Alito, Imperial Presidency Potpourri
A quick thought and two old posts concerning "Imperial Presidency".
Samuel Alito has long been concerned with increasing the power of the President, as this memo from the Reagan Office Of Legal Counsel shows, dated 1986, wherein Alito offers up a new technique for increasing Presidential power: The Presidential signing statement.
In talking about the history of the use of presidential signing statements I'm in a bit over my head. What I have learned is that until the "project" of employing these these statements to further presidential authority was outlined by Alito's innovation they were mostly used to allow a President to disagree with a bill on Constitutional grounds, and that in itself was a late 20th century innovation. As Alito said in the memo linked above:
Presidents, unlike Congress, do not customarily comment on their understanding of bills. Congress churns out great masses of legislative history bearing on its intent--committee reports, floor debates, hearings. Presidents have traditionally created nothing comparable. Presidents have seldom explained in any depth or detail how they interpreted the bills they have signed. Presidential approval is usually accompanied by a statement that is often little more than a press release.
If you read the memo you see that Alito wishes to slowly over time e-a-s-e in this new presidential "technique". On Christmas the New York Times mentioned another memo, one just as timely given recent events:
One troubling memo concerns domestic wiretaps - a timely topic. In the memo, which he wrote as a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department, Judge Alito argued that the attorney general should be immune from lawsuits when he illegally wiretaps Americans. Judge Alito argued for taking a step-by-step approach to establishing this principle, much as he argued for an incremental approach to reversing Roe v. Wade in another memo.
Slow but steady...
Pretty easy to sneak up on us. Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton have all used this, although the memo shows Alito worked on supersizing its scope. When did you become aware of Presidential signing statements?
Here's a thouhgt to hold, ruminate on as you hear/see the daily news:
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. Were the federal Constitution, therefore, really chargeable with the accumulation of power, or with a mixture of powers, having a dangerous tendency to such an accumulation, no further arguments would be necessary to inspire a universal reprobation of the system.
---James Madison Federalist Papers #47
The following post is from 2.25.04. Forgive me the optimism in popular education that had me thinking Mr Bush might only be a one term blight on American Democracy. What has me reposting this piece is the memory of this quote, part of the second to last article linked below.
When president Ronald Reagan was considering invading Nicaragua he issued a series of executive orders that provided the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with broad powers in the event of a "crisis" such as "violent and widespread internal dissent or national opposition against a US military invasion abroad". They were never used.
Operation Garden Plot, FEMA: a bit of history
If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator
--George W Bush
George Bush, one term President? Like father like son; it looks as if that could be the case, even with the support of his corporate media cronies, the truth about him, and his administration, is getting mainstream. Black Box voting aside...
What my reading has shown though is that the present regime in DC is much bigger than George W. Bush. In fact, when the highest office in the land is under threat and the Vice President goes into hiding, what are we to think? Who is the front man? Who is/are the brains of the operation?
"Am I the evil genius in the corner that nobody ever sees come out of his hole? It's a nice way to operate, actually." --Dick Cheney
The Neoconservatives that people the present administration have been involved in governance at some level for decades, bringing their marginal political philosophy to the fore; its' policy of endless war, and lies to control the subordinate masses, to head the most powerful nation on Earth. We all saw how this cabal got into the White House...
I really care about my work here at Estimated Prophet, and will offer documentation to back up what I have to offer;
I don't want you to wonder if I am wearing a tinfoil beanie.
Operation Garden Plot
There is a plan to allow the military to assist law enforcement in quieting "civil unrest".
Urban areas can be the scene of inner-city conflicts, labor disputes, and political struggles. Disturbances in urban areas are usually fueled by aggrieved members of the community.
I'd like you to take a look at Field Manual (FM) 19-15 which spells out the military policy in controlling civil disturbance. The Field Manual is comprehensive; but I think you will be a bit more enlightened by giving it a good read. The way crowds are managed, the psychology behind say, behind soldiers holding their weapons at "safe port" so their bayonets are apparent to the folks in the back of the crowd, or when exploding CS grenades might be used rather than burning grenades to greater effect, even how a to choose between shooting protesters with either a rubber ring airfoil projectile or a CS powder containing CS projectile from the M234 launcher on your M-16.
The term "Rules of Engagement" is not used for domestic operations- the term "Rules for Use of Force" applies.
Alright, so perhaps the military can be called out for such domestic disturbances as riots, you may be thinking, remembering Los Angeles after the police we watched beat Rodney King so many times on the tv were aquited. The Los Angeles Riots saw deployment of active duty Marines and Army Troops, as well as federalized California National Guard Troops. The National Guard is not constrained by Posse Comitatus Act. Once Federalized it is constrained, while under the command of the Govenor it is not.
