"Fear the loss, perceive the danger, and do something about it!"
The Defense Department has developed a "Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support" against terrorism that pledges to "transform US military forces to execute homeland defense missions in the...US homeland." The Pentagon is presently collecting files on antiwar protesters and is prepared to maximize "threat awareness" and to seize "the initiative from those who would harm us." The Pentagon's National Counterterrorism Center's central repository now includes the names of 325,000 "terrorist" suspects.
In October 2003, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld approved a secret "Information Operations Roadmap" calling for "full spectrum" information operations, including a strategy for seizing the Internet and controlling the flow of information. It views the world wide web as a potential military adversary and speaks of "fighting the net."
The U.S. Army Internet website displays information about the Pentagon's "Civilian Inmate Labor Program," including "policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations." The program underwent a "rapid action revision" on January 14, 2005 to provide a "template for developing agreements" between the Army and corrections facilities for the use of civilian inmate labor on Army installations.
In yet another exercise in September 2005, the Pentagon's U.S. Northern Command conducted a top secret operation known as Granite Shadow that involved emergency military operations within the continental United States without civilian supervision or control. Under the plan, military special forces units operating under unique rules of engagement involving deadly force were deployed to enforce "unity of command."
The original mission of FEMA was to assure the survival of the United States government in the case of nuclear attack, with a secondary responsibility to coordinate the federal response to natural disasters. However, FEMA has come to operate as a secret government in waiting, with powers far beyond that of any other federal agency.
Specific and detailed executive orders now empower FEMA to: take over all transportation, highways and seaports; seize and operate all communications media; take over all electric, gas and petroleum power, fuels and minerals; take over all airports and aircraft; take over all railroads, inland waterways and public storage facilities; take over all farms and food resources; register all persons and force civilians into work brigades; take over all health, education and welfare functions; and establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit and the flow of money in all U.S. financial institutions.
Executive Order 11921 provides that, once a state of emergency has been declared by the president, the action cannot be reviewed by Congress for six months.
The John W. Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 contains a provision entitled "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies." One effect of the provision is to expand the president's limited power to deploy the military within the United States only "to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy" to include "natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident."
The Act authorized the president to assume local authority "if domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order." The president now has the power, without any advance notice to Congress, to declare marital law in any city experiencing a civil disturbance or riot similar to any of those experienced in the past 40 years and to deploy the military, irrespective of the wishes or consent of local and state authorities.
On May 9, 2007, President Bush signed a "National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive" defining the "Catastrophic Emergency" leading to "Continuity of Government coordinated efforts by the Executive Branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed." Such emergencies include "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions." Continuity of Operations includes the continuation of mission-essential functions "during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies."
In its definition of "Enduring Constitutional Government," the Presidential Directive envisions a "cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government;" however, it (the effort) is to be "coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches..." Comity is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as, "Courtesy; complaisance; respect; a willingness to grant a privilege, not as a matter of right, but out of deference and good will." In other words, the "Enduring Constitutional Government" will be run by the president and any "cooperative" role played by Congress and the judiciary will be at his pleasure.
Even though Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution provides that, "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States..., " President Bush has, pursuant to his own directives, given himself the unrestrained power to declare whatever he imagines to be an emergency. Once he does so, he alone controls the entire apparatus of government. He will become responsible for arranging for the "orderly succession" and the "appropriate transition of leadership" of the other two branches of government, and he will do all of this with the able assistance of his Vice President, who has the primary job of coordinating things.
Conceivably, at his or her sole discretion, existing and future presidents have the power to use any provocation, including the election of a successor president hostile to his or her existing policies, to declare a state of emergency and to seize and operate the government as a dictatorship for an indefinite period of time.
More realistically, an increase in street and campus protests against the Iraq War, similar to those of the Sixties, could easily lead to the imposition of martial law in the Unites States as an extension of the War on Terrorism. Or, as the current recession deepens into a depression with wide-spread unemployment, hunger and civil unrest, martial law could be imposed and military work camps established. Irrespective of how it plays out, every scenario involves mass preventative detentions, without trial, by the military and requires federal confinement facilities.
