The Present Legal Support for Seizing our Food and other Supplies
This is the second part of a three-part article series on how everything we’ve saved and stored could be – lawfully – taken from us in an emergency.
If you arrived on this page from a search engine or website link, you might wish to first read the first part of the article, which talks about how our society has evolved to the point where the majority already feel no shame in taking property from people who have it and appropriating it for themselves.
Perhaps because preppers tend to be fair-minded people, they find this concept hard to accept. Please read through the first part, and force yourself to realize just how possible this is.
These Future Scenarios Are Real, Not Hypothetical
Now for the really vital part of this two-part article series. In the first part, we’ve been talking about hypothetical future scenarios, and like all such things, maybe we are right, and maybe we are wrong – you need to selectively pick and choose what you feel to be most likely and to base your own plans accordingly.
But what would you think and what will you do, if/when you learn that there are already laws on the books to empower the ‘authorities’ (ie everyone else) to take our carefully stockpiled food and other supplies from us?
There are indeed federal laws/regulations/orders on the books to cover exactly this type of scenario. There may be other federal level plans as well. In addition, there are probably state level provisions you need to be aware of as well. Let’s start with a look at state level issues, then move on to the federal level.
This is Real, and Documented, Not Just Scare Stories to Sell You Something
We often come across sales pitches trying to sell us something that have a detailed presentation including a lot of assertions about a lot of things, but their assertions are light on the facts and heavy on the fiction. So we’ve learned to discount and ignore much of such stuff when we encounter it.
But we’re not trying to sell you anything. And we will give you links to everything we tell you about in this article. See for yourself, confirm for yourself, and be prepared to be astonished and dismayed at what you find out.
State Level Emergency Provisions
You need to know what emergency powers the governor of your state has. You might be astonished at how extensive they could be, and some of the ‘better’ states actually have some of the most unrestricted powers available for their governors – the ‘frontier days’ thinking of those states’ constitutions still flows through, and such laws have not been rewritten for a more cautious and legally constrained present day scenario.
If a governor declares an emergency – either in part of the state or all the state – he can then do all sorts of things. You probably know about ‘martial law’ – a vague concept that means different things in different cases, but which essentially means that many of your constitutional rights are suspended during the period of martial law. Most governors have their power to declare martial law validated by the state constitution.
Here is a useful discussion about martial law, including examples of its misuse and abuse – sometimes resulting in judicial action overturning the martial law, but not always.
Some states might have no specific provisions for declaring martial law as such, but they may have provisions for other types of emergency declarations such as a ‘Public Health Emergency’ or a generic ‘State of Emergency’. The same can be announced at a national level by the President as well.
Governors can sometimes do things such as call people up into the state militia, at which point, you become subject of course to military command and control. Maybe the first requirement after being drafted into the state militia will be to assemble at some make-do barracks, requiring you to leave your retreat. What do you do – comply, or be charged with ‘desertion’?
And, guess what the next order might be? To go around your neighborhood, requisitioning any food and other supplies you can find!
National/Federal Emergency Provisions
Did you know that we are currently in a state of emergency – indeed, for most of the time since 1950, our country has been in a state of emergency.
See this discussion for an eye-opening explanation of our current state of emergency, including the disclosure that in the 1970s, Congress discovered – to its surprise – that the county was in a state of emergency dating back to the Korean War, initiated in 1950, which people had generally forgotten about and never repealed! Congressional oversight? Alas, not at all!
And as for the courts applying good sense to this farcical situation, apparently not – courts have upheld sentences that were made more severe due to the existence of a state of emergency, even though there truly was no emergency present.
You probably know that the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 forbids US troops from performing law enforcement action on US soil. So how then to reconcile events such as troops being deployed to the LA riots in 1992? Well, it seems that there are exceptions to everything, which is a chilling thought – heaven forbid that you too should become an ‘exception’ to the normal application of justice and jurisprudence.
More seriously, as covered in this helpful discussion, there is a possibility that the Posse Comitatus Act was quietly repealed and overturned by a provision of the 2012 National Defense Authorisation Act (section 1021). Here’s a discussion of it here.
But if the innocuous and limited seeming provision in the 2012 Act overturns the Posse Comitatus Act, it is because much of it has already been overturned. Prior to the 2012 Act, in the 2007 Authorization Act, section 1076 massively emasculated the Posse Comitatus Act :
The President may employ the armed forces… to… restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition… the President determines that… domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order… or [to] suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such… a condition… so hinders the execution of the laws… that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law… or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.
We can translate that lengthy statement for you. What it means – truly – is that the President can order the military to do pretty much anything to anyone, at any time, for any reason.
Specifically, he can order the military to ‘restore public order’ – and you might wonder what ‘public order’ is. Truly, that’s a broad term capable of many meanings, and so too is the verb before the noun – ‘restore’. What types of things can he order the military to do to restore the public order? There’s no limit specified, so presumably whatever he (and he alone with no need to get approval from Congress) feels to be prudent, necessary, and appropriate.
