Two Memoranda to Defense

More routine actions required by law.


Official Titles and Links:

Memoranda dated January 23, 2018

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Actions of January 9

Three actions were signed on January 9, 2018. Two appear to be routine memoranda, the other an important executive order.

The memorandum to the Secretary of State is simply delegation of authority, but the significant part is the topic:  handling religious freedom abroad.

The executive order is, in my opinion, an important and much needed initiative, given the perpetual nature of the wars we remain involved in worldwide. It provides for automatic enrollment in V.A. programs for veterans as they begin the transition from uniformed service to civilian life. I only hope this program will be well designed and fully funded. With this congress, the funding may be less than is necessary for successful implementation and operation. NPR ran a story on January 10 that is a good summary of the program, including some of the caveats.

I find the memorandum to the Director of National Intelligence so confusing that I don’t know if I really understand the point of it. As best I can decipher, it orders development of better procedures for sharing information by national intelligence agencies with local, state, etc. authorities.


Official Titles and Links:

Memoranda and Executive Order dated January 9, 2018

New War Imminent?

Yesterday I read the latest executive order, but decided to wait a day to comment because I wanted a little more time to try to understand the implications.

After researching the sections of the statutes it refers to (sections 688 and 690 of title 10, United States Code), I am pretty sure I understand this correctly. This brief order authorizes the Secretaries of the various military services (e.g. Army, Navy, etc.) to recall retired military personnel. As best I can tell, it means any retired military, not just those most recently retired.

The order is an amendment to the original order by G.W. Bush done September 14, 2011 that ultimately allowed for the military build-up that preceded the 2nd Iraq war. Following is the language of the new amendment:

Amendment to Executive Order 13223. Section 1 of Executive Order 13223 is amended by adding at the end: “The authorities available for use during a national emergency under sections 688 and 690 of title 10, United States Code, are also invoked and made available, according to their terms, to the Secretary concerned, subject in the case of the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, to the direction of the Secretary of Defense.”

There is some evidence that action is already being taken as a result of this order. An Air Force Times article yesterday refers to a “shortage, retention crisis”. USA Today also posted a story on this yesterday.

The only explanation that makes sense to me is POTUS 45 is about to take us into war again. I hope I am wrong – on both, a. interpretation of the amendment language, and b. that a new war is imminent.


Official Title and Link:

Presidential Executive Order Amending Executive Order 13223

Executive Order signed October 20, 3017

Police Equipment

Fairly widely reported as being in the works, yesterday the official executive order to rescind an Obama order was posted. In a nutshell, this again allows police departments access to surplus military equipment. In my view, this is dangerous. Already law enforcement agencies are too militarized and, in several cases, are trying to change the culture to return to the community policing model that is far more effective. This action will make it more difficult to change police culture.

Official Title and Link: Presidential Executive Order on Restoring State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement’s Access to Life-Saving Equipment and Resources

Executive order dated August 28, 2017

News Dump Actions

Yesterday several actions were posted late in the day – a classic example of releasing potentially controversial decisions/actions late on Friday in hopes the media will be otherwise distracted and the story will die over the weekend. It didn’t work this time, and I dare say in the contemporary world of instant communication with heightened media attention on this president, it probably never will again. In fact, I think the modern media have come to anticipate and expect bombshells at the end of the work week and many of the stories actually tend to dominate the weekend news cycles.

Even though hurricane Harvey was definitely the lead story in the news at the time, numerous reports of these presidential actions appeared in the media shortly after they were posted.

One other highly controversial action was taken by POTUS 45 that also led many breaking news bulletins – the pardon of former Sheriff Arpaio of Mesa, AZ. So far, I have not been able to find anything on the official website about this, not even a press release.

Of those posted, the first two were about Venezuela sanctions – a letter to Congress and the executive order itself. The order on the sanctions is an expansion of a 2015 order regarding Venezuela. The sanctions include not importing of Venezuelan oil. [Ed. Note: I saw one report that POTUS 45 has exempted an American oil company he has ties to from this sanction.]

The third action almost made me laugh because it is so contrary to the normal behavior of this man. It is the routine proclamation of August 26 as Women’s Equality Day in honor of the ratification of the 19th Amendment (Women’s Right to Vote) on that date in 1920.

And, the fourth action was the highly anticipated announcement about transgender individuals and service in the military. I find this to be a particularly unnecessary and discriminatory action. The ACLU has already announced their intent to sue and most likely will prevail on equality of opportunity grounds.

None of these five actions are insignificant, but the pardon is also quite disturbing because it effectively condones racism as well as defiance of constitutional authority of the courts. Unfortunately, it is not at all surprising, but that does not make is less worrisome for the future of our democratic republic. Pardoning someone convicted of contempt of court actions, in my opinion, is abuse of the executive power of the pardon. I intend to contact my senator – Grassley – who chairs the Judiciary Committee to urge him to open an investigation on this abuse of power.

Official Titles and Links:

Memoranda, Proclamation and Executive Order posted August 25, 2017