Any Further Delay in Using Full Power of Defense Production Act Is a ‘Grave Mistake’: National Security Officials

A coalition of career national security professionals on Wednesday implored President Donald Trump to cease any further delay in utilizing the full power of the Defense Protection Act (DPA) and addressing the dearth of emergency medical supplies and equipment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As national security professionals and experts, however, we recognize that there are tools from our realm that would be useful and, in some cases, indispensable to alleviating the impact of COVID-19 and, above all, saving lives,” the group wrote. “Chief among those indispensable tools is the Defense Production Act (DPA), which we urgently call on President Trump to utilize immediately to the full extent. The delay in doing so is a grave mistake.”

More than 100 top ranking military officers and career national intelligence employees signed the statement, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

President Trump previously announced that he was invoking the DPA on March 18. But the president has not used the authority in the Act to coerce companies to manufacture certain necessary items, saying that private sector U.S. companies had voluntarily “stepped up” production on their own.

The statement concedes that private companies have acted “admirably” in the face of the global pandemic, but said it’s up to the federal government to use the DPA to provide the coordination and direction needed to fully address the situation.

“Some private companies have been willing and able to scale up production — and admirably so. But as governors and local leaders around the country are making clear, private efforts without more extensive government support are proving far from sufficient to meet the current and anticipated needs,” the statement read. “Beyond questions of supply, the private sector lacks the ability to process incoming requests, prioritize the most urgent needs, and coordinate with other companies absent more concerted government involvement. That is precisely what the DPA is designed to do.”

As previously reported by Law&Crime, the DPA imbues the president with broad authority to mobilize – or even coerce – the private sector to manufacture emergency materials for the purposes of America’s national defense and national security, including in cases of natural or man-caused disasters.

The officials concluded the statement with a dire warning to the president if he failed to heed their call to action.

“President Trump has said he would utilize the DPA in a ‘worst-case scenario,’” they wrote. “But the scenario we face today is already well beyond any reasonable standard for utilizing the Act. All the President will accomplish with additional delay is to place us farther down that ‘worst-case’ trajectory. If the ultimate objective is to save American lives, there is no alternative to utilizing the DPA immediately and to the fullest extent.”

Read the full letter below:

DPA Statement by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.

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