On October 17, 2006, when George W. Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2007—a $538 billion military spending bill—he enacted into law a section called "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." In the view of many, this Act substantially changed fundamental laws of the United States, giving Bush—and all future U.S. presidents—new and sweeping powers to use the U.S. military anywhere in the United States, virtually as he sees fit—for disaster relief, crowd control, suppression of public disorder, or any "other condition" that might arise.
News coverage of these significant changes in the law has been virtually nonexistent. At nearly every stage when it might have received coverage, the news media have completely ignored the story: When the NDAA was debated, when it was passed in the House on September 29 and in the Senate on Sept. 30, 2006, when it was signed into law on October 17, and even when Senate Judiciary chair Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) introduced his own bill on February 7, 2007 to overturn the Oct. 17 measures, mainstream media have provided no news coverage. Only on April 24, 2007, when the first hearings were held on Leahy's bill, did a handful of mainstream media reports appear.
What could happen under the new law? As just one example, let's say hundreds of demonstrators in Boston engaged in civil disobedience, sitting-in on the Boston Common to protest the country's policies in Iraq, and traffic ground to a halt. Under the new law, the president could order in the Massachusetts National Guard to clear out the protesters even if the Massachusetts governor opposed this.
More from the article: The law is so vague and far-reaching that numerous, normally conservative military and law enforcement groups, including the National Guard Association, the National Sheriffs' Association and the Adjutants General Association, have publicly come out against it, pledging their support for a new, bipartisan Senate bill, S. 513, from senators Leahy and Christopher Bond (R.-Mo.) that would overturn all the changes in law that occurred this past October.
[...] the de-facto repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA) is an ominous assault on American democratic tradition and jurisprudence. The 1878 Act . . . is the only U.S. criminal statute that outlaws military operations directed against the American people under the cover of "law enforcement." As such, it has been the best protection we've had against the power-hungry intentions of an unscrupulous and reckless executive, an executive intent on using force to enforce its will.
Originally from on July 5, 2007, 11:53am