As long as any of us have been alive, we've known our government is comprised of three distinct, equal branches that are designed with a system of checks and balances to keep that equality in place.
But the American Republic can become the American Empire a lot easier than one might think. Palpatine is palpable.
Whatever, philistines. That joke killed on Corscant.
All kidding aside, a presidential directive signed by George W. Bush on May 9, 2007 gives the President of the United States the authority to take over all government functions and all private sector activities in the event of a "catastrophic emergency."
The idea is to ensure American democracy survives after such an event occurs and that we will come out the other end with an "enduring constitutional government." The directive is National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 51 or simply "Directive 51."
I thought it was Order 66.
The directive defines this event as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."
At the time, it didn't make much of a splash in the media, despite handing all of the power of federal, state, local, and tribal governments, not to mention the keys to the American economy to just one man. Those who did write about Directive 51 were none too pleased.
One of those writers was Jerome Corsi, who is definitely not a typical Bush-basher. Corsi is actually a hardcore Republican and author of "Unfit for Command," a book that attacked the reputation and Vietnam service of then-Senator John Kerry during his 2004 Presidential bid.
Corsi described the directive as a "power grab" and the powers it gave the president as "dictatorial." And who gets to decide when a catastrophic emergency just took place? The President of the United States.
My guess is half of you are mortified by this pic placed here while the other half are sightly aroused. (White House photo)
To make matters worse, the 2007 Defense Appropriations Bill changed the Insurrection Act so POTUS can deploy the U.S. military inside the United States to act as a police force in the event of natural disasters, epidemics, or other serious public health emergencies, terrorist attacks or incidents, or other conditions.
This move was opposed by all 50 sitting governors.
Here we are, ten years later, and these laws are still the law of the land.