Project Censored: Crackdown on Rights a Top Censored Story

Editor’s Note: Independent news outlets regularly break important stories that corporate media giants either ignore or are too compromised to report on. When Toward Freedom published "Bush Moves Toward Martial Law" by investigative journalist Frank Morales last year, the story was picked up by countless websites and blogs, flooding the "alternative" media world with the news, while CNN and Fox News looked the other way.

When Project Censored arranged its annual list of the 25 most important stories censored by the corporate media, the Bush administration’s crackdown on civil liberties topped the list, with the Toward Freedom article on martial law by Frank Morales chosen as #2.

Here’s a summary and update of the story, as well as the list of all top 25 censored stories of the year from Project Censored. 

#2 Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

Sources: Toward Freedom, October 26, 2006

Title: "Bush Moves Toward Martial Law"

Author: Frank Morales,

Student Researchers: Phillip Parfitt and Julie Bickel

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Merrifield, Ph.D.

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, which was quietly signed by Bush on October 17, 2006, the very same day that he signed the Military Commissions Act, allows the president to station military troops anywhere in the United States and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to "suppress public disorder."

By revising the two-century-old Insurrection Act, the law in effect repeals the Posse Comitatus Act, which placed strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. The 1878 Act reads, "Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both." As the only US criminal statute that outlaws military operations directed against the American people, it has been our best protection against tyranny enforced by martial law-the harsh system of rules that takes effect when the military takes control of the normal administration of justice. Historically martial law has been imposed by various governments during times of war or occupation to intensify control of populations in spite of heightened unrest. In modern times it is most commonly used by authoritarian governments to enforce unpopular rule.1

Section 333 of the Defense Authorization Act of 2007, entitled "Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law," states that "the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service-to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of (or "refuse" or "fail" in) maintaining public order-in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy."

Thus an Act of Congress, superceding the Posse Comitatus Act, has paved the way toward a police state by granting the president unfettered legal authority to order federal troops onto the streets of America, directing military operations against the American people under the cover of "law enforcement."

The massive Defense Authorization Act grants the Pentagon $532.8 billion to include implementation of the new law which furthermore facilitates militarized police round-ups of protesters, so-called illegal aliens, potential terrorists, and other undesirables for detention in facilities already contracted and under construction, (see Censored 2007, Story #14) and transferring from the Pentagon to local police units the latest technology and weaponry designed to suppress dissent.

Author Frank Morales notes that despite the unprecedented and shocking nature of this act, there has been no outcry in the American media, and little reaction from our elected officials in Congress. On September 19, a lone Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) noted that 2007’s Defense Authorization Act contained a "widely opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National Guard [adopting] changes to the Insurrection Act, which will make it easier for this or any future President to use the military to restore domestic order without the consent of the nation’s governors."

A few weeks later, on September 29, Leahy entered into the Congressional Record that he had "grave reservations about certain provisions of the fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill Conference Report," the language of which, he said, "subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law." This had been "slipped in," Leahy said, "as a rider with little study," while "other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals."

Leahy noted "the implications of changing the [Posse Comitatus] Act are enormous." "There is good reason," he said, "for the constructive friction in existing law when it comes to martial law declarations. Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy. We fail our Constitution, neglecting the rights of the States, when we make it easier for the President to declare martial law and trample on local and state sovereignty."

Morales further asserts that "with the president’s polls at a historic low and Democrats taking back the Congress it is particularly worrisome that President Bush has seen fit, at this juncture to, in effect, declare himself dictator."


1. See, "Martial Law," May 2007


On April 24, 2007, Major General Timothy Lowenberg, the Adjutant General, Washington National Guard, and Director of the Washington Military Department, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on "The Insurrection Act Rider and State Control of the National Guard." He was speaking in opposition to Section 1076 of the recently passed 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which President Bush quietly signed into law this past October 17. The law clears the way for the President to execute martial law, commandeer National Guard units around the country and unilaterally authorize military operations against the American people in the event of an executive declaration of a "public emergency."

This move toward martial law, which is intended to facilitate more effective counterinsurgency measures on the home front, took place, according to Lowenberg, "without any hearing or consultation with the governors and without any articulation or justification of need." This, despite the fact that Section 1076 of the new law "changed more than one hundred years of well-established and carefully balanced state-federal and civil-military relationships." In other words, with one swipe of the pen, says the General, "one hundred years of law and policy were changed without any publicly or privately acknowledged author or proponent of the change."

