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WHO KNEW? Jeb Bush signed Florida TWO YEAR emergency order 4 days BEFORE ATTACK
Those words, as frightening as they are shocking, headlined one of several Internet articles that appeared in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Published Sept. 24 on PsyOpNews, the article unequivocally proclaimed:
“Seems like everybody and his uncle knew about this attack in advance. Inside traders and governments and even good ol’ Jeb Bush. He took over Florida four days before the attack. Bye, bye Florida. Hello, General Jeb.” Then challenged, “Now, how many states does that leave us in the Union?”
In a similar vein, Jeff Rense on Sept. 23 ran a piece on his website, www.rense.com, headed “Jeb Declared Martial Law In FL On 9-7.” Two days earlier, at Lawgiver.org readers were provided with details about “Martial Law in Florida.”
“In case you haven’t figured it out, Florida is under martial law and will remain so until this EO (executive order) is revoked,” the author stated bluntly.
The articles sparked a flurry of e-mails to WorldNetDaily. Did we know that the governor “immediately” after the Trade Center’s second tower fell had issued an executive order, with no termination date, declaring a state of emergency? Did we know that the governor had made the interim head of the Division of Emergency Management into a czar of anti-terrorist operations, giving him the power to seize land and personal property and order people evacuated from their homes? Were we aware that Bush had mobilized the National Guard just four days earlier?
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
WorldNetDaily investigated. The articles provided links directly to the executive orders themselves, and these were exactly as described. Bush, through Executive Order 01-261, had activated units of the Florida National Guard on Sept. 7, four days before the kamikaze assault on the Trade Center. His second executive order, EO 01-262, did in fact delegate awesome powers to a non-elected official, the interim head of the Division of Emergency Management, the agency responsible for implementing Florida’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Moreover, the governor issued it shortly after the attacks, strongly suggesting he had been apprised of events ahead of time and was ready to sign the order with a stroke of his pen as soon as he received an appropriate signal.
There was just one problem with the scenario: As of late September, there were no reports in either the press or on the Internet of properties being seized, of people being rousted from their beds and hauled away in the dead of night, or of soldiers patrolling the streets of Tallahassee, Tampa and other Florida cities. Although the
“Absolutely not,” exclaimed Jim Loftus of the Division of Emergency Management, when asked if the state of Florida was under martial law.
“The governor [in EO 01-262] invoked Florida Department of Law Enforcement the “operational authority to coordinate and direct the law enforcement resources of any and all state, regional and local governmental agencies …” and placed all law enforcement resources under the operational authority of FDLE as long as the order is in effect, which by statute is limited to 60 days unless the governor extends it or the legislature revokes it. This means the EO will expire Nov. 11.
William “Craig” Fugate, head of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management
William “Craig” Fugate, then-interim director, now director, of the Division of Emergency Management, an agency within the Department of Community Affairs, was designated state coordinating officer and delegated numerous powers to be exercised “as needed to meet this emergency.” These include:
- “The authority to suspend the effect of any statute or rule governing the conduct of state business, and the further authority to suspend the effect of any order or rule of any governmental entity … any and all statutes and rules which affect … the conditions of employment and the compensation of employees. …
- “The authority to direct all state, regional and local governmental agencies, including law enforcement agencies, to identify personnel needed from those agencies to assist in meeting the needs created by this emergency, and to place all such personnel under the direct command of the State Coordinating Officer to meet this emergency; (emphasis added)
- “The authority to seize and utilize any and all real and personal property as needed to meet this emergency, subject always to the duty of the State to compensate the owner;
- “The authority to order the evacuation of any and all persons from any location in the State of Florida, and the authority to regulate the movement of any or all persons to or from any location in the State. …”
The adjutant general was ordered to “activate the Florida National Guard for the duration of this emergency,” and the National Guard was placed under the direction of the state coordinating officer (Craig Fugate) for the duration of the emergency.
“… all statutes, rules and orders are hereby suspended … to the extent that literal compliance with [them] may be inconsistent with the timely performance of emergency response functions,” the order states.
In reviewing the history of this EO, with its awesome grants of authority, what was noteworthy was not the speed with which Bush’s aides were able to produce it for his signature, but the fact that similar executive orders – each declaring a state of emergency and with identical grants of authority – had been issued over half a dozen times in the past three years, with Florida residents apparently oblivious to the fact.
The powers delegated to Fugate, as director of the Emergency Management Division, were taken verbatim from Title XVII of the Florida Code and placed in a generic executive order to be issued whenever floods, extensive wildfires, a tropical storm or hurricane threaten the state. The relevant code sections were drafted following the devastation by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which left 41 persons dead, 300,000 temporarily homeless and caused $25 billion in property damage, making Andrew Florida’s most costly hurricane.
This year the governor declared three hurricane-related states of emergency, the first on Aug. 6 in the face of Hurricane Barry. Preparations for evacuations were made in several counties. Then, on Sept. 13, as Tropical Storm Gabrielle was heading towards Florida, he declared a state of emergency with EO 01-268, an order that is essentially a replica of the ones dealing with terrorism or Hurricane Barry. A state of emergency was also announced during wildfires in January and February.