A partial clue is gathered by looking at the examples of types of things that may cause the President to invoke these powers. An insurrection or conspiracy (a conspiracy of course can be just talking about something, even though the ‘conspirators’ don’t actually do anything) that deprives any part or class of people (which means anyone) of a right/privilege/immunity/protection – wow, with the expanded view of what a person’s ‘rights’ are these days, to say nothing of their privileges, that covers just about anything. If that’s not enough, it goes on to add ‘or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the US’ which means that anyone talking about (conspiring) or actually opposing any law can be responded to by the President calling out the Army (and the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard too!).
There may be valid bona fide reasons why such powers are required, but do you really feel comfortable seeing how the entire rule of law and due process and habeas corpus and constitutional rights and protections can be annulled, by one person, at any time, for any reason? Haven’t we just allowed our President to become our Dictator? (Your instinct is to say ‘No, of course not’ and maybe to vaguely talk about ‘checks and balances’, but force yourself to think about this. What checks and balances, what controls and restrictions, are placed on the ability of the President to invoke these powers, to use these powers, and to abuse these powers?)
Hoarding of Just About Anything Can Be Banned
There was an interesting Executive Order signed by President Obama in March 2012. There’s a lot of legal stuff in it, and only when you get towards the end, do you suddenly realize ‘OMG! What is this I’m reading?’.
Look at section 801 of the order, defining the things covered.
Sec. 801. Definitions. In addition to the definitions in section 702 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2152, the following definitions apply throughout this order:
(a) “Civil transportation” includes movement of persons and property by all modes of transportation in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce within the United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia, and related public storage and warehousing, ports, services, equipment and facilities, such as transportation carrier shop and repair facilities. “Civil transportation” also shall include direction, control, and coordination of civil transportation capacity regardless of ownership. “Civil transportation” shall not include transportation owned or controlled by the Department of Defense, use of petroleum and gas pipelines, and coal slurry pipelines used only to supply energy production facilities directly.
(b) “Energy” means all forms of energy including petroleum, gas (both natural and manufactured), electricity, solid fuels (including all forms of coal, coke, coal chemicals, coal liquification, and coal gasification), solar, wind, other types of renewable energy, atomic energy, and the production, conservation, use, control, and distribution (including pipelines) of all of these forms of energy.
(c) “Farm equipment” means equipment, machinery, and repair parts manufactured for use on farms in connection with the production or preparation for market use of food resources.
(d) “Fertilizer” means any product or combination of products that contain one or more of the elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for use as a plant nutrient.
(e) “Food resources” means all commodities and products, (simple, mixed, or compound), or complements to such commodities or products, that are capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals, irrespective of other uses to which such commodities or products may be put, at all stages of processing from the raw commodity to the products thereof in vendible form for human or animal consumption. “Food resources” also means potable water packaged in commercially marketable containers, all starches, sugars, vegetable and animal or marine fats and oils, seed, cotton, hemp, and flax fiber, but does not mean any such material after it loses its identity as an agricultural commodity or agricultural product.
(f) “Food resource facilities” means plants, machinery, vehicles (including on farm), and other facilities required for the production, processing, distribution, and storage (including cold storage) of food resources, and for the domestic distribution of farm equipment and fertilizer (excluding transportation thereof).
(g) “Functions” include powers, duties, authority, responsibilities, and discretion.
(h) “Head of each agency engaged in procurement for the national defense” means the heads of the Departments of State, Justice, the Interior, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the General Services Administration, and all other agencies with authority delegated under section 201 of this order.
(i) “Health resources” means drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, health supplies, services and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the physical or mental health conditions of the population.
(j) “National defense” means programs for military and energy production or construction, military or critical infrastructure assistance to any foreign nation, homeland security, stockpiling, space, and any directly related activity. Such term includes emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5195 et seq., and critical infrastructure protection and restoration.
(k) “Offsets” means compensation practices required as a condition of purchase in either government to government or commercial sales of defense articles and/or defense services as defined by the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq., and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, 22 C.F.R. 120.1 130.17.
(l) “Special priorities assistance” means action by resource departments to assist with expediting deliveries, placing rated orders, locating suppliers, resolving production or delivery conflicts between various rated orders, addressing problems that arise in the fulfillment of a rated order or other action authorized by a delegated agency, and determining the validity of rated orders.
(m) “Strategic and critical materials” means materials (including energy) that (1) would be needed to supply the military, industrial, and essential civilian needs of the United States during a national emergency, and (2) are not found or produced in the United States in sufficient quantities to meet such need and are vulnerable to the termination or reduction of the availability of the material.
(n) “Water resources” means all usable water, from all sources, within the jurisdiction of the United States, that can be managed, controlled, and allocated to meet emergency requirements, except “water resources” does not include usable water that qualifies as “food resources.”
