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“Martial Law” in the United States Today

Once the straitjacket of “martial law” has been fastened on a community a real “emergency” will exist—not least of all in the inability of civilian authorities and residents to resist the oppressors occupying their territory.

Last Updated on February 17, 2022 by Constitutional Militia

“Martial Law” in the United States Today Under Color of “Homeland Security”

Nothing comparable to the Department of Homeland Security was ever openly proposed until public officials trotted out “the war on terrorism” as the focus of a nationwide attention after the 9/11 event.[1] “The war on terrorism” began as the excuse for permanent and wide-ranging military adventures overseas, directed primarily at countries in the Middle East and Africa with strategic importance because of their locations and natural resources. It was and remains, l’arme blanche in a campaign of neo-imperialism. From its conception, though, “the war on terrorism” also provided the perfect pretext for the establishment of a National police-state apparatus within America. Yet that ersatz “war” cannot explain the breakneck speed at which the DHS has since been constructed and its operations expanded. For even a coordinated attack by every “terrorist” in the entire world could not ignite a truly catastrophic emergency throughout the United States. From tint to time, “homeland security” bureaucrats have posited the possibility that “terrorists” might launch an EMP attack against, or otherwise sabotage, the vulnerable national electric grid. But a failure of the grid—for one reason or another entirely unrelated to “terrorism”—and the havoc it would cause have hung over this country for a long time. Nonetheless, although some high level security exercises have been (and will continue to be) conducted, next to nothing has been done to prepare common Americans to live with far less electricity than they consume now, or to teach them how to generate electricity or other forms of power locally from alternative sources under emergency conditions.[2]

The most realistic as well as least complicated explanation for the feverish pace at which a National para-military police-state apparatus is being erected is that public officials expect a calamitous breakdown of America’s monetary and banking systems, with an attendant collapse of the country’s entire economy, to take place in the not-so-distant future. Officialdom and its controllers and clients may not have set out consciously to create the conditions necessary and sufficient for such a catastrophe. It may be an unintended consequence of their incompetence, rather than the fruit of deliberate planning. It may come about as the result of international conflicts which suddenly break out in “economic warfare” which ultimately benefits no one. But, with the catastrophe (whatever its genesis) now looming over this country, “homeland security” officials imagine that they know how to take full advantage of it for their own purposes. For even the initial stages of such a calamity would convince would almost certainly convince the masses that “martial law” of some variety were “necessary” to provide them with “safety”—most likely to the forms of food, shelter, medical care, and other basic requirements of life that a nationwide economic collapse would render otherwise unavailable to many average Americans in a timely and sufficient fashion. Of course, the promise of such “safety” would surely prove illusory, for the same reason that Americans are now confronted with these dangers: namely, since 1903 rogue public officials have systematically rendered “the Militia of the several States” moribund.[1] Only most recently have some of the basic security functions which the Militia should perform been assigned to tiny civilian “emergency management” bureaucracies in the operations of which average Americans eligible for the Militia play no role.[2] These bureaucracies, however, can easily be predicted to prove incapable of performing the really difficult tasks for which deployment of the Militia would be necessary (or even for which the Militia would simply be most suitable). So, although the “homeland security” establishment is correct in predicting that a national catastrophe would work to its immediate advantage, that advantage would quickly dissipate as the bureaucrats exposed themselves incompetent to mitigate, let alone alleviate, the effects of the disaster.


1.) See Edwin Vieira, Jr., Thirteen Words (Ashland, Ohio: Bookmasters Inc., 2013), at 21-25. Also see By Tyranny Out of Necessity: The Bastardy of Martial Law, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Bookmasters Inc., Ashland, Ohio (2014), page 22.

2.) See e.g., Code of Virginia §§ 44-146.18:2, 44-146.19, 44-146.20, 44-146.21, 44-146.22, 44-146.24, and 44-146.26.

