But Mark ignorantly ranted away, relying on WorldNetDaily paraphrasing. NSPD 51 does nothing at all remarkable, as a careful read would show. Admittedly, it's densely opaque to people who can't read legalese (and Shea is a complete illiterate therein), but it's plainly not "legislation," i.e., new powers, but "implementation," i.e., the nuts and bolts of how to execute an existing law. The latter is exactly what an executive branch is supposed to do. This is an order to plan for the Emergency Situation and some details about what the executive will do in such a case. That's it.
WorldNetDaily complains in the news article that "emergency situation" is defined loosely, but that's of necessity in this sort of thing. The whole point of emergency powers clauses is to cover the exceptional case that cannot be foreseen rather than the ordinary case which can.
This may be news to some people, but the US already has an "emergency" law that gives the president the right to dictatorial powers. Here WorldNetDaily is miles ahead of Shea in at least acknowledging countervailing facts. The law is called the National Emergency Act, which, as columnist Jerome Corsi writes,
allows that the president may declare a national emergency but requires that such proclamation "shall immediately be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register."So these sorts of powers already exist, albeit with a check that Corsi claims the new directive doesn't acknowledge -- that's the only possible basis for claiming that this is a "Bush ... power grab" [WND] or "Hail Caesar" and "giving this man (much less all his successors in perpetuity) the power to make themselves dictator solely on their own discretion" [the characteristically hysterical, in both senses, Shea].
A Congressional Research Service study notes that under the National Emergency Act, the president "may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens."
Since the directive is basically an order to executive agencies to plan, it doesn't need congressional approval in itself. Further, enabling regulations for how to use certain powers do not need to make reference to congressional approval because they assume the power already exists and has been granted.
Further, commenter Donatarius actually took the trouble to read the whole thing and makes it quite clear, citing chapter and verse (a wonderful practice; Shea should try it) that it is both a means to ensure the continuity of constitutional government and quite explicitly says that "This directive shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and the authorities of agencies, or heads of agencies, vested by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations" (i.e. Congress's purse strings).
But Corsi indicates here that he's more interested in cheap shots (and he's a model of sanity and sobriety comparable to the hysterical shrieks from CAEI) than in serious consideration:
Ironically, the directive sees no contradiction in the assumption of dictatorial powers by the president with the goal of maintaining constitutional continuity through an emergency.There is no contradiction. An emergency situation (set aside whether any particular situation is in fact an emergncy -- that's a distraction) requires a powerful executive ruling without little or no legislative power, to keep government going until the ordinary situation can be restored; both checks and balances and the plurality of the legislature are for the ordinary situation. That's Political Philosophy 101 (which I'll go into in another post).
The fact that powers exist simply doesn't mean either that their use is imminent or that their use might be just or unjust according to circumstance rather than intrinsically. You know how the president and vice president are almost always kept apart? You know how when there's a State of the Union address that requires Potus, the Veep, most of the Cabinet and the rest of presidential line of succession are required by custom to be in the same room, there's always one not-prenamed Cabinet member far away. Those are things done to guard against unlikely situations. You know when you get on a plane, the stewardess demonstrates the oxygen mask and does the whole song-and-dance? That's another such thing. You know how every large building has fire extinguishers behind glass you have to break. That's another.
I guarantee any reader, soup to nuts, that there is a plan somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon for an invasion of Canada. That doesn't mean the US is, in any serious sense, planning to invade Canada. Corsi has the equivalent of an update or an addendum to the Canadian invasion plan and writes about it as a serious possibility (and Shea shrieks about it as if it were imminent).
So if Bush has the ambition to make himself dictator and is just looking for a legal excuse, which this directive supposedly is, he or any other president already can. In which case as the brilliant KtheC cites Kathy Shaidle: "If Bush is Hitler, why aren't you a lampshade?" If the law and Bush are as described, why haven't the black helicopters descended on Seattle to swoop up the brave critic upholding The True Faith™? But don't worry, Mark. They don't even need to tunnel under your house. The black helicopters carrying the Secret Ninja Assassin Teams are so silent that they seize you before you hear them.