Rob Simmons: Is Obama preparing for war?

I caught a little of former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons on the radio one morning recently. He was talking about an intriguing executive order President Obama signed this month, giving himself increased authority over the nation's resources.

Simmons suggested on the air that maybe a war involving Iran is closer than we think, and that maybe disruptive food, water, gas and other energy shortages are on the immediate horizon.

"You heard it first here on 94.9," said Simmons, a frequent guest on the Lee Elci morning show on that station.

Sure enough, when I found my way to a computer to poke around a little on the topic, I learned that Obama did sign an executive order updating broad presidential authority over national defense resources in the event of war or national emergency.

And, the congressman was right, I did hear it first from him.

Even a Google news search turned up scant coverage. Aside from some blogs, the only stories I could find were from conservative news organizations like Fox News and the Washington Times.

Even stories in the conservative press included some reassuring words from the White House, that the president was only updating some longstanding procedures that have been in place since World War II.

His order adds language, for instance, to include Homeland Security, an agency that didn't even exist before other orders were issued.

Tea Party officials used the new order to sound a familiar alarm about President Obama.

"I am not an alarmist, but the idea of the Obama regime having total control over anything is disturbing. No, it isn't disturbing, it is totally, freaking scary," one Tea Party official was quoted as saying on Fox News.

A column by Jeffrey T. Kuhner in The Washington Times began with alarm bells ringing:

"It is a sweeping power grab that should worry every American."

I caught up with Simmons by phone last week to ask him about the order, and he sounded more intrigued than alarmed. He also pointed out right away that he has no insider information.

He did say that he spoke about the order to U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, when he was in Connecticut for a fundraiser.

Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was a little "cagey" when asked about the executive order, Simmons said. But the senator did relate some of the concern in Washington over developments in Sudan and the general state of the global oil supply.

Simmons, when I spoke to him, suggested that maybe Obama knows something the rest of us don't.

"These things are not done in a vacuum and not done just for the fun of it," the former 2nd District congressman said. "The president and his administration have access to all kinds of intelligence that exceeds what we know."

In any event, oil markets seem to be reacting to the worry of turmoil in the Middle East, Simmons said.

"We are now encountering some of the highest oil prices we have encountered in recent years, and it does not appear to me there is a shortage of supply," he said.

At the least there seem to be plenty of tea leaves, tea party leaves even, in which to read of a looming war involving Iran: Rising gasoline prices, sweeping presidential orders.

Just wait until gas hits the $5 a gallon mark.

This is the opinion of David Collins

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