Is the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order Too Much Power? Probably. Did Presidents Have That Before Obama Signed it? Definitely.


Uh oh. Did President Obama grant himself tyrannical powers of the entire U.S. economy last Friday? And if so, shouldn't we be concerned?

Not unlike the outcry over H.R. 347 ("The Trespass Bill") and even more so the National Defense Authorization Act, alarm over Obama's March 16 signing of the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order has built up slowly indeed. But it's there if you google.The Washington Times and RT and are declaring this order to be the enactment of martial law and frightening amounts of presidential powers over the entire economy. 

Part of the EO reads, with emphasis added:

Sec. 102.  Policy.  The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency.  The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness.  The authorities provided in the Act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States.

Sec. 103.  General Functions.  Executive departments and agencies (agencies) responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense (as defined in section 801(j) of this order), or for resources and services needed to support such plans and programs, shall:

(a)  identify requirements for the full spectrum of emergencies, including essential military and civilian demand;

(b)  assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel;

(c)  be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements;

(d)  improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the domestic industrial base to support national defense requirements; and

(e)  foster cooperation between the defense and commercial sectors for research and development and for acquisition of materials, services, components, and equipment to enhance industrial base efficiency and responsiveness.

That highlighted are definitely parts that are scaring the pants off of a few people. No matter what the EO says, this feel sleazy since it was quietly signed on a Friday, with little media attention…But as in the aforementioned H.R. 347 and NDAA the question is not just whether the alarming interpretation of these powers is warranted, but rather did these disturbing powers already exist for Congress or (let's be honest, it's usually) the President?

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air says yes, this is simply a follow-up of the Defense Production Act of 1950. (Which the Order says, and RT and other outlets have noted.) 

Outside the Beltway is satisfied with that:

The Defense Production Act has been in effect since the Truman Administration, and authorizes the President to direct private business to allocate resources to national defense as needed in a time of national emergency. Since the end of the Cold War, if not before, the Act has been used primarily to use DOD contracting practices to direct investment in new technologies that would be used for defense purposes, however it still requires the Executive Branch to at least plan for the possibility of allocating resources for national defense in the event of a national emergency in much the same way that rationing was implemented during World War II. Now, fortunately, we have not faced a national emergency of that type in the 50-odd years that the DPA has been in effect but that doesn't mean that such an eventuality, brought about by either international crisis or natural disaster, should not be planned for. Despite that it was released as part of the "Friday Document Dumps" that have become all too common in official Washington, that appears to be all that this Executive Order is about.

Adds Morrisey: 

Indeed — but all of that was equally true before Obama issued an update to a 73-year-old effort that changed nothing about his executive authority and power.  To the extent that we're all more aware of it, that's good, but we shouldn't act as though this was an Obama novelty, and we really shouldn't jump to conspiracy-think conclusions without understanding the history of these EOs.

This may be true. But government is not interested in offering an easy understanding of the laws they pass which effect all of us. So we have to dig and make sure our civil liberties weren't stolen any more than usual on a Friday afternoon. And if some outlets and folks get paranoid about everything, they may be wrong (let's hope so), but we live under the NDAA and the PATRIOT Act. Paranoia is sometimes underrated.

Reason on the NDAA and on executive power

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  1. Ed Morrissey is a cunt of the first order.

  2. All power to the Soviets

  3. Is the Romney campaign like an Etch A Sketch?

  4. So who says the DPA of 1950 is constitutional?

    1. Precisely the point. While we are at it, the Fugitive Slave Act predates Maobama too. Is it OK to revive that one?

  5. All Your Bases Belong To Us

    Sec 308:

    (a)[…] to procure and install Government owned equipment in plants, factories, or other industrial facilities owned by private persons;

    (b) provide for the modification or expansion of privately owned facilities, including the modification or improvement of production processes, when taking actions under sections 301, 302, or 303 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2091, 2092, 2093; and

    (c) sell or otherwise transfer equipment owned by the Federal Government and installed under section 303(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2093(e), to the owners of such plants, factories, or other industrial facilities.

    which is derived/extended from the 1950 DPA:

    1. (2) Indemnification
      The owner of any plant, factory, or other industrial facility that receives equipment owned by the Federal Government under this section shall agree?

