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Is It Time For Martial Law?

Is It Time For Martial Law?

I have looked over some sites, such as The American Conservative, they make the case that invoking martial law, putting troops on the ground with Trump invoking the Insurrection act would foolish, I have to disagree, I think at first it could possibly cause things on the ground to escalate, but it quickly would get things under control.

Although we do post some of their articles on our site, I find much of what they write as useful material, their anti-Trump rhetoric is troubling, but as the editor, I can allow what is posted and not. We don’t censor speech, so I will post their site in addition to what I have written so you can compare the two.

With riots rapidly spinning out of control in cities, now city leaders are calling for either de-funding or disbanding the police, some of our major cities are falling into a state of anarchy, the law no longer has control of the situation on the ground.

President Trump may be finding himself under more pressure to put both martial law and suspending civil liberties in place to get control of the situation on the ground. On Saturday, Trump warned, “the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests.” On Monday, Trump declared that if cities or states refuse to sufficiently defend their residents’ life and property, “I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

The Washington Post, a paper very much to the left of the spectrum, themselves admitted that if Trump wished he “has the legal authority to deploy active-duty military personnel to states to help quell violent protests.” However, experts warn such a move “would probably generate strong push-back from some state and local officials.” According to a survey released Tuesday by Political Polls, Americans support “calling in the U.S. military to supplement city police forces” by a 58 percent to 30 percent margin. But any support could quickly vanish if deploying troops resulted in significant casualties of innocent civilians.

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Trump can send in troops if the governor requests the soldiers, but if he activates the Insurrection act, he can then activate martial law. The governors, who now are resisting any question of sending in troops, will have little say in the matter. 

At this point, Trump has to give notice to the people in the area that they must disperse and go home, set a time limit, then he will send in troops if they don’t do as commanded. 

Many presume that there is no difference between the Insurrection Act and martial law. Under the Insurrection Act, U.S. troops would still be assisting in enforcing laws under state and local authority. A formal declaration of martial law, on the other hand,  effectively suspends civil liberties and gives all authority to the military. 

In 2006, Congress voted almost unanimously to entitle  President George W. Bush and any subsequent president to effectively declare martial law largely as a matter of bureaucratic convenience, thus this right extends to Trump even now.

On September 30, 2006, Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act of 2006, a $500 billion, 591-page bill that included a few paragraphs razing a key constraint on presidential power. Almost 200 years earlier, Congress had passed the Insurrection Act to severely curtail the president’s ability to deploy the military within the U.S., a law that was further buttressed by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. But there was a loophole: the Posse Comitatus Act was waived if the president invokes the Insurrection Act.

Section 1076 of that 2006 law deleted the name “Insurrection Act” and replaced it with  “Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act.” The 2006 “reform” effectively authorized martial law declarations in response to a “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition”—and such “condition” was neither defined nor limited. A smattering of pipe bomb explosions could satisfy the “other condition”—as could the bomb explosions used last night to rob up to 10 ATM machines in Philadelphia. The 2006 law also empowered the president to commandeer the National Guard of any state to send to another state for up to 365 days—part of the reason why every governor in the nation opposed the “reform.”

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While liberal Democrats at the time supported this bill, one would expect that what both Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) who co-wrote the law, put in effect, if the former was still in office, or the later still lived, I am sure they would be in regret of signing in such a law. In hindsight, I thought it wasn’t very good at the time; now it may be what is needed.

The only senator to vigorously protest the bill was Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who warned that “we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law.” He groused in the Congressional Record: “Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy.” “Martial law” is a euphemism for military dictatorship—a situation where anyone who disobeys soldiers’ orders can be shot. Martial law effectively waives constitutional rights. 

Trump may be threatening to invoke the Insurrection Act to browbeat governors into deploying more National Guard units and into swaying mayors to more effectively suppress looting rampages. The rampages last night were lighter in most locales compared to the weekend, excepting a few places such as New York City. (Governor Andrew Cuomo condemned Mayor Bill de Blasio today for failing to curb looting last night and again sought permission to send in National Guard troops.) Private citizens in some places are stepping up to fill the AWOL police void, creating a rising peril that pillagers will be shot. And the rioters may finally be realizing that iPhones they plundered are little more than paperweights since Apple quickly zaps stolen phones. 

The rioters will find out the first night after troops are pushed into these areas, rioting and looting will not be allowed, nor will peaceful protests until the situation is under control. By acting in the manner they have, they have pushed this situation until they will find their civil rights will be suspended.

I find it interesting, in closing down churches, the police and liberal Governors were all too happy to tell peaceful churchgoers that their civil rights were suspended, something we even hear now. Still, then we are told that if you riot and protest, well, that is perfectly acceptable. I promise, if martial law is enacted, it will not be.

If Trump is forced to use the Insurrection Act, send in troops, the mayors and governors will try to blame any carnage on Trump, but they are incorrect, it was their aiding in all of this that would bring such a thing about. The now open support of rioters, bailing them out of jail so they can do so again, this is what is bringing this about, they are permitting this type of behavior. As Joseph Nunn of the Brennan Center for Justice explained, “The concept of ‘martial law’ is not well understood, let alone defined, in American law. It usually refers to military forces taking over the functions of ordinary civilian government. The keywords are ‘taking over.’”   

At this point, if the rioting does not come under control, and we will find out how this turns out this weekend, there may be little choice in this matter, we should never give in to terror. Further, we need to convey to the administration that not only were they right in designating Antifa as a domestic terrorist group, but it is also time to look at doing the same thing with Black Lives Matter.

I finish this by saying, “I served in our military, love this nation. I hope we don’t get to this point, at least this is what my heart is telling me. Yet logic is dictating something else, what is happening is showing me we are on the edge of a precipice like at the very top of a roller-coaster, we fall into the abyss and see where it takes us, or hopefully, we step back from the abyss and decide not to go this direction, for once we do, there will be no turning back.”

About The Author

Timothy Benton

Student of history, a journalist for the last 2 years. Specialize in Middle East History, more specifically modern history with the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Also, a political commentator has been a lifetime fan of politics.

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