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Obama grants himself the power to seize private facilities to shut down civilian communications

By Benjamin Gaul

President Barack Obama quietly signed his name to an Executive Order on Friday, July 6th, allowing the White House to control all private communications in the country in the name of “national security.”

President Obama released his latest Executive Order on Friday, July 6th. A 2,205-word statement, offered as the “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions.” Although the president chose not to commemorate the signing with much fanfare, the powers he provides to himself and the federal government under the latest order are among the most far-reaching yet of any of his executive decisions.

The language of the Order was designed to sound innocuous enough, but it is also vague enough to allow it to be applied to anyone, at any time on a whim. Who are WE to know or decide if something involves National Security, after all? This is in stark contrast to the very specific Bush doctrine of tapping individual cell phone conversations of known terrorist associates residing in America when they were calling over seas. If that practice made you upset, Obama’s new Executive Order should make you explode.

“The Federal Government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions,” the president begins the order. “Survivable, resilient, enduring and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; State, local, territorial and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies and other nations.”

President Obama adds that it is necessary for the government to be able to reach anyone in the country during situations it considers critical, writing, “Such communications must be possible under all circumstances to ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies and improve national resilience.”

Later, the president explains that such could be done by establishing a “joint industry-Government center that is capable of assisting in the initiation, coordination, restoration and reconstitution of NS/EP [national security and emergency preparedness] communications services or facilities under all conditions of emerging threats, crisis or emergency.” Which means an entire new bureaucracy must be built, staffed and over-funded.

On the government’s official website for the National Communications Systems, the government explains that the “infrastructure includes wireline, wireless, satellite, cable and broadcasting, and provides the transport networks that support the Internet and other key information systems,” suggesting that the president has indeed effectively just allowed himself to control the country’s Internet access.

In Section 5 of his order, President Obama outlines the specific department and agency responsibilities, which will see through his demands. The outline explains that the Executive Committee, which will oversee his order, must be supplied with “the technical support necessary to develop and maintain plans adequate to provide for the security and protection of NS/EP communications,” and that the same body will be in tasked with dispatching communiqués “to the Federal Government and State, local, territorial and trial governments,” by means of “commercial, Government and privately-owned communications resources.”

In explaining the order further, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) writes that the president has authorized the DHS “the authority to seize private facilities when necessary, effectively shutting down or limiting civilian communications.” This includes all telecommunications, postal service, public radio broadcasts, CB and HAM radios, Internet access and all other electronic forms of communication.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” -Benjamin Franklin

Is this Big Brother or the seeds of Skynet?

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