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With Little Notice, Leahy Pushes Through Repeal of a Scary Bush Power Grab

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(From a Green Mtn Daily crosspost... sorry, I don't have all the links to these articles available yet)

(UPDATED - with link fixes, and a couple tweaks for specificity)

Gone virtually unnoticed by the media was a true rarity: a Bush power grab, pushed through by the previous Republican Congress actually rolled back.

And yes, it took dragging the appropriate Democratic leadership into action - in this case, the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Here's the GMD diary from back in early 2007:

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Of the many disturbing things this President and his GOP Congress did, this was one of the more chilling. Passed and signed into law in a very hush-hush manner, the law opens up the door for Bush to use the National Guard and other military forces domestically for almost any purpose he might deem appropriate.

The "Insurrection Act Rider" was pushed by then-House Chairman Duncan Hunter, and the GOP leadership in the Senate picked it up. Leahy made a lot of noise about it at the time, but the Republican lockstep was in full play.

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At the time, the public support for Leahy was not nearly loud enough, even though he was working with Governors and National Guard leadership. It's not an issue that got enough ink, picked up by only a few B and C list blogs (like us) and given perfunctory notice in traditional press outlets. To large extent, that was probably due to outrage fatigue. Whatever the case, with little outcry, Bush acquired unprecedented, direct control over individual State's National Guards. From a FAIR article by Richard Kubey:

News coverage of these significant changes in the law has been virtually nonexistent. At nearly every stage when it might have received coverage, the news media have completely ignored the story: When the NDAA was debated, when it was passed in the House on September 29 and in the Senate on Sept. 30, 2006, when it was signed into law on October 17, and even when Senate Judiciary chair Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) introduced his own bill on February 7, 2007 to overturn the Oct. 17 measures, mainstream media have provided no news coverage. Only on April 24, 2007, when the first hearings were held on Leahy's bill, did a handful of mainstream media reports appear.

What could happen under the new law? As just one example, let's say hundreds of demonstrators in Boston engaged in civil disobedience, sitting-in on the Boston Common to protest the country's policies in Iraq, and traffic ground to a halt. Under the new law, the president could order in the Massachusetts National Guard to clear out the protesters even if the Massachusetts governor opposed this.

Indeed, the president could order the Guard of any state into any other state-even if the governors of both states objected.

So it was on the books, meaning a repeal would be necessary to change what was now the law of the land. Let's be clear; nobody up there likes to advocate for these kinds of defense policy changes. It's rolling the boulder uphill. That opens you up to all the soft on islamofascists/commies/moon-men stuff. As such, there is a lot of inertia in play once a policy like that is in place. Also, as we all know, Bush does not generally give an inch on any of his power grabs. Here s the statement on Administration Policy regarding the repeal attempt:

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

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Repeal of Modification to Insurrection Act: The Administration strongly
opposes section 1054, which could be perceived as significantly
restricting a congressionally-granted authority for the President to
direct the Secretary of Defense to preserve life and property and by
limiting the President's authority to call upon the Reserves. Such a
result would be detrimental to the President's ability to employ the
Armed Forces effectively to respond to the major public emergencies
contemplated by the statute

Bt Leahy persisted, after its initial passage, in his repeal attempt, despite being rebuffed by now-Armed Services Committee Chair, Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan. With GOP Senator Kit Bond, he introduced a repealer bill shortly after the Dems took over Congress, with few expecting that it would be touched. It was only through dogged persistence that got it done, holding hearings and bringing in testimony and support from the governors and from the Guard community. He also continued to work Levin of the Senate Armed Services and his GOP counterpart, Senator John Warner (R-VA), who chaired the committee when the rider was originally passed.

And in the end, Leahy got the right people front and center before his committee. From Newsday Rogin at CQ:

Upon learning of the change, infuriated governors, National Guard
associations and local law enforcement groups mounted a campaign to
repeal the language, which they say usurps state authority and damages
domestic disaster response.

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odum (John Odum) Publisher, founder John is a longtime political activist. A Kentucky native, John has been an Organizer for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon Fair Share and the "No On 13" Campaign (Save Our Communities PAC), and did (more...)
 

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With Little Notice, Leahy Pushes Through Repeal of a Scary Bush Power Grab