Accepting the fact that the president has the power to detain as many American citizens as he chooses, is the government actually building facilities to concentrate them?
In January 2006, the Department of Homeland Security awarded a $385 million contract to former Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), to provide detention centers in the United States to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the US, or to support the rapid deployment of new programs." Unexplained were these "new programs" and why they require a major expansion of detention centers.
A clue to the definition of "new programs" can be found in President Bush's claim that "the territory of the United States is part of the battlefield" against terrorism and that he has the power as Commander-in-chief to detain indefinitely any American citizen he designates as an enemy combatant. He signed the Military Commissions Act in October 2006 that suspends habeas corpus rights for everyone he deems to be an enemy combatant and allows him to confine them indefinitely without trial or access to counsel. Once detained under the Act, "no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause for action whatsoever...."
The KBR contract is open-ended and authorizes a payment of up to $385 million per deployment. It is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which envisions the development of at least four detention centers, each detaining up to 5,000 single males and females, families with children, and the sick and criminal. Established at "unused military sites or [leased] temporary structures," each facility will be able to accommodate the sick and criminals for extended detentions and to arrange for the "rendition" of potential terrorists to sites outside the continental United States.
Cops have an old saying that you're not paranoid if someone really is following you. We cannot forget that our president has already seized extraordinary dictatorial powers and that he really is spending millions of dollars for the construction of detention facilities to support the "rapid development" of his "new programs." Nor, can we ignore that, contrary to international law, the United States government is in fact detaining hundreds of "unlawful combatants" in prison facilities in Guantanamo Bay and at other secret locations around the world. Finally, we have to accept: that our government is abusing and torturing these detainees to obtain information that will be used against them should they ever come to trial; that they have no access to the federal courts to appeal their detentions; that they cannot consult with counsel without the presence of military monitors, who also read their legal mail; that they cannot review or challenge the "classified" evidence against them; and that they cannot confront or cross examine the witnesses against them.
There's another old saying, "If you snooze, you lose." We have a very narrow window of opportunity between the time we recognize a deadly threat and when we do something about it. Given the highly-advanced technological age we live in and the ready availability of overwhelming military force, once our freedoms are lost, they will be gone forever, whether or not every single one of us is "bearing arms."
Two weeks ago, Congress took an important first step in restricting the president's power by repealing a largely unrecognized section of the 2007 Defense Appropriations Act that, last year, effectively transferred command of the National Guards from state governors to the president. With the unanimous support of the National Governors Association, the National Sheriffs' Association and other law enforcement agencies, Congress restricted the power of the president to order the National Guard of any state to be used within that state or in any other state without the consent of the appropriate state governors.
We must immediately stop the deployment of National Guard troops to fight the illegal war in Iraq and bring them all home where they belong. Remaining under the control of state governors and given time to rest and the resources to re-equip, a well-trained and properly deployed National Guard, acting in support of local law enforcement, will be able to maintain order in most, if not all, domestic disturbances, natural disasters and terrorists attacks. If we survived the assassinations and riots of the Sixties, and 9-11, without martial law, we should be able to get by today without military intervention or the president's help.
There is no time to lose! Congress must immediately hold hearings on the power of the president to declare martial law, to deploy the military within the United States, and to detain American citizens, without trial or benefit of habeas corpus. Congress must establish the constitutional limits of presidential power by statute, rather than to allow the president to do so by his own executive orders.
The incursions on civil liberties in the United States in the past 25 years, and particularly since 9-11, are mind boggling. It matters not whether you are a Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, you have been deprived of substantial freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, unnecessarily, in the War on Terrorism. Fear the loss, perceive the danger, and do something about it!
once again, repeating myself ad nauseam, none of the above should remain in place when the new president takes the oath of office on 20 january 2009... Submit To Propeller