When I flew from Washington, DC to Florida on Monday, I ran into Dick Morris at National Airport. He was walking in to a gift shop that I was walking out of, having just bought something to drink. He’s incredibly short, maybe 5’6. He’s also incredibly dishonest, as a new video on his website shows. “Obama assumes dictatorial powers!” it declares.
The first lie is that the indefinite detention portion of the National Defense Authorization Act was something that Obama insisted on having in the bill; in reality, he threatened to veto the bill over it and instead issued an executive order saying he would not use that authority. So pretty much the exact opposite of what Morris claims. He also claims that “no president has ever had that power.” In fact, Bush claimed that same authority and, unlike Obama, actually tried to do it.
The second lie is that Obama just signed an executive order that allows him to declare martial law and that he’s going to reinstate the draft to have the military take over and to nationalize the oil industry. In fact, it’s just a minor update to an executive order that has been in place for decades. This lie is so bad that even the Worldnutdaily — which has almost never met a conspiracy theory about Obama it didn’t promote — debunked it.
But are the cries of martial law and expanding executive power justified?
No, says William A. Jacobson, associate clinical professor at Cornell Law School.
“If someone wants to make the argument that this is an expansion of presidential powers, then do so based on actual language,” warns Jacobson. “There is enough that Obama actually does wrong without creating claims which do not hold up to scrutiny.”
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As it turns out, Obama’s executive order is nearly identical to EO 12919, issued by President Clinton on June 7, 1994, which itself was an amendment to EO 10789, issued in 1958 by President Eisenhower, and which in fact, was later amended by EO 13286, issued in 2003 by George W. Bush.
Despite the vague nature of the functions, none mention anything about martial law or seizing private property. The five functions are also identical to those identified in Clinton’s EO 12919.
So why did Obama issue the order at all?
A side-by-side analysis of Obama’s order compared to Clinton’s, conducted by Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com, reveals Obama’s order is essentially just an update to reflect changes in government agency structure.
“If one takes a look at EO 12919, the big change is in the cabinet itself,” Morrissey writes. “In 1994, we didn’t have a Department of Homeland Security, for instance, and some of these functions would naturally fall to DHS. In EO 12919, the FEMA director had those responsibilities, and the biggest change between the two is the removal of several references to FEMA (10 in all). Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of changes between the two EOs, which looks mainly like boilerplate.
Yes, Dick Morris is now too insane even for the Worldnutdaily. And that’s saying a lot.
The funny thing is that you don’t have to look this hard to find some genuine actions that Obama has taken that could lead to what is functionally a dictatorship; his use of the State Secrets Privilege makes for an executive branch that is entirely unconstrained by the Bill of Rights.