Follow the “M” word: More on the “National Defense Resources Preparedness” executive order

posted at 6:00 pm on March 20, 2012 by J.E. Dyer

Not “martial law,” folks.  Not that “M” word.  The other one: “money.”

Ed did an excellent job breaking down the few actual differences between Obama’s new defense-resources EO and the previous version from 1994.  Here are the two main differences:

1.  The Obama EO elaborates vague-sounding functions for federal agencies in maintaining defense-resources preparedness (Section 103).  Ed summarizes them as follows:

Note what this EO specifically orders: identify, assess, be prepared, improve, foster cooperation.

2.  The Obama EO delegates authorities under Section 308 to agency heads.  The Section 308 authorities include putting additional equipment in public and private defense industrial facilities, and modifying or expanding private facilities, including modifying or “improving” industrial processes.

Any time I see the Obama administration and “modifying private industry” in the same zip code, I get curious about who’s cooking up ways to spend taxpayer money on uneconomic ventures.  We’ve had that whole thing with the green-tech companies making out like bandits from Obama administration crony projects – while failing, destroying unused parts, and charging the military four times the cost of regular fuel – so it’s not like there’s no precedent for the concept.

And it turns out that Obama’s new EO did not emerge from out of nowhere in this regard.  The Department of Energy has become notorious for its funding awards to Obama cronies, but there has been much less of that unpleasant publicity about the Department of Defense.  Where Obama has proposed increasing defense expenditures, however, is in public-private partnerships to develop “advanced manufacturing” technologies for the defense industry.  A whole infrastructure of initiatives and organizations has been set up to bring the idea to fruition.  And a key due-out in each case will be DOD money going to businesses.

As Ed and others pointed out this weekend, there is nothing new about federal provisions to manage and ensure “defense resources.”  The Obama administration has set up some new organizations, but it has relied on the authority from previous legislation (principally the Defense Production Act of 1950, or DPA) to scope its overarching concept.  Readers should also keep in mind that the idea of government stepping in and modifying defense businesses has been enshrined in US law for decades.  (The previous understanding has been that these measures would be reserved almost entirely for war or national emergency.)   The Obama administration is merely putting its unique stamp on the concept.

There’s a big cast of characters.  Besides reorganizing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), an entity that has existed under different names for most of the last 80 years, the Obama administration launched its Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) in June 2011.  The AMP will hand out money, but will also identify projects for the federal departments to hand out money to.

In 2011, the administration created a new Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy (MIBP).  ASD/MIBP is not a Senate-confirmed official,   but he manages the DPA Fund; i.e., money.  (A GAO report in 2008 summarized the somewhat chaotic approach to funding DPA projects under Title III; the Obama administration’s approach has emphasized wrestling some of that chaos down, to put a more Obamist face on the priorities.)

Obama also established an interagency Defense Production Act Committee, which, although derived from the authorities conferred by the DPA of 1950, had not been constituted prior to 2009.  DPAC’s charter:

[DPAC] serves as a multi-departmental forum to identify risks and shortfalls in the industrial base and make recommendation on actions to rectify them, including the use of DPA Title III authorities.

(Title III authorities are summarized here as a “set of unique economic authorities to incentivize the creation, expansion or preservation of domestic manufacturing capabilities for technologies, components and materials needed to meet national defense requirements.” Read, in large part: money.) 

The Obama administration also published very quickly – in March 2009 – a new strategic plan for the DOD Manufacturing Technology Program, another federal program dating to the 1950s, and one that – you guessed it – disburses money.  But note: the specific requirement for the strategic plan came from the Defense Authorization Act in the final year of the Bush administration.  As is often the case, the Obama administration doesn’t have to think up new programs, requirements, or authorities; it simply leverages the existing, cumulative infrastructure.

That appears to be what is going on with a concatenation of programmatic efforts that we may call the “defense advanced manufacturing nexus,” or DAMN.  The central document in the nexus is the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing, published – pay attention here – in February 2012.  This is another in that ever-lengthening list of things you probably didn’t know we had.  This strategic plan was developed by the Interagency Working Group on Advanced Manufacturing (IAM, and how’s that for an acronym), in response to Section 102 of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.

The strategic plan is about federal investment (“greater public co-investment”) – that is, in plain speak, “giving money” to folks.  The priority for expenditures is explained as follows:

[P]rivate investment in advanced manufacturing capabilities may not occur domestically unless the public sector makes strategic investments to address market failures in stages of the innovation process downstream from basic research.

