National Guard Control Argued




 
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National Guard Control Argued
 
April 25th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: National Guard Control Argued


National Guard Control Argued
Tacoma News Tribune
April 25, 2007
States oppose president's new power to deploy units in emergencies
By Les Blumenthal, The News Tribune
WASHINGTON – Congress needs to roll back a “hastily conceived and ill-advised” provision in last year’s defense bill that gave President Bush expanded authority to federalize the National Guard, Washington state’s top military official testified Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, the state’s adjutant general, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the provision has “no DNA, no fingerprints, no one claiming credit. But it gives the president sweeping power to take control of the Guard in a domestic situation without approval of a governor.”
Lowenberg wasn’t alone in criticizing the provision. The nation’s governors, along with the adjutant generals of all states and various law enforcement groups, unanimously oppose the change in the century-old Insurrection Act.
“This a serious problem,” said North Carolina Gov. Michael Easley, who leads National Guard issues for the National Governors Association. “There should not be a tug of war between the governors and the president.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., have launched a bipartisan effort to rescind the provision.
“As with so much else this administration has done, this is a raw expansion of presidential power,” Leahy said in his opening statement.
Bond said the provision was “ill-conceived and dumb.” He said it gave the president authority to usurp the powers of the governors when it came to the National Guard.
Presidents do have the authority to federalize and send units of the Guard overseas. Roughly 6,500 of the 8,500 members of the Washington National Guard, including members of the 81st Combat Brigade, have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lowenberg said the 81st is now scheduled to deploy again in 2010 rather than 2009 as originally planned. But the 2010 date could change, he emphasized.
Until last year, a president could federalize the Guard in a domestic emergency without a governor’s approval only if it involved an insurrection. But that was changed in the 2006 defense bill to include terrorist attack, natural disaster, disease outbreak and undefined “other conditions.”
Easley and Lowenberg said the governors and the adjutant generals weren’t asked about the change.
“It is a hastily conceived and ill-advised step backward,” Lowenberg said. “It openly invites disharmony, confusion and fracturing of what should be a united effort at the very time when states and territories need federal assistance – not a federal takeover – in responding to state and local emergencies.”
According to some reports, the provision was inserted into the defense authorization bill last year by Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, who was then chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, who was then the ranking Democrat on the committee. Warner and Levin reportedly said the provision would “clarify” existing law and wouldn’t give the president additional powers at the expense of the governors.
Regardless, Lowenberg said the provision was added without a hearing and without consultation.
“One hundred years of law and policy were changed without any publicly or privately acknowledged author or proponent of change,” he said. “As written, it does not require the president to contact, confer or collaborate in any way with a governor before seizing control of a state’s National Guard forces.”
In addition to being deployed overseas, the Washington state National Guard has been deployed by the governor mostly to help in natural disasters. But it was also deployed in 1999 during the World Trade Organization riots in Seattle.
Lowenberg said he was concerned that if the president federalized the National Guard during a domestic emergency it would cause confusion for state and local law enforcement officials and disrupt plans that called for deploying the Guard locally.
 


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