A consensus seems to have formed that the national election November 3rd will be unprecedented in almost every respect, possibly including a defeated incumbent who refuses to turn over keys to the White House.

Numerous unlikely scenarios are complicated by a factor seldom discussed: presidential emergency action documents (PEADS).

Thanks largely to research conducted by scholars at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, we know there are somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and forty such documents, almost all of which are executive orders, presidential proclamations, and vote-ready legislation.  All are to be used in a national emergency declared by the president and all concentrate emergency powers in a single individual, often overriding even the U.S. Constitution itself, the president.

The origin of these documents date to the Eisenhower era shortly after the dawn of the Cold War.  The first wave of emergency powers accumulated under the rubric of Continuity of Government and might be characterized as deciding which cabinet officer or senior official went to which secret unidentified location.  The purpose was to sustain at least a semblance of government if the worst possible event, a nuclear exchange, happened.

Some of the Continuity of Government powers included military deployments, nationalizing the National Guard, and sweeping deployment of military and law enforcement units.

These powers were used by President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, particularly deploying National Guard units to airports and other vital locations, under national emergency conditions.  Following the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as strongly recommended by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (Hart-Rudman) as early as 1999, we were better prepared to thwart external terrorist attacks on America.

But secret presidential powers continued to multiply, under administrations of both parties, thereafter.  No Cold War, and limited terrorist threats.  More than 50 years’ national security experience spanning the U.S. Department of Justice and the Church Committee in 1975-76 and its successor Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee, have led me to speculate whether these latest secret powers might have been called upon to circumvent Church Committee reforms requiring administrations and intelligence services to circumvent notification of Congressional oversight committees by secret presidential authorizations of covert operations.

If so, Congressional hearings are demanded to find out what these secret powers are and why know one who knows will admit knowing or will talk about them.

In the meantime, we are six weeks away from a national election involving a president who has claimed unidentified powers that no one knows about and who has declared himself the sole arbiter of the authenticity of the outcome of the election in which he is a participant.

There is evidence that these secret powers include suspension of habeas corpus, suspension of Fourth Amendment requirements for judicial warrants for searches and seizures, and mass arrests and incarcerations.

Remember Portland a short time ago.  Unidentified units patrolled the streets during lawful protests fully armed, in military garb, driving unmarked vehicles, and making arbitrary arrests.  To this day it remains unclear whether they were units from an estimated 60,000 law enforcement and quasi-military units under the control of the Department of Homeland Security.  If so, why not be identified as such.

As one of the original creators of that new Department, this is not what we had in mind.  The purpose of that Department was to protect the United States from external threats such as 9/11, not to create a Department of secret police and intimidation of American citizens undertaking Constitutionally sanctioned activities.

All this to say, when thinking about the possible manipulation of national election complexities, also think about false-flag, right wing nationalists posing as left wing extremists creating disturbances at or near election stations in major cities, especially in minority precincts, to intimidate voters from voting and undertaking property destruction sufficient to justify a president calling upon secret emergency powers to multiply Portland style chaos on election day and night.

It is not too late for the House of Representatives to hold hearings to find out what these secret presidential powers are, how they might be used, and to alert the American people to this threat.  And it is certainly not too late for the national media to put a harsh public spotlight on exactly the president was referring to when he claimed, on several occasions, powers that no one knew about.

What exactly was he talking about?

 

Gary Hart

United States Senator (Ret.)

Member, Senate Select Committee to Study                                                                                      the Activities of U.S. Intelligence Agencies

Co-chair, U. S. Commission on National                                                                                           Security/21st Century

7 Responses to “The President, Secret Powers, and the Election”

  1. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Senator Hart,

    Thank you for putting forth this letter with your signature to it for the public to see and hear the depth of the danger that the current occupant truly poses to this nation, our Constitution, our Government, and our citizens.

    I can only ask that you also submit this letter, to the major news publications and broadcast media for full dissemination to our citizens at large.

    Thank you and as always your humble servant,

    Stephen D. Pillow

  2. Kathleen Ann Batson Says:

    Sen. Gary Hart again explains clearly that which is unknown to most of the American public, and possibilities that are more than plausible during the most turbulent time in my short 72 years on this Dear Mother Earth.

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    It’s not too late for Biden to uncover the secret of how to handle Trump. Do I need to send him a memo?

  4. Paul G Says:

    URGE THE MODERATOR TO QUESTION THE PRESIDENT ON PEADS

    Imagine the mortal danger of a doctor’s failure to make timely and accurate diagnosis of a loved one’s cancer? “PEADS” parallels the imminent threat to our republic’s life.

    Our host – who dedicated his public life to the spiritual and physical health of our assassination-suffering republic 40+ years ago including Church Committee service – asks us to question a long-hidden caesar-power cancer likely to erupt in a few weeks!

    NOW, let’s call our best Question Doctors, including Shepard Smith, Rachel Maddow, and urge them to ask “our” president: “PEADS / Secret Powers: What were you talking about?”

    To fail to act NOW, is akin to letting our loved one (our republic) die.

  5. H Patrick Pritchard Says:

    Thank you USAF Colonel (Ret) Curtis Milam (Words I wish I had written)

    I am the son of an Air Force brigadier general and served myself to the rank of colonel. Of my 57 years drawing breath, I’ve spent 51 of them directly or indirectly serving this once great nation. So, as you might imagine, I found myself on Nov. 8, 2016, more than a little dismayed at the news we had elevated Donald J. Trump to the nation’s highest office – a man so clearly unfit to lead America.

