America – Under A Permanent State Of National Emergency Since 1933
If you, like many recently, are concerned about the possibility of living under a ‘state of emergency’, or ‘martial law’ being declared in America, then perhaps it’s time to grab your favorite snack (healthy, of course) and sit down for a little history lesson.
Don’t worry about martial law being declared anytime soon. The fact is, American’s have been living under a permanent state of emergency since 1933 and the Roosevelt administration. Actually, many states of emergencies.
Every President since Roosevelt has used these proclamations for the sole purpose of maintaining and extending their own unconstitutional, Caesar-like powers, and those Executive powers continue to increase. In fact, since 1976, every President has either proclaimed new, or reaffirmed an existing state of national emergency.
If you want to know why nothing ever seems to change in Washington, no matter which political party is currently in power, I recommend starting here…then get the book! – Joel
A Permanent State Of National Emergency
by Greg Loren Durand
The Admissions of the Ninety-Third Congress
In the United States at the present time… [p]ractically all the sovereign rights and powers of the smaller political units — all of them that are significant enough to be worth absorbing — have been absorbed by the federal unit; nor is this all. State power has not only been thus concentrated at Washington, but it has been so far concentrated into the hands of the Executive that the existing regime is a regime of personal government. It is nominally republican, but actually monocratic; a curious anomaly, but highly characteristic of a people little gifted with intellectual integrity….
This regime was established by a coup d’Etat of a new and unusual kind, practicable only in a rich country. It was effected, not by violence, like Louis-Napoleon’s, or by terrorism, like Mussolini’s, but by purchase. It therefore presents what might be called an American variant of the coup d’Etat. Our national legislature was not suppressed by force of arms, like the French Assembly in 1851, but was bought out of its functions with public money…. This is a most remarkable phenomenon; possibly nothing quite like it ever took place; and its character and implications deserve the most careful attention.(1)
One does not have to rely upon conjecture or specious conspiracy theories to substantiate the assertions contained in the above quote. Indeed, the subjugation of the American people by their leaders “for filthy lucre’s sake” is a matter of public record. It is also clear that those in positions of authority know exactly what they are doing and how they have come to possess the power to do it. For example, in late 1973, the Ninety-Third Congress formed the Special Committee on the Termination of the National Emergency.(2) Co-chaired by Senators Charles Mathias Jr. and Frank Church, the purpose of the Committee, as stated in its report entitled Emergency Powers Statutes — otherwise known as Senate Report 93-549 — was “to examine the consequences of terminating the declared states of national emergency that now prevail; to recommend what steps the Congress should take to ensure that the termination can be accomplished without adverse effect upon the necessary tasks of governing; and, also, to recommend ways in which the United States can meet future emergency situations with speed and effectiveness but without relinquishment of congressional oversight and control.”(3) Furthermore, the Committee was charged with the task of determining “the most reasonable ways to restore normalcy to the operations of our Government.”(4)
What was this national emergency which required termination in 1973 before the normal operations of the U.S. Government could be restored? The very first sentence in the “Foreword” of Senate Report 93-549 provided the answer: “Since March 9, 1933, the United States has been in a state of declared national emergency.”(5) What the Senate Special Committee was admitting was that the national emergency of the Great Depression, in which the American people lost what was left of their constitutional liberties to Roosevelt’s socialist “New Deal” democracy, was still active forty years later, long after the economic crisis had ended. Even more astonishing are the following admissions:
In fact, there are now in effect four presidentially proclaimed states of national emergency: In addition to the national emergency declared by President Roosevelt in 1933, there are also the national emergency proclaimed by President Truman on December 16, 1950, during the Korean conflict, and the states of national emergency declared by President Nixon on March 23, 1970, and August 15, 1971.
