Declarations of Emergency: Setting the Record Straight
There is great confusion about what Presidential declarations of emergency are currently in effect. After independently researching the issue myself, I have found the answer.
It is clear that pre-9/11 declarations of national emergency have authorized martial law. For example, as summarized by a former fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation, and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gary Schlarbaum Award for Lifetime Defense of Liberty, Thomas Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty and Templeton Honor Rolls Award on Education in a Free Society:
In 1973, the Senate created a Special Committee on the Termination of the National Emergency (subsequently redesignated the Special Committee on National Emergencies and Delegated Emergency Powers) to investigate the matter and to propose reforms. Ascertaining the continued existence of four presidential declarations of national emergency, the Special Committee (U.S. Senate 1973, p. iii) reported:"These proclamations give force to 470 provisions of Federal law. . . . taken together, [they] confer enough authority to rule the country without reference to normal constitutional processes. Under the powers delegated by these statutes, the President may: seize property; organize and control the means of production; seize commodities; assign military forces abroad; institute martial law; seize and control all transportation and communications; regulate the operation of private enterprise; restrict travel; and, in a plethora of particular ways, control the lives of all American citizens."
The above-described Senate report states that many of the declarations of emergency still in effect declared 40 years earlier, and had never been rescinded.
Most or all of the emergency powers referred to by the above-quoted 1973 Senate report were actually revoked in the late 1970's by 50 U.S.C. Section 1601.
However, presidents have made numerous declarations of emergency since then, and the declarations made by President Bush in September 2001 are still in effect.
On September 11, 2001, the government declared a state of emergency. That declared state of emergency was formally put in writing on 9/14/2001:
"A national emergency exists by reason of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, and the Pentagon, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, I hereby declare that the national emergency has existed since September 11, 2001 . . . ."
That declared state of emergency has continued in full force and effect from 9/11 to the present. For example, the White House website states:
"Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, the Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines flight 93, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.
Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, last extended on September 5, 2006, and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2007. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat."
A separate announcement on the White House website states:
"Because the actions of these persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the United States, the national emergency declared on September 23, 2001, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond September 23, 2007. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism."
See also this.
It is also clear that the White House has kept substantial information concerning its presidential proclamations and directives hidden from Congress. For example, according to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy:
"Of the 54 National Security Presidential Directives issued by the [George W.] Bush Administration to date, the titles of only about half have been publicly identified. There is descriptive material or actual text in the public domain for only about a third. In other words, there are dozens of undisclosed Presidential directives that define U.S. national security policy and task government agencies, but whose substance is unknown either to the public or, as a rule, to Congress."