Its "Federal Plans for Implementing Expanded Martial Law Authority" are to be executed via the recently created domestic military command, the Northern Command or NORTHCOM. "One key USNORTHCOM planning assumption," says Lowenberg, "is that the President will invoke the new Martial Law powers if he concludes state and/or local authorities no longer possess either the capability or the will to maintain order." In fact, this "highly subjective assumption," as Lowenberg puts it, has been in the works for some time now. According to the General, the "US Northern Command has been engaged for some time in deliberative planning for implementation of Section 1076 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization. The formal NORTHCOM CONPLAN 2502-05 was approved by Secretary of Defense Gates on March 15, 2007,"

Further, according to the General, the 2007 NDAA provisions "could be used to compel National Guard forces to engage in civil disturbance operations under federal control." In that case, NORTHCOM will effectuate its move to martial law, its "CONPLAN," by way of its very own "civil disturbance plan," Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, code-named Garden Plot. Major Tom Herthel, of the United States Air Force Judge Advocate General School, recently laid out the Rules of Engagement & Rules for the Use of Force during the implementation of "GARDEN PLOT," which according to Herthel, is "the plan to provide the basis for all preparation, deployment, employment, and redeployment of all designated forces, including National Guard forces called to active federal service, for use in domestic civil disturbance operations as directed by the President." Among other things, the "rules" allow for the use of lethal force during domestic "civil disturbance operations."

That is why many are urging Congress to repeal Section 1076 of the 2007 NDAA through immediate enactment of Senate Bill 513. Introduced in February 2007, and sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the bill seeks to repeal, or as the Congress puts it, "revive previous authority on the use of the Armed Forces and the militia to address interference with State or Federal law, and for other purposes," through the "Repeal of Amendments made by Public Law 109-364-Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007."

It is critical that Senate Bill 513 becomes law, and that our popular struggle succeeds in beating back the President’s attempt to further codify the immoral and criminal seizure of state control via woefully ill-advised and dictatorial moves toward martial law and military rule.

Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006-2007 from Project Censored

#1 No Habeas Corpus for "Any Person"

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) ushered in military commission law for US citizens and non-citizens alike. Text in the MCA allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for "any person" arbitrarily deemed to be an enemy of the state, regardless of American citizenship.

"Who Is ‘Any Person’ in Tribunal Law?" Robert Parry, Consortium, 10/19/2006

"Still No Habeas Rights for You" Robert Parry, Consortium, 2/3/2007

"Repeal the Military Commissions Act and Restore the Most American Human Right" Thom Hartmann, Commondreams, 2/12/2007

#2 Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 allows the president to deploy military troops anywhere in the United States and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities in order to "suppress public disorder."

"Bush Moves Toward Martial Law" Frank Morales, Toward Freedom, 10/26/2006

#3 AFRICOM: US Military Control of Africa’s Resources

In February 2007 the White House announced the formation of the US African Command (AFRICOM), a unified Pentagon command center in Africa. Presented as a humanitarian guard in the Global War on Terror, the real objective is procurement and control of Africa’s oil and its global delivery systems.

"Understanding AFRICOM" Parts 1-3, b real, 2/21/2007

#4 Frenzy of Increasingly Destructive Trade Agreements

The US and European Union (EU) are vigorously pursuing increasingly destructive trade and investment agreements outside the auspices of the WTO, resulting in unprecedented exploitation, loss of livelihood, displacement, and degradation of human rights and environments.

"Signing Away The Future" Emily Jones, Oxfam, 3/2007…

"Free Trade Enslaving Poor Countries" Sanjay Suri, IPS coverage of Oxfam Report, 3/20/2007

#5 Human Traffic Builds US Embassy in Iraq

The enduring monument to US liberation and democracy in Iraq is being built by forced labor. Contractors subcontracting to the US State Department are using bait-and-switch recruiting practices to smuggle Asian workers into brutal and inhumane labor camps-in the middle of the US-controlled Green Zone.

"A U.S. Fortress Rises in Baghdad: Asian Workers Trafficked to Build World’s Largest Embassy" David Phinney, CorpWatch, 10/17/2006

#6 Operation FALCON Raids

Under Operation FALCON-Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally-more than 30,000 "fugitives" were arrested in the largest dragnets in the nation’s history. Over 960 state, local and federal agencies were directly involved. Only promotional coverage supplied by the DOJ was ever aired. We have yet to be told who these fugitives were and what became of them.

"Operation Falcon and the Looming Police State" Mike Whitney, Uruknet, 2/26/2007

"Operation Falcon" SourceWatch, Updated 11/18/2006

#7 Behind Blackwater Inc.