These proclamations give force to 470 provisions of Federal law. These hundreds of statutes delegate to the President extraordinary powers, ordinarily exercised by Congress, which affect the lives of American citizens in a host of all-encompassing manners. This vast range of powers, taken together, confer enough authority to rule this 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 communication; regulate the operation of private enterprise; restrict travel; and, in a plethora of particular ways, control the lives of all American citizens.(6)
When compared with the limited confederated system chartered by our forefathers in the Constitution of 1787, the Government described above appears much like an Orwellian nightmare of centralized despotism. This means that while the country’s young men were overseas supposedly fighting to “make the world safe for democracy” in the second World War, in the Korean War, and in the Vietnam War, Americans themselves were being deprived of the most basic constitutional liberties by their own Government. In its “Introduction,” Senate Report 93-549 went on to state:
A majority of the people of the United States have lived all their lives under emergency rule. For almost 40 years, freedoms and governmental procedures guaranteed by the Constitution have, in varying degrees, been abridged by laws brought in force by states of national emergency. The problem of how a constitutional democracy reacts to great crises, however, far antedates the Great Depression. As a philosophical issue, its origins reach back to the Greek city-states and the Roman Republic. And, in the United States, actions taken by the Government in times of great crises have — from, at least, the Civil War — in important ways shaped the present phenomenon of a permanent state of national emergency….(7)
Over the next two pages, the report briefly discussed Woodrow Wilson’s efforts to “expand executive emergency powers enormously” during the first World War. As mentioned in Chapter Twenty, it was declared at that time that a national emergency could only be met by the President acting as “supreme dictator.” The astute reader should not be surprised to read the observation that “this expansion of powers in wartime was based on precedents set by Lincoln decades earlier.”(8) The report continued:
Over the course of at least the last 40 years, then, Presidents have had available an enormous — seemingly expanding and never-ending — range of emergency powers. Indeed, at their fullest extent and during the height of a crisis, these “prerogative” powers appear to be virtually unlimited…. Because Congress and the public are unaware of the extent of emergency powers, there has never been any notable congressional or public objection made to this state of affairs. Nor have the courts imposed significant limitations.
During the New Deal, the Supreme Court initially struck down much of Roosevelt’s emergency economic legislation [citation omitted]. However, political pressures, a change in personnel, and presidential threats of court-packing, soon altered this course of decisions [citation omitted]. Since 1937, the Court has been extremely reluctant to invalidate any congressional delegation of economic powers to the President. It appears that this will not change in the foreseeable future.(9)
In other words, not only had Congress abdicated its responsibilities into the hands of the President, but the Supreme Court had also been failing to do its job since 1937. In these few paragraphs, the Senate Special Committee had indicted all three branches of the Government for dereliction of their constitutional duties. However, since the attention of the American people was being diverted at the time by the war in Vietnam and a looming energy crisis, the shocking admissions contained in Senate Report 93-549 went largely unnoticed. Consequently, the situation remained in which “too few are aware of the existence of emergency powers and their extent, and the problem has never been squarely faced.”(10)
A year later, the same Senate, in its second session, produced a working paper entitled A Brief History of Emergency Powers in the United States which elaborated on the previous report:
…[I]t has been Congress’ habit to delegate extensive emergency authority — which continues even when the emergency has passed — and not to set a terminating date. The United States thus has on the books at least 470 significant emergency powers statutes without time limitations delegating to the Executive extensive discretionary powers, which affect the lives of American citizens in a host of all-encompassing ways. This vast range of powers, taken together, confer enough authority to rule this country without reference to normal constitutional processes. These laws make no provision for congressional oversight nor do they reserve to Congress a means for terminating the “temporary” emergencies which trigger them into use. No wonder the distinguished political scientist, the late Clinton Rossiter, entitled his post-World War II study on modern democratic states, “Constitutional Dictatorship.” Emergency government has become the norm….(11)
National Emergencies Declared a Necessity
In the “Foreword” to Senate Report 93-549, Senators Mathias and Church wrote, “[T]here is no present need for the United States Government to continue to function under emergency conditions.” Later, in the body of the report, they added, “In the view of the Special Committee, an emergency does not now exist. Congress, therefore, should act in the near future to terminate officially the states of national emergency now in effect.”(12) The U.S. Attorney General, however, was of a different opinion:
The Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917 has been amended frequently, and in the process its original purpose and effect have been altered significantly. The Act was originally intended to “define, regulate, and punish trading with the enemy.” 40 Stat. 415. Directed primarily to meeting the exigencies of World War I, its drafters intended the Act to remain on the books for future war situations. 55 Cong. Rec. 4908. Accordingly, when other war powers were terminated in 1921 an exception was made for the Act and it remained valid law. 41 Stat. 1359.
On March 5, 1933, President Roosevelt relied on Sec. 5(b) of the Trading With the Enemy Act as authority for his Proclamation 2039 which closed all banks for five days. This was clearly a time of financial crisis, not of war, and hence was not within the literal terms and purposes of the Act. Congress rectified the situation five days later when it ratified the President’s proclamation and amended Sec. 5(b) to give the President the broad wartime powers of that section in times of declared national emergency as well. 48 Stat. 1. The desperate economic circumstances of the time dictated the passage of this sweeping change….
