The Brennan Center for Justice is not Truthout or some other publication that can get all hyperbolic over a relatively small issue. So when they sound the alarms about the ways in which Trump could use Constitutional “emergency powers” to shut down the internet, arrest advocates, and suspend an array of constitutional rights, it is worth paying attention. Read on.
Sorry about my inadvertently publishing the post prematurely yesterday. In two plus years that is only the second time I’ve mistakenly hit the publish button instead of the save button. Who put them right next to each other???? But still, my bad. Today we feature the options a despotic, cornered our impeached Trump has to maintain control. Plus: Bill McCamley as Secty of Workforce Solutions.
To Pot Luck or Not To Potluck: Today’s Potluck is Postponed Due to Only 13 RSVPs. So Our Next Meeting is a Crucial One on Jan 3, 6-8pm
POSTPONED!!!! Thursday, Dec. 20, 6-8pm 1420 Cerrillos. Retake Our Democracy, Roundhouse Advocacy Team, Orientation, Strategizing and Potluck BYOB. Our leadership was split about trying to do another meeting so close to the holidays, with some feeling that there would be too many folks either out of town or committed to other social gatherings. Looks like they were right. We had just 13 RSVPs by Wednesday evening. So, we are postponing the potluck. It turns out the Democratic Party of Santa Fe held a holiday potluck yesterday, so two potlucks in two days may be one too many. We’ll celebrate together when we have something to celebrate. AFTER March 16!!! But until then, we need to get to work.
Next Meeting: Thursday, January 3, 6pm-8pm. 1420 Cerrillos. Retake Our Democracy, Roundhouse Advocacy Team.
For other actions and events, click here to get to our Actions & Events page. We have new listings of events and trainings related to the environment and the popular vote.
McCamley Selected as Secretary of Workforce Solutions. Without a doubt Bill McCamley has been our favorite legislator because of his utter candor, his commitment to communication with his constituency, and his progressive policies (House sponsor of recreational cannabis). Now he gets to be our favorite Secretary. I spoke with Bill, (Mr. Secretary will not be easy with him) just last week and he had heard nothing about his application for Workforce Solutions Secretary. But today’s New Mexican announced three new positions: McCamley for Workforce, Alice Liu McCoy for Aging and Long-Term Services and Jackie White for Homeland Security and Emergency Services. McCamley never met an injustice he didn’t relish addressing, so advocates to prevent wage theft (Somos!!)just got a big time ally and I am guessing he will be weighing in on the workforce end of creating a just transition from fossil fuels. What a great pick!!! McCoy is a disability rights advocate who views her role as being administrative and advocacy, so this appears to be another good pick. Lastly, I know little about White, except that she was the fire Captain in ABQ. All told this appears a very good group for their roles.
How Slippery is the Slope to Dictatorship? Way More Slippery Than You May Suspect
In its report, What the President Could Do If He Declares a State of Emergency, the Brennan Center minces no words. Their report goes into great detail explaining with precision what Donald Trump could legally do to solidify his power in the face of impeachment or being ousted in 2020. Trump has long signaled his disdain for the concepts of limited presidential power and democratic rule. During his 2016 campaign, he praised murderous dictators. He declared that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, would be in jail if he were president, goading crowds into frenzied chants of ‘Lock her up.’ He hinted that he might not accept an electoral loss. Of late, he has questioned if Saturday Night Live is violating the law by so effectively satirizing Trump, his administration and his family. The list of warning signs is literally endless, but aside from bravado, what can Trump actually do? It turns out he can do quite a lot and that which can do should make your hair stand on edge.
The Brennan Center points out that the by declaring a state of emergency, something Trump can do entirely at his discretion, he instantly has the capacity to utilize over 100 emergency procedures that were intended to protect the US in an emergency, but could be used to solidify his power and repress all manner of dissent. For example, he could use our troops to squash protests. And given that he has already deployed troops to threaten desperate refugees seeking asylum, there is little cause for comfort that he wouldn’t use that power against protesters.
