From the January 2007 Idaho Observer:
Bush nationalizes the guard against will of all 50 governors
Federal authority trumped states rights when Congress amended the 200-year-old Insurrection Act to authorize the president to control the national guards of the several states during emergencies.
The controversy began in the wake of Katrina. Even though the Bush administration displayed tremendous callousness and incompetence in handling that disaster, it seized the opportunity to expand federal power by encroaching on statesí responsibilities with regard to handling emergencies within its boundaries. The governors of all 50 states, through the National Governorís Association, sent a letter to Congress warning that , "Öa dramatic expansion of federal authority during natural disastersÖ.could cause confusion in the command-and-control of the National Guard and interfere with statesí ability to respond to natural disasters within their borders."
A bipartisan majority of both chambers of Congress adopted the change as part of the 439-page, $538 billion 2007 Defense Authorization Bill signed into law last October.
Since 2001, four out of five national guardsmen have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Much of the guardís military equipment has also been sent out-of-country and is not currently available for stateside emergencies.
These developments are causing tension to build between the states and Washington, D.C., at a time when Bush is planning to go ahead with his much-opposed "surge" of military force in Iraq.
Backers of the new rules, including U.S. Sens. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said the changes were needed to clarify the role of the armed forces in responding to serious domestic emergencies.
Mark Smith, spokesperson for the Louisiana Governorís Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said "The president should not be able to step in and take control of the National Guard without a governorís consent. The Guard belongs to the states, has always belonged to the states and should remain a function of the states."
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