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An Unusually Long Emergency

Shocking! Outrageous!

How long can an emergency last and still be an emergency? Aren't emergencies by their nature necessarily of short duration? Yeah, I thought so too. Then I learned that we've been in a continuous state of emergency — hang on, make that national emergency — since September 11, 2001.

President Bush says so:

Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, and the measures taken on September 14, 2001, November 16, 2001, and January 16, 2002, to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2005. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat.

The four-year emergency continues. One wonders how we've all survived through such a long and perilous danger.

Of course, there's not really an emergency anymore. There hasn't been for years. The reason for extending this pseudo-emergency is to extend emergency government powers:

By Executive Order 13223 of September 14, 2001 and Executive Order 13253 of January 16, 2002, I delegated authority to the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Transportation to order members of the Reserve Components to active duty and to waive certain statutory military personnel requirements. By Executive Order 13235 of November 16, 2001, I delegated authority to the Secretary of Defense to exercise certain emergency construction authority. By Executive Order 13286 of February 28, 2003, I transferred the authority delegated to the Secretary of Transportation in Executive Order 13223 to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

If these powers should be available even today when there isn't an emergency, legislation should be passed making them available in non-emergency situations. Or, if these powers should be restricted to real emergencies, the government should stop exercising them.

Fictional emergencies are not appropriate.

UPDATE 2005-09-10 16:15:12 UTC: Skip writes:

9/11 is nothing. There are still national emergencies in effect with regard to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis!

Also, take note that the President has declared several states "disaster areas" outside the Hurricane zone, including here in D.C., simply because we've accepted refugees. The declaration means the local governmemnt can get federal money.

<sigh> I need a hug. Or a new government.

Tiny Island