Lou Dobbs: Trump should 'declare a national emergency and simply sweep aside the recalcitrant left'


I’m not saying than building a wall is the best way to spend taxpayers dollars, or that the current manufactured emergency is not just a racist political move, but the US Army Corps of Engineers builds and operates plenty of infrastructure in the United States. A wall would actually have a purpose closer to that of the military than the flood control, beach restoration, and dredging projects that they routinely perform in the United States. The US Army used to build forts in US states and territories. The military does build stuff in the US, and not only on “military” land.


Digging ditches has always been a bigger activity of military life than building walls, at peace or not.

“Bet on the army that controls the water.” -A saying by me, thought up two minutes ago.


from your wikipedia link

" The General Survey Act of 1824 authorized the use of Army engineers to survey road and canal routes.[9] That same year, Congress passed an “Act to Improve the Navigation of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers” and to remove sand bars on the Ohio and “planters, sawyers, or snags” (trees fixed in the riverbed) on the Mississippi, for which the Corps of Engineers was the responsible agency.[10]"

That’s probably from before you were born.


The southern border moat!



As @jerwin points out those projects are authorized by Congress as is legally required for them to operate domestically. Something that won’t be forthcoming in this case.

And a lot of what they do is disaster relief, prevention, or environmental. They’re responsible for a lot of the bigger erosion control projects where I’m at. It takes an act of congress every time.

ETA: And IIRC it also typically requires authorization or a request from the State Legislature.


Fine with me.

Yeah, most probably.


You guys are missing my point: Contrary to what @Ryuthrowsstuff and Slate say, the US military does execute many engineering projects in the US, having nothing to do with enforcement of domestic policies, some of them of no evident military value. They are indeed authorized by Congress to do so.

A coast-to-coast wall is an expensive, stupid, and racist idea, but using the military to build it is neither unprecedented or illegal.


Is that what we’re talking about here? (rhetorical)

I think how legal or not this one is judged to be, post facto, will ultimately rest on how much people want the executive to have unlimited scope for any action they want to do.


I’d put that as neither automatically unprecedented or illegal. Because I have faith in Trump’s crowd to fuck up any attempt to put the military to work on the Wall.


One of the things that makes me bristle about this is also Dobb’s language, using the word calcitrant ( a : difficult to manage or operate) as if the Left requires authoritative control and lacks agency.
The word might fly over the heads of Trump’s base voters, but he’s hoping it’s heard well enough as a dog-whistle.


And Congress has authorized the President to declare National Emergencies and to “reprogram unobligated funds that Congress has appropriated for military construction projects.”

“It’s probably about $20 billion funding that the military has available right now in military construction and family housing accounts that has not yet been obligated,” says Todd Harrison, who directs defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

We have given the US President way too much power. We should claw it back.


I think you’re right that he can declare the emergency.

Even after the fact, I don’t think Congress will do much, because politically, it’s better to let a President burn the toast and then use it against them in the next election.


Canada, I’m sorry, but you may wish to consider this.
I already have a 2500 mile wide moat between me and the CONUS.


Well both myself and slate article mention congressional approval repeatedly.

And Trump won’t be getting congressional approval. In fact he’s proposing the idea specifically to end round congressional authority to appropriate funds and authorize use of the military. Which is itself likely illegal.

But the use of the Army Corp of Engineers is a different thing than Trump is proposing. For the most part these are not Military projects run by the Military. The Corp of Engineers acts in support of civilian authorities on pre-existing projects.

Take the erosion control projects I mentioned. They’re run by the Department of the Interior and our state environmental agency the DEC. The Army Corp provides a dredge boat that’s larger and less damaging to the sea floor than these projects could otherwise afford. And expertise in stabilizing sand embankments to rebuild beaches and dunes. They provide material and logistical support to non military projects. Funded with non-military dollars. Under the authority/command of non-military leadership. And again, often times only with legislative approval.

This is essentially the same as the whole deploy the military to the border thing from a few months ago. There were very limited things the military was allowed to do, and all of them were about providing direct material and logistic support to CBP, who were doing the actual job of policing the border.

There is no hard block on military presence or actions on US soil. There is a pretty strict block on using the military to enforce or enact domestic policy. Or using the military to fill a law enforcement roll. Both are fairly inherent to what Trump is proposing, and how he’s proposing to pull it off.

These bans cover the DOD as a whole, including some or all National Guard Units. The Search and Rescue unit housed near us is involved in civilian maritime SAR in the area. But since that is a law enforcement roll traditionally covered by the Coast Guard. The Military unit can not monitor for or receive emergency calls. And is only allowed to participate through the Coast Guard, where they provide something the Coast Guard cannot. This usually boils down to any operation that needs a helicopter in the air for more than 2 hours, the Airguard cover that end. As they have midair refueling capabilities the Coasties don’t. But they only do so through, and in concert with , the Coast Guard. And they are, I think, specifically authorized to do that by our state legislature.

Which is where you run into the restrictions to military or federal lands, and which sort of and how much funding can be redirected. And any such move having to be necessary to support a military operation.

Essentially to do this, and to justify this. Trump is saying that he’s going to make operating and policing the border a military operation. But its already under the law, and traditionally, an issue on non-military domestic policy and a law enforcement roll controlled by Homeland Security and CBP.

That’s what’s illegal there. Using federal troops, directly and in their own right, in that domestic law enforcement roll. And that can not be legally done with out congressional approval. Which isn’t coming. And its not even something the military is OK with. Its the thing they sent all those press releases during the border trip bullshit to tell the public “we are definitely not doing that and are not allowed to do that. We’re gonna dig holes, and drive trucks”.


One wonders if one could actually build a moat between Canada and the US.

Get it started by ploughing channels on the coast through bedrock, on towards softer soil and then see how far tidal movement gets you, washing soil out to sea several times a day.


After 6 years of Republicans being of the most obstructive government in our history under Obama, the obstructionist right now labels the left as obstructionist because the right decided to shut down the government when the right failed to get the votes to pass their legislation.


Well they built the old (Thomas Jefferson Building) Library of Congress. But the public works type projects by the Army Corps of Engineers are done by contractors, not soldiers. Really a tiny number of uniformed members are managing projects done by private companies.


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