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- Satellite phones were issued to at least 50 U.S. senators, but the lawmakers did not enter hiding. The phones are a security measure to be used in an emergency.
Will your Memorial Day Weekend be interrupted by the country being placed under martial law? No, but that’s what a Facebook video warns.
The video posted May 25 said the U.S. military is under orders to enforce martial law by Memorial Day weekend, and an emergency broadcast system was to be activated.
"A couple of hours ago, the (50) politicians who received the new satellite phones were taken to an undisclosed government bunker facility to ensure a Continuation of Government," a computerized voice says nearly a minute into the video.
The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
Satellite phones were issued to U.S. senators, but this doesn’t signal that the country is being placed under martial law or that the senators are in hiding. Martial law typically refers to temporary rule by military authorities and involves the suspension of civil rights.
We found no news reports and no statements from the government that support this claim. Conspiracy theories were spun out of a simple security measure.
Satellite phone technology was offered to all 100 senators and at least 50 senators accepted the phones so far, as CBS News reported May 21.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Karen Gibson, who took over after the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, testified to the Senate Appropriations Committee that the satellite communication would "ensure a redundant and secure means of communication."
Satellite phones are used in emergencies like man-made or natural disasters that would affect communications.
According to the CBS News report, Gibson opened an office "demonstration space" in the Russell Senate Office Building basement to show security upgrades such as "duress buttons," mail screening devices and safety glass. This is not an "undisclosed government bunker facility."
Lawmakers are still working in view of the public. The Congressional Daily Digest showed the Senate met in a pro forma session and the House of Representatives held committee meetings May 25, and pro forma sessions for both chambers were also scheduled for May 26.
We rate the claim that 50 politicians were taken to a bunker facility False.
Facebook post, May 24, 2023
Britannica, "Martial law," accessed May 26, 2023
CBS News, Senators issued satellite phones, offered demonstrations on upgraded security devices, May 21, 2023
Congressional Record, Daily Digest, May 25, 2023
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Satellite Mobile Phones, accessed May 26, 2023
C-SPAN, U.S. House of Representatives, House Pro Forma Session, May 26, 2023
C-SPAN, U.S. Senate, Senate Pro Forma Session, May 26, 2023
Newsweek, 'Emergency' Satellite Phones Issued to Senators Fuel Conspiracy Claims, May 23, 2023
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