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