Janet M. LaRue

President Lincoln issued that very order on February 26, 1862, pursuant to an act of Congress.

The very thought of it induces uncontrolled giggling as I imagine ACLUites trampling each other on the way to cherry-pick a federal judge who thinks the Constitution needs judicial oxygen.

Then there’s this order:

By virtue of the authority vested by an act of Congress, the President takes military possession of all the railroads in the United States from and after this date until further order, and directs that the respective railroad companies, their officers and servants, shall hold themselves in readiness for the transportation of such troops and munitions of war as may be ordered by the military authorities, to the exclusion of all other business.

That was an order issued by Lincoln on March 25, 1862, pursuant to an act of Congress. By the way, the congressional act was subsequent to President Lincoln’s order of February 11, 1862, seizing the railroads. That order doesn’t mention any congressional act. The President’s order of February 11 didn’t go as far as Congress did when it excluded “all other business” of the railroads.

It was a time when Congress understood what it meant to be at war and the duty of members to ensure victory. It was a time when members didn’t waste their time passing worthless resolutions that Lincoln would have used to light his pipe.

Lincoln knew that Congress could fund the war or hitch a ride on a troop-seized train and explain to the folks back home why they were undermining the troops.

It was a time when the commander in chief understood that he couldn’t permit traitorous acts that undermined the successful prosecution of the war in the name of freedom of the press. Consider another of Lincoln’s executive orders:

Major-General John A. Drx,

Commanding at New York:

Whereas there has been wickedly and traitorously printed and published this morning in the New York World and New York Journal of Commerce, newspapers printed and published in the city of New York, a false and spurious proclamation purporting to be signed by the President and to be countersigned by the Secretary of State, which publication is of a treasonable nature, designed to give aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States and to the rebels now at war against the Government and their aiders and abettors, you are therefore hereby commanded forthwith to arrest and imprison in any fort or military prison in your command the editors, proprietors, and publishers of the aforesaid newspapers, and all such persons as, after public notice has been given of the falsehood of said publication, print and publish the same with intent to give aid and comfort to the enemy; and you will hold the persons so arrested in close custody until they can be brought to trial before a military commission for their offense. You will also take possession by military force of the printing establishments of the New York World and Journal of Commerce, and hold the same until further orders, and prohibit any further publication therefrom.


Note: On the morning of May 18, 1864, a forged proclamation was published in the World, and Journal of Commerce, of New York. The proclamation named a day for fasting and prayer, called for 400,000 fresh troops, and purposed to raise by an “immediate and peremptory draft,” whatever quotas were not furnished on the day specified. [Italics in original].

It leaves no doubt what Lincoln, or for that matter FDR, would have done with Pinch Sulzberger and the gang at The New York Times for publishing classified documents related to war.

If the cut-and-run cowards in Congress repeal last year’s congressional act authorizing military commissions, President Bush will have trouble trying bin Laden by a military commission.

The incompetents in Congress, who aren’t sure what they knew when they voted for the war, know this much. Our troops, who are sacrificing life and limb to fulfill the congressional Iraq war mandate, have access to 24/7 cable and Internet live news coverage of congressional shenanigans, as do our enemies.

I continue to be thankful and amazed that our troops don’t exit Iraq now. They won’t, but if they did, I would want them to lay their assault rifles on the steps of Congress. I would also like to offer another resolution to be attached to their fixed bayonets:

To Members of Congress:

WHEREAS, we have re-deployed ourselves in accordance with your conclusion that the war in Iraq is beyond our ability to win.

WHEREAS, we trust that your grave concerns about the prolonged chaos in Iraq will be assuaged by knowing that it is now under control of Iranian troops that crossed the Iraq border upon our departure.

WHEREAS, although the Iranians have seized control of Iraq’s oil refineries, we remain confident that you will manage to spin-off blame for that as well.

WHEREAS, now that the Iranians have placed Muqtada al-Sadr and those Al-Queda freedom fighters in control of the Iraqi Parliament, they won’t be ordering any more of that purple ink.

WHEREAS, even though we think you’re the biggest bunch of losers since the pet rock, be assured of our undying support. Thanks so much for all your loyal support of our failed efforts and wasted lives.

WHEREAS, in the event that another airplane invades restricted D.C. airspace and you find yourselves scurrying like mice from a big cat, good luck with that. Our pilots have parked their planes and left the keys in the ignition.

Janet M. LaRue

Jan LaRue is Senior Legal Analyst with the American Civil Rights Union; former Chief Counsel at Concerned for Women; Legal Studies Director at Family Research Council; and Senior Counsel for the National Law Center for Children and Families. Be the first to read Janet LaRue's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.