So the strategic plan is to invest taxpayer money in market failures.  And it all comes together on pages 30-31 of this document, where we see the Defense Production Act Committee and the DOD Manufacturing Technology Program called out specifically as vehicles for implementing the strategic plan.  DARPA is explicitly invoked as well.

Acronym overload is an issue here, so let’s just state the proposition one more time.  The Obama strategic plan for advanced manufacturing is to invest public money in technologies that are vulnerable to (or are already) market failures, with a focus on defense manufacturing.  The vague-sounding functions assigned to federal agencies in Obama’s new defense-resources EO – identify, assess, be prepared, improve, foster cooperation – mirror quite exactly the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing and the DOD Manufacturing Technology Strategic Plan.

In light of this comprehensive, money-intensive plan, the delegation of authority to agency heads – for adding to, modifying, and improving the industrial base – takes on an interesting hue.  The first thing that occurs to me is the Obama administration’s well-known reliance on “stealth” implementation of controversial or unpopular measures, through the unheralded actions of federal agencies.  Charles Krauthammer outlined several such actions in December 2010; readers can no doubt think of numerous others.

How would this matter to the defense industrial infrastructure?  One obvious way is the potential for agencies to quietly circumvent the intentions of Congress, which are a longstanding source of friction for presidential defense priorities.  The Senate, in particular, is the center of excellence for political horse-trading over national priorities for the defense industry.  If it’s manufactured for defense, or if it’s a defense service, there’s a senator for that:  the Senate’s slugfests over which states get the biggest or next or “fair share” piece of the defense-industry pie are as unseemly and ridiculous and necessary as anything in consensual republican government.

But there is a subtler issue as well.  The defense industry and its advocates have been complaining in the last couple of years about irreparable losses in the defense industrial infrastructure due to spending cuts.  (See here and here as well.)   There need be no “conspiracy theories” for us to recognize that as spending is cut further and further, some elements of the base will die on the vine, and what the federal government does spend defense money on is what will determine the shape of the future defense industrial base.

I am profoundly uneasy about the priorities of the Obama Defense Department in general – and I am made more so by the achievements in innovation touted by defense-funded enterprises like the $16-a-gallon marine biofuel, the contract to apply grid efficiency technology to DOD energy use, and DARPA’s partnership with start-up Local Motors to develop the first Experimental Crowd-Derived Combat-Support Vehicle (XC2V).  The last sounds like one heck of a lot of fun, but forcing money into this kind of idea while declining to fund basic weapon systems will transform the defense industrial base in a way no one would buy into up front.

The new Obama EO on defense resources comes out of an accelerating, months-long effort to harness the defense budget for favored kinds of spending.  This will no doubt be depicted as, precisely, “national defense resources preparedness.”  And it’s already underway.  In addition to the various direct-purchase or sponsorship projects with defense funding, the Army and Navy are just (literally, just) opening new research laboratories, which the US is apparently able to fund in spite of needing to cut funds for the high-performing RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV, the F-35 multi-service strike-fighter, US bases in Europe, and 80,000 Army soldiers.

For perspective, it is important to recognize that all presidential administrations seek to put their stamp on defense policies.  There is nothing nefarious about doing that.  What’s worth noting about the Obama administration is that its clearest public posture on defense is that defense spending has to be cut, no matter how painful the losses in military capability.  In the esoteric realm of “national investment in infrastructure,” however – where money goes, as with the “Stimulus” package, to cronies – the administration has lifted out a segment of defense-related spending for special funding.  It defines this segment in the terms of its “investment” plan for “advanced manufacturing,” in a manner similar to its enthusiasm for defense “investment” in “green technologies.”

And now it has modified the EO on National Defense Resources Preparedness along lines that are clearly relevant to implementing the plan for advanced manufacturing.  A whole slew of websites went to high warble over the revised EO on the theory that it was intended to facilitate martial law, and I agree with Ed that that looks like a silly overreaction.  But the important point is that it’s misdirected.  I don’t think the EO or its timing is meaningless, or merely routine.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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Bmore on March 20, 2012 at 6:02 PM

In totally unrelated news … see how nicely this stuff fits together?

lorien1973 on March 20, 2012 at 6:02 PM

O/T,

Exit polls:
************

1 in 4 Illinois voters described themselves as ‘very conservative,’ according to early results -

Submitted 2 mins ago from elections.nytimes.co
http://www.breakingnews.com/
===============================

canopfor on March 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Any time I see the Obama administration and “modifying private industry” in the same zip code, I get curious about who’s cooking up ways to spend taxpayer money on uneconomic ventures.
========================================================

Lefty Job Creation for Lefty’s!!

canopfor on March 20, 2012 at 6:06 PM

The government has no such authority. It is NOT in the Constitution.