In the year 2000, states of emergency were declared for Tropical Storm Helene (Sept. 21), Tropical Storm Gordon (Sept. 13), and rainfall and flooding in Miami-Dade Country (Oct. 4).
In 1999, Bush’s first year in office, there were Tropical Storm Harvey (Sept. 20) and Hurricanes Floyd (Sept. 13) and Irene (Dec. 1).
All these events conjured forth the boilerplate EO designating the Division of Emergency Management as the lead agency of operations, ordering the adjutant general to activate the National Guard and placing the National Guard under the control of the state coordinating officer, the head of the Emergency Management Division.
Likewise, former-Gov. Lawton Chiles during his two terms in office had declared states of emergency for hurricanes and other threats. Though referring to the statutes, his executive orders did not explicitly spell out the powers granted to the state coordinating officer.
Guard has no arrest powers
Jon Myatt, public affairs officer with the Florida Department of Military Affairs, the National Guard’s home agency, discussed with WorldNetDaily the role of the Guard and its relationship with other agencies during these recurrent states of emergency and whether the recent call-up constituted martial law.
“The governors have the authority to use the Florida National Guard to augment their law enforcement, but that’s not martial law,” said Myatt emphatically.
In his words: “When the governor declares a state of emergency and calls out the National Guard, all that means is we’re to guard our humanitarian and security roles. For guidance, instruction and direction, we fall under the lead agency within the state. In the case of an emergency, that’s the Division of Emergency Management, and in the case of security, it’s the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Because those agencies are run by civilians who are appointed by the governor, it is civilian control of the military. All we are is the labor for executing a part of law enforcement that already exists.”
Myatt stressed that the National Guard is in a “support role” to local law enforcement, and has no powers to arrest and hold.
“We have the ability to detain, but not to arrest and charge,” he explained. “To ‘detain’ is when there’s an incident or someone threatens the life or safety or property of the facilities or area where our Guardsmen are assigned to protect or guard. We can stop and detain a person, but then civilian law enforcement has to come in to arrest and charge. ‘Arrested’ means you’re brought to the station, ‘charged’ means that charges are lodged against you. We don’t have any of that authority. We only have the authority to detain somebody until civilian law enforcement arrives. … We’re only providing safety; so we can help to deconflict an incident to get it under control, but civilian law enforcement has to take it from there.
“Look to the root word: martial. That means the military would be the power in control, and that is simply not the case. We fall under civilian authority. But people will see a military person out there and they think it’s martial law – but martial law is when the government has been taken over by the military and the military runs the law enforcement and security effort for a state or a country. That’s not happened here.”
Martial law in the classroom
WorldNetDaily contacted Rev. Chuck Baldwin, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., and host of the radio talk show “Chuck Baldwin Live.” Baldwin is not one to dismiss allegations of martial law lightly. In April 1999, he denounced on the air a mock takeover of a nearby school by military troops.
“Does anyone remember the good old days when schools taught reading, writing and arithmetic?” he asked his radio audience at that time. “Nowadays, they teach political correctness, cultural Marxism and martial law. That’s right, martial law.
“It seems that last week at the Hobbs Middle School in Milton, Fla., a mock military takeover was staged to demonstrate martial law. I am not making it up. Military personnel from the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard took part. The exercise began when these words thundered over the school intercom system: ‘Military personnel, take your classrooms.’ A Navy lieutenant who participated said, ‘We’re going for shock value.’ The occupying force then proceeded to take over the teaching assignment for the day. Shock value? I guess so,” declared the outraged minister.
Asked about the concerns regarding the governor’s recent executive orders, Baldwin told WorldNetDaily he was frankly surprised when he heard about them from some of his listeners.
“Jeb Bush is the most truly conservative member of the entire Bush family,” he said. “He comes across as very kindhearted, even humble.”
Baldwin confirmed that apart from the wording of EO 01-262, which he views as very problematic, there have been no reports of military activity of the kind conducted by federal forces at Hobbs Middle School during the early days of Bush’s administration and the final months of President Clinton’s.
“I think we have a good man, and I do not think he would intentionally abuse the authority of his office,” Baldwin remarked.
Chiles’ EOs same powers as Bush’s
Edward Fleming, a Pensacola, Fla., attorney and a Bush appointee to the Judicial Nomination Commission, concurred with Baldwin’s opinion about the character of the governor and applauded his actions to date.
“I’d echo Chuck’s view of the governor,” said Fleming. “I think he’s the best governor I’ve ever seen.”
Fleming said there was no real difference in degree of potential powers between the executive orders of Chiles and Bush, even though those by Bush appear to grant more extensive authority to certain government officials and agencies.
“Declaring a state of emergency gives the governor certain powers under certain statutes,” Fleming explained. “But in Bush’s executive orders, these powers are delineated, not concealed and made obscure as they were under Chiles.
“Chiles’ executive orders contain the same powers that Bush’s have, because once a governor declares a state of emergency whatever provisions are within the statutes are deemed to be known to all citizens and therefore incorporated therein. All Bush is doing is making it much clearer what that means, versus the obscurity that was there with the executive orders of the last governor.”
