DownsizeDC.org
March 9, 2007
Didn't know THAT was in the bill
By Jim Babka
NOTE: I'll be on the radio today. Details appear below . . .

Today's topic . . .

THE LATEST OUTRAGE

John Whitehead recently wrote a shocking but very important piece for the Rutherford Institute. I'm going to quote liberally from it.

This stuff is truly horrifying . . .

 "Prior to the elections that transformed the makeup of Congress, the Bush Administration pushed for the inclusion of two stealth provisions into a mammoth defense budget bill. The additions made it easier for the government to declare martial law and establish a dictatorship."

Did you catch that? Key words: election time + mammoth + defense budget bill + stealth provisions. Yes, that's a formula for something bad to happen. Sure enough, something bad did happen. Whitehead continues . . .

 "Since the days of our Founding Fathers, when King George III used his armies to terrorize and tyrannize the colonies, the American people have understandably distrusted the use of a national military force to intervene in civilian affairs . . . Hence, as a sign of the Founders' concern that the people not be under the power of a military government, control of the military was vested in a civilian government, with a civilian commander-in-chief. And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 furthered those safeguards against military law, making it a crime for the government to use the military to carry out arrests, searches, seizure of evidence and other activities normally handled by a civilian police force."

So that's why it was snuck into a "mammoth" bill, at crunch time! Resuming with Whitehead . . .

 "However, with the inclusion of a seemingly insignificant rider into the massive defense bill (the martial law section of the 591-page Defense Appropriations Act takes up just a few paragraphs), the Bush Administration has managed to weaken what the New York Times refers to as 'two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty.' One is posse comitatus. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which limits a president's domestic use of the military to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion where a state is violating federal law or depriving the people of their constitutional rights. Under these new provisions, the president can now use the military as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any 'other condition.' According to the new law, Bush doesn't even have to notify Congress of his intent to use military force against the American people -- he just has to notify them once he has done so."

Sounds fun! This is, of course, because in an era of terrorism, we need strong leaders who act decisively, and sometimes, liberty must be exchanged for security, right?

Wrong! Whitehead continues . . .

"The main reason we do not want the military patrolling our streets is that under martial law, the Bill of Rights becomes null and void. A standing army strips the American people of any vestige of freedom. Thus, if we were subject to martial law, there would be no rules, no protections, no judicial oversight and no elections."

Whitehead draws two sound conclusions here:

1) "A fundamental principle of American government is to not trust public officials . . . lest we forget, power has a tendency to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

2) "Furthermore, the way this was handled proves that we cannot trust government officials. By sneaking this provision in as a rider to a larger bill, public debate and media attention were avoided. Had the provision been openly discussed and debated, there would have been opposition and outcry. And it most likely would have been soundly rejected."

BINGO!

And that's why we need the Read the Bills Act -- to slow Congress down and require them to sweat the details; to end the practice of sneaking these riders into mammoth bills at the last minute, during crunch time. Chances are, most members of Congress didn't know these provisions were in there.

But we can't just count on Congress to do it's job. The public needs to be able to "read the bill" as well.

That's why Read the Bills Act includes a provision that gives watch dog groups, talk-show hosts, and the general public -- YOU -- greater power as well. The Read the Bills Act requires a seven day waiting period to vote, AFTER the FINAL reading where the bill is posted on the Internet. So, even if Congress is irresponsible, the public has time to mount pressure.

We encourage you to read Mr. Whitehead's full column here.

You can take action and help make the Read the Bills Act a reality at the DownsizeDC.org website.

Then, please cut & paste this message on to friends because we need their help to make the Read the Bills Act the law. Our future liberty 

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

P.S. Don't forget: I will be on the radio again today for my routine Friday appearance with Jerry Hughes.

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