This is truly a
scary scenario that should concern all civil libertarians and

by Paul DeRienzo and Bill Weinberg

On August 2, 1990, as Saddam Hussein's army was consolidating control
over Kuwait, President George Bush responded by signing two executive
orders that were the first step toward martial law in the United
States and suspending the Constitution.

On the surface, Executive Orders 12722 and 12723, declaring a
"national emergency," merely invoked laws that allowed Bush to freeze
Iraqi assets in the United States.

The International Emergency Executive Powers Act permits the president
to freeze foreign assets after declaring a "national emergency," a
move that has been made three times before -- against Panama in 1987,
Nicaragua in 1985 and Iran in 1979.

According to Professor Diana Reynolds, of the Fletcher School of
Diplomacy at Boston's Tufts University, when Bush declared a national
emergency he "activated one part of a contingency national security
emergency plan." That plan is made up of a series of laws passed since
the presidency of Richard Nixon, which Reynolds says give the
president "boundless" powers.

According to Reynolds, such laws as the Defense Industrial
Revitalization and Disaster Relief Acts of 1983 "would permit the
president to do anything from seizing the means of production, to
conscripting a labor force, to relocating groups of citizens."

Reynolds says the net effect of invoking these laws would be the
suspension of the Constitution.

She adds that national emergency powers "permit the stationing of the
military in cities and towns, closing off the U.S.


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