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PEADs - Presidential Emergency Action Documents
Also May 17 House Judiciary Committee hearing: Examining Potential Reforms of Emergency Powers.
This morning I read James Roguski’s excellent May 21 post listing the key legal questions surrounding negotiation and ratification of the US-proposed amendments to the 2005 version of the World Health Organization International Health Regulations, along with citations and screenshots of relevant laws.
It reminded me that I ran across the term ‘PEADs’ a few weeks ago, and learned a little bit about them from a Brennan Center for Justice report:
“Presidential Emergency Action Documents (PEADs) are executive orders, proclamations, and messages to Congress that are prepared in anticipation of a range of emergency scenarios, so that they are ready to sign and put into effect the moment one of those scenarios comes to pass.
First created during the Eisenhower Administration as part of continuity-of-government plans in case of a nuclear attack, PEADs have since been expanded for use in other emergency situations where the normal operation of government is impaired. As one recent government document describes them, they are designed “to implement extraordinary presidential authority in response to extraordinary situations.”
PEADs are classified “secret,” and no PEAD has ever been declassified or leaked. Indeed, it appears that they are not even subject to congressional oversight. Although the law requires the executive branch to report even the most sensitive covert military and intelligence operations to at least some members of Congress, there is no such disclosure requirement for PEADs, and no evidence that the documents have ever been shared with relevant congressional committees.
Although PEADs themselves remain a well-kept secret, over the years a number of unclassified or de-classified documents have become available that discuss PEADs. Through these documents, we know that there were 56 PEADs in effect as of 2017, up from 48 a couple of decades earlier.”
There are several interesting reports at the Brennan Center website on this topic and the related issue of emergency executive powers derived from statutes.
Some Brennan Center reports reference the REIGN Act (S. 4279), introduced in July 2020 by Senator Edward Markey. The Restraint of Executive In Governing Nation Act was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and there it stopped moving.
If reintroduced and passed, the REIGN Act would
“require the President to disclose to Congress presidential emergency action documents within a specified time frame. Such documents may include draft executive orders, proclamations, and messages to Congress prepared in advance of anticipated emergencies. Specifically, the President shall submit to Congress (1) any such document not later than 30 days after the conclusion of the process for approval, adoption, or revision; and (2) all such documents in existence before this bill's enactment date not later than 15 days after such date.”
Brennan Center also reported that the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, held a hearing May 17 (about a week ago) on Examining Potential Reforms of Emergency Powers.
Brennan Center researchers have compiled extremely useful information.
But they’re blindered by partisanship. They link the dangers of PEADs and executive emergency powers primarily to Republican presidents, particularly Bush II and Trump, without seeing the abusive use of these tools by Democratic administrations of recent years: Clinton, Obama and now Biden.
For example, they got very agitated with Trump’s invocation of emergency powers to begin building the Mexican border wall, and the possibility that he would invoke emergency powers to stay in office after the disputed November 2020 election. Trump Derangement Syndrome continues to drive their reporting about the relationship between the J6 protests, election integrity and presidential succession.
Specific to Covid, Elizabeth Goitein, director of the Liberty and National Security Program, concluded as of March 23, 2020, “The Coronavirus is a Real Crisis. The Border Wall Obviously Wasn’t.”
They reported in September 2020 on how courts were handling judicial business in terms of closures, online proceedings and so forth. More recently, they’ve written in support of Congressional efforts to “restore public trust in science-based policy making,” attributing public mistrust entirely to Trump’s actions.
As far as I can tell, Brennan Center hasn’t yet been able to link federal executive power abuse and Constitutional erosion to dictatorial Covid-related government actions taken by the Trump administration and even more intrusively by the Biden administration through the federal ‘vaccine’ mandates.
Brennan Center blindness aside, it seems likely that one or more of the secret PEADs have been activated in recent years, and that’s part of what’s suppressing Constitutional checks and balances.