They show up to my house demanding my “resources” they shall have my bullets before anything else.

wildcat72 on March 20, 2012 at 6:06 PM

DeMoneyCrats!!

canopfor on March 20, 2012 at 6:07 PM

I thought that as it relates to the Country and the American people…JugEars only thought of the F word!

KOOLAID2 on March 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM

J.E. Any tips on explaining this complicated post to our liberal friends? You included a lot of links. Is there a simple way to sum this up? My lib friends like things simple. Go figure./ Hopefully the comments will reveal some tips.

Bmore on March 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM

PCAST
AMP
MIBP
DPAC

That’s quite an alphabet soup of bureacracy (re: waste).

Bitter Clinger on March 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Barry believes that National Defense requires that he be re-elected. Maybe “Preparedness” will require large expenditures of DOD money for his re-election.

GarandFan on March 20, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Speaking of money and our esteemed government – I see a troika of Big Government, Big Business and Big Labor turning this country into a 21st century version of Mussolini’s Italy of the 1920s. It’s a political economy that allows the state to exert control in the economy while maintaining a façade of private ownership.

Mutual supporting networks of labor, industry and government who protect each other’s interests at our expense. Too big to fail, protection against upstart competitors, favorable legislation and industry provides money and political support for politician’s pet projects. The same with labor. The money gets passed from one back to the other.

Think back to 2008; some banks get bailed out others are allowed to fail, the green-loving GE’s finance arm is suddenly declared a bank and gets bailed out, the administration condemns big health insurance and pharma but they support Obamacare because they wind up with a law forcing every citizen to buy their product, hundreds of years of contract law are thrown in the trash (along with the creditors) and GE and Chrysler are in essence handed to the UAW, the “Education Bailout” is enacted two months before the 2010 mid-terms. And these are just a few of the alarming things that have happened recently. We could add hundreds of other actions to this.

Who stands in the way of this plan succeeding? Us. And resist we must.

jb34461 on March 20, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Did I read that these plans were developed for “emergency” and “non-emergency” situations? What would be the justification for non-emergency planning? No doubt, money is to be funneled to Obama cronies regardless.

FirelandsO3 on March 20, 2012 at 6:18 PM

J.E. Any tips on explaining this complicated post to our liberal friends? You included a lot of links. Is there a simple way to sum this up? My lib friends like things simple. Go figure./ Hopefully the comments will reveal some tips.

Bmore on March 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Wow. You still have liberal “friends”, Bmore? I’ve even given up talking with liberal family members! You can’t explain ANYTHING to a liberal that involves facts or logic, I’ve given up trying.

Harbingeing on March 20, 2012 at 6:24 PM

TLDR

rcpjr on March 20, 2012 at 6:30 PM

We must ackowledge that what is written is irrelevant, to these people and the GOP opposition is neutered by default.

They disregard the constitution with impunity Kelo – Roe v Wade, Arlen Spectre’s embarrassing defense of Roe v Wade’s “well lookie here” penumbras from eminations “stare decisis” all the way back to…oops, Dred Scott) and case law, taught by lefty law professors and eventually determined by politically appointed “lawmakers and constitution breakers” lawyers in robes.

Obama has appointed untouchable Czars, Soros funds the election of Secretaries of State to “count all the votes for Obama”The GOP capitulates in budget negotiations and lets the media run roughshod over the truth with impunity (except for Newt who was criticized for speaking the truth, by both sides.)

The troops meanwhile are waiting for the big battle and the GOP selects, protects and sends up for the Obama machine fodder, the one clonish man with the worst baggage possible to fight Obama, a rich white guy who created Obamacare mandates for Obama and has/does (who really knows) -every liberal social position, and who has one skill (supposedly) he knows the economy. Well GOP, so do they, but they know far better how to manipulate people (except you do better stringing along the social cons.)

