Making Premiers Out of Presidents: Executive Office Power Grab

Making Premiers Out of Presidents: Executive Office Power Grab

By Richard Walker

President Barack Obama’s abuse of power through the issuing of executive orders (EOs) highlights a type of scenario that terrified the Founding Fathers. They feared the executive branch becoming so powerful it could ignore Congress and seize for itself all legislative power. As a consequence, the Constitution would be voided.

Today, anyone who believes this could not happen only has to look closely at Obama’s recent EOs. Originally meant to handle sundry details in the White House such as scheduling or cleaning requests, EOs have been increasingly used by presidents to bypass Congress and set policy.

In the case of Obama, the first is the “National Defense Resources Preparedness Order” issued on March 16, 2012, and his latest EO, issued on May 15, 2012, which handed the Treasury unlimited scope to deal with anyone “interfering” with the transition of political power in Yemen, where Obama has been running a drone war, much of it classified.

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The March 2012 EO was staggering in the scale of the sweeping powers it gave the executive branch. For example, it would permit the agriculture secretary to exercise all control over food and the defense secretary to compel any scientist to assist in the making of chemical or  biological weapons. It authorized the placing of everything under the control of the presidency, including banking, water supplies, transportation and energy, in a national emergency. The same powers could be exercised in peacetime if the executive branch were to conclude the defense needs of the nation required it. AFP first reported on this EO in the April 9 edition.

More shocking still is Obama’s latest EO, which would allow the U.S. government to seize the assets of any Yemeni who opposes his own government in Yemen—the one that Washington is currently backing. The Treasury Department would also have the ability to grab the assets of any American who it is claimed is undermining the stability of Yemen and the transfer of power there.

Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, issued a similar EO in 2006 aimed at protecting his political interests and those of France in the west African nation of Ivory Coast.

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President Bill Clinton issued 11 EOs in 1994 alone. They remain on the books, confirming the threat an over-arching reach of executive power could pose for the Constitution in the years ahead. For example, some of Clinton’s orders, which could go into effect at a time defined by the executive branch as a “national emergency,” would permit the takeover of all media and Internet communications, much like the powers contained in the most recent Defense Resources Preparedness EO. They would also allow for the seizure of all assets, including property, transportation, energy resources and means of travel. The president would also have the authority to impose martial law and set up camps to house those considered a threat or perhaps ordinary citizens deemed guilty of hoarding food and energy.

In effect Clinton’s EO would move all power to the president and his Cabinet.

We call it “tyranny” when we see dictators across the globe possessing just these powers. 
——
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.

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