March 16, 2012 Executive Order -- National Defense Resources Preparedness

I’m not sure where to put this but I think it may lead to political debate and there’s no one factual answer, so I’ll put it here.

Here’s the actual executive order.

The article that seems to be getting attention is here.

It goes on to talk about “dictatorial powers” and how this may indicate some coming national emergency, such as a war with Iran.

The Examiner is far from a “newspaper of public record” but the executive order does exist.

Of course, reactions on this are across the board, ranging from “Ohmigod, an Obama dictatorship!” to “It’s about time, we’re finally nationalizing the oil companies!”.

I’m dismissing those ridiculous extremes and thinking that it’s likely much ado about nothing, but what are the reasons for and implications of this?

Is this simply a renewal of an existing order? Is it just prudent preparation? What powers does this actually give to the executive branch?

I don’t know if it’s legally been the case, but I’ve always been under the impression the President could do this. At least, on TV they show martial law kicking in during disasters and not only during war.

And I’m almost 100% sure it was always possible when going to war with another country.

Congress can. The POTUS only can if Congress says so.

The Defense Production Act discussed in Duckster’s link sets forth the existing statutory authority for such seizures. It’s a fairly cumbersome process, which is why President Truman tried to circumvent it.

As Freud said, ‘sometimes a cigar is just a cigar’. Together with the Defense Authorization Act passed a couple of months ago, this can only be seen as a naked power grab by the Executive Branch. They (the big O & his ilk) continually try to bypass checks & balances, and we’ve never had a Constitutionally-challenged (and challenging) administration as the current one. The Healthcare debacle, taking states to court over enforcing immigration, taking other states to court for asking for id for voting, even Fast & Furious, all can be argued to be violations of the Constitution. The cigar is just a cigar.

Various executive orders and continuity of government plans come out all the time relating to things like this. During the Bush administration they released a continuity of government plan that was seen as Bush trying to establish a dictatorship because of some of the text in the document.

Essentially this is all nothing new, and the outrage and conspiracy theory talk over it is nothing new.

The Federal government needs plans for extraordinary action during extraordinary times, and most of them fall short of the level of power Lincoln routinely used during the American Civil War, and we’re all still enjoying our constitutional privileges after all these years.

Because no one has happened to get it right so far is not a great reason to ignore this kind of thing, if you are against it. We’re almost in an age of total surveillance possibility, Lincoln had nothing even comparable. This is not the kind of power that should sit with an individual in a free country.

You don’t know even the first thing about this subject.

The Defense Production Act dates back to the Truman Administration and, among other things, gives the government power to preempt the production of commercial items in order to prioritize the delivery of items and materials that are critical to military needs. These powers are used routinely, as seen here.

For example, about five years ago, the government declared that it needed as much armor plate and ballistic glass as could be produced in order to build MRAP armored vehicles. We built more than 10,000 of those vehicles to protect troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you were running a steel mill that produced armor plate, you would have been obligated to set aside delivery of any commercial orders (perhaps your armor plate was used in bullet-proof sedans sold to dignitaries, CEOs, celebrities, etc) so that the government would get first delivery of all the steel that it needed.

Another example is both Clinton and Bush II used Defense Production Act powers (among others) to require that California be supplied with electricity and natural gas to limit the impact of blackouts and power shortages in 2001.

This Executive Order does little more than reorganize the responsibilities of government to handle particular resources within the scope of the law. Literally every President has used these powers since (and including) Truman.

So, it is indeed true: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. In this case, the cigar is your criticism of Obama for “dictatorial powers,” which is quite simply political ax-grinding, with no substantive insight on the actual matter of law at hand.

ETA: I forgot to mention that the Defense Production Act isn’t some antiquated law that everyone has forgotten about. In fact, Congress reauthorizes the Defense Production Act every couple of years, most recently in 2009

I don’t quite understand what people think this would get Obama. If he was going for an unconstitutional, dictatorial power grab, why tip his hand? If he tries to subsequently nationalize the oil industry and Congress complains, do people think that he can just point to this order and say, “Ha I authorized myself to do this!” and Congress will just say “fuck, he’s right” and let him do whatever he wants?

He was talking about the [National] Defense Authorization Act (the one that lets him detain terrorism suspects without trial), not the Defense Production Act.

I’m not sure how an act of Congress qualifies as a “naked power grab by the Executive Branch”, but there you go.

If by “Healthcare debacle”, you mean the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sure it can be argued. So what? The Social Security Act can also be argued to be a violation of the Constitution. You do know that Obama can’t actually pass legislation, right?

No, unless you mean “people who don’t know anything about constitutional law could argue it.”

Taking states to court is pretty much what the federal government is supposed to do in the event of a conflict between state and federal law. Would you rather they sent in the army?

Okay, I’ll bite. What constitutional provision was violated? It was a stupid idea. It wasn’t an unconstitutional one. It also wasn’t Obama’s idea - the program began in 2006.

Sometimes a cigar is just a [del]OHMYGODOBAMAISHIJACKINGTHECOUNTRY[/del] cigar.

It seems to be popular among the same groups who believe in “Sovereign Citizenship” and others whose understanding of law and government is basically that there are Magic Words that only lawyers and politicians know how to use.

He was talking about the executive order, and calling it a power grab like the NDAA. The NDAA wasn’t the focus of his comments, it was amplification of his baseless assertion that the executive order is unconstitutional.

Well, in that case I had already pointed out that the DPA dates back to Truman. So there!

I was going to say that I fully agreed with the rest of your points… so put my agreement with you in your pipe and smoke it!

…okay. Pass the Funnyuns.

And even that’s not accurate. The laws of war allow him to indefinitely detain terrorism suspects. The NDAA merely says that the “Armed Forces of the United States shall hold” the person IF that person:

AND they’re a covered person by the 9/11 AUMF:


In other words, “If a person is a member of al-Qaeda, the military must be the ones to hold him indefinitely, unless they’re a US citizen or Lawful Resident Alien.” Yeah, real power-grabby, there. I’d also like to point out that since time immemorial, a commander in chief has been legally allowed to indefinitely hold an enemy combatant.