Martial law is defined as follows:
"A law that is administered by the military rather than a civilian government and is used to restore order. It is typically used during a state of emergency as a response to a crisis. When martial law is declared, civil liberties including the right to free movement, free speech, protection from unreasonable searches and habeas corpus laws may be suspended."
With this in mind, let's look at Executive Order 13603 – National Defense Resources Preparedness which was signed into law by Barack Obama on March 12, 2012:
EO 13603 refers to the needs of the United States government during "times of national emergency".
The Defense Production Act Committee, which will be a key part of the implementation of this Executive Order, will be composed of the following members:
(1) The Secretary of State;
(2) The Secretary of the Treasury;
(3) The Secretary of Defense;
(4) The Attorney General;
(5) The Secretary of the Interior;
(6) The Secretary of Agriculture;
(7) The Secretary of Commerce;
(8) The Secretary of Labor;
(9) The Secretary of Health and Human Services;
(10) The Secretary of Transportation;
(11) The Secretary of Energy;
(12) The Secretary of Homeland Security;
(13) The Director of National Intelligence;
(14) The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency;
(15) The Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers;
(16) The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and
(17) The Administrator of General Services.
The Defense Productioni Act Committee will have the following obligations:
"(1) in a manner consistent with section 2(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2062(b), advise the President through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy on the effective use of the authorities under the Act; and
(2) prepare and coordinate an annual report to the Congress pursuant to section 722(d) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2171(d)."
Under Part II, Section 201 "Priorities and Allocations Authorities" we find that the following unelected agency heads have responsibilities for all aspects of the American economy to ensure that national defense is prioritized during an emergency as follows:
"(1) the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;
(2) the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;
(3) the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;
(4) the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;
(5) the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and
(6) the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials."
The Secretary of each agency has the following overall responsibility:
"The Secretary of each agency delegated authority under subsection (a) of this section (resource departments) shall plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions….
The Secretary of each resource department, when necessary, shall make the finding required under section 101(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(b). This finding shall be submitted for the President's approval through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Upon such approval, the Secretary of the resource department that made the finding may use the authority of section 101(a) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(a), to control the general distribution of any material (including applicable services) in the civilian market." (my bolds)
Note that the Secretary of any of the aforementioned departments has the lawful right to control the distribution of any good or service to the civilian market. This could technically include food, energy, gasoline, medical supplies etcetera. Under Section 203, the Secretary of Energy is authorized to determine which materials including equipment, services and facilities are deemed critical and essential to maximize domestic energy supplies which are defined as "all forms of energy including petroleum, gas (both natural and manufactured), electricity, solid fuels (including all forms of coal, coke, coal chemicals, coal liquification, and coal gasification), solar, wind, other types of renewable energy, atomic energy, and the production, conservation, use, control, and distribution (including pipelines) of all of these forms of energy." Food resources are also specifically mentioned which fall under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture. Food resources that fall under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture include "…all commodities and products, (simple, mixed, or compound), or complements to such commodities or products, that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals, irrespective of other uses to which such commodities or products may be put, at all stages of processing from the raw commodity to the products thereof in vendible form for human or animal consumption. "Food resources" also means potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers, all starches, sugars, vegetable and animal or marine fats and oils, seed, cotton, hemp, and flax fiber, but does not mean any such material after it loses its identity as an agricultural commodity or agricultural product." along with all food resource facilities (i.e. food production, processing, distribution and storage) as well as the distribution of farm equipment and fertilizer.
Under Section 310, "Critical Items", we find this:
"The head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense is delegated the authority of the President under section 107(b)(1) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2077(b)(1), to take appropriate action to ensure that critical components, critical technology items, essential materials, and industrial resources are available from reliable sources when needed to meet defense requirements during peacetime, graduated mobilization, and national emergency. Appropriate action may include restricting contract solicitations to reliable sources, restricting contract solicitations to domestic sources (pursuant to statutory authority), stockpiling critical components, and developing substitutes for critical components or critical technology items." (may bolds)
Let's look at one example that is topical. Think about the current shortage of N95 respirators during this current "emergency". If you can find a significant number of N95 respirators on the shelf in any store or for sale online by any supplier, I would be very surprised. Where have all of these normally readily available respirators gone? What if stockpiling meant that government was allowed to enter your home and appropriate what they deemed "essential" to the national good?
Let's close with these thoughts. Where does tyranny end and freedom begin? That is the line in the sand that we are all facing during this "emergency". Executive Order 13603 provides Washington with a roadmap for the imposition of medical martial law under the guise of preparing for a national defense emergency. It will be interesting to see if (and when) the Trump Administration implements the measures legally afforded to him by the National Defense Resource Preparedness Executive Order. Of course, they will never refer to it as martial law. We must remember one lesson learned after September 11, 2001; once government reduces our freedoms, those freedoms never fully return.
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