By John Stanton and Wayne Madsen
John Stanton is a Virginia-based writer on national security affairs and Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist who writes and comments frequently on civil liberties and human rights issues.
Since September 11, 2001, the Bush Regime, the US Congress and senior personnel in the U.S. military have been busy planning their escape routes from Washington, D.C. and surrounding communities in the event that the continental United States is attacked by another 19 global insurgents possessing little more than wit, dedication, an unrepentant animosity towards America, and an ample dose of radioactive material packed inside an explosive-laden metallic suitcase.
Corporate executives have ensured that they too will find a place in the bunker along side their effete government colleagues through organizations such as National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC). That group is composed of "up to 30 industry chief executives representing the major communications and network service providers and information technology, finance, and aerospace companies . the NSTAC provides industry-based advice and expertise to the President on issues and problems related to implementing national security and emergency preparedness ." Defense contracting giants play a prominent role on the NSTAC and include Lockheed Martin, SAIC, Oracle (the company that volunteered to develop a post-911 national identification database), Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and CSC. The chairman of the NSTAC also conveniently serves as an ex-officio member of Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge's President's Homeland Security Advisory Council.
The U.S. government and its military and corporate officials are fond of making the pitch to the American public that the U.S. Constitution mandates that their survival, above all others, is absolutely necessary to ensure that the government that emanates from that document survives a debilitating attack. It is astonishing that the American public believes such absurdities. But one has to admire the boldly craven and callous "doomsday" planning of the Bush regime and its military centurions and corporate nabobs, who take pleasure in gutting the environment, the workforce, the economy, and the world in general. These are the same people who played hide-and-seek with the American public in September 2001.
We the People?
On September 11, 2001, one of the commercial aircraft commandeered by suspected Saudi and Yemeni insurgents made its final approach to its destination, the Pentagon -- located roughly three miles across the Potomac River from the U.S. Capitol and White House in Washington, DC – by following Columbia Pike, in Arlington, Virginia, to its target. The Pentagon is located adjacent to the glitzy Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia, not Washington, DC, as much of the media conveniently fudged the geographic difference. Although not Manhattan, Arlington is a densely packed and diverse community of close to 200,000 people. It hosts five high schools and two notable colleges: Marymount University and George Mason Law School. When the aircraft slammed into the Pentagon, residents of Arlington – including many in office buildings, stores, and schools in the South Side" - felt the thud of the explosion as the aircraft incinerated a block of the Pentagon and killed 123 employees and contractors on the ground and 64 on the Boeing 757.
Arlington fire fighters, police and EMT units were on the scene at the Pentagon - as were their counterparts at the World Trade Centers in New York City - within seconds of the aircraft's explosion. In Arlington's case, the rapidity of response was due to alert firefighters and police officers who noticed the aircraft off-path as it flew dangerously low over the heavily populated Columbia Pike corridor in Arlington that leads directly to the Pentagon. They alerted their colleagues in the Arlington Fire and Police Departments that something was terribly wrong. Someone at the controls of the aircraft knew to pick up the visual of the "Pike" as it is called by Arlingtonians, the same way other pilots pick up the Potomac River on visual to land at Reagan National Airport.
Local residents scrambled to get their youngsters out of schools where the hallways were filled with the crying and unsettled. Teachers, counselors, and coaches did all they could to calm student's nerves. Local firefighters and police were busy trying to give relief to the Pentagon structure and its mangled people. Local hospitals were alerted to receive Pentagon injured. The same scene was played out in New York City.
As mayhem broke loose in Arlington, Virginia, adjacent Washington, and New York City, the response of those who are tasked with national governance provides important clues as to who will live and die during the next disaster. Prior to 911, the only insight into continuity-of-government planning was provided by Stanley Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove, which through its characters, portrayed dimwitted "leaders" - most un-elected – sheltering themselves ahead of their populations.
911 Hide and Seek
Dick Cheney was hustled into a bunker and ultimately ended up in a cave running the Shadow Government. U.S. Supreme Court-anointed George Bush II and staff was whisked from an elementary school class - minus the children, teachers and school staff - to undisclosed locations scattered across the land. Military installations barricade their gates. As F-16s patrolled the skies, government officials lauded the protection they were providing despite the fact that the fighters were there to shoot down commercial passenger planes. Leaders of both parties in Congress, and, in fact, all of Congress, were escorted from Washington, DC as if Gort from the Hollywood classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" had gone on a rampage.
The Bush Regime's senior appointees and bureaucrats sprinted off to hardened bunkers or were taken by helicopter, like their military counterparts, to place like Site R in Pennsylvania to "monitor" the situation. Many of the local corporate senior managers and local newsreaders instructed the "public" to remain calm and not panic. A commonplace refrain from this lot was to "keep busy, be productive". The lone Superpower, with its arsenals and vaunted intelligence agencies convulsed from the handiwork of 19 insurgents, became enfeebled. In effect, the nation came under the rule of a tele-government. Undoubtedly, government and military planners - and their think tanks - have discussed attack scenarios that include the institution of a Federal government tele-governing operation. Members of the U.S. Congress, Supreme Court justices, and the President and his cabinet could easily debate, vote, set policy, render legal decisions via encrypted communications lines, from the comfort of their protective bunkers, home shelters, and command posts on land, sea, and air. In the eventuality of nationwide martial law, these individuals, based on their cowardly performance on 911, would no doubt prefer the safe confines of Hitleresque bunkers. Such was the case on September 11, when, from the safety of a studio in a bunker and a phone line from a basement, the nation's "leadership" sought to govern in an ersatz manner.
