Monday, May 7, 2007

"Insurrection Act" renamed and expanded

The "Insurrection Act," dating back to 1807, and providing very limited authority for a president to invoke the armed forces to put down a domestic "insurrection," last fall was greatly expanded and renamed to make it appear benign if not beneficial. The Bush Administration sought the changes ostensibly to better respond to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, but the law provides vastly more power and leeway for the executive branch to order the armed forces and National Guard into domestic service in very vaguely defined circumstances, and regardless of whether a state governor agrees. The Congress ought quickly to repeal this dangerous and unnecessary power grab.

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