From the Brennan Center: “At key points in American history, presidents have cited inherent constitutional powers when taking drastic actions that were not authorized — or, in some cases, were explicitly prohibited — by Congress. Notorious examples include Franklin D. Roosevelt’s internment of U.S. citizens and residents of Japanese descent during World War II and George W. Bush’s programs of warrantless wiretapping and torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Abraham Lincoln conceded that his unilateral suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War was constitutionally questionable, but defended it as necessary to preserve the Union.” The Brennan Center points out that the Supreme Court has tended to rule in favor of the use of these powers and that was before the current Court shifting so perilously to the right.
In 1942, Congress amended Section 706 of the Communications Act of 193, enabling the president to shut down or seize control of:“any facility or station for wire communication” if Trump declares there to be a threat of war against the US. He could effectively seize control of television, radio, and the internet with the stroke of a pen. From The Brennan Center:
“The potential impact of such a move can hardly be overstated. In August, in an early-morning tweet, Trump lamented that search engines were “RIGGED” to serve up negative articles about him. Later that day the administration said it was looking into regulating the big internet companies. ‘I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory. And they have to be careful,’ Trump warned. If the government were to take control of U.S. internet infrastructure, Trump could accomplish directly what he threatened to do by regulation: ensure that internet searches always return pro-Trump content as the top results. The government also would have the ability to impede domestic access to particular websites, including social-media platforms. It could monitor emails or prevent them from reaching their destination. It could exert control over computer systems (such as states’ voter databases) and physical devices (such as Amazon’s Echo speakers) that are connected to the internet.” Is your skin crawling yet? There is more. During a Trump-declared state of emergency he could authorize:
- The use of biological or chemical agents on unsuspecting citizens;
- Freeze assets or block financial transactions of organizations deemed a threat;
- Designate as a threat to the US any person or organization identified as providing aid and comfort to a terrorist organization and here the government’s evidence would be “classified” and so not subject to scrutiny by the individual or organization or anyone else. Think in terms of the hundreds detained without charge in Guantanamo.
From the Brennan Center: “Once a person is “designated” under the order, no American can legally give him a job, rent him an apartment, provide him with medical services, or even sell him a loaf of bread unless the government grants a license to allow the transaction. The Patriot Act gave the order more muscle, allowing the government to trigger these consequences merely by opening an investigation into whether a person or group should be designated.” In a Democracy Now! report this week, it was reported that in 26 states anyone who advocates for or participates in a boycott of Israel is barred from obtaining a job from any public agency, including working in a public hospital or school district. Democracy, Now! interviewed a speech pathologist who worked for a Texas school district who was fired for not being willing to sign a clause in her contract asserting she would not boycott Israeli products. Who knew it was illegal to not purchase Sabra hummus? So, it is hardly a stretch to see the use of “designation” as a tool for targeting activists and deterring protests.
Only recently, Trump characterized the caravan of refugees as a “national emergency” and while he didn’t formally declare an emergency, he certainly could, and then then he could seize the bank accounts of organizations who are providing support to refugees, as has been done recently in Hungary. Want more?
In 2017, Trump threatened the city of Chicago because of its soaring homicide rate, telling them if they didn’t fix the problem, he’d “send in the Feds.” Under a declared emergency resulting from a refugee caravan approaching the border, Brennan projected that Trump could make the same threats to Sanctuary Cities, declare them to be “conspiring” to undermine Federal law and send troops to force city cooperation with ICE. By declaring martial law in the face of some feigned threat, Trump could also could exercise extraordinary powers.
From the Brennan Center: “A 2007 Department of Homeland Security report lists “martial law” and “curfew declarations” as “critical tasks” that local, state, and federal government should be able to perform in emergencies. In 2008, government sources told a reporter for Radar magazine that a version of the Security Index still existed under the code name Main Core, allowing for the apprehension and detention of Americans tagged as security threats.”
If this hasn’t alarmed you, you may want to explore further the full scope of what is possible. The Brennan Center report offered a link to 123 statutory provisions at Trump’s disposal, or review The Brennan Center’s complete analysis of this threat, click here.
Scary times, my friends.
Paul & Roxanne