The only remaining question becomes: “How can the ‘homeland security’ establishment rationalize the introduction of ‘martial governance’ throughout the United States?” “Homeland security” bureaucrats would not be talking about “martial law” at all, if the sort of “martial governance” they expected to set up within the United States were plainly authorized by this country’s fundamental laws. It would suffice to identify some actual constitutional power, and be done with further discussion. No support for “martial governance” can be found in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. The “homeland-security” bureaucrats know this if they won’t admit it. Therefore, as a rationale for “martial governance”, they need to fall back on some body of “law” other than the Declaration and Constitution and fundamentally contradictory of both. Their preferred body of “law” for this purpose is the so-called “international law of belligerent occupation”.[1]


1.) By Tyranny Out of Necessity: The Bastardy of Martial Law, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Bookmasters Inc., Ashland, Ohio (2014), page 48.

Although the Department of the Army’s Field Manual, The Law of Land Warfare, may not have originally been written with such a subversive aim, it does provide a great deal of material which aspiring tyrants and usurpers can twist for that end:

“In the practice of the United states, military government is the form of administration which may be established  and mantained for the government of areas of the following types that have been subjected to military occupation:

a. Enemy territory.

*  *  *  *  *

 d. Domestic territory recovered from rebels treated as belligerents.

Although military government is an accepted concept in the law of the United States, the limits placed upon its exercise are prescribed by the international law of belligerent occupation. ***

In the United States, martial law is the temporary government of the civil population of domestic territory through the military forces, without the authority of written law, as necessity may require. The most prominent distinction between military government * * * and martial law is that the former is generally exercised in the territory of, or territory formerly occupied by, a hostile belligerent and is subject to restraints imposed by the international law of belligerent occupation, while the latter is invoked only in domestic territory, the local government and inhabitants of which are not treated or recognized as belligerents, and is governed solely by the domestic law of the United States. 

So far as the United States forces are concerned, military government and martial  law are exercised by the military commander under the direction of the President, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.” [1]


1.) FM 27-10, ante note 29, Paragraph 12 (bold-faced emphasis supplied). Actually, the notion that “military government * * * may be established and maintained for the government of * * * [d]omestic territory recovered from rebels treated as belligerents” is nothing new, but instead one of the truly cockamamy theories that arose out of the Lincoln Administration’s confused prosecution of the Civil War. See generally John Fabian Witt, Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (New York New York, new York: Free Press, 2012).

Ominously, the Department of Defense goes even further, expanding their martial authority under “emergency” circumstances claiming that

[w]hen permitted under emergency authority * * *, Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances because:

(a) Such activities are necessary to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order; or,

(b) When duty constituted Federal, State or local, authorities are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for Federal property or Federal governmental functions. Federal action, including the use of Federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect Federal property or functions.[1]

This directive’s reference to “protection for * * Federal governmental functions” should alert the reader to the extreme breadth of the jurisdiction putatively vested in “Federal military commanders”. For the promulgation, enforcement, or other administration of every statute, regulation, executive order, judicial or agency ruling and other decree of the General Government involves some “Federal governmental function [ ]”, by definition. And as these statutes, regulations, and so on now number in the tens of thousands, and their subjects among the general population—whether individuals, private organizations, Local governments, or even the States—number in the hundreds of millions, to find a corner of ordinary life within America which does not arguably lie beneath the shadow of some purported “Federal governmental function [ ]” presents a daunting challenge indeed.[2]


1.) INSTRUCTION NUMBER 3025.21, ante note 28, ENCLOSURE 3, PARTICIPATION OF DoD PERSONNEL IN CIVILIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES, § 1.b.(3), C.F.R. Part 182, §182.6 (a) (1) (ii) (C) (1) and (2), 78 Federal Register (12 April 2013), at 21831.

2.) By Tyranny Out of Necessity: The Bastardy of Martial Law, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Bookmasters Inc., Ashland, Ohio (2014), page 13-14.