What we saw in place in Los Angeles was Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, better known as "Operation Garden Plot". This plan to use the military to deal with widescale domestic dissent had its origins in the rioting and unrest of 1967. Although the riots in Newark, New Jersey; New York City; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Illinois; and Atlanta, Georgia; and Detroit, Michigan were mostly confined to African Americans, the growing antiwar movement offered another domestic concern. There were 160
incidents such as these in 128 cities in the first nine months of 1967, the National Guard was called out at least 25 times. President Johnson called a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders into being to figure out the "why" of this mass unrest.
Army Chief of Staff Harold Johnson set up an task force to study the role of the Army in civil disturbances.
After Martin Luther King was assassinated rioting broke out in 19 US cities.
The army task force became the Directorate of Civil Disturbance Planning and Operations, which had a further name change to the Directorate of Military Support, working out of the basement of the Pentagon, it's headquarters known as "the domestic war room". A full time staff of 150 manned communications equipment in touch with the National Guard and the nation's military installations. A computer kept track of politcal dissent. And dissenters.
Ronald Reagan hired retired National Guard General Louis O. Giuffrida to implement a Garden Plot subplan called Cable Splicer. Giuffrida had earlier advocated "the detention of at least 21 million American Negroes in assembly centers or relocation camps" to counteract African American militancy. Reagan established a counter-terrorism training center, the California Specialized Training Institute; Guiffrida was commandant.
On October 30, 1969 President Nixon issued Executive Order 11490, cosolidating 21 Executive orders and 2 Defense Mobilization orders, assigning emergency preparedness functions to Federal departments and agencies.
President Ford created Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency (FEPA), in 1976, using Executive Order 11921, further consolidating Nixons order.
In 1979 President Carter brought the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) into being with Executive Order 12148, expending on Ford's FEPA.
President Reagan made Louis Giuffrida his "emergency czar" as head of FEMA. Guiffrida created a Civil Security Division at
the agency, and set up a Civil Defense Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland, much like CSTI in California., where civilian defense personel were taught military police methods, counter-terrorism and survival skills. FEMA gained intelligence agency status by giving the National Security Council authority over the planning for civil defense and civil security by top secret National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 26. Reagan further a senior-level interdepartmental board, the Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board (EMPB) to develop a national policy statement on emergency mobilization preparedness.
Along with Guiffrida, Oliver North was a part of EMPB, having been assigned there by Robert McFarland from 1982 to 1984. Thier plans for an America run by FEMA and Presidential fiat where gaining attention. FEMA was collecting intelligence on American activists. A fact that placed them in conflict with Federal Bureau of Investigations Director William Webster. General Frank Salcedo, FEMA Director of Civil Security in the end had to turn over the 12,000 files his agency had collected. Attorney General William French Smith got wind of this and some of the details of the REX 84 readiness exercises conducted under President Reagan and involving 34 other agencies, an exercise that countenanced rounding up 100,000 Central American immigrants as well as taking control of the Department of Defense and shutting down the Constitution. Salcedo had been quoted saying "at least 100,000 U.S. citizens, from survivalists to tax protesters, were serious threats to civil security"
"Over the long term, the peacetime action programs of FEMA and other departments and agencies have the effect of making the conceivable need for military takeover less and less as time goes by. A fully implemented civil defense program may not now be regarded as a substitute for martial law, nor could it be so marketed, but if successful in its execution it could have that effect."-- Louis Giuffrida
Guiffrida was found to have used 170,000 dollars in FEMA funds to set himself up in a swank "batchelor pad" at the Emmitsburg training facility. He was let go and does not appear in FEMA's official history though he was there from its inception. FEMA was found to have spent its money on building a civil security infrastructure, but it neglected its given role, civil defense.
North was reappointed by McFarlane to the Office of Public Diplomacy, where he disseminated disinformation. Iran/Contra brought North's other crimes concerning Central America (including condoning Contra cocaine running into the US) and the crimes of many, some within the present administration into light. His FEMA/EMBP involvement became public as well; offering a glimpse into these malignant entities.
Reagan signed Executive Order 12656 putting the NSC at the helm of national security emergency preparedness policy. FEMA is now at hand to assist in policy implementation and co-ordination with Federal agencies, state and local governments. It advises the NSC on mobilization preparedness, civil defense and continuity of government among others.
FEMA is now... The Department of Homeland Security's Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate.
What got me reading about this was the Sydney Morning Herald article "Foundations are in place for martial law in the US" The reading I've been doing points to the fact that a small group of hardliners has been in the background of GOP politics during some of the most shameful incidents of US history in the past 30+ years.
You should be aware, as stated in FM 100-19 "Principles of Operations Other Than War"
Perseverance - Prepare for the measured, protracted application of military capabilities in support of strategic aims. Domestic support operations may require years to achieve desired effects. They may not have a clear beginning or end decisively.
Shadowy Government (originally posted 2.23.04)
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