Monday, March 19, 2012

Truman Tried This And Got Slapped Down........

On Friday, the president issued an executive order, or EO, that, according to The Examiner, “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 EO cited a law you’ve probably never heard of for its authority — the Defense Production Act of 1950.

Internet message boards lit up on Saturday. But the blogosphere downplayed it Sunday. “The general impact of it is negligible,” estimated Ed Morrissey of the conservative news site Hot Air. “This EO simply updates another EO (12919) that had been in place since June 1994, and amended several times since.” Essentially, he says, the new EO updates the previous one to reflect the federal hydra growing new heads like the Department of Homeland Security.

   On the other hand, the Defense Production Act figured into one of the most notorious executive power grabs of the post-World War II/pre-Sept. 11 era. President Harry Truman tried to nationalize the steel mills in 1952. He justified it as a wartime measure; the conflict in Korea was raging at the time. The Supreme Court slapped him down in a 6-3 decision. Justice Tom Campbell Clark said the Defense Production Act didn’t authorize such a drastic act.

We daresay it’s not too cynical to wonder if the White House is keen to retest the case in an era when the president orders the murder-by-drone of U.S. citizens who haven’t even been charged with a crime. Today the steel mills, tomorrow the world.

   “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” says William Binney, a 40-year veteran of the National Security Agency, holding his thumb and forefinger close together.

Binney’s remark is prompted by the Utah Data Center, a massive NSA complex under construction in the desert, set for completion in 18 more months.

“Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases,” author James Bamford writes in a new Wired article, “will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cellphone calls and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails — parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases and other digital ‘pocket litter.’”

No comments: