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Rep. Sherman Feels Heat For Reporting On Threat Of Martial Law

By David Swanson

26 October, 2008

Congressman Brad Sherman said on the floor of the House that a few Congress members had been told there would be martial law in America if they did not pass Paulson's Plunder.


Sherman has not retracted that statement. He has not suggested that the Congress members who had told him that didn't really tell him that, or weren't honest, or didn't take it seriously, or that it didn't influence their votes. But he has put out a statement to the media, clearly at the instruction of the leaders of his party, attempting to backpedal. Here's his new statement which begins by quoting his floor comments:


On Thursday, October 2nd, I stated on the floor of the House of Representatives that, “The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and sustaining a panic atmosphere. That atmosphere is not justified. Many of us were told in private conversations that if we voted against this bill on Monday, that the sky would fall, the market would drop two or three thousand points the first day and a couple of thousand the second day, and a few members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no. That’s what I call fear mongering, unjustified, proven wrong.”

There has been significant speculation in the blogoshere and other places regarding this statement.

Speaking during the second House debate on the bailout bill, I was describing what I regarded as the increasingly unbelievable things that had been said while the House considered the bailout package – extreme things put forward as reasons why Congress had to pass that bill right away. I urged my colleagues not to take the extreme statements seriously and urged them to defeat the bill. It should be clear from the context of my speech that I did not believe that martial law would be declared under any circumstances and I did not think that such absurd and outlandish comments should cause members to vote for the bill.

I also want to stress that I have no reason to think that any of the leaders in Congress who were involved in negotiating with the Bush Administration regarding the bailout bill ever mentioned the possibility of martial law -- again, that was just an example of extreme and deliberately hyperbolic comments being passed around by members not directly involved in the negotiations.

It's anyone's guess whether Sherman is claiming that the members who said they were threatened were being deliberately hyperbolic or the unnamed members of the administration or the military who threatened them were being deliberately hyperbolic.

Sherman's press guy sent me his new statement and wrote: "If you have any questions regarding this statement on his Martial Law comment, please do not hesitate to contact me."

So, I contacted him by immediately replying thus:



Yes, I have a couple of questions.

Are you blaming the congress members who said they were threatened with martial law for speaking about it, or are you suggesting they spoke falsely?

Or are you claiming they spoke truthfully but did not take the threat seriously?

Have any of the members involved named anyone who supposedly made the threat?


I have yet to receive any response.

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