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Author Topic: Remain calm, martial law has NOT been declared
Morbo
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Despite frequent media reports the contrary, New Orleans is NOT under martial law, technically. It's in a state of emergency. For most purposes, the conditions are similar, but their are differences, as the quotes and links go into. The state of LA does not have a law regarding martial law, perhaps because of the Napoleonic Code, I don't know. So neither the Governor nor the Mayor can declare it.

I'm starting to think the media is just a huge echo chamber, with little real reporting. When I googled "martial law", dozens of media reports about New Orleans popped up. Get it right, you lazy reporters.

quote:
No Martial Law; More Evacuation Requested
Demonstrating yet again how poorly media can perform in emergencies, the Louisiana Attorney General (and Governor's Office) has clarified that "martial law" has not been declared in New Orleans (or anywhere else in the state); the term does not appear in state law. That said, there is no clarification on the AG web site.

Governor Blanco did declare a state of emergency on Friday and, according to the Jurist, this declaration gives state officials the "power to suspend civil liberties in the process of restoring order, and the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993 gives the governor and heads of parishes power to commandeer property."

http://uspolitics.about.com/b/a/2005_08_31.htm
quote:
Martial Law in New Orleans
It has been widely reported that state officials have declared martial law in New Orleans, as the emergency there worsens. However, I recently confirmed with the Governor's office of the State of Louisiana that Governor Kathleen Blanco has not declared martial law.

It would appear that local officials have misused the term, though I have not been able to find the source of the statement. This quickly filtered through the media. (It is more likely that local officials declared a curfew, which gives police probable cause to stop anyone for any reason.)

Just what is martial law, and what are the implications to civil liberties?

Martial law means a military authority has taken control of the normal administration of justice. Martial law may be used in times of emergency, when the traditional infrastructure (police, fire, etc.) are incapable of meeting the demands of the crisis.


The extent that martial law is imposed varies from nation to nation. In the United States, the 1866 Supreme Court ruling in Ex Parte Milligan limited martial law. This ruling bars the use of military tribunals on civilians, and that habeas corpus may only be temporarily suspended if civilian courts are forced closed. And even then, citizens may only be held without charges, and not tried.

Anytime we come under martial law, it is a concern - for one thing, military personnel are trained more for battle and not for law enforcement, and as such the potential for abuse or poor judgment is very real. (Thoughts of Kent State come to mind).

In the present example of the situation in New Orleans, it appears that the emergency warrants a temporary, limited martial law.

http://civilliberty.about.com/b/a/198081.htm

quote:
The Louisiana Attorney General's office late Tuesday issued a number of clarifications concerning the "martial law" assertions made earlier in the day by local officials and law enforcement agents in the wake of devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. According to the AG's office, no such term exists in Louisiana state law. The declaration of a state of emergency issued by Gov. Kathleen Blanco on Friday and set to continue for at least a month does, however, give officials power to suspend civil liberties in the process of restoring order, and the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993 gives the governor and heads of parishes power to commandeer property.
http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2005/08/update-louisiana-martial-law.php

quote:
Martial law clarified
Tuesday, 9:02 p.m.

The state Attorney General's office on Tuesday sought to clarify reports in some media that "martial law' has been declared in parts of storm-ravaged southeast Louisiana, saying no such term exists in Louisiana law.

But even though no martial law exists, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's declaration of a state of emergency gives authorities widespread latitude to suspend civil liberties as they try to restore order and bring victims to safety. Under the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993, the governor and, in some cases, chief parish officials, have the right to commandeer or utilize any private property if necessary to cope with the emergency.

Authorities may also suspend any statute related to the conduct of official business, or any rule issued by a state agency, if complying would "prevent, hinder or delay necessary action'' to mitigate the emergency.

It also gives authority the right to compel evacuations, suspend alcohol and weapons sales and make provisions for the availability and use of temporary emergency housing.

The law gives mayors similar authority, except they do not have the right to commandeer private property or make provisions for emergency housing, according to a background brief prepared by the state Attorney General's office.

Times-Picayune
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Lyrhawn
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State of Emergency sounds an awful lot like Martial Law, no matter what name you give it.
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Morbo
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So I'm a nitpicker. The media should get it right, however, that's their job.
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Lyrhawn
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True. I'm betting it was more of an honest mistake though. They know that we know what Martial Law means, and might not understand the differences (or lack thereof) between State of Emergency and Martial Law, so they went ahead and used the more commonly understood term.
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Morbo
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I'm betting on laziness--the governor's and mayor's offices issued clarifications, which are probably being ignored.
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Storm Saxon
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It's not under marital law? Sweet.
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calaban
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[ROFL] ....the media should get it right.... [ROFL]

Media exists for ratings and sponosors.

Take the article title

"Martial Law in New Orleans"

It was designed to grab the attention of the reader. In and of itself, the statment is open and neutral to somone who is thinking, but if you are caught up in the emotion of the event, as many of us are, the title is interpreted thus.

Martial Law -declared- in New Orleans.