Blackwater, the most powerful mercenary firm in the world, is the company that most embodies the privatization of the military industrial complex. Bush’s contracts with Blackwater have allowed the creation of a private army of more than 20,000 soldiers, operating with almost no oversight or effective legal constraints, to deploy in nine countries and aggressively expand its presence inside US borders.

"Our Mercenaries in Iraq: Blackwater Inc and Bush’s Undeclared Surge" Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! 1/26/07

#8 KIA: The US Neoliberal Invasion of India

The Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture, quietly signed by Bush and India’s Prime Minister Singh, trades India’s agricultural sector for US nuclear technology. The KIA allows for the grab of India’s seed sector by Monsanto, its trade sector by giant agribusiness ADM and Cargill, and its retail sector by Wal-Mart.

"Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India" Democracy Now! 12/13/2006

"Genetically Modified Seeds: Women in India take on Monsanto" Arun Shrivastava, Global Research, 10/9/06…

"Sowing Trouble: India’s ‘Second Green Revolution’" Suman Sahai, SciDev.Net, 5/9/06…

#9 Privatization of America’s Infrastructure

More than 20 states have enacted legislation allowing public-private partnerships to build and run highways. We will soon be paying Wall Street investors, Australian bankers, and Spanish contractors for the privilege of driving on American roads.

"The Highwaymen" Daniel Schulman with James Ridgeway. Mother Jones, 2/2007…

"Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway" Jerome R. Corsi, Human Events, 6/12/2006

#10 Vulture Funds Threaten Debt Relief for Poor Nations

Vulture funds, as defined by the IMF, are companies that buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply, when it is about to be written off, and then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest-which might be ten times what they paid for it. Otherwise known as "distressed-debt investors," these companies profit off plunging impoverished nations into crippling debt.

"Vulture Fund Threat to Third World" Greg Palast with Meirion Jones for BBC Newsnight, 02/14/2007

#11 The Scam of "Reconstruction" in Afghanistan

Much of the US tax money earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan actually ends up going no further than the pockets of wealthy US corporations. Paychecks for overpriced, and often incompetent, American "experts" under contract to USAID go directly from the Agency to American bank accounts. Seventy percent of the aid that does make it to a recipient country is carefully "tied" to the donor nation for further fraud and exploitation.

"Why It’s Not Working in Afghanistan" Ann Jones,, 8/27/06

"Afghanistan Inc: a CorpWatch Investigative Report" Fariba Nawa, CorpWatch, 10/6/06

#12 Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops

On December 22, 2006 more than 30 unarmed Haitian civilians, including women and children, were killed by extensive and indiscriminate gunfire from UN "peacekeeping" forces, reportedly as collective punishment for a massive demonstration days earlier calling for the return of President Aristide.

"UN in Haiti: Accused of Second Massacre" Haiti Information Project, Haiti Action, 1/21/2007

"Haiti: Poor Residents of Capital Describe a State of Siege" Wadner Pierre and Jeb Sprague, IPS, 2/28/07

#13 Immigrant Roundups to Gain Cheap Labor for US Corporate Giants

In the wake of 9/11, Immigration Customs Enforcement has conducted raids and roundups of "illegal" immigrants under the rubric of preventing terrorism and keeping our homeland safe. The real goal, however, is to replace the immigrant work force in the US with a tightly regulated, exploitive guest-worker program.

"Migrants: Globalization’s Junk Mail?" Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy in Focus, 2/23/07

"Which Side are You on?" David Bacon, Truthout, 1/29/07

"Workers, Not Guests" David Bacon, The Nation, 2/6/07

#14 Impunity for US War Criminals

A last minute adjustment to the Military Commission Act of 2006 redefined torture, removed the harshest definition of war crimes, and exempts the perpetrators from prosecution for such offences dating back to November 1997. The source of this provision is, however, a mystery. The White House denies any involvement or knowledge regarding the insertion of such language into the MCA.

"A Senate mystery keeps torture alive, and its practitioners free" Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, 11/22/06

#15 Toxic Exposure Can Be Genetically Transmitted to Future Generations

Research suggests that our behavior and our environmental conditions may program sections of our children’s DNA. New evidence about how genes interact with the environment suggests that many industrial chemicals may be more ominously dangerous than previously thought. One researcher points to a revolution in medicine: "You aren’t eating and exercising just for yourself, but for your lineage."

