Deployed "on the fly" in the first hours of turmoil on Sept. 11, one participant said, the shadow government has evolved into an indefinite precaution.
In the current issue of Atlantic Monthly (March 04) James Mann has written an article called "The Armageddon Plan" which tells about the involvement of both Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in a clandestine plan to ensure "continuity of government" in case of a nuclear attack hatched by the Reagan Administration.
Cheney and Rumsfeld, both partisans of the 1976 "Team B" effort to thwart approved intelligence were in the position
to know that a Soviet attack on the US was not a reality based threat assessment. Yet then Congressman Cheney and Rumsfeld, CEO of Searle, not even then a part of elected US government, were principle actors in a Reagan plan that would circumvent Constitutional lines of Presidential succession while leaving elected Congress out of the equation entirely.
Iran/Contra criminal Oliver North was a part of this secret project. He was also at this time involved in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) planning that brought the disaster relief agency formed under President Carter into a new role: what was called "Civil Defense"planning.
They included executive orders providing for suspension of the constitution, the imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of government to the president and FEMA.
The above quote is from the Sydney Morning Herald. I hope to touch on this in another post, which may take a few days..
I find it very alarming to see a continuity of neoconservatives influencing government policy in ways that seem highly anti-democratic. Neoconservatives that are now in the highest posts of our government. That you see and hear on the airwaves, in the daily paper. People we need to learn about, whose "track records" need to be made familiar to every American.
It is as if "We the People" are left in the dark by the media that should serve as with the key information we need to form an informed electorate. But back to the case in hand.
The order of Presidential Succession runs like this, I'll offer the names of the present administrators, offering a partial listing, the "Top Ten".
1. Vice President of the United States - Dick Cheney
2. Speaker of the House - Denny Hastert
3. President pro Tempore of the Senate - Ted Stevens
4. Secretary of State - Colin Powell
5. Secretary of the Treasury - John Snow
6. Secretary of Defense - Donald Rumsfeld
7. Attorney General - John Ashcroft
8.Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton
9.Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman
10.Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans
As Mann relates the Reagan Administration fear was that the USSR would attempt to enact the same nuclear strategy that the US was planning; that is to "decapitate" the Russian civilian and military leadership through nuclear strikes targeting officials and their lines of communication. To prevent this end in America three teams were set up that included Cabinet officials and folks like Cheney and Rumsfeld who had high level executive branch experience and ideally a connection to the national security apparatus as well . James Woolsey, PNAC signer and later director of the CIA was a team leader at one point. The Cabinet members would be figureheads in the public eye, issueing orders as "President" while defering to the more experienced chief of staff in the background.
Reconvening Congress was seen as overly bothersome. There might be those that would balk at the administrators now held in charge. The primary goal of this project was to get a workable chain of command going in case of nuclear attack.
An unsworn President that could control the military was what was sought under Reagan. One has to wonder about just who would have their finger on the button of the worlds largest nuclear arsenal during these conditions. Six or seven three star generals had this responsibility, as did several NORAD big wigs. Yup, NORAD, the folks that have no answers concerning 9/11.
The program went from a policy of running the would be clandestine governments from a few hardened facilities that were predictable to more far flung ones it was thought the soviets would be unable to keep track of. Big rigs pulling lead lined trailer of communications equiptment and 4 bys with the administrators would light out to hidden spots on parklands and in resorts across the US. This mimicked the process US intelligence saw the Soviets practicing. FEMA base Mt Weather and Camp David were supplemented by other, more discrete, hardened hideaways. GlobalSecurity.com has an interesting list of them including one under the Green Briar resort.
During the Presidency of the elected President Bush these exercises went on. During the Clinton years they were shelved as being unrealistic in light of the fall of the Soviet Union. 16 year spy Robert Hanssen, who shares the distinction of belonging to the same church where the Tridentine Latin Mass is offered (a Mel Gibson favorite) and same fundamentalist fascist religious organization as his boss at the time Louis Freeh and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Opus Dei revealed how these plans operated to the Soviet government.
The new millenium's Pearl Harbor, the 9/11 disaster brought these plans back to the fore.