Fleming defended the power of the governor and the agencies to act quickly in specific situations.
“When there is something that could create a state of anarchy, such as terrorists sprinkling anthrax over Florida cities or putting bacteria and stuff into our water supplies, the government has to have the authority to act decisively,” he said. “If people need to evacuate an area for the life and safety of everyone, then the police have to have the ability to order that. If the police have to take over the top floor of a building to put in snipers to take out terrorists who are in another building threatening to ignite a nuclear device, they have to have the ability and power to do that.”
But Fleming emphasized that powers of this magnitude must be “carefully guarded and judiciously used to make sure the Bill of Rights and the property rights and other basic rights are not trampled on,” and he expressed concern about present actions at the federal level, such as the anti-terrorism bills with their intrusive surveillance powers.
“We’re proceeding with breakneck speed right now with some of the legislation in Congress, without really giving much thought to the potential for abuse of those powers by a dishonorable chief executive,” he warned. “That’s what’s making me nervous. Regardless of what confidence you might have in our current administration, you have to realize that there have been other administrations in very recent years that I certainly wouldn’t trust with those powers.”
“The state of Florida is the least of our worries,” he said. “I don’t see anything happening here in Florida to worry me at this time, but I do see some things at the national level.”
Infrastructure for oppression
But Don Harkins, editor and publisher of the Idaho Observer, a monthly conservative newspaper, fears there is plenty to be concerned about on the local as well as national level. He was interested – though not surprised – to learn that executive orders similar to EO 01-262 had been issued in the past and continue to be issued, and that the citizens of Florida were essentially unaware of the fact. While there may be no immediate danger in Florida of abuse of power by the governor and his officials, the “infrastructure” for an oppressive government is, in Harkins view, “in place,” and the potential for abuse is very real. But then, Florida is not unique in this respect, he said.
Three years ago, Harkins had tried to alert his readers across the country to take note of what was happening in their own communities and state legislatures. Cities were passing ordinances granting city managers – who are appointed, not elected, officials – the power to declare states of emergency, and provisions were being placed in state statutes granting extraordinary powers to governors and agency personnel. He asked readers to check their county ordinances and state codes to see exactly what was in place and to send him the results so an overview could be developed. Few responded.
“I was very disappointed,” Harkins recalled. “People wanted to complain about Bill Clinton, but only a few were willing to take the trouble to go to the library and find out what powers had already been granted so they’d know what to expect in the case of a really serious emergency.”
In his view, “We should be looking at the ordinances at the city and county, at the governments close to home. All the mechanisms are in place, with overlapping law-enforcement jurisdictions, non-elected people moved into managerial positions and given incredible, fundamentally legislative authority. We’re in deep trouble in terms of the infrastructure already being laid to oppress people or even to impose a martial law-style of regime. It’s happening in every state – even at the city and county level, and people are hardly aware of it.”
The ratcheting up of power
Robert Higgs – author of the classic 1987 study, “Crisis and Leviathan: Episodes in the Growth of American Government,” and a senior fellow of the Independent Institute, a non-profit, public-policy research organization in Oakland, Calif. – has spent years analyzing the conditions and circumstances that prompt sharp expansions in government power at the expense of the rights of citizens. Higgs has shown that it is at times of crisis, such as war, an economic collapse or other turmoil, that government powers increase exponentially – “ratcheted” is the term he uses. But when the crisis is passed, while there is some “ratcheting down,” conditions never return to the point they were before the crisis; there is always less freedom than formerly.
Did Higgs see any problems or possible threats to liberty in Florida or elsewhere through the kind of declaration of a state of emergency issued by Bush?
“That would depend entirely on the circumstances under which it was issued,” he answered. “As you’ve discovered, some of these governors’ orders are fairly routine. They are usually issued in the event of a catastrophe, a natural disaster of some kind. In those cases, it is a way of triggering some additional state resources and also of creating conditions through which a state can request federal assistance, things of that sort.
“I don’t think there’s anything grave about the normal way in which state governors exercise those powers,” he explained. “But in conditions such as those that exist at the moment, they could be grave because we’re not dealing with a natural catastrophe but with a threat from abroad that has got in among us, which is the ideal condition for frightening the people. [It is] also potentially a condition in which a state government or the national government might take extraordinary measures that would be very damaging to our liberties.
“So I think the present circumstances are potentially more a cause for concern than we are accustomed to,” he said.
Americans, he said, should be “very much concerned” about a potential loss of liberty at this time, because “as a general proposition, given what has happened historically, these kinds of emergencies have been the occasion for all sorts of mischief, and we would be well-advised to watch what the government does at every level – local and state, as well as federal.
“It’s much more dangerous when extraordinary powers are exercised at the federal level, but that doesn’t mean the state powers are harmless,” Higgs said. “Any time executive officers exercise extraordinary police powers there is reason to be concerned. It means that we don’t have the ordinary checks and balances, we don’t have the usual procedures for the government to exercise its powers or the usual protections.
“It’s a time to watch out,” he warned.