Throughout Obama’s presidency, and particularly since 2012, there have been rumors that he would declare Martial Law in the United States, for one reason or another.
The most commonly considered possible motivation in doing so is to remain in office, and thus further his assault on the American Constitution and rule of law. Now that the 2016 presidential election results have shown the clear winner to be Donald Trump, who Obama campaigned against as he promoted the ailing (figuratively and literally) Clinton, talks of his possible declaration of martial law in America are on the rise again.
But what most people who ask whether or not an American president can declare martial law, or confidently assert that he will, don’t realize is that there is a hidden and crucial presumption to asking the question “will Obama declare martial law?” We’ll expose this hidden presumption in time, but let’s first take a look at what martial law is.
According to Wikipedia.org (not that I steadfastly trust Wikipedia, but to show that I did not create my definition of martial law to suit my thesis in this article), martial law can be describe in such ways as “the imposition of the highest-ranking military officer as the military governor or as the head of the government, thus removing all power from the previous executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.”.
It goes on to state that martial law typical accompanies “the suspension of civil law, civil rights, and habeas corpus; and the application or extension of military law or military justice to civilians. Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunal…”
What you don’t see in the definition are any dramatic, Hollywood-like specifics such as tanks on the streets, sporting stadiums being converted to detention centers, or public executions of descendants. Many people have a thoroughly dramatized view of what martial law is. This artificial perception will have them looking for, and possibly preparing for something that in all likelihood would never occur if the president did in fact declare martial law.
You might have a hard time convincing someone of this if they’re already fully convinced that Obama is on the brink of turning our country into a military police state at the drop of the hat. Instead of listening to what martial law is, they will likely start telling you all of the ways that Obama could “pull it off”. While we still haven’t gotten to the heart of the matter, these potential strategies as to how an American president could “pull off” instating martial law are worth taking a look.
All theoretical martial law strategies involve some sort of conflict or emergency. They can be broken down into two main categories, legitimate, and artificial. Legitimate threats that could be considered possible justifications for a declaration of martial law include such events as terrorist attacks, economic collapse, or some sort of apocalyptic natural disaster (this could be anything from disease pandemic to a meteor strike).
Given the overwhelming odds that a terrorist attacking America would have a religious affiliation that would be inconvenient to the left’s narrative (Obama did, after all, call the San Bernardino shooting “work place violence” and not Islamic terrorism), I assert that it would be unlikely that Obama would want to take advantage of a legitimate terrorist attack to justify martial law. That would only draw attention to the burka-clad elephant in the room that the left would prefer not to talk about.
With markets on the rise after the “Trump rally”, it’s also unlikely that there will be any legitimate economic crisis that he could conceivably use to justify martial law between now and inauguration day. It seems he missed his chance with Ebola, though his administration seemed to do as little as possible to stop it from spreading on American soil, so a legitimate threat is unlikely to be the cause of an Obama order for martial law.
That leaves only artificial causes, and this is where most theorists look. Obama has already proposed controversial legislation that would limit the rights of Americans after dubious incidents. After the Sandy Hook shooting, while wiping away tears that HD cameras couldn’t detect, he proposed restricting gun rights for law-abiding Americans. Members of his administration have spoken recklessly of war with Russia over vote tampering, which they would love to have evidence of right about now. And there is always the unknown false-flag terrorist attack that could be launched between now and inauguration that could be used as justification for a declaration of martial law.
But is any of this necessary? Does Obama need to hope for a mega-tsunami to strike, or pay Kraft International operatives to pose as white supremacist Trump supporters shooting up the streets of America? To think that he needs any of these incidents is to presume a lot. Let’s look at what I called the hidden presumption in the original question, “will Obama declare martial law?”.
To ask IF Obama WILL declare martial law requires that one presume he hasn’t already done so. When asked the question “has Obama declared martial law?” most people would say no. This is because they haven’t been told by CNN or by Fox News that he made any such declaration, and because they haven’t seen any tanks in the streets or public executions that they associate with martial law in their minds.
That’s why I started with a description of martial law, so that we would have a some-what accurate idea of what to look for when determining whether or not Obama already has declared martial law, which I will say that he has, and I think you will too when you see my evidence for this.
Let’s look at the first part of the above description of martial law. It begins describing martial law by saying it is “the imposition of the highest-ranking military officer as the military governor or as the head of the government, thus removing all power from the previous executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.”.