It’s like they wish to lose with their deliberate “Bad cop, worse cop” choices.

Where’s the tea party?

Don L on March 20, 2012 at 6:40 PM

I got a question for all you liberals here:

Why come out with this “update” now and not one, two, or three years ago?

Huh? What was that? I can’t hear you!

Woody

woodcdi on March 20, 2012 at 6:40 PM

“I am profoundly uneasy about the priorities of the Obama Defense Department in general – …”

Now why would you say that…?

… Oh, wait!

“Barack Obama – Yes I Can Make Us Defenseless”

Seven Percent Solution on March 20, 2012 at 6:49 PM

J.E. DYER: That was a rookie move, you should have lead hotgasians on a bit. Obama and martial law sells far more, you would be looking at a 20 page thread count by now…smh rookie move.

0bamaderangementsyndrom on March 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM

the revised EO on the theory that it was intended to facilitate martial law, and I agree with Ed that that looks like a silly overreaction.

Heck, I’m not worried.It’s only a COOK BOOK.

Last night on Hannity Lanny Davis even states people are looking at it from a worst case interpretation. That’s the whole point, worst case interpretation. It only takes 1 President to exercise this power and ITS GAME OVER.

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/hannity/index.html#/v/1519395246001/the-real-obama-absolute-power/?playlist_id=86924

Listen to around minute 4:40-5:00

VikingGoneWild on March 20, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.

goldwater ’64

newrouter on March 20, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Oh, wait!

“Barack Obama – Yes I Can Make Us Defenseless”

Seven Percent Solution on March 20, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Seven Percent Solution:Very nice,use there own words against them!:)

canopfor on March 20, 2012 at 7:02 PM

” The Obama administration is merely putting its unique stamp on the concept.”

Goddammit there IS NO ‘MERELY’. As I also said to Ed’s blase ‘wait and see’ re this EO – the Obamunists don’t do anything without a self-rewarding reason. If they do ANYTHING, look for the angle that advances their marxist / communist ‘central control’ agenda. It will be there, just as surely as Obama stuffs his face with junk food EVERY time he’s away from Queen Arugula.

rayra on March 20, 2012 at 7:08 PM

Thanks to the folks at hot air for doing there homework.
Ill bet you won’t see this in the msm anytime soon.

newportmike on March 20, 2012 at 7:12 PM

I’ve given up trying.

Harbingeing on March 20, 2012 at 6:24 PM

I still try, 0′s administration has made it much easier in some respects. If we don’t talk to them we can’t hope to appeal to them. Not all of them are beyond help. ; )

Bmore on March 20, 2012 at 7:16 PM

Lefty Job Creation for Lefty’s UNIONS!!

canopfor on March 20, 2012 at 6:06 PM

.
Fixed.

ExpressoBold on March 20, 2012 at 7:44 PM

J.E. Any tips on explaining this complicated post to our liberal friends? You included a lot of links. Is there a simple way to sum this up? My lib friends like things simple. Go figure./ Hopefully the comments will reveal some tips.

Bmore on March 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Maybe something simple like: “No, Obama isn’t using defense powers to impose martial law, he’s using defense powers to give money to more Solyndras.”

That turns out to actually be true. I wasn’t looking real hard for alternative-energy in DPA’s list of projects (I was focused on the advanced-manufacturing angle), but someone cued me to a biofuels production effort in Hawaii that Obama plans to use DPA Title III funds for. Here’s one of the earlier reports on it from last August. It’s in the 2013 DPA budget submission (page 12 of the PDF file, or “2 of 8″ as labeled in the document) under the title Alternative Energy from Organic Sources project.

Hawaii. Imagine that.

J.E. Dyer on March 20, 2012 at 9:49 PM

This is the Barack Obama administration we’re talking about.

His Friday-night dump EO is absolutely definitely without question containing triggers specific to his intentions and agenda. And as anyone with two brain cells to rub together would certainly know, his intentions and agenda are to tear down this country to a level that he and/or his cronies can walk right in and remake the USA the way they see fit to make it — US Constitution be damned. Of that, there is no doubt.

I’m just not well versed in how all of it ties together nor well enough trained in deciphering the government lexicon that makes up the contents of his Friday-night dump EO or I’d figure it out myself while the fine folks that blog at HotGas pshaw and poo-poo it as though it is some routine meaningless bureaucratic memo.