Another declaration of national emergency was made in Proclamation 2914 of December 16, 1950 during the Korean War. Trading With the Enemy Act powers were exercised pursuant to this proclamation throughout the war. Because the state of emergency so declared has never been terminated, however, this proclamation has continued to serve as the basis for invocation of powers under the Act. Most notably, President Johnson used Sec. 5(b) as authority for Executive Order 11837 of January 1, 1968, imposing controls over transfers of private capital to foreign countries….
On August 15, 1971, President Nixon, in Proclamation 4074, declared an emergency concerning America’s declining worldwide economic position. He imposed an import surcharge and devalued the dollar, among other things. One year later, when the Export Control Act lapsed for a month, he invoked Sec. 5(b) to regulate exports, basing his authority to do so both on his Proclamation 4074 and on President Truman’s proclamation of 1950.
The current law, which has thus accreted over a period of 50 years, gives the President a wide range of powers, but only in time of war or declared national emergency. Although the Korean war has ended, those powers are being exercised solely on the basis of the 1950 emergency; or, on the basis of the President’s unilaterally designating as “emergencies” situations which have only the most tenuous relationship to the serious national crises for which the Trading With the Enemy Act was originally intended. The President, with the approval of Congress,(13) has thus used as authority for extraordinary actions laws which have no real relationship whatsoever to existing circumstances. As a consequence, a “national emergency” is now a practical necessity in order to carry out what has become the regular and normal method of governmental action. What were intended by Congress as delegations of power to be used only in the most extreme situations and for the most limited durations have become everyday powers; and a state of “emergency” has become a permanent condition [emphasis in original].(14)
The importance of the above words must not be missed. What the Attorney General was saying is that the Government has operated for so long under the auspices of a national emergency, that an attempt to terminate that emergency status would itself inaugurate a crisis of monumental proportions. For example, most, if not all, of the welfare programs upon which millions of Americans depend for their sustenance — the most notable of which is Social Security — would cease to exist without the emergency powers which gave them life. More importantly, the entire credit-based economy is also firmly rooted in emergency powers and would instantly collapse should the Government be “restored to normalcy.” Americans have become accustomed to using Federal Reserve Notes in their everyday transactions, and since gold and silver have long ago gone out of circulation, nearly every business in the country would have to close its doors should paper money lose its emergency “legal tender” status. Unemployment on a much larger scale than during the Great Depression would also result, because employers would no longer have a way to pay their employees. It may seem fantastic to some that nearly the entire social, political, and economic structure of the country is balanced precariously on a single subsection of an obsolete Act from the first World War — but it is true nonetheless. Because of the unchecked wickedness of their late leaders, Americans are caught on the horns of a dilemma very much like that which the institution of slavery presented to Southerners in the Nineteenth Century; to quote Thomas Jefferson, “We have the wolf by the ears and can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”
In an effort to “end a potentially dangerous situation,”(15) Congress passed the National Emergencies Act of 14 September 1976 which stated, “All powers and authorities possessed by the President, any other officer or employee of the Federal Government, or any executive agency… as a result of the existence of any declaration of national emergency in effect on the date of enactment of this Act are terminated two years from the date of such enactment.”(16) However, the four existing national emergencies were not terminated, but merely rendered dormant. Furthermore, in Title II, the same Act gave back what it appeared to take away in Title I: “With respect to Acts of Congress authorizing the exercise, during the period of a national emergency, of any special or extraordinary power, the President is authorized to declare such national emergency. Such proclamation shall immediately be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register.”(17) Predictably, every year since 1976, the President of the United States has availed himself of this loophole and proclaimed a new or reaffirmed an existing state of national emergency.(18)
It has been over thirty years since Senate Report 93-549 was published and it now sits forgotten and gathering dust on law library shelves.(19) Rather than slowing down the Executive grab for power, the tyranny to which the American people have become subjected has instead gained alarming momentum and shows no signs of slowing down. It should also be noted that “Congress has made little or no distinction between a ‘state of emergency’ and a ‘state of war.'”(20) The existence of a “state of war” requires the array of co-belligerents against one another. We have already seen, and will see in even greater detail in the next chapter, whom the U.S. Government views as its primary belligerent.