"Some Chemicals are More Harmful Than Anyone Ever Suspected" Peter Montague, Rachel’s Democracy & Health News #876, 10/12/06

#16 No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11

Osama bin Ladin’s role in the events of September 11, 2001 is not mentioned on the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted" notice. Six years later the FBI spokesperson explains, "The reason 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11…"

"FBI says, ‘No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11’" Ed Haas, Muckraker Report, 6/6/06

#17 Drinking Water Contaminated by Military and Corporations

Corporations, municipalities, and the US military are using America’s waters as their dumping ground -often with little or no accountability. The average major facility discharges pollutants in excess of its permitted limit by over 275 percent, nearly four times the legal limit, while more than 40 percent of US waterways are already unsafe for swimming and fishing.

"Factories, Cities Across USA Exceed Water Pollution Limits" Sunny Lewis, Environment News Service 3/24/2006

"Military Waste In Our Drinking Water" Sunaura Taylor and Astra Taylor, AlterNet, 8/4/2006

#18 Mexico’s Stolen Election

US interests were significantly invested in the outcome of Mexico’s 2006 presidential election in which overwhelming evidence reveals massive fraud.

"Evidence of Election Fraud Grows in México," Chuck Collins and Joshua Holland, AlterNet, 8/2/2006

"Mexico: The Political Volcano Rumbles" Revolution, 9/10/06

#19 People’s Movement Challenges Neo-Liberal Agenda

In Latin America, massive opposition to US economic domination has demanded that populist leaders and parties take control of national governments, building powerful alternatives to neo-liberal exploitation.

"Is the US Free Trade Model Losing Steam?" American Friends Service Committee, Trade Matters, 5/3/06…

"Economic Policy Changes With New Latin American Leaders" Mark Weisbrot, International Herold Tribune, 12/28/06…

"Is Hugo Chaves a Threat to Stability? No." Mark Weisbrot, International Affairs Forum, 3/31/07…

#20 Terror Act Against Animal Activists

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006 expanded the definition of "terrorism" to include acts that interfere, or promote interference, with the operation of an animal enterprise. Over 160 groups opposed this Act on grounds that its terminology is dangerously vague and poses major conflict to the US Constitution.

"The AETA is Invidiously Detrimental to the Animal Rights Movement (and Unconstitutional as Well)" David Hoch and Odette Wilkens, Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, 3/9/07….

"US House Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act With Little Discussion or Dissent" Will Potter, Green is the New Red, 11/14/06…

"22 Years for Free-Speech Advocates: Six Animal Rights Activists Given Lengthy Prison Sentences for Running Website" Budgerigar, Earth First! Journal, 11/06

#21 US Seeks WTO Immunity for Illegal Farm Payments

The July 2006 Doha round of WTO negotiations broke down over the contentious issue of farm trade and the unrestricted opening of markets to agricultural products. In a last-minute proposal, one not included on the original agenda, the US insisted that all trade agreements include a special "Peace Clause" that would make its use of illegal farm subsidies immune from prosecution by the countries affected.

"Canada launches WTO case on US subsidies" Eoin Callan, Financial Times, 1/9/2007…

"US seeks "get-out clause" for illegal farm payments" Oxfam, 6/29/2006…

#22 North Invades Mexico

The number of North Americans living in Mexico has soared from 200,000 to 1 million (one-quarter of all US expatriates) in the past decade. With more than 70 million American baby-boomers expected to retire in the next two decades, experts predict "a tidal wave" of migration. The land rush is sending up property values to the detriment of locals whose children are consequently driven into slums or forced to emigrate north.

"Border Invaders: The Perfect Swarm Heads South" Mike Davis,, 9/19/2006

#23 Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq

Dianne Feinstein is involved in monumental conflicts of interest as she promotes and exploits the Global War on Terror. As a member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, Senator Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions of dollars to her husband’s military construction firms, while consistently voting to fund US military proliferation.

"Senator Feinstein’s Iraq Conflict" Peter Byrne, Bohemian, 1/24/2007…

#24 Media Misquotes Threat From Iran’s President

A mistranslated quotation attributed to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, which threatened that, "Israel must be wiped off the map," has been spread around the world. Ahmadinejad’s actual statements, however, were significantly less threatening.

"’Wiped Off The Map’ – The Rumor of the Century" Arash Norouzi,, Global Research, 1/20/2007…

"Full Text: The President of Iran’s Letter To President Bush" Translated by Le Monde, Information Clearing House, 05/09/06

#25 Who Will Profit From Native Energy?

The US government and energy industry intend to market a shift away from dependence on foreign energy by deregulating and stepping up their exploitation ("development") of wind and solar resources located on Native American reservations.

"Native Energy Futures" Brian Awehali, Lip Magazine, 6/5/06…


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