by Eric Sharp
July 15, 2012
from IVN Website
In an unprecedented step for executive power, President Obama
signed an Executive Order on July 6th
that allows the executive branch to
seize control of all communications
infrastructure in the United States, public and private:
“Without even the faintest toot of a
fanfare, President Barack Obama has issued an Executive Order that
outlines an extreme level of communications preparedness in case of
crisis or emergency, including the ability to take over any
communication network, including the internet.
The Order, ‘Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness
Communications Functions,’ takes many of the US government’s existing
emergency communications preparations, and codifies the exact
responsibilities of the various US secretaries/departments and
For the most part, the Order is very
sensible; basically, no matter what - come hurricanes, earthquakes, or
nuclear war - the US government ‘must have the ability to communicate at
all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and
time sensitive missions.’”
One can expect governments to plan for all kinds
of emergencies - i.e. meteor strikes, wars, uprisings, etc...
Several continuity plans are already in place.
But if this latest executive order sounds unbelievable, then it probably
should, because with the stroke of a pen, President Obama has entered
America into a new paradigm.
No longer is it enough for Washington to simply use, cooperate with, or
listen to private communications.
Now the president claims the authority to order
all of it seized - as in nationalized under federal control. In a sense,
however, this sweeping new order is only somewhat unprecedented, at least in
the Bush-Obama era of executive power.
Potential seizure of communications
infrastructure simply folds into a laundry list of resources that Obama
declared authority to seize and manage
in another recent Executive Order:
“On March 16th, President Obama
signed a new Executive Order which expands upon a prior order issued in
1950 for Disaster Preparedness, and gives the office of the President
complete control over all the resources in the United States in times of
war or emergency.
The National Defense Resources Preparedness order gives the Executive
Branch the power to control and allocate energy, production,
transportation, food, and even water resources by decree under the
auspices of national defense and national security.
The order is not limited to wartime
implementation, as one of the order’s functions includes the command and
control of resources in peacetime determinations.”
It is troubling how little coverage and scrutiny
this event is getting in the mainstream media.
Agree with this new policy or not, why aren’t
Americans even discussing it?
A decade ago Democrats and the antiwar Left let loose a firestorm of
criticism over the national security measures of
Bush Administration. Such policies as FISA wiretapping and
The Patriot Act were criticized by progressives as not just bad policy, but
existential threats to our democratic way of life. Bush, however, merely
wanted to listen in on and detain citizens without due process.
administration claims the right of the executive to
unilaterally try and execute Americans
without due process, and with this new order, the right to actually seize
complete control of all communication resources, polices that are arguably
far more egregious.
In 2008, many progressives were expecting in the administration of Barack
Obama to get a Howard Dean/Ralph Nader/Dennis Kucinich grade progressive
presidency, one that would take on Wall Street, scale down Washington’s
aggressive wars, and restore America’s civil liberties.
Instead they got a presidency that has not
only failed to reverse Bush’s precedent-setting expansion of executive
power, but actually accelerated it.
As late as 2007, progressive commentators were very concerned about
unrestrained executive power. Well-known writer and commentator, Naomi
Wolf even wrote a book called
The End of America in which she outlined
the 10 steps that an open society takes to become a closed society.
She cited examples of these steps in practice in
the Bush-era United States:
Wolf and many in the Occupy community
have remained consistent critics of these policies, but where are their
Bush-style conservatives haven’t really had much to complain about, but
civil liberties oriented conservatives such as
Jack Hunter and
Rand Paul are
alarmed by the actions of the Obama White House.
Perhaps the only groups that have remained
consistently and vocally skeptical of executive power throughout both the
Bush and Obama administrations are libertarians and the far-Left that never
accepted Bush nor Obama. Independents, who some works (such as
Declaration of Independents) posit are largely a phenomenon of the Internet
age, also have little to be pleased with.
So much of the country is distracted by partisan politics that issues of
partisanship dominate the national discussion.