With the president's suggestion that the military should play a bigger role in future major emergencies, he has set in motion a cascade of policy shifts that, if reaching fruition, may shake the Pentagon to its foundation and recast the lines both between the states and the federal government, and between civil and military domestic jurisdictions. It might not be too portentous to say that many serious people may see such a policy shift as having constitutional implications.
On its face, the rightness of the idea seems obvious. In extreme emergencies, state and local governments are not up to the task. Only the federal government and, specifically, the military have the resources, personnel and logistic capacity to act effectively.
In Katrina's aftermath, the president's critics (and many of his friends) blamed him for not stepping in and taking command soon enough. But if ever something were easier said than done -- such prompt presidential pre-emption would be it.
It is true that the Insurrection Act gives the president the power to overrule governors and take military and economic command under certain situations. But overriding an unwilling governor hasn't been done in a half a century. And organizing the resources to make such action effective will challenge historic principles of governance.
At the heart of such a reorganization lies the dual missions and dual controls of the National Guard. Currently, the state guards are commanded by the governors unless they are activated for military duty abroad or federalized for domestic activity.
But if the several state guards are to be the president's primary instrument for effective preemptive federal action, then their doctrine, training and resource management would need to be within the president's purview even on a regular basis -- in order to be effective when needed. The president cannot be expected to be responsible for their performance if he is not responsible for their training and equipping. Governors will resist giving up such day-to-day control.
At the same time that the Guards are more effectively trained for such responsibilities (including duty in response to WMD terrorists attacks), their ability to be simultaneously indoctrinated and trained to their war fighting duties abroad will tend to be degraded. (e.g. Our soldiers patrol rifles up in Fallujah, but rifles down in New Orleans.)
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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