Obama has declared the Swine Flu epidemic in the US a national emergency. Swine Flu has been a public health emergency since April of this year, but making it a national emergency provides people like Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius quite sweeping powers to bypass most federal rules. I am a little curious as to why this is now deemed necessary. After all, when the Swine Flu news first broke, it sounded pretty scary. Mexico was reporting people dying like flies and the US border was clearly as porous as a sieve with no netting. Yet, at that time, Obama saw fit to declare only a public health emergency, freeing up stockpiled antivirals and kickstarting urgent research on a vaccine. Now that we know that Mexican H1N1 is hardly more dangerous than standard flu, responds to most antivirals and vaccine manufacture is well underway, why does Obama think it time to declare a national emergency? The health system does not yet need the extra stock of antivirals that the order releases (and there are other ways to release those stocks, if I recall correctly). What other advantage could be gained from such a declaration? Most newspaper articles rabbit on about making it easier to make decisions, including funding ones and information collection, but this is all quite peripheral and unlikely to cause great problems.
I suspect I am being paranoid (which doesn’t, unfortunately, mean I am wrong), but declaring a national emergency essentially revokes the right of habeas corpus in respect to the subject of the emergency (viz. the Swine Flu). Lawyers are welcome to correct me if I am wrong, but this entitles Sebelius to produce an emergency law making it illegal to refuse to have the Swine Flu vaccine. I suspect that the point of the declaration of a national emergency is a sharp needle point that all Americans are going to find themselves at the end of.
I certainly hope I am wrong.