These definitions are written in to the 1950 War and National Defense Defense (sic) Production Act, and so let’s see what the act itself has to say for itself.
Go directly to section 2072. That’s the key part from our perspective.
§2072. Hoarding of designated scarce materials
In order to prevent hoarding, no person shall accumulate (1) in excess of the reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption, or (2) for the purpose of resale at prices in excess of prevailing market prices, materials which have been designated by the President as scarce materials or materials the supply of which would be threatened by such accumulation. The President shall order published in the Federal Register, and in such other manner as he may deem appropriate, every designation of materials the accumulation of which is unlawful and any withdrawal of such designation.
In making such designations the President may prescribe such conditions with respect to the accumulation of materials in excess of the reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption as he deems necessary to carry out the objectives of this Act [sections 2061 to 2170, 2171, and 2172 of this Appendix]. This section shall not be construed to limit the authority contained in sections 101 and 704 of this Act [sections 2071 and 2154 of this Appendix].
So the President can simply say that anything more than (for example) a week’s supply of food (and all the other things listed) is an amount ‘in excess of the reasonable demands of personal consumption’ and then order the Army to impound everything you have in excess of that amount. End of story.
Well, no, not quite the end of the story. Let’s just look at one more thing.
The Mysterious Nature of FEMA
You’ve probably heard the occasional scare stories of FEMA camps where people will be forcibly resettled, and speculation about the extraordinary level of ammunition purchases by the Department of Homeland Security (FEMA is one part of the huge new monster that the Homeland Security Department has become since it was formed in November 2002).
Maybe you’ve wondered what FEMA is doing with the mine-resistant armored vehicles it now has. Or maybe you’ve simply dismissed FEMA as something that gets a lot of criticism whenever there’s a real emergency but not likely to be a relevant part of any extreme emergency in the future.
You might be right. But you might be wrong. One of the things that really has us puzzled is seeing job vacancy postings for low and mid level FEMA managers, with the requirement that such people be able to obtain a Top Secret security clearance. We’d like to know – what is there that would require a FEMA administrator to have a Top Secret security clearance?
Our point is simply this. In minor regional type emergencies, we certainly agree and appreciate that FEMA is there to help out as best it can. But in a serious Level 2 or Level 3 disaster – a situation which totally overwhelms FEMA’s ability to solve the problem – might the role of FEMA then change into something darker and more sinister?
We don’t want to get into the deeper darker conspiracy theories of what FEMA and HSD might be and do in the future, but we would like to be reassured that these theories truly are as impossible as we hope them to be.
We have no answer to these questions. But we wish we did, because we can readily see a future scenario where the government (which, of course, always ‘knows best’) decides the best thing to do is to centralize all food and other survival resources – all the stuff listed above in the Executive Order – and then distribute it ‘fairly’ as it sees fit.
And, in case you didn’t read the first part of this two-part article, distributing ‘fairly’ is a code phrase that means ‘we’ll take as much as we can from people who have the thing, and then give it to people who don’t have the thing’. The people without the thing doubtless feel that is fair, but how do you feel, as someone more likely to be losing your preps, while seeing people who laughed at you for being a prepper now having your preps passed over to them?
This all ignores the illogic of the concept of redistributing food and other supplies. You personally might have enough food and other supplies to see yourself safely through the emergency situation. But if your supplies are taken and split twenty different ways, probably the only result will be that all of you will fail to survive, albeit with the 20 people now sharing your preps lasting a bit longer than they would have otherwise done.
How is the net result improved by having everyone die, rather than by allowing those who chose to prepare for an emergency enjoy the benefit of their preparations and survive? At least, if you got to keep your materials, you would survive. Nothing will allow for most non-prepared people to survive an extreme emergency, but having you too share in their misery and failure doesn’t make things any better or any fairer for anyone.
There’s a lot of content in this two-part article, and it paints a terrifyingly dark possible future, where we run the risk of losing everything we’ve been going to such lengths to amass. If you’ve not already done so, we recommend you now read the first part.
If you don’t think such a thing would ever happen in the US, please read through the linked articles – articles that expose past abuses of power and of compulsory taking in our nation’s past. Alas, rather than making such past actions less likely in the future, the social evolution of the last 50 years seems to empower and make more likely future actions of ignoring our constitutional rights.
The laws and authorizing powers are already on the books. All it takes is a single proclamation by the President – not even an Act of Congress – and the end of the rule of law as we know and cherish it could occur.
A prudent prepper will consider these concerns very seriously, and will be careful about what they store, and where and how they store it, and – most of all – be very selective about who knows what they have.
Please see other articles in our Legal category for more thoughts and ideas on these issues.
Please Read on to Part Three
Please continue this article series in part three, which introduces you to the totally un-American and terrifying concept of ‘civil forfeiture’.