Do I Have to Obey Orders From an Unconstitutional Government? → Washingtons Blog
Do I Have to Obey Orders From an Unconstitutional Government? - Washingtons Blog

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Do I Have to Obey Orders From an Unconstitutional Government?

I am a loyal citizen of the United States of America, and I believe deeply in the vision of the Founding Fathers, the rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution, and the liberty that our forefathers fought and died for.

I have therefore felt a duty to obey the laws of the U.S. my whole life.

However, it is likely that the U.S. no longer has a constitutional form of government.

As the Washington Post noted in March 2002, Bush hid from Congress the fact that Continuity of Government (COG) plans were implemented on 9/11 and were still in effect many months later, and stated:

It was unclear yesterday whether any federal documents -- prepared either by the current White House or by Bush's predecessors dating to Dwight D. Eisenhower -- specify whether congressional leaders should be told if the plan is put into effect. At least one relatively general document, a 1988 executive order entitled "Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities," said the White House's National Security Council "shall arrange for Executive branch liaison with, and assistance to, the Congress and the federal judiciary on national security-emergency preparedness matters."

The executive order, signed by President Ronald Reagan, is a precursor to documents outlining the contingency plans in greater detail, which have not been made public. Regardless of whether Bush had an obligation to notify legislative leaders, the congressional leaders' ignorance of the plan he set in motion could raise the question of how this shadow administration would establish its legitimacy with Congress in the event it needed to step in for a crippled White House.

At least some members of Congress suggested yesterday that the administration should have conferred about its plans, which were first reported in The Washington Post yesterday.

"There are two other branches of government that are central to the functioning of our democracy," said Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee. "I would hope the speaker and the minority leader would at least pose the question, 'What about us?' "

So What?

Remember that, in the summer 2007, Congressman Peter DeFazio, on the Homeland Security Committee (and so with proper security access to be briefed on COG issues), inquired about continuity of government plans, and was refused access. Indeed, DeFazio told Congress that the entire Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. Congress has been denied access to the plans by the White House (video; or here is the transcript). The Homeland Security Committee has full clearance to view all information about COG plans. DeFazio concluded: "Maybe the people who think there’s a conspiracy out there are right”.

And University of California Berkeley Professor Emeritus Peter Dale Scott has warned:

"If members of the Homeland Security Committee cannot enforce their right to read secret plans of the Executive Branch, then the systems of checks and balances established by the U.S. Constitution would seem to be failing.

To put it another way, if the White House is successful in frustrating DeFazio, then Continuity of Government planning has arguably already superseded the Constitution as a higher authority."

Indeed, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that "because of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the American public needs no explanation of [Continuity of Government] plans".

What Does This All Mean?

Continuity of government documents probably require that Congress be notified of the details of implementation of COG plans. But since the executive is hiding such documents from Congress and the people, so we can't be sure.

Regardless, the executive has failed to "establish its legitimacy with Congress" or the American people, because it is hiding the documents which created the COG emergency government and which give it emergency powers and specify its obligations.

In other words, even if the COG documents were harmless and say "we will coordinate with Congress and the courts and follow the Constitution", the fact that the White House is hiding the documents, refusing to disclose what acts it has taken pursuant to extraordinary authority granted by the COG plans, and refusing even to say whether a COG government is still in effect renders the current government unconstitutional and illegal.

I consider myself a law-abiding citizen, and I cherish the Constitution, the rule of law, and the American form government established by the Founding Fathers.

But do I have any duty to obey the orders of a government that cannot even establish its basic legitimacy? A government which is itself violating the Constitution and the rule of law? A government that is trying to dismantle the vision that the Founding Fathers and everything that our forefathers fought and died for?

Do I have to obey illegal orders from an unconstitutional government?

This essay doesn't even discuss spying on Americans, failure to comply with Congressional subpoenas, signing statements, torture, wars based on false intelligence, or the numerous other unconstitutional acts by this administration. It solely focuses on the unconstitutionality of the COG plans.

And it doesn't even get into guessing what the Founding Fathers might have thought about this bunch of tyrants.

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