Nothing about President Barack Hussein Obama is honest and genuine. Nothing. His ‘transparency’ is about as clear as wet clay and it always has been from the very moment of his birth. His ‘rule of law’ are his own rules that he makes up as he goes along so that they may suit his needs and desires. His ‘touchstones’ are standards of leadership that would make Josef Stalin green with envy.

SD Tom on March 20, 2012 at 9:58 PM

Maybe something simple like: “No, Obama isn’t using defense powers to impose martial law, he’s using defense powers to give money to more Solyndras.”

That turns out to actually be true. I wasn’t looking real hard for alternative-energy in DPA’s list of projects (I was focused on the advanced-manufacturing angle), but someone cued me to a biofuels production effort in Hawaii that Obama plans to use DPA Title III funds for. Here’s one of the earlier reports on it from last August. It’s in the 2013 DPA budget submission (page 12 of the PDF file, or “2 of 8″ as labeled in the document) under the title Alternative Energy from Organic Sources project.

Hawaii. Imagine that.

J.E. Dyer on March 20, 2012 at 9:49 PM

I like it. Thanks. Sorry to be so slow responding. I was helping out a friend I thought we might have lost. ; )

Bmore on March 20, 2012 at 10:55 PM

Hey, most people won’t worry even as the trucks to the FEMA camps pull up to their home, so, nothing to see here, move along!

/

insidiator on March 21, 2012 at 7:45 AM

You have to be really naive to read the EO and not see the jackboots of the Communist left ready to march.

Really? REALLY? REALLY? You trust this president to NOT use this EO to cement his power and become the absolute dictator that he really aspires to?

Obama burns the Constitution

I don’t care that every other president had this power. I do not want THIS president to have it!

georgej on March 21, 2012 at 9:17 AM

From American Thinker:

In an attempt to provide that answer, allow me to don an appropriately stylish tinfoil hat before I present a plausible scenario.

1) In early March 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it is the position of this administration that international organizations such as NATO or the United Nations have at least as much, if not more authority to deploy U.S. troops, with or without congressional notice or permission.

2) A week later, the NAACP petitioned the U.N. Human Rights Council to involve themselves in our election process — specifically our November presidential election, in order to monitor the vote for instances of voter suppression. It is the fantasy of the NAACP that laws requiring presentation of a photo ID to cast a ballot are in actuality thinly veiled efforts to keep the poor, elderly, and non-white populations from voting, presumably for Obama.

3) Attorney General Eric Holder has spent his tenure creating a hair-trigger system of race-conscious prosecutions, most notably in reference to cases involving voter fraud. His previous employee, J. Christian Adams, has built a second career from simply exposing the injustice of Holder’s Department of Justice.

4) Most recently, Holder struck another blow against the concept of verifiable voting by forestalling Texas’s proposed Voter ID law, saying it “goes against the arc of history.” Aside from the attorney general basing his decisions on perceived “historical arcs” rather than clear and established law, the end result is the same: the creation of an air of uncertainty surrounding the upcoming election.

Now (as I adjust my tinfoil hat to a jauntier angle), let me tie these points together.

By employing repetitive reporting of “uncertainty about the reliability of the presidential election tally” by the major media, compounded by expressions of the same uncertainty by administration officials, the left could install that narrative amongst the segments of the population that pay little or no attention to the day-to-day practice of politics.

Could the NAACP then, with support from the Department of Justice and the administration, make the case to the U.N. that the election was in fact tainted, and subsequently persuade the member nations of the U.N. to declare the election invalid? It is possible, and such a declaration is certain to bring chaos to the streets of every major city in our country, as well as a great deal of smaller ones. To restore order, the president might need to deploy troops. Should the Congress resist the move, the administration might simply appeal to the U.N., which could request/order the deployment of troops by a willing and complicit Secretary Panetta.

And of course, President Obama would simply continue in office, for the sake of stability, until this could all be sorted out.

Akzed on March 21, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Akzed on March 21, 2012 at 9:22 AM

There are many end these means can reach that Obama has employed or set in place. Not a one of them is good for the United States and are of great concern.

I predict that if Obama wins, the death knell for the US will be slower paced than his recent progress. If he loses in November, the end will be the same. He’ll just have to rush his tyrannical dictatorship into place at the pace he has set and running right now.

Woody

woodcdi on March 21, 2012 at 8:30 PM