Leaning heavily on the NYTimes this morning, but as one commenter in response to this story said, when Bush declares martial law, the story will be buried deep inside the section of newspaper carrying a picture of Britney's bald head on its front page.
A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration’s behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.
...The newly enacted provisions...shift the focus from making sure that federal laws are enforced to restoring public order. Beyond cases of actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any “other condition.”
Changes of this magnitude should be made only after a thorough public airing. But these new presidential powers were slipped into the law without hearings or public debate. The president made no mention of the changes when he signed the measure, and neither the White House nor Congress consulted in advance with the nation’s governors.
In response to Jane Smiley's article on the NY Times piece above, one commenter suggested, somewhat naively in my opinion, that all the terrible consequences of Bush's increased authority
is just paranoia because, as he assures, there are "mandatory congressional circut breakers built into the provision."
But one need only look at how well our congress has neglected their checking and balancing duties of Bush in protecting our diminishing rights under this administration. Somehow, I won't sleep any better nights knowing congress is our safeguard. Remember, this huge, potentially dangerous expansion of Bush's power occurred when inserted in the light of darkness into a defense appropriation bill passed in the middle of the night. When most of us are sleeping.