One of the most disturbing elements of the Obama Administration is a desire to focus more and more power into the Executive Branch. The Left (and many Libertarians) are still moaning about the Patriot Act that was passed in the months following 9/11 because they saw it as a ruthless power grab from a madman in waiting. It was no such thing, of course, but try pointing that out to people who begin and end their debates with cries of “Halliburton!” or “Cheney!” as if they were magic words that somehow made everything clearly understood and swept away all doubts.
But George W. was a piker in comparison to Barack Obama. The centralizing of power in the Oval Office, aided and abetted by a Congress too stupid to realize that they’re being marginalized by The One, is proceeding at an astounding pace.
The amount of Czars Obama has appointed (none of whom were approved by Congress, and all of whom have positions of real authority and influence) has dwarfed the number of these positions created by all previous Presidents.
And make no mistake, these people really do have power and influence. Obama’s original “Car Czar,” Steven Rattner, fired the CEO of General Motors. Where on Earth did he get that authority? (It should also be noted that Rattner resigned his position very abruptly, after it was announced that the NY Attorney General’s office started looking into some shady dealings.) Van Jones, the “Green Jobs Czar,” is a radical, self-avowed Communist who is a longtime board member of a group called the Apollo Alliance. The Apollo Alliance wrote the stimulus bill. There’s nothing quite like turning over the economy to Communists, is there?
Aside from these unelected, unvetted, and unapproved czars, the Obama Administration has taken charge of auto companies and banks. They are currently determined to take over the health care industry. The FCC Diversity Chief Mark Lloyd has openly admired Hugo Chavez’s revolution and is currently seeking to impose speech restrictions on radio via the back door. The White House set up an email address where you could tattle on your neighbors who opposed health care reform. Now they’re using the National Endowment For The Arts to gather artists of all stripes to use their art for the good of the state. Also recall that this is a President that wants to set up a “civilian security force” in order to achieve his national security objectives…a civilian security force that is as well-funded as the United States military.
What we have here is a clear pattern of an Administration that is seeking to take control over the free market and to stifle dissent wherever possible. Thank God the Internet is free and dissenting voices can still be heard.
Not so fast, partner.
Now comes word that Senators Jay Rockefeller and the always reliable RINO Olympia Snowe have a bill that would allow the President to declare a “cybersecurity emergency” and effectively seize control of the Internet.
I can actually see the rationale for something like this. The comparison is made to President Bush ordering all air traffic grounded on 9/11, and the question about how we defend ourselves against a serious cyber attack needs to be answered. The problem here is that the bill is written very vaguely, and we all know where vague language can lead us. For example, the call as to whether or not a cybersecurity emergency exists lies in the hands of one man: the President. There doesn’t seem to be anything in the bill (at least not in the brief excerpt I read) that limits this Federal power over the Internet. Once an emergency is over, will the Feds turn back control over the Internet? Or will it continue to control it “in order to prevent something like this from happening again.” The bill grants much power to the Executive branch, but where are the limits of that power enumerated?
During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the use of “Emergency Powers” was discussed. The question before Congress was: Should we allow the President to declare an emergency and take more responsibility over the handling of the crisis? Those in favor argued that in the event of an emergency or crisis, giving the President these powers would save precious time. Those opposed saw the tyranny of George III in the background and were aware of English history when Charles I disbanded Parliament. They recognized that an unscrupulous or evil man may get elected President someday, and that a President with the ability to both define and control a crisis was the first cousin to a monarch asserting the Divine Right of Kings. Such a man might use these Emergency powers to consolidate his own power. The use of Emergency powers was not allowed in the Constitution.
While I agree that the issue of cybersecurity is serious, I cringe at the concept of giving the President of the United States the kind of power that would allow him to 1) declare an emergency; and 2) seize control of private enterprises in the event of an emergency.
Rockefeller and Snowe’s bill needs to be written in clear language, detailing what the President can do and, most importantly, what the President can not do. Limits need to be specifically enumerated, including limits on how long the President can maintain control. For starters, I would suggest that the President’s powers can be enforced for no more than 72 hours before a continuation of them is voted on by Congress, with all continuations lasting no more than two months, and can never be extended beyond two month intervals without subsequent Congressional votes. I would also insist that the President not have the power to use this opportunity to impose any kind of permanent regulations on the Internet. Only by stripping away the vague language and inserting strict limitations on the use of this type of power will the bill be properly analyzed and debated.
Remember these words from Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel:
Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.
Is this who we want to give unstructured, unlimited national security emergency powers to? As it stands now, this bill is just another power hand off from Congress to a President who’s more than willing to take control whenever and wherever he can.