Monday, February 02, 2009

National Emergency Centers Establishment Act, or 1984 Redux

Since the attacks of 9/11, with a bare whisper of notice, the federal government has assumed wider authority to declare marshal law without need of disaster or insurrection, arrest large swaths of the population (citizen and non-citizen alike), detain people sans legal or constitutional recourse in case of "an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

Sect. 1042 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," gives the executive the power to invoke martial law. For the first time in more than a century, the president is now authorized to use the military in response to "a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, a terrorist attack or any other condition in which the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order."

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, rammed through Congress just before the 2006 midterm elections, allows for the indefinite imprisonment of anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on a list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies. The law calls for secret trials for citizens and noncitizens alike.

Also in 2007, the White House quietly issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51), to ensure "continuity of government" in the event of what the document vaguely calls a "catastrophic emergency." Should the president determine that such an emergency has occurred, he and he alone is empowered to do whatever he deems necessary to ensure "continuity of government." This could include everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to launching a nuclear attack. Congress has yet to hold a single hearing on NSPD-51.
The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has been reassigned from combating America's enemies abroad to an "on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks." Their redeployment from Iraq to Northern Command on American soil is a major change in the role of the military since the Posse Comitatus Act(18 U.S.C. § 1385) was passed on June 16, 1878 which was intended along with the Insurrection Act of 1807 to substantially limit the powers of the federal government in the use the military for law enforcement.

There's a new bill before the House of Representatives right now called the National Emergency Centers Act or HR 645 (h/t Janie7 at My Auburn.) The bill will establish national emergency camps, known as FEMA facilities, on military installations. After Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, was placed under the Dept. of Homeland Security.

HR 645

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 645

To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers on military installations.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

January 22, 2009

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL

To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers on military installations.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘National Emergency Centers Establishment Act’.

SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF NATIONAL EMERGENCY CENTERS.

(a) In General- In accordance with the requirements of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish not fewer than 6 national emergency centers on military installations.

(b) Purpose of National Emergency Centers- The purpose of a national emergency center shall be to use existing infrastructure--

(1) to provide temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster;

(2) to provide centralized locations for the purposes of training and ensuring the coordination of Federal, State, and local first responders;

(3) to provide centralized locations to improve the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts of government, private, and not-for-profit entities and faith-based organizations; and

(4) to meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The legislation says that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish not fewer than 6 national emergency centers on military installations. This means that the Secretary of Homeland Security can setup as many FEMA camps within military installations as they want, it just has to be more than 6 of them. On top of that, it also states that the facilities will be used to meet other appropriate needs as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. This could mean anything. If the Secretary of Homeland Security thinks it is appropriate to kill large groups of people like the Nazis did in World War II Germany, than it looks as if this bill would give them the authority to use these facilities for that purpose.

SEC. 3. DESIGNATION OF MILITARY INSTALLATIONS AS NATIONAL EMERGENCY CENTERS.

(a) In General- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall designate not fewer than 6 military installations as sites for the establishment of national emergency centers.

(b) Minimum Requirements- A site designated as a national emergency center shall be--

(1) capable of meeting for an extended period of time the housing, health, transportation, education, public works, humanitarian and other transition needs of a large number of individuals affected by an emergency or major disaster;

(2) environmentally safe and shall not pose a health risk to individuals who may use the center;

(3) capable of being scaled up or down to accommodate major disaster preparedness and response drills, operations, and procedures;

(4) capable of housing existing permanent structures necessary to meet training and first responders coordination requirements during nondisaster periods;

(5) capable of hosting the infrastructure necessary to rapidly adjust to temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance needs;

(6) required to consist of a complete operations command center, including 2 state-of-the art command and control centers that will comprise a 24/7 operations watch center as follows:

(A) one of the command and control centers shall be in full ready mode; and

(B) the other shall be used daily for training; and

(7) easily accessible at all times and be able to facilitate handicapped and medical facilities, including during an emergency or major disaster.

(c) Location of National Emergency Centers- There shall be established not fewer than one national emergency center in each of the following areas:

(1) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions I, II, and III.

(2) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region IV.

(3) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions V and VII.

(4) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VI.

(5) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions VIII and X.

(6) The area consisting of Federal Emergency Management Agency Region IX.

(d) Preference for Designation of Closed Military Installations- Wherever possible, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall designate a closed military installation as a site for a national emergency center. If the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense jointly determine that there is not a sufficient number of closed military installations that meet the requirements of subsections (b) and (c), the Secretaries shall jointly designate portions of existing military installations other than closed military installations as national emergency centers.

(e) Transfer of Control of Closed Military Installations- If a closed military installation is designated as a national emergency center, not later than 180 days after the date of designation, the Secretary of Defense shall transfer to the Secretary of Homeland Security administrative jurisdiction over such closed military installation.

(f) Cooperative Agreement for Joint Use of Existing Military Installations- If an existing military installation other than a closed military installation is designated as a national emergency center, not later than 180 days after the date of designation, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Defense shall enter into a cooperative agreement to provide for the establishment of the national emergency center.
(g) Reports-

(1) PRELIMINARY REPORT- Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting jointly with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit to Congress a report that contains for each designated site--

(A) an outline of the reasons why the site was selected;

(B) an outline of the need to construct, repair, or update any existing infrastructure at the site;

(C) an outline of the need to conduct any necessary environmental clean-up at the site;

(D) an outline of preliminary plans for the transfer of control of the site from the Secretary of Defense to the Secretary of Homeland Security, if necessary under subsection (e); and

(E) an outline of preliminary plans for entering into a cooperative agreement for the establishment of a national emergency center at the site, if necessary under subsection (f).

(2) UPDATE REPORT- Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting jointly with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit to Congress a report that contains for each designated site--

(A) an update on the information contained in the report as required by paragraph (1);

(B) an outline of the progress made toward the transfer of control of the site, if necessary under subsection (e);

(C) an outline of the progress made toward entering a cooperative agreement for the establishment of a national emergency center at the site, if necessary under subsection (f); and

(D) recommendations regarding any authorizations and appropriations that may be necessary to provide for the establishment of a national emergency center at the site.

(3) FINAL REPORT- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting jointly with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit to Congress a report that contains for each designated site--

(A) finalized information detailing the transfer of control of the site, if necessary under subsection (e);

(B) the finalized cooperative agreement for the establishment of a national emergency center at the site, if necessary under subsection (f); and

(C) any additional information pertinent to the establishment of a national emergency center at the site.

(4) ADDITIONAL REPORTS- The Secretary of Homeland Security, acting jointly with the Secretary of Defense, may submit to Congress additional reports as necessary to provide updates on steps being taken to meet the requirements of this Act.

PDF: HR 645

All of the security measures taken one at a time and individually look to be nothing more than our government providing for the common defense. When taken all together and seen through skeptical eyes, it looks like the preparation for a general take-over by marshal law, the suspension of civil liberties for the foreseeable future, and the probable abandonment of the Constitution. With the establishment of FEMA camps inside military installations, one must ask, is it to keep the citizenry safe, or to keep us fighting back?

I have a bad feeling about this.



(h/t to brother-in-law Dukedog)





The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

2 comments:

BB-Idaho said...

Just my opinion, but putting FEMA under Homeland Security was not a good idea. Quite a difference between a natural disaster and a terrorist strike..requiring quite a different response. The bigger the go'vt agency, the more it gets its fingers into stuff....

Indigo Red said...

I absolutely agree and so do many in DC. There is even talk about decoupling FEMA from DHS. That would go along way to solving some of the organizational and control problems DHS has.