The American public fell for this act from a "government" whose inserted president and appointees are the wealthiest Americans ever to oversee a US populace. And as the wealthiest and most corrupt person ever to occupy the White House uttered his inanities, "average people" were taking care of their post-attack communities in Arlington and New York City. As they suffered, the so-called civilian and military "leaders" ducked and covered in a classic CYA move. These are America's leaders who - through sheer arrogance and stunning stupidity - ignored reports from tireless FBI field agents that involved suspicious flight school activities and similar reports from gutsy Drug Enforcement Administration agents about the activities of Israeli "art student" spies who happened to be living in the same Florida and Texas neighborhoods as the future hijackers. The same "leaders" would stand by and watch the state of California get raped by Enron - the Bush family's fund raising Ponzi scheme contrivance.
Where was the Senator or Representative, or Cabinet official (save for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld) who said, "I'm staying with the people" and showed up in the bucket line? Where was the General or Admiral who said I'm staying with my people and worked with the body bags? Where was the Corporate Executive who, instead, was busy turning "patriotism" into profiteering to gain market share and recoup profits? Where will they be during the next attack?
As the U.S. military-industrial complex sells more and more advanced weaponry to Israel, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Pakistan, India, and Nepal and as more and more ethnic and religious minority groups, poor villagers, nomads, urban laborers, and sustenance farmers are massacred by national armies in the pay of ruling oligarchs and multinational corporations, will America's leaders care? No, it's good for business. After U.S. snubbing of the International Criminal Court (to protect war criminals like Henry Kissinger), Conventions on child soldiers and land mines, long-held international nuclear test-ban treaties, international protocols involving HIV/AIDS and global warming, will America's leaders care? No. When the Turkmens, Uzbeks, Afghans, Pakistanis, Azeris, Kurds, Turks, and Georgians tire of the special treatment that US Special Forcesreceive for guarding gas and oil pipelines - and the young troops are killed - will America's leaders notice? No.
Hand it to the CIA crowd, they now know that they can successfully sell the American public a rotten barrel of apples (or oil) and they will buy it gladly. Armed with that knowledge, the next attack may trigger enactment of national martial law.
Martial Law: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?
The U.S. government has used martial law on numerous occasions, most often to quell domestic disturbances in specific locations around the country. According to the United States Constitution Online, during the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson imposed martial law in an area of New Orleans. When a judge demanded Jackson produce, through the writ of habeas corpus, a man arrested for sedition, Jackson ordered the arrest of the judge. in 1892 at Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, rebellious mine workers blew up a mill and shot at strike breaking workers. Mine owners requested that the state's governor impose martial law and, to no surprise, he did. In 1914, federal troops were ordered by Woodrow Wilson to end the Coal Field Wars in Colorado. In 1934, dockworkers in San Francisco initiated a strike and the governor declared the dockyards subject to martial law empowering the National Guard to make arrests and try detainees. The Supreme Court opined twice on matters involving martial law in Ex Parte Milligan and Duncan v. Kahanamoku. In 1866, Milligan's Supreme Court writers proclaimed that Abraham Lincoln's imposition of martial law had been unconstitutional:
"Martial law destroys every guarantee of the Constitution and effectually renders the military independent of an superior to the civil power - the attempt to do which by the King of Great Britain was deemed by our fathers such an offense that they assigned it to the world as one of the causes which impelled them to declare their independence. Civil liberty and this kind of martial law cannot endure together; the antagonism is irreconcilable, and, in the conflict, one or the other must perish."
In 1946, the Supreme Court ruled that the military arrest of two civilians in Hawaii during World War II and their subsequent trial by military tribunals was unconstitutional.
In 2002, with the U.S. Supreme Court nothing more than a useful machination of the Bush regime, it seems likely that if Americans become subjected to a Bush declaration of martial law, any challenge to it would fail miserably. With that thought in mind, its useful to note that the Bush crowd has had plenty of experience with martial law and states-of-emergency. In 1992, Bush the Elder issued Executive Order 12804 in response to the Los Angeles riots. Hence, the US Army 7th Infantry Division and detachments of US Marines were deployed to mop up Los Angeles. That order was only issued after the city's poor had destroyed their neighborhoods. As an aside, that event would expose the CIA's penchant for selling drugs to inner city youth to raise funds for U.S. government covert operations in Central and South America. Bush the Elder was the overseer of much of this activity when he lorded over the Iran-contra scandal while Vice President under Ronald Reagan. One of Bush's underlings at the time, Oliver North, came up with a secret plan, along with the fascist-oriented Federal Emergency Management Agency (the key-masters for the doors to the bunkers), to declare martial law in the event of a "national crisis," including "violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition to a U.S. military invasion abroad." Florida's provincial ruler Jeb Bush signed Executive Order 01-262 on September 11, 2001 declaring a State of Emergency in Florida. That was prior to similar declarations in New York and Virginia where the action was. "Jebbie" (that's what Bill Clinton calls him) also has the power to suspend elections for 30 days in a county under a State of Emergency.
