Famed historian, Conrad Black, said that at no time in the history of the United States has there been as much turmoil as there is now except prior to the Civil War. The president seems to be preparing for more turmoil and just such an event with Executive Orders that give him absolute power over every aspect of our society. His latest Executive Order (EO) gives him the power to seize all public and private means of communications and the power to intrude on them now.
There is no oversight by Congress.
This order affecting all communications within the United States, entitled, Executive Order 12472: ASSIGNMENT OF NATIONAL SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS COMMUNICATIONS FUNCTIONS, was posted without fanfare on July 6.
Russia Today had an article about this EO, stating that it gives the Executive the power to shut down all communications in the event of an emergency. Russia Today, while mostly accurate, is online propaganda, but then again, what “news” site isn’t these days? You can read the Executive Order posted on the White House website for yourself and make your own determination.
One of the biggest problems with the order is the absoluteness of it and the centralization it puts in place. There is no resistance from Congress about this EO.
In the EO, Obama outlined the need for the federal government to have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances, not emergencies, not wartime…at all times:
The Federal Government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions. Survivable, resilient, enduring, and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; State, local, territorial, and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies, and other nations. Such communications must be possible under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies, and improve national resilience…
In section 2 of the EO, Obama gives the Executive responsibility, through an “interagency process,” “…over all existing and planned NS/EP [national security and emergency preparedness] and communications systems, networks, and facilities.” He also wants “radio spectrum and wired communications” prioritized.
He wants all his agencies prepared to access all communications “under all hazards.”
The agencies involved in the interagency process are all agencies under the power of the Executive Branch. The DOD and DHS Secretaries are co-chairs (Janet Napolitano, really?).
DHS must submit a plan for this monumental power over communications within 60 days and Obama has plans for a budget to make it all possible. He can’t put anti-fraud measures in place for Obamacare but he can do this.
This section requires his executive agencies to constantly review and analyze the readiness of basically all vehicles of communication to meet his needs in the event of an NS/EP situation.
NS/EP is not defined! It can be whatever he wants it to be.
This EO also gives Obama an excuse to review all public and private communication vehicles like the Internet.
In section 4, he gives the Secretary of Homeland Security – Janet Napolitano – the power to establish an Executive Committee Joint Program Office (JPO) and to coordinate the “NS/EP missions, priorities, goals, and policy” et al.
In section 5, the Secretary of Defense has whatever powers Napolitano doesn’t have. The Secretary of Commerce will provide support along with The Administrator of General Services, the DNI, the FCC et al.
This is an enormous centralization of power for seizure and control over all communications in the United States without oversight by any other branch of government and without any limitation over when a seizure of communications can take place.
The EO establishes a network of interconnected agencies and of processes that will infiltrate the government in such a way that simply abolishing the EO at a later date will have little or no effect. It would take extraordinary effort to change it and it is unlikely that power once seized by the government will ever be relinquished, based on prior history.