Anybody Else Upset that Trump Just Threatened America With Martial Law?

by on June 2, 2020 · 5 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights

About 6:30 pm ET yesterday, June 1, 2020, President Trump – speaking for the first time publicly about the George Floyd protests – and calling himself “the president of law and order,” threatened Americans with martial law. Trump said if the governors and mayors around the country couldn’t “dominate” the protesters – who Trump called “domestic terrorists” – that he would send the US military into those states and cities.

Because “our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others,” and because “a number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents,” he would deploy the US military. “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

Think on that for a second. He would deploy American combat troops into a state that didn’t want or ask for them. Or so he threatened.

This is akin to declaring martial law. American troops are forbidden by law from being used for law enforcement domestically. But there are some slim exceptions, which we’ll get to. Also the full text of Trump’s speech is printed below.

As Trump spoke, the bang of flash-bang grenades could be heard in the background as Federal law enforcement cops – some on horseback – continued to violently herd a thousand peaceful protesters away from the White House, so he could have his photo op at the church.

When I heard this grotesque speech in real time, I became very upset and felt this was Trump’s strongest play yet for dictatorial powers. Then, accompanied by his Secretary of Defense and head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – wearing battle fatigues – Trump sauntered out for his bible-holding moment. God and law and order. This was a very dangerous show. Facing protesters who had been pushed back, Trump displayed the image one would see of a third-rate tin-horn dictator rallying his troops.

Whether Trump carries out his threat will be in the next few days future. But just that he threatened it is enough. To top it off, during that president to governors phone call that morning, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told governors of the need to “dominate the battle space” – meaning the streets of their cities in language normally used to describe foreign conflict zones, not America. Our cities are seen as “battle space.”

Trump told governors that if they don’t take back the streets and use force to confront protesters, you would look like “fools.” He said, “You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time,” he said. “They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to do retribution.” Trump urged governors to deploy their national guards in order to “dominate the streets”.

So, is anybody else upset, troubled, or scared of what Trump has just said?

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden put his finger on it when in a message on Twitter he called Trump’s remarks a “fascist speech” that “verged on a declaration of war against American citizens.” Here’s the full quote: “The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens. I fear for our country tonight and will not stop defending America against Trump’s assault.”

Let’s briefly review this. A US Senator – yes, one of the more liberal ones – just said the president delivered a “fascist speech” that “verged on a declaration of war against American citizens.” That’s not this liberal-commie, pinko OB Rag saying it – it’s a freaking US senator. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker labeled it as “An incendiary moment.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, also a Democrat, was somewhat milder in his response. He told reporters that, “A posture of a force on the ground is unsustainable militarily, it’s unsustainable socially because it’s the antithesis or how we live.”

There was other negative responses. Sen. Kamala Harris and well-known historian Jon Meacham condemned his statements as authoritarian. Harris said, “These are not the words of a president. They are the words of a dictator.” And Meacham said Trump is “drawing on the vernacular of authoritarianism” and “verging towards the ways and means of dictatorial power.”

Immediately after the speech, both Rachel Madow on MSNBC and Don Lemon on CNN were deeply troubled by Trump’s words.

Could Trump actually put into action what he threatened?

A discussion on AlterNet may be helpful:

“… what powers does Trump actually have when it comes to the use of force? Mark Nevitt, a former U.S. Navy commander who taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia, explained the limits and extent of his authority in an article for Just Security, delving into the specifics of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 as well as the Insurrection Act of 1807. …

Nevitt, analyzing Trump’s rhetoric in Just Security, explains that two questions need to be asked. The first is “Under what conditions can the president order the military to respond to Minneapolis?,” and the second is, “What are the military’s rules for the use of force — i.e., does looting justify shooting?”

Nevitt notes that Trump is “subject to certain, critical legal restrictions under both the Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act. The president is, of course, the commander-in-chief of the (U.S.) Armed Forces, but he lacks the authority to use the military in any manner that he pleases. That authority is constrained by Congress and the courts.”

Nevitt goes on to explain that the Posse Comitatus Act has “limited the president’s ability to use the federal (Title 10) military in domestic law enforcement operations such as searches, seizures and arrests.

A criminal statute, the Posse Comitatus Act makes it unlawful for the Army or Air Force to ‘execute the laws…. except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.’ So, the president cannot simply call in federal military forces or nationalize the Minnesota National Guard to quell the civil disturbance in Minneapolis without pointing to a Posse Comitatus Act exception.”

During civil unrest of the past, the National Guard was used in U.S. cities to restore order — and the National Guard is being used in U.S. cities during the current unrest. For example, the Pennsylvania National Guard, under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, is now in the streets of Philadelphia in response to all the unrest in the East Coast city. But that is way different from using federal U.S. Army troops on the streets of U.S. cities, which is what Trump has threatened to do.