You can read Mr. Durand’s excellent book, “America’s Caesar: The Decline And Fall Of The Republican Government In The United States Of America” online by clicking here. – JT
Nock, Our Enemy the State, pages 10-12.
Senate Resolution 9 (Ninety-Third Congress, First Session).
U.S. Senate, “Foreword,” Emergency Powers Statutes, page iii.
U.S. Senate, op. cit., page iv.
U.S. Senate, op. cit., page iii.
U.S. Senate, ibid.
U.S. Senate, “Introduction, ” op. cit., page 1.
U.S. Senate, op. cit., page 3.
U.S. Senate, op. cit., page 6.
U.S. Senate, ibid.
U.S. Senate, Brief History of Emergency Powers, page v.
U.S. Senate, Emergency Powers Statutes, pages iii, 12.
This is a sophism; neither Lincoln nor Roosevelt waited to receive the approval of Congress, but both sought Congress’ approval after the fact. There is nothing under an Executive dictatorship to stop the current President from doing the same thing. In fact, standing approval of anything the President may choose to do in the exercise of his “emergency powers” is found at 12 USC 95(a). In Pike v. United States it was declared, “The power conferred upon the President by 12 USCS 95(a)1 was not confined to the 1933 banking crisis, but extended to any national emergency proclaimed by the President” (, CA 9 Cal. 340 F2d 487).
U.S. Attorney General, quoted by U.S. Senate, Emergency Powers Statutes, pages 182-184.
United States Senate Special Committee on National Emergencies and Delegated Emergency Powers, National Emergencies and Delegated Emergency Powers (Senate Report No. 94-922, Ninety-Fourth Congress, Second Session; Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1976), page 19.
National Emergencies Act (Public Law 94-412; Statutes at Large, Volume XC, page 1255), Title I, Section 101. This Act was statutized at 50 USC 1622(d).
Op. cit., Title II, Section 202(d).
For example, on 12 November 1997, William J. Clinton issued a Notice of the Continuation of the National Emergency Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction:
On November 14, 1994, by Executive Order 12938, I declared a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons (“weapons of mass destruction”) and the means of delivering such weapons. Because the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, the national emergency declared on November 14, 1994, and extended on November 14, 1995 and November 14, 1996, must continue in effect beyond November 14, 1997. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of theNational Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12938.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
Under Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, Americans have continued to live under a series of declared national emergencies, beginning on 11 September 2001 when the World Trade Center in New York city was destroyed by high-jacked airliners. The following Declaration of National Emergency By Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks was issued on 14 September:
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, and, pursuant to theNational Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), I intend to utilize the following statutes: sections 123, 123a, 527, 2201(c), 12006, and 12302 of title 10, United States Code, and sections 331, 359, and 367 of title 14, United States Code.
This proclamation immediately shall be published in the Federal Register or disseminated through the Emergency Federal Register, and transmitted to the Congress (66 Fed.Reg.48197-48199)..
Under this latest national emergency, the Department of Homeland Security was created and the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (USA PATRIOT) was pushed through Congress on 21 October 2001, the latter of which significantly increased the surveillance and investigative powers of law enforcement agencies against persons living within the country — whether U.S. citizens or foreign nationals — particularly in regard to their transmission of information through e-mail and the internet. As with the sweeping emergency legislation of 1933, this Act originated with the Executive administration and, under pressure from U.S. Attorney-General John Ashcroft, was passed with little congressional debate and with no accompanying House or Senate report explaining its contents. The critics of the Act have pointed out that it permits the search of homes and offices without a warrant and without notification (“sneak and peak”), grants the FBI access to personal information such as banking, educational, medical, dental, and library records without the constitutional requirement of probable cause, and allows for the detention by the Attorney-General of persons suspected of a vaguely-defined “terrorist activity” or intentions without the benefit of a trial. For a detailed analysis of this Act, see www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot.
It is really the American people who have forgotten this report, assuming that they ever knew it existed. Those in authority certainly have not forgotten it, as evidenced by Harold C. Relyea’s report entitled National Emergency Powers (98-505 GOV), which was researched and published under the authority of the Congressional Research Service on 18 September 2001 in response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York city. Relyea quoted and expounded upon Senate Report 93-549 throughout his report.
Brown v. Bernstein, D.C. pa., 49 F.Supp. 732.Copyright © 2004 Greg Loren Durand