The Bush family has managed to involve the United States in two wars; two invasions in Latin America, one that resulted in the fiery deaths of thousands of poor Panamanian barrio residents and another that resulted in the Bay of Pigs fiasco; aiding and abetting through murky financial investments America's Teutonic enemy in the last world war; corrupting the U.S. presidential election process; and making the wealthiest Americans and U.S. corporations richer while at the same cutting federal health, education, and welfare budgets and offloading those tasks to the overburdened states.
As the economy sputters with real unemployment close to 8 percent and as income disparity reaches astronomical proportions, it seems that the Bush regime will begin another war. Will that war be against Iraq, as Bush's neo-conservative hawks want?
Or will the Seven Days in May crowd spin the Axis of Evil roulette wheel? Will the arrow point to Cuba? North Korea? Venezuela? The Bush family's record of death and destruction prompted one elderly couple in Baltimore, Maryland (the husband being a highly decorated WW II U.S. Army veteran) to say, " The Bush family should be barred from ever holding political office. Look what they've done to this nation!"
And They Are Not Done Yet
An invasion of Iraq or any of the "Axis of Evil" or "Beyond Axis of Evil" nations is likely to result in a response that means American citizens will die here in the U.S. One incident, one aircraft hijacked, a "dirty nuke" set off in a small town, may well prompt the Bush regime, let's say during the election campaign of 2003-2004, to suspend national elections for a year while his government ensures stability. The precedent for such thinking is now enshrined in GOP politics. Another egotistical politician, Rudolph Giuliani, suggested that he should stay on as Mayor of New York a while longer past his term to make sure "New Yorkers would get through this thing". Would it be any surprise to hear Bush II say the same thing late in 2003 after insurgents would have destroyed part of a city or a chemical weapons cloud spreads over half of a small state? Many closed-door meetings have been held on these subjects and the notices for these meetings have been closely monitored by the definitive cryptome.org. In the event of martial law, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which has already been largely gutted by the USA Patriot Act and other Bush II actions, would cease to exist. Posse Comitatus has, for over 100 years, served as an important criminal law safeguard proscribing the use of the Army (later, the Air Force and Navy) to "execute the laws," except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or by Congress. With the abrogation of Posse Comitatus and the imposition of martial law, the military would, as it did during post-Civil War Reconstruction in the South, be able to arrest and detain civilians for any flimsy reason. Civilian detainees consigned to federal prisons would be under the control of the Bureau of Prisons while those detained by the military would be subject to the regulations imposed by military commanders. The writ of habeas corpus would be suspended and the family members and legal representatives for detainees would not have a right to see them. This situation has already occurred with those detained in the wake of September 11 without a formal imposition of martial law.
Military tribunals could, as they did in Hawaii during the war, try and convict U.S. civilians. If prisons could not hold all the detainees, the government already has plans to create or reactivate large prison camps in the South and West. Some of these were already used to detain Cuban, Vietnamese, and Haitian "boat people." In the event of martial law, Draconian censorship laws would be implemented. Even now, the Patriot Act grants authority to obtain an order from the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court requiring any person or business to produce any books, records, documents, or items." That law would undoubtedly be extended to encompass the Internet as well. It should be of little wonder why the Pentagon has brought Iran-contra felon Admiral John Poindexter back from retirement to head the Office of Information Awareness. Coupled with the Office of Information Exploitation, Poindexter's office is seeking ways to identify, block, and determine the sources of seditious material posted on the Internet. Blocked web sites, confiscated computers and servers, and the arrest of non-conforming web site managers would become the rule of the day.
Not that it would need much in the way of pressure, but the broadcast media would similarly be required to air only that which has been approved by government censors. For example, U.S. Air Force scientists are soon to meet with CNN to figure out how to gather and disseminate information. During the war against Yugoslavia, CNN and National Public Radio hosted as interns U.S. Army psychological warfare operatives who worked on news stories concerning the war.
Similar closed-door meetings for "Continuity of Government" have taken place since September 11, 2001. Odd, it seems, that no "regular U.S. citizen" and few first responders have had any input into this process. Chalk that up to the fact that the entire process is classified and a matter of "national security" - the rubric that is used to justify the constant whittling away of the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. If the general public knew that "Continuity" actually means that the abilities of the Internal Revenue Service to continue to collect taxes, the Customs Service to continue to collect duties, and the Environmental Protection Agency to continue to collect fines actually outweigh the health and safety of American citizens, they would be outraged. Hence the secrecy surrounding the continuity plans.
James Madison had in right in 1794 when he wisely warned about "the old trick of turning every contingency into a resource for accumulating force in the government." The United States was founded by political sages like Madison, Jefferson, and Franklin. It will ultimately see its demise as a democracy through the likes of Bush II, his father, and the Trent Lotts and Dick Armeys that pervade the American body politic.