The Insurrection Act, according to Nevitt, is an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act.

“The Insurrection Act is, by far, the Posse Comitatus Act’s most important exception,” Nevitt explains. “This is the legal key that unlocks the door to use federal military forces — whether through federalizing the National Guard or calling in ‘Title 10 forces’ to quell civil unrest.”

Nevitt looks back on the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 and the response of Republican Pete Wilson, California’s governor at the time.

“In requesting federal troops to patrol Los Angeles,” Nevitt notes, “Wilson specified that the California National Guard lacked the ability to quell the domestic disturbance. Shortly thereafter, (President George H.W.) Bush issued an executive order, which authorized the defense secretary to federalize the California National Guard and deploy active-duty Army and Marine personnel from bases in California to the scenes of the riots.”

The Insurrection Act was passed 213 years ago, and according to Nevitt, it has seldom been used.

“In sum, invoking the Insurrection Act remains a rare occurrence in U.S. history, used in the most extraordinary circumstances, such as the complete disregard for enforcing federal civil rights laws or massive unrest in the nation’s second largest city,” Nevitt writes. “Despite the Insurrection Act’s invocation in Los Angeles, it has not been used in 28 years.”

AlterNet

Now this is reassuring – Pentagon officials noted that Trump had not actually invoked the 19th century Insurrection Act. The law requires a statement that there is an insurrection and the insurrectionists must be given some time to return to their “abodes.”

What’s not reassuring are Trump’s actual words – so here they are; tell me what you think.

Here is the text of Trump’s June 1 rose garden speech:

Thank you very much. My fellow Americans, my first and highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people. I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and that is exactly what I will do. All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain, but we cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protestors to be drown out by an angry mob. The biggest victims of the rioting are peace loving citizens in our poorest communities and as their president, I will fight to keep them safe. I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters. But in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others.

A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents. Innocent people have been savagely beaten like the young man in Dallas, Texas, who was left dying on the street or the woman in upstate New York, viciously attacked by dangerous thugs. Small business owners have seen the dreams utterly destroyed. New York’s finest have been hit in the face with bricks, brave nurses who have battled the virus are afraid to leave their homes. A police precinct has been overrun here in the nation’s Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set a blaze. A federal officer in California, an African American enforcement hero was shot and killed. These are not acts of peaceful protest, these are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity and a crime against God.

America needs creation not destruction, cooperation not contempt, security not anarchy, healing not hatred, justice not chaos. This is our and we will succeed 100% we will succeed. Our country always wins. That is why I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America. I am mobilizing all available, federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights. Therefore, the following measures are going into effect immediately. First, we are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country. We will end it now. Today I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the national guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets, mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled.

If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them. I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great Capitol Washington DC. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement offices to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism assaults and the wanton destruction of property. We are putting everybody on warning our seven o’clock curfew will be strictly enforced. Those who threatened innocent life and property will be arrested, detained and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail.

This includes Antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence. One law and order and that is what it is. One law, we have one beautiful law and once that is restored and fully restored, we will help you, we will help your business and we will help your family. America is founded upon the rule of law. It is the of our prosperity, our freedom and our very way of life, but where there is no law, there is no opportunity, where there is no justice there is no Liberty, where there is no safety there is no future. We must never give in to anger or hatred if malice or violence rains, then none of us is free. I take these actions today with firm resolve and with a true and passionate love for our country by far our greatest days lie ahead. Thank you very much and now I’m going to pay my respects to a very, very special place. Thank you very much.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Douglas Porter June 2, 2020 at 2:18 pm

BREAKING: Administration celebrates anniversary of Tienanmen Square by flooding DC with armed cars on (for real!) primary election day. Late voters may be arrested for curfew violations.

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Avatar Bearded OBcean June 3, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Eh, poor analogy. Whatever you think of the small-handed narcissist in the White House, we’re a far cry from totalitarian China.

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Avatar Geoff Page June 2, 2020 at 4:25 pm

t-rump is bad enough but what angers me is that the people in his party support him just because they want to hold onto their jobs. Where is the morality Republicans? When is enough enough? How can you live with yourselves or look at yourselves in a mirror? This man is an idiot and he is your standard bearer? This is purely self-preservation, right and wrong be damned. Your children should be ashamed of you.

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Avatar Ol OB Hippie June 2, 2020 at 11:02 pm

Geez. What a bumbling dictator we have.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie June 3, 2020 at 10:46 am

Sec. of Defense Esper is walking some of it back: Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Wednesday that he does not support the use of active-duty military forces in quelling countrywide unrest at this time — a statement that puts him at odds with President Trump, who has threatened to send troops into U.S. cities. Washington Post

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