Q Mr. President, is there a shadow government in place since September 11th? And --
THE PRESIDENT: A shadowy government or a shadow government?
Perhaps "to the fore" is not an accurate phraseing. Senate president pro tempore of the time, Robert Byrd had not been told that the Bush administration had instituted this "shadow government" plan; and he was third in line of Presidential succession.
In television interviews on Sunday, the leading congressional Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, confirmed that neither he nor any other congressional leader had been consulted about the plan. Asked whether this constituted a secret government, not just potentially in the future, but in actuality today, he replied, "I don't know. I don't know what their role is, what their current authority is, because we haven?t been informed. You'd think one person in Congress would know, and whether a congressional and judicial component is included."
O.K, to be clear we live in a Constitutional Federal Republic with a strong democratic tradition. But if the third person in line for Presidential succession is unaware of the Bush Administration "Continuity of Government" plan does this plan strike you as either Constitutionally correct or in the least democratic? But there was a briefing given on this plan, that overlooked Robert Byrd who as was stated is in the line of Presidential succession. The Secretary of the Senate Jeri Thomson and the Senate Seargent at Arms were said to be told of these plans September 22, after the 9/11 disaster, but it seems they were not told much.
Lenhardt and Thomson said in a statement last night they "visited a classified location to receive information regarding [presidential] line of succession in the event of a national emergency. We were not briefed on a program involving executive branch personnel being assigned on a rotating basis to insure operation of the executive branch."
The WaPo article said this.
House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) first learned from a reporter about yesterday's classified briefing for congressional leaders on the contingency plans, his aides said. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer blamed a "scheduling matter" and said Gephardt had "already been talked to," which Gephardt's aides said was untrue.
The White House also disputed lawmakers' claims that they had not been advised of the administration's contingency plans, reported last week in The Washington Post, involving scores of career government officials taking rotations in underground bunkers outside of Washington. Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who as Senate president pro tempore is third in line to the presidency, and Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) had said they were not informed of the plans.
So it seems although 70 to 150 civilian managers are sent to hardened bunkers to ensure continuity of government in the case of an attack on Washington these individuals are just there to implement executive branch policy. From my reading I could find no reference to House or Senate or Judicial members being included to insure the Constitutionally mandated "checks and balances", and a closer reading sees that members of the Democratic Party are kept outside the loop concerning this "shadow government".
Because Bush has decided to leave the operation in place, agencies including the White House and top civilian Cabinet departments have rotated personnel involved, and are discussing ways to staff such a contingency operation under the assumption it will be in place indefinitely, this official said.
The material I link to is from a year ago when the existence of this "shadow government" was made public to us and our legislators. What this body was up to was shadowy then, and just as indistinct now.
What I can find is that the American Enterprise Institute (which counts Perle, Jean Kirkpatrick, Gingrich, Michael Ledeen, Lynne Cheney and Irving Kristol and among its scholars and fellows) and The Brookings Institute (illuminating but dated reference), are working together to promote their Continuity of Government Commission that as Phyliss Schlafly stated to the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights on August 29, 2003:
An elite group of former Clinton advisers and former public officials of both political parties gathered at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington to announce their proposal to convert the House of Representatives from an elected body to an appointed body in the event of a national emergency. This group calls itself the Continuity of Government (COG) Commission, and the acronym is apt. The COG Commission is trying to be a cog that manipulates our constitutional process of self-government.
We need to be very vigilant. Tommy Franks spoke about what could occur with another 9/11 type terrorist attack.
the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive casualty-producing event somewhere in the western world-it may be in the United States of America-that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass-casualty-producing event. Which, in fact, then begins to potentially unravel the fabric of our Constitution.
On one hand a terrorist attack that could be used by the political elite to further curtail the very liberties we hold as defining what sets America apart, think PATRIOT Act, CAPPS. Police infiltration of civil rights and anti-war groups.
Keep in mind, here in the cradle of world democracy, a country that exports the democratic concept to the world, when all was said and done, despite the Supreme Court appointment, history shows Gore won the Presidency according to the vote in Florida