The president is the highest-ranking military officer, so we do not need a military coup d’état for this to take place in America (that would require the military service men actually backing the president), all we need is for the president to “impose” his rule in a way that nullifies or usurps that other branches of government.
Has Obama done this? I would certainly argue that he has at the very least attempted to do this with his excessive and restrictive executive orders. It’s not that he has issued more orders, it’s that, as John Hudak of the Brookings Institute said, “not all executive orders are created equal, some are quite forceful, making dramatic changes to policy. Others are more routine, housekeeping issues.”
What sort of executive orders was Obama making? According to the Mercatus Institute, a study that looked specifically for legally-binding and restrictive words or phrases found that Obama issued more such orders than any of the last six administrations except the first Clinton administration. Obama has attempted, but mostly failed, to use his “pen and phone” to push his leftist agendas into American law on gun control and illegal immigration. But this alone isn’t enough to convince anyone, including myself, that Obama has declared martial law. Let’s look at more of the above description of martial law.
“the suspension of civil law, civil rights, and habeas corpus; and the application or extension of military law or military justice to civilians. Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunal…”. On Dec, 31 2011 Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.
The controversy over this began almost immediately and understandably centered around, but was not limited to, section 1021. This section included “authorizing the indefinite military detention of persons the government suspects of involvement in terrorism”, this includes American citizens, but conveniently leaves open the possibility of foreigners anywhere on the planet. This isn’t only the view of Alex Jones’ Info Wars, but organizations such as the ACLU which nearly always aligns itself with the democrats.
This is on a completely different, and horrifying level than using legally restrictive words in executive orders that will be ruled illegal by the Supreme Court or easily undone by the next president, as Trump has repeatedly said he will, “on day one”. Obama made the right to trial by a jury of your peers a privilege, and not a right, if you are accused of the serious, yet vague crime of being suspected of “involvement in terrorism”.
Think on that for a minute: if you are an American, or even if you aren’t, the US military can forcibly detain you in military custody for the rest of your life without so much as charging you with a crime and without allowing you any legal representation or recourse.
Every president issues executive orders that his critics say are illegal, and imprisonment in military custody without trial for the rest of one’s life sounds a lot like martial law, but surely he isn’t publicly executing people…right?
Well, that depends on how you define “public” and “execute”. But I don’t think it’s being too loose with those words to apply them to the admitted extrajudicial murder of Americans abroad via drone strike. Obama did just that on Sept 30, 2011 when he ordered a drone strike in Yemen which killed American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan.
Let me be clear and say that both of these men were more than likely terrorists, but that’s of course what you would do to soften the appearance of making yourself judge, jury, and executioner. If he had chosen a victim that was less clearly a terrorist it would have been all too obvious that we were no longer living in a civilized society of law and order.
So when you pose the question of whether or not Obama or any other Commander-in-Chief will declare martial law is, he already has, and most people didn’t even notice it.
I would argue that for Americans, and for the world, the more important question now (despite Jill Stein’s recount) is whether or not Trump will do anything to reverse the effects of what Obama has done to destroy the rule of law. To many Trump supporters, this question borders on blasphemy. But as a Trump voter myself, I’m not feeling as reassured as I’d like to be.
President-elect Donald Trump has not yet named his nominee for secretary of Department of Homeland Security, but Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s name is being floated around for the position. With the rise of race-based, unsubstantiated accusations against police officers, anti-police rhetoric, and violent crime targeting law enforcement, I have found Sheriff Clarke’s commentary refreshing. He puts race-baiters on CNN in their place and silences (as much as it is possible) BLM representatives at a time when dissenting voices are dismissively labeled as racist.
However, I was more than a little disappointed when I read online that in an upcoming memoir Clarke stated that he believes American authorities should treat American citizens suspected of being terrorists as “enemy combatants” who can be questioned without an attorney, arrested by authorities and held indefinitely. That sort of thing coming from someone who has sworn to uphold the United States constitution is more than disconcerting. In fact, it’s terrifying. If the “law-and-order candidate” and elected law enforcement officers, have so little respect for the rule of law, then what do we have to look forward to?
I can’t help but to feel that we have dodged a bullet by preventing Clinton from entering the White House. But my relief is starting to wane. Having a president who feels entitled to treat me like a criminal is, unfortunately, not something that is new to me, having just lived through the Obama years.
What really concerns me that so few of the people who would eagerly listen to me rant about the evils of the Obama administration care to listen me when I am trying to point out the similarities that can already be found in president-elect Donald Trump, and those he keeps close to him.
Only time will tell.