Lawmakers fight to keep governors,
not president, in control of troops
By Bob Unruh
Responding to an executive order by President Obama, a new push is under way for states to adopt laws limiting the use of their National Guard units unless there is an invasion, insurrection or other limited circumstance.
As WND reported, Obama’s order establishes a new “Council of Governors” designated to advise on the “synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States.”
The recent order, posted on the White House website, was accompanied by the explanation that the group is to work “to protect our nation against all types of hazards.” It comes just weeks after the president issued a similarly obscure order vastly expanding INTERPOL’s privileges in the U.S.
The White House said the new council is to include governors and administration officials to review “such matters as involving the National Guard of the various states; homeland defense, civil support; synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States; and other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities.”
However, there was no definition of the group’s authority. Can the council recommend “military activities” and can the governors, who already are in command of their own state guard units, mandate activities outside of their areas of jurisdiction? The White House did not respond to WND questions on the issue.
Now the Tenth Amendment Center is recommending a model legislation that states can use to limit the activities of their own National Guard members.
The model legislation states: “The governor shall withhold or withdraw approval of the transfer of the National Guard to federal control in the absence of: a) A military invasion of the United States, or b) An insurrection, or c) A calling forth of the guard by the federal government in a manner provided for by Congress to execute the laws of the union, provided that said laws were made in pursuance of the delegated powers in the Constitution of the United States, or d) A formal declaration of war from Congress.”
The organization said the requests to state legislatures already have begun with a letter on the issue dispatched by Walt Garlington, founder of the Louisiana State Sovereignty Committee, to state Rep. Brett F. Geymann.
“I ask you to once again take up the cause of states’ rights and protect Louisiana from this latest unconstitutional action coming from Washington, D.C.,” the letter said. “Please introduce a bill reasserting the governor’s power over Louisiana’s National Guard to counteract the EO issued by Pres. Obama.”
The model legislation proposed by the Tenth Amendment Center says the law is, “For the purpose of requiring the governor to withhold or withdraw approval of the transfer of this state’s National Guard to federal control in the absence of an explicit authorization adopted by the federal government in pursuance of the powers delegated to the federal government in Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 of the U.S. Constitution.”
It cites U.S. Constitution provisions that Congress has the power to provide for “calling forth the militia” to “execute the laws of the union,” or to suppress insurrections or repel invasions.
The proposal cites Daniel Webster’s statement in 1814 to Congress, “It will be the solemn duty of the state governments to protect their own authority over their own militia, and to interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power. These are among the objects for which the state governments exist.”
The White House said the new panel was called for in the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act and will include 10 governors picked by the president as well as the Coast Guard commandant and other officials from the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies.
The White House announcement said the council “will provide an invaluable senior administration forum for exchanging views with state and local officials on strengthening our national resilience and the homeland defense and civil support challenges facing our nation today and in the future.”
Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm poked fun at the announcement, writing Obama “has determined that, a) there is an insufficient number of advisory bodies among the gazillion already in existence for the federal government in general and said president and his White House specifically.”
Obama also, Malcolm said, “chooses to ignore the existence of the National Governors Assn., the Republican Governors Assn., the Democratic Governors Assn. and the secure telephones within arms-reach of virtually everywhere said president chooses to sit and/or recline.”
Ultimately, he said, Obama has decided, “One more meaningless advisory body probably couldn’t hurt anything, and might actually look good.”
At Canada Free Press, commentary writer Judi McLeod said, “Like the 30-plus czars running America with neither the people’s nor the Congress’s blessings, the Council of Governors is already a done deal.”
Blogger Nicholas Contompasis suggested it was the “first step towards martial law in America” because it sets up the “use of federal troops and the combination of state and federal agencies under the Defense Department.”
Participants on his forum page said the order appears to be in defiance of posse comitatus, which restricts U.S. military action within the United States. One contributor noted the order talks about “hazards” but then addresses only military hazards.
“The very notion of the executive branch (good intentions or not) issuing executive orders/presidential directives that apply to anything or anyone not specifically within the executive branch is tyrannical,” the forum participant said.
Andrew Nappi is the State Coordinator for the Florida Tenth Amendment Center. He lives in the Tampa Bay Area with wife Tammy and dogs Emma and Bud Lite.
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