    But over time I’ve come to appreciate Trump in ways I did not expect. Now, I am thankful that we elected Trump. Because Donald Trump is exactly what America needed. Trump is a mirror, a warning, and ultimately a catalyst for change. Reflected in Trump is all that is wrong with the United States: the injustice of our broken social contract, the crassness of our politics, and the cruelty of our economy. Trump is also the shock that a mature democracy needs for action. To use a timely metaphor, Trump and his supporters are a virus, and they have activated our democratic antibodies. What we are seeing in the streets is the body fighting the infection.

    America was the first modern nation, created of, by, and for the people—supposedly a nation with no class structure, where anyone could reach their potential. But that was a myth. America had classes: slaves at the bottom—treated not as people but property—then poor and working-class whites, and atop it all our original aristocracy of landed gentry and traders in the South, merchants and industrialists in the North. We fought a civil war to end slavery but failed in its aftermath to establish the more perfect union mentioned by our Founders. What we are seeing in our current moment is not only a race war but a class war. America must confront systemic racism to move forward, but it also must acknowledge that we have created a permanent underclass of all colors (though mostly Black and brown). We are a society where your melanin content and your zip code determine your future.

    Beginning with Newt Gingrich in 1994, Republicans stopped trying to govern and instead began accumulating power. McKay Coppins writes in his profile of Gingrich in the Atlantic, “… few figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise.” Effective governance requires compromise, trust, and mutual respect. Gingrich’s new version of Republican had no interest in that. He destroyed the bipartisan structures for governing and even resorted to name-calling and conspiracy theories—over the line at the time, but in hindsight presaging Trumpism.

    A straight line can be drawn from Gingrich’s “Contract with America” to the tea party in 2009. Another outsider movement characterized by distrust of government, expertise, and experience, the tea party helped elect a rogues’ gallery of loathsome lawmakers—I’m looking at you, Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas). Trump’s dystopian vision of America is the ultimate flowering of the outsider, populist, anti-government thinking that has metastasized in the Republican Party over the past decades.

    Under both political parties, America has rolled back regulatory guardrails and created a volatile economy that values the wrong things. Executive compensation packages for publicly traded companies show that our current economic model rewards short-term financial performance, placing little value on the broader social landscape. It also encourages risky and complex structures that are susceptible to wild swings and disastrous crashes. When bailouts are needed, it’s not the wealthy who pay. The system helped create the greatest wealth disparity in the United States in 100 years. As wealth is concentrated at destabilizing levels, our tax system, according to leading economists, is increasingly regressive, pushing the burden of taxes onto the shrinking middle class.

    Over the same period, we dismantled the meager social safety net we had. We have reduced access to food aid, job training, and unemployment insurance. Meanwhile, the cost of health care and higher education has skyrocketed, placing both out of reach for many Americans.

    Now for the good news.

    Everything wrong with America is manifested in Trump. The hunger for power, the vile derision of people who don’t look like you, the cruelty, the privilege, the gleeful ignorance, and mendacious narcissism. Our revulsion at Trump is causing Americans to ask: How did we get to this place? And how do we get out? That will take time and hard work by well-intentioned people from every corner of American society.
    But the process has started.

    What is happening in our streets is how open, progressive societies improve—fitfully, imperfectly, frustratingly, sometimes tragically. But we do improve. So, thank you, President Trump. Thank you for showing us what we were becoming and helping us find the courage to confront it. We are going to be OK.

    by USAF Colonel (ret.) Curtis Milam

  6. H Patrick Pritchard Says:

    Email to The Honorable Sharice Davids (D) Kansas 3rd District (The lone Democratic Representative in Kansas who I trust)

    I am deeply concerned about an issue related to Presidential Emergency Action Documents. On his blog “Matters of Principle” former Senator Gary Hart talks about secret documents available to the President that can be implemented in times of national emergencies which suspends civil rights of citizens under the Constitution.

    According to Senator Hart. “Thanks largely to research conducted by scholars at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, we know there are somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and forty such documents, almost all of which are executive orders, presidential proclamations, and vote-ready legislation. All are to be used in a national emergency declared by the president and all concentrate emergency powers in a single individual, often overriding even the U.S. Constitution itself, the president.

    Some of the Continuity of Government powers included military deployments, nationalizing the National Guard, and sweeping deployment of military and law enforcement units.

    These powers were used by President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, particularly deploying National Guard units to airports and other vital locations, under national emergency conditions. Following the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as strongly recommended by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (Hart-Rudman) as early as 1999, we were better prepared to thwart external terrorist attacks on America.”

    Hart goes on the say “We are six weeks away from a national election involving a president who has claimed unidentified powers that no one knows about and who has declared himself the sole arbiter of the authenticity of the outcome of the election in which he is a participant.

    There is evidence that these secret powers include suspension of habeas corpus, suspension of Fourth Amendment requirements for judicial warrants for searches and seizures, and mass arrests and incarcerations.”

    The question is: “Is the House aware of these emergency documents and powers and has there been any consideration to having a hearing about them to make the public aware?”

    Trump has already used unidentified forces to quell protests in Portland, Oregon! Was that a dress rehearsal? Trump has mentioned ‘special powers’ on several occasions related to the election!

  7. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    Patrick,

    As always, thank you for your astonishing comments. It is both a pleasure and an honor to read your work and communicate with you.

    Stephen

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