October 7, 2005


Martial Law And The Advent Of The Supreme Executive (Mike Whitney, 07 October, 2005, CounterCurrents)

On Tuesday, President Bush warned the nation that outbreaks of Bird Flu may require massive quarantines enforced by the US Military. He said that the military would be better able "to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the flu", although he failed to explain why that task couldn't be carried out by the National Guard. Bush's comments echoed the same themes we've heard repeatedly since Hurricane Katrina, that the president needs the power to deploy troops within the country at his own discretion and without any legal restrictions. It is a conspicuous attempt to militarize the country and declare martial law, although the media has scrupulously avoided the obvious conclusions.

Avoided? It's exactly what the MSM and Democrats demanded he do in New Orleans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 7, 2005 7:17 AM

The distinction between "military" and "National Guard" is too subtle for me.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 7, 2005 8:09 AM

Not for me. The National Guard, unless and until it is federalized, is a state organization, organized under state laws, and commanded by the governor. In my state they even have their own system of military justice, buried in the state consolidated statutes and vaguely similar to the UCMJ.

Having regular federal troops deployed domestically is a most extreme measure, properly reserved for invasion or insurrection. I should hope that regular units have plans sitting in a file drawer somewhere for responding to a need for domestic deployment, should that become necessary.

That this discussion is taking place is a symptom of evolving standards of federalism. I daresay most Americans neither know nor care about these issues; they just want the job done.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 7, 2005 9:00 AM

Maybe the feds need to conduct an annual state-by-state analysis of local governments and rate them "competent" or "incompetent" to handle emergencies, the same way the feds do checks of state pollution levels or water supplies. Any state that earns the "incompetent" label automatically has their National Guard forced federalized at the outset of an emergency until they prove they can handle the job.

Of course, Louisiana may have just made the other 49 states look bad by the way they handled Katrina, but laying a rule out like that would be fun, if for no other reason to watch Congressional Democrats rally around states rights and the Blanco administration.

Posted by: John at October 7, 2005 9:25 AM

Lou-- Was it clear to you that the President was talking about the Army/Navy/Air Force, as opposed to the National Guard? The National Guard is different than the rest of the military, but it's still military, and I think that's what Bush was talking about. Though I'm sure that--just as during Katrina--if the thing hits, most won't care about that sort of distinction.

Posted by: Timothy at October 7, 2005 10:52 AM

Lou: Even if answering to the governor, it is still military, isn't it?

Posted by: David Cohen at October 7, 2005 2:30 PM

David and Timothy: No. As a metter of Constitutional and statutory law there is a great difference between non-federalized National Guard acting under state orders and Federal troops. Non-federalized National Guard are actually militia, organized militia, as opposed to the unorganized type, which is composed of almost everybody else.

Governors and state legislatures care a great deal about things like this, if no one else does. It may very well be that the President's words about using the "military" in an epidemic presuppose that a governor has already determined that his assets are inadequate for that the situation and that federal assistance is needed.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 7, 2005 3:16 PM


They are STATE guard units until they are federalized when they become NATIONAL guard units.
In LA Blanco had control of the STATE guard and would not let them be federalized ...

Posted by: anon at October 7, 2005 5:26 PM