Presidents have always exercised emergency powers, but now thanks to dozens of new laws, regulations, court decisions and executive orders, Barack Obama is the most powerful president in all of U.S. history. Of course the U.S. Constitution does not actually give the president any special powers during a time of national emergency, but over time presidents have decided that they should be able to exercise such powers and the courts have generally agreed with them. During World War II and prior to that, these emergency powers were largely uncodified and were primarily used during times of war. But since World War II things have completely changed, and this has particularly been true since 9/11. Over the past decade or so, a whole host of extraordinary powers have specifically been given to the office of the president, and all that it takes to exercise them is a major “national emergency”. So if we do have a full-blown economic collapse, a historic natural disaster, a significant war or a massive pandemic, Barack Obama could use the emergency powers that he has been given to essentially take authority over everything.
There is not a single document or series of documents that contain all of the emergency powers that Barack Obama could potentially wield during a major national emergency. As I mentioned above, these powers come from literally dozens of laws, regulations, court decisions and executive orders. But in this article I will discuss a few important documents. One of these is a presidential directive that was issued during the second term of George W. Bush. It is entitled NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD – 51/HOMELAND SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/HSPD – 20, and you can take a look at it on the FEMA website right here. This document is primarily concerned with the continuity of our federal government in the event of a catastrophic emergency. So precisely what would constitute a “catastrophic emergency”? The following is how the document defines that term…
“Catastrophic Emergency” means 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;
That sounds quite broad to me. It could apply to all sorts of scenarios.