Wikipedia: Martial Law
Though I'm sure many of you didn't know it, on that lazy, peaceful Sunday afternoon you enjoyed a few days ago you should've caught the headlines instead of going outside. Had you, you would have noticed the same thing I did. Lower on the homepage was a headline that read "Iraq's Allawi Defends State of Emergency." Many of you would have glossed over even that, not realizing (as I didn't at first) the euphemism in place. On reading the article, we find that Allawi has chosen to enforce an "emergency declaration" that allows for curfews and restricted access to Baghdad's airports. Sounds docile enough, though the curfew should bug you. "Prime Minister Ayad Allawi strongly objected to media descriptions of the decree announced Sunday as martial law and stressed the steps were being taken only to curb the insurgency and not clamp down on civil liberties."
Well, that's kind of like punishing lawful gunowners for the actions of those who commit violent crimes with firearms. The problem with this kind of legislation is that its only obeyed by lawful citizens, and regardless of in which direction the steps were taken, they are curbing civil liberties, though, as said before, at this point in the article to only a minor extent. "Spelling out details at a news conference, Allawi said round-the-clock curfews was to take effect in Fallujah and Ramadi starting at sundown Monday and that all roads into the two cities would be closed. No residents may carry weapons, and government offices were ordered closed except for emergency services like hospitals and the fire department...In addition, Allawi said Iraq was temporarily closing its borders with Syria and Jordan, allowing in only trucks carrying food and other ``emergency deliveries.'' Baghdad International Airport would close for 48 hours, he said."
And now there's more civil liberties being taken away.
I think what bothers me the most is that we're trying to establish democracy in a country that is now practicing martial law.Sunday's Article in the NY Times (Revised Monday)
So I did some researching. Searched back in the NY Times and found this article from July 7, 2004, from which I excerpted the following quote:Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Tuesday signed into law broad martial powers that allow him to impose curfews anywhere in the country, ban groups he considers seditious and order the detentions of people suspected of being security ... Putting a law in place that permits him to establish emergency powers..The Reach of War
Now that's a little more scary, isn't it. Further research, this article from July 8, 2004:Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and other government ministers formally unveiled a sweeping law on Wednesday that would allow them to declare martial law to curb unrest. ... ''We will use this law and the items in the law whenever it is necessary to defeat our enemies,'' Mr. Allawi told reporters...The Reach of War 2
This, of course, is not martial law.
The scary thing about all this is I had to dig pretty far to be able to find anything on this.
I started looking on Monday, the day after it happened. I was in the Underground with Brad and wanted to show him the article that I had seen. So I went to the NY Times, and it wasn't on the homepage anymore. So I went to International, then Middle East...and usually under "All Headlines" it gives the major news for the last few days...nothing.
Do you know what it had instead? Five articles about the attack against Falluja. At least three about Iraqi progress towards democracy, because they're allowing expatriates to vote.
I finally, after searching CNN, the BBC and Reuters where I found absolutely nothing (so much for the liberal news media)
I found an article on Common Dream. The scariest part of it is at the bottom:"Iraq's law gives the government the right to impose curfews, set up checkpoints, and search and detain subjects, provided they have a valid reason and present suspects before a judge within 24 hours...The period of martial law can be extended with the written approval of Allawi and a presidential council at 30-day intervals, but would automatically expire if not extended."The extension of martial law can occur by the prime minister and a presidential council, therefore, with no input from a branch of government outside of the executive
So the question is, how did this get away from us all? Practically no one knows about it that I haven't shown it to. I've been racking my brain for two days, since I've been writing an eleven page take-home political theory essay and haven't been able to post this sooner, for another reason that it was so quickly and efficiently scraped from major media. I couldn't come up with another one, so here's my conclusion. The Bush administration realizes how bad widespread knowledge of martial law in Iraq would appear two months before national elections in this fledgling democracy. Therefore, Allawi was instructed to declare it at a strategic point, when it could hit the front pages and bounce back off. They had been preparing to attack Falluja for almost a week, why did they choose Monday? They effectively inundated the media with news of the "Battle of Falluja" and Iraq's democratic progress, allowing its gigantic step backward towards authoritarian government to go largely unnoticed.
More on this topic as I'm able to look further into it.