In a special Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on last year’s change to the Insurrection Act that afforded the President more control over domestic use of the National Guard, panel chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), called the changes “not just bad process. More to the point, the changes reflect bad policy.” Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Leahy’s co-chair of the National Guard Caucus, and Leahy both decried the fact that neither state governors nor adjutant generals were consulted about the changes. “These provisions reduce our nation’s governors’ control over their Guard units and provide the President with unnecessary and unprecedented power,” stated Bond, noting that the only real problem with the Guard response to Hurricane Katrina—the purported catalyst for making the changes—was a shortage of equipment. Bond said, “At no time did anyone question the Guard’s response.” Leahy said the Administration “misunderstood the lessons of Katrina.” One witness, Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, Washington state Adjutant General, remarked that “without any hearing or consultation with the governors and without any articulation or justification or need, Section 1076 of the 2007 [National Defense Authorization Act] changed more than 100 years of well-established and carefully balanced state-federal and civil-military relationships.” He went on to say, “The President’s unilateral assumption of control over the Guard might well be the very act that would preclude a state from having the resources to maintain or restore public order.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.