I think it was worded as it was to sell copy, or attract web hits. I also think that although necessary to the operation of media for revenue generating purposes, it fundamentally does not serve us.

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sndrake
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quote:
I'm starting to think the media is just a huge echo chamber, with little real reporting. When I googled "martial law", dozens of media reports about New Orleans popped up. Get it right, you lazy reporters.

Heh. Welcome to my world, Morbo. [Smile]

I suspect the problem here is the one I see most commonly with misinformation. It originated with a wire service story - AP, usually. TV, Radio and Newspapers run these stories. Individual reporters also lift parts of the stories out in their own articles (you'll see the note about contributions from the AP at the end of the article, usually.) The misinformation spreads like a computer virus, infecting everything it touches.

There's no ombudsman at the AP and no way to do a "letter to the editor."

You also said:

quote:
The media should get it right, however, that's their job.
Speaking from painful experience, AP reporters and their bureau chiefs really hate hearing that and do their best to avoid issuing corrections. I have personally seen them issue revised articles (NOT corrections) to correct inaccuracies on two occasions.
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Dagonee
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Morbo, I'm glad you posted this. These little inaccuracies compound themselves. SoE/ML might sound similar, but I bet they color perceptions about other aspects reported about the situation.
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sndrake
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Press coverage has been full of "little" inaccuracies.

I lost count of the number of articles that referred to the people stuck in the city as those who "defied the evacuation order."

That's crap.

Even government officials are saying that many, maybe most, of the people who stayed were people who were poor, didn't own a vehicle, didn't have a place to go... and certainly weren't provided any way to get out or a place to go by anyone else.

What else could they do besides head for the shelters?

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dkw
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Plus the people who had flown in and couldn't get flights out before the airport shut down.

There's just no way that public transportation, rental cars, etc., could have gotten everyone without cars out.

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Sartorius
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Thanks for posting this. When I read on the other hurricane thread that martial law had been declared my reaction was, "WHAT?! Why didn't NPR TELL me?" Maybe it's just words, but it seems like the difference between state of emergency and martial law are very different.
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Lyrhawn
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::seconds sndrake::

I wholeheartedly agree.

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Dagonee
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Yeah, Stephen probably knows better than any of us how much these things twist public perception.

How many disabled people are reported as terminal each year?

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Morbo
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I'm glad people were glad I posted this. Now we can all annoyingly correct friends and passersby when they say New Orleans is under martial law. [Wink]
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Bob_Scopatz
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You may be interested to know that I was in a meeting made up of Public Safety folks (about 50% law enforcement) when this story broke. I was sitting at a lunch with a guy who came from the Washington State Patrol. He's the one who informed us that New Orleans was under martial law.

As much as I dislike it when the press makes a mistake like this (and yes, AP feeds get picked up way too uncritically by the locals), it seems that this was a mistake that even insiders could make. In some states, this would've resulted in a declaration of martial law. In Louisiana, the laws are different.

The problem is, however, that whatever you call it, the US active duty military is apparently being mobilized in New Orleans because the emergency has gone beyond that which the local authorities and the National Guard can contain.

So...the real news is that we'll have the potential for US troops shooting US citizens.

At least if that report I just read about the military coming in is true...

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sndrake
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quote:
Yeah, Stephen probably knows better than any of us how much these things twist public perception.

How many disabled people are reported as terminal each year?

Heh. Well, at least the Michigan AP no longer uses the says that "Kevorkian assisted in the suicides of over 100 terminally ill people."

They now say he "assisted in the suicides of over 100 people."

That change took a full year. After getting plenty of documentation, the AP bureau chief admitted it was wrong. No offer of a correction or corrected article. Just promised to change the wording. And the wording was changed the next time Kevorkian appeared in a Michigan AP article. It reappeared in the next one. Which meant another phone call from me.

This routine went on for about a year - at which time the new language had pretty much become entrenched.

But - no corrections or corrected articles.

The really sad news is this: it was the *best* response I've ever gotten from the AP.

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by Storm Saxon:
It's not under marital law? Sweet.

Bush declares marital law.
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Verily the Younger
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Yet another reason I get my news from NPR. They do make mistakes occasionally, but they actually try to get the story right, instead of just saying what will grab people. It's been telling me all day that a State of Emergency has been declared, but it hasn't said a word about New Orleans being under martial law--because New Orleans isn't under martial law.
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Dagonee
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quote:
The really sad news is this: it was the *best* response I've ever gotten from the AP.
Wow. Why on earth did it take a year to convince him? Was it just getting them to pay attention, or did they really think they were the same?
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sndrake
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quote:
Wow. Why on earth did it take a year to convince him? Was it just getting them to pay attention, or did they really think they were the same?
Dag,

unless I wrote a badly garbled account, I thought it was clear the bureau chief conceded the point the same day - after I faxed substantion of the claim that the terminology was factually incorrect.

What took a year was for reporters to stop copying the erroneous information out of old articles and the new wording to establish itself as "stock wording."

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