Sprat Issue 41 – President Grants Himself Unprecedented Powers
By James Donahue
While he was still in office, former President George W. Bush created and signed the
National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 51 on May 4, 2007. This directive, which has never been challenged
by Congress, grants the president unprecidented powers in the event of a "catastrophic emergency."
The directive, known as NSPD 51, remains on the books. President Barack Obama has never
acted to remove it.
The directive declares that when the president considers an emergency to have occurred,
he will assume the authority to coordinate an "enduring constitutional government" which will be "a cooperate effort among
the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Federal Government." It states that in the event of such an emergency,
all branches will cooperate with the president "as a matter of comity in order to protect the Constitution."
The legal twisting of wording in the directive gives the directive the appearance of
being in compliance with the rules of the Constitution. But conservative activist Jerome Corsi and Marjorie Cohn of the National
Lawyers Guild say they find the directive to be in violation of the Constitution because it gives the president exective power
over the legislative and judicial branches on command. It gives only the president the power to declare a catastrophic emergency,
but does not specify who has the power to declare the emergency over.
The creation of the Bush directive was not reported by the media or brought before the
Congress. Some believe it conflicts with the National Emergencies Act, a law passed by Congress in 1976 that grants Congress
oversight over presidential emergency powers during catastrophic events.
If allowed to stand, some see the directive to be a revamping of the power of the president
to allow the White House Military Office to assume a central role in creating a temporary "shadow government" to deal with
a national crisis. That office with 2,300 workers, has existed for protecting and flying Air Force One. But under the directive
it takes on added responsbilities as the lead agency in shepherding government leaders to that "secure site" at Mount Weather
in rural Virginia.
Under the old plan, about 200 government officials were assigned to alternative offices
to set up a working government under the direction of FEMA at Mount Weather in the event of a catastrophe. The new team eleminates
officials from outside the White House and fills the offices with mostly White House civilian and military personnel, one
In other words, the president and his team has the authority to move the operation of
the federal government to a secret underground facility on command.
Obviously some people have been concerned that the directive places too much power in
the hands of too few people within the White House. They see the order as a move to give the president broader powers and
thus upset the balance of power established by the Constitution.
The Bush directive didn't escape the attention of all of the media. Columnist Ron Rosenbaum
studied the document calling it "weasel speak," designed to set up a possible false flag event and then give the president
the authority to take over the operation of the nation.
Rosenbaum worried about the phrase "matter of comity" and asked "just what events of
the legislative and judicial branches will be allowed to participate in executing constitutial responsiblilties and providing
for orderly succession and appropriate transfer of leadership?"
"In other words, who gets to call the shots?" Rosenbaum asks. "What does comity mean
in this context? Informally, it means good-natured, good-faith camaraderie."
Rosenbaum worried that the directive by its very wording is too innocuous and fails
to deal with procedures for certain unexpected emergencies like presidential succession in the event that the chief executive
and vice president are killed.
The bottom line, according to Rosenbaum, is that the directive appears to lay the groundwork
for the president to establish a coup and virtual take-over of the United States government.