Obama would simply continue in office, for the sake of  stability, until this could all be sorted out.

Perhaps  it now makes sense for the administration to have updated an unused executive  order, preparing their legal argument and framework for the imposition of  peacetime martial law.  Liberty, once lost, is seldom  regained.

Yes,  it is far-fetched, but it is also distressingly possible.  The sad fact in  America today is that we have a president so disdainful of our foundational law  and freedoms as to make the far-fetched seem queasily reasonable.

The  timing of this executive order is jarring, even if the specific changes to the  order are not.  The power it conveys is staggering and cannot be safely  entrusted to a single branch of government, much less to a single man.  The  Congress needs to reassert control over the exercise and implementation of the  Defense Production Act before it can be utilized by a power-hungry cabal of  leftists eager to fundamentally transform America.  There is a door no one  has locked, and our home is not secure.  Close the door, lock it, and throw  away that key.

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