Monday, September 26, 2005

Treading Cautiously

A presidential push for increased military control over responses to natural disasters probably shouldn't come as a surprise after the multi-level Katrina snafus. However, if Congress is to seriously consider such a step, they should seriously consider it. That means having hearings, drafting any such legislation with extreme narrowness, and allowing time for debate and deliberation ... not throwing together some shoddy bill so full of loopholes you can drive the 10th Mountain Division through and shoving it through the House and Senate with cursory debate and no time for consideration.

I'm wary - in fact I'm very wary - of any federal assumption of powers traditionally left to state and local officials. While I think good legislation could be drafted granting the military authority under certain well-defined circumstances, I worry about a Congress too willing to slap any fix on the problem and offering up our republic's well-established and basic principles of federalism on a silver platter in order to say they "fixed something."

I would reserve judgment on any specific proposal until I've read it - and I hope that all senators and representatives would do the same (and much much more). As Franklin said, "They that can give up their liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Of course we all want to allow as effective and efficient a government response as possible to catastrophic events - but we still must be watchful, and guard our liberties just as fiercely as we would guard our most prized material possessions.

4 Comments:

At 1:16 PM, Blogger McPherson Hall said...

Jeremy,
Isn't the real question, not whether military personnel should be used in "state" emergencies, but instead who should "command" the personnel ?
Much like in Iraq, the Bush Administration does not want to relinquish command.
When emergencies happen, the State Governor alerts to the State National Guard to get personnel deployed ... from natural disasters to searching for missing persons. In most instances, the state can handle the situation.
But, if we need more personnel here to do the job --- most likely for a very short time -- just let the State National Guard Commander take responsibility for the troops.
McPherson Hall

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger McPherson Hall said...

Jeremy,
Isn't the real question, not whether military personnel should be used in "state" emergencies, but instead who should "command" the personnel ?
Much like in Iraq, the Bush Administration does not want to relinquish command.
When emergencies happen, the State Governor alerts to the State National Guard to get personnel deployed ... from natural disasters to searching for missing persons. In most instances, the state can handle the situation.
But, if we need more personnel here to do the job --- most likely for a very short time -- just let the State National Guard Commander take responsibility for the troops.
McPherson Hall

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger Jerry said...

Given the Patriot Act garbage prompted by 9/11, I wonder what federal restrictions will result from Katrina.

Forced relocation? I wonder. Like some of the clauses in the Patriot Act, there may be narrow circumstances under which this is justified (for example, I have a lot of sympathy for the position that houses built in flood plains should not be eligible for federal relief).

But just imagine what this might be used for that is not so palatable. I mean, we already have Kelo to tell us we have no intrinsic protection against the govt taking our property; what land-taking criteria might be established by a post-Katrina rollback of rights similar to the Patriot Act? Not only can the feds take your house if a huge pharmaceutical company needs the land more than you do; they can also take it if they decide it's in an unfavorable area.

Much danger here.


(Heehee, my visual verification had a naughty word in it!)

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger Phil S said...

McPherson has it right-control is what matters. I would want a joint command led by both the state and federal commanders; with the governor having the final say. there is no reason to have a complete take-over by the feds; it has to be a shared responsibility.

 

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