      (A) to waive any claim against the United States under section 107 or 113 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9607 and 9613); and

      (B) to indemnify the United States against any claim described in paragraph (1) made by a third party that arises out of the presence or use of equipment owned by the Federal Government.

  6. This is how governments constrained by constitutional limitations establish a tyranny. This and the willing complacency of the citizens, and cooperation of the media.

  7. The fact that it isn’t new doesn’t make it right. If Obama’s actions are triggering a reexamination of the issue that’s a good thing.

    Obama isn’t the only scoundrel to inhabit the White House but he’s still a scoundrel.

    1. Obama isn’t the only scoundrel to inhabit the White House but he’s still a scoundrel.

      Which ones weren’t scoundrels?

  8. This started out as some wild story on the internet, but it didn’t take long to become “serious” news simply because the document is right there on the internet for everybody to see.

    In 1950 we had just finished WWII which had shown us how unprepared we had been for war and were concerned about the possibility of having to fight WWIII. Most people were unaware of this EO because the press didn’t report it and would likely have thought it just common sense to be better prepared for the next war.

    Today, everybody knows about this EO thanks to easier access to information and we have a President who can single-handedly go into wars by simply calling it a kinetic military action.

    So yes, this is the same EO they have always had – but now we know about it and we also know they are more likely to (mis)use it.

  9. War, bitchez.

    It’s the ultimate “broken window”. Just ask Roosevelt.

  10. Why am I only seeing this now and not yesterday?

  11. I’m searching in vain for the Constitutional grant of authority for this.

    A little help, here?

    1. Are you serious?

  12. Well you have to wonder why if many of these authorities existed prior to the President or Congress…why then do they need to be re-addressed in a new law or executive order? I dont believe these things are mere coincidence, there is an agenda or strategy. When a National Media is functioning properly, they would be ferretting out the truth on the this; but as almost everyone realizes the National media is not functioning properly

  13. The signing of the National Defense Resource Preparedness Executive Order (NDRP) on March 16, 2012 has many people afraid of imminent implementation of martial law. All of the mainstream media and the President himself claim that this Order is merely an extension of The National Defense Production Act of 1950 (NDPA). I have completely read both the most recent version of the NDPA and the NDRP.

    The main focus of the NDPA of 1950 is to encourage an increase commercial activity and capabilities to bolster the reserve capacity of our national defense system. It also makes provisions for the conservation of energy through renewable resources and focuses on improving efficiency in the production of technology based goods as well as food production in the agricultural sector. It also repeatedly states that if any extreme measure is needed, such as controlling the distribution of a particular commodity, Congressional approval is needed.

  14. The NDRP takes emergency preparedness in a whole new direction. In Section 102 it states the intent to use this authority in peacetime and during times of crisis. It delegates Presidential Authority to six separate heads of departments, bypassing Congress. It states the intent to control all commercial activity through installation of government equipment and facilities into privately owned manufacturing and production businesses and any properties that engage in agricultural activity, from farming to processing. This Order also sets a precedent by stating the intent to control and distribute as necessary all forms of energy, public and private, and all sources of water within the United States.

    Another key point of the NDRP is the requirement of service by American citizens to perform tasks of various skill levels to accomplish these above mentioned actions, WITHOUT COMPENSATION(Section 502).

  15. The NDRP also calls for the need to stockpile private goods, control all aspects of transportation, public and private, and specifically states that “no other party”(Congress and the Supreme Court) shall have authority over this Executive Order, and it also states that the power of subpoena only exists with the President and the six appointees, making it apparently impossible for anyone or any agency to bring them to trial in the event of misuse of power.

    I don’t see how the NDRP can be a mere extension of existing law. It sounds to me like life as an American citizen has been drastically changed.

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