NYT editorial: Laws passed in dead of night strike at heart of democracy

By Rafael DeGennaro, February 19, 2007 – 2:47pm.

The New York Times has an excellent editorial Feb. 19. It criticizes Congress and the President for a provision inserted into the defense bill in 2006 that makes martial law easier. Drawing the larger lesson, the editorial says, “A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night.”

This is part of a pattern of the defense authorization bill receiving little scrutiny.

New York Times
Making Martial Law Easier (editorial)
Feb. 19, 2007

A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration’s behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.

[…]

Changes of this magnitude should be made only after a thorough public airing. But these new presidential powers were slipped into the law without hearings or public debate. The president made no mention of the changes when he signed the measure, and neither the White House nor Congress consulted in advance with the nation’s governors.