Congress today has made it clear that it approves of the President’s use of indefinite detention for American citizens. One section of its most recent statute (as of this writing) provides as follows:

(a) IN GENERAL.—Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force * * * includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons * * * pending disposition under the law of war.

(b) COVERED PERSONS.—A covered person under this section is any person as follows:

(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that  occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.

(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.

(c) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR.—The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following

(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.[1]

“[A]ny person” can include an American citizen—for nowhere are Americans excluded from that term. Therefore, any American whom someone in the Executive Branch believes (on whatever ground, be it serious, spurious, or the spawn of mere spite) to have “committed a belligerent act or * * * directly supported * * * hostilities in aid of enemy forces” against either “the United States or its coalition partners” can be detained “under the law of war without trial until the end of * * * hostilities”—and not simply in indefinite, but even in indeterminable, detention, because no one knows what conditions will signal “the end of * * * hostilities”.[2]


1.) An Act To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes (“National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012”), Act of 31 December 2011, Pub. L. 112-81, TITLE X—GENERAL PROVISIONS, Subtitle D—Counterterrorism, § 1021, 125 Stat. 1298, 1562.

2.) The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 1587. (emphasis supplied).

The intimidating ambiguity of this statute should surprise no one, as “detention under the law of war” falls within “martial law”—and as William Blackstone, America’s Founding Fathers’ preeminent mentor on the pre-constitutional laws of England,[1] observed in his Commentaries on the Laws of England,

“martial law, which is built upon no settled principles, but is entirely arbitrary in it’s decisions is * * * in truth and reality no law, but something indulged, rather than allowed as a law: the necessity of order and discipline in an army is the only thing which can give it countenance; and therefore it ought not to be permitted in time of peace, when the * * * courts are open for all persons to receive justice according to the laws of the land.”[2]

But on the count of its linguistic imprecision alone it should be treated as a nullity—because any statute couched “in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application violates the first essential of due process of law”.[3]


1.) See Schick v. United States, 195 U.S. 65, 69 (1904), and Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 715 (1999).

2.) Commentaries in the Laws of England (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Robert Bell, American Edition, 4 Volumes & Appendix, 1771-1773), Volume I, at 412. Accord, Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wallace) 2 (1866).

3.) Connally v. General Construction Company, 269 U.S. 385, 391 (1926). At least one judge has recognized as much. See Hedges v. Obama, Case 1:12-cv-00331-KBF (S.D.N.Y.), Opinion and Order (filed 12 September 2012). Whether this decision will be upheld on appeal remains to be seen. Also see The Sword and Sovereignty: The Constitutional Principles of “the Militia of the several States”, Front Royal, Virginia CD ROM Edition 2012, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 1588.

1.) Apparently however, the nucleus of the plan had taken shape much earlier. See, e.g., A BILL to improve the ability of the United States to respond to the international terrorist threat (“Omnibus Counter-terrorism Act of 1995”), 104th Congress, 1st Session (10 February 1995).

2.) E.g., in GridEx 2011, “[a] scenario was crafted to fully engage the diverse stakeholder set, promote doordination during the exercise, and highlight urgent cybersecurity issues facing the sector. The scenario featured advanced persistent threat attributes that propagated across the bulk power system (BPS) and eroded trust in critical grid functions.

“Seventy-five industry and governmental organizations *** participated ***. BPS entities included gene ration and transmission owners, reliability coordinators, independent system operators, and balancing authorities. Key government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Energy were heavily involved.”

See North American Electric Reliability Corporation, 2011 NERC Grid Security Exercise, After Action Report(March 2012), at i. Conspicuous by its absence in this exercise was any participation by the general public, let alone any of “the Militia of the several States”, as part of the “diverse stakeholder set”.

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Constitutional Militia
Constitutional Militia are State government institutions, thoroughly civilian in character. It is by the efforts of "the Militia of the several States", that the "security of a free State" can be preserved throughout the Union.
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