Saturday, September 08, 2007


One of the many "unprecedented" features of the Bush administration's domestic policy has been its drive in using US military forces within the territorial United States. We certainly saw the push to bring in military force in under martial law after Katrina, when Bush infamously tried to "wrest authority" of Louisiana from that state's governor. Shortly after this effort, he then further requested that Congress repeal the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. This latter request he made, not in response the chaotic conditions in post-hurricane New Orleans, indeed, not specifically for that situation at all, but, rather, for some imagined avian flu epidemic, which his administration felt would need a forceful military response. There is hardly any situation the Bush administration imagines that should not be met with a forceful military response and, perhaps sensing this, neither effort produced the desired resultant at the time.

Which doesn't mean that White House efforts ended there. For, in conjunction with the Military Commisions Act of 2006, which scrapped habeas corpus, the Defense Authorization Act of 2007, also passed merrily by Congress, effectively repealed posse comitatus. Given the proper circumstances, these two dispensations now allow Bush to toss anyone in prison without judicial review and can use the US military -- on US soil -- to do it. But what, exactly, would have to happen for such circumstances to present themselves?

In May of 2007, the White House issued NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD 51, signed by George Bush . This document lays the foundation for Bush to ensure "continuity of Federal Government structures and operations" -- a phrase that is truly state of the art in its ambiguity. Bush will ensure this continuity in the event of a "catastrophic emergency," a calamity defined as "any incident" that can or may result in
extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;
Within two months of the signing of this directive, the Department of the Treasury, of all things, held a "disaster drill" in Tampa, Fl. for some also-imagined disaster in order to ensure that financial institutions could "rebound" in the face of, to borrow a phrase from the above directive, a "disruption severely affecting the ... economy." A month after this drill and after DHS chief Michael Chertoff declared that his "gut" was sensing something ominous, United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM) announced plans to hold a five day session for "federal responders" and others that will
exercise their response abilities against a variety of potential threats during Exercise Vigilant Shield ‘08.
VS-08, as it is called, is described as
the nation’s premier exercise of terrorism preparedness sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, and several other linked exercises as part of the National Level Exercise 1-08. These linked exercises will take place October 15-20 and are being conducted throughout the United States...
Much of this wordage is obviously and purposefully vague.

On top of all this preparedness, the US government also employs religion to quell popular resistance and has established "clergy response teams," using chaplains to convince people to submit because, according to Romans 13, "the government is established by the Lord." (click through and watch the KSLA news report.)

This is an interesting convergence of activity, not the least of which is the release of the latest "bin Laden" video, especially in light of the extremely negative performance, not only of Wall Street, but of the economy as a whole. The latest jobs report, which detailed a net loss of jobs for the first time in five years, combined with the further pummeling stocks and the US dollar are receiving, all spell nothing but gloom. Given the various federal directives and exercises planned or currently implemented, it is not hard to imagine that almost any "disruption" could be co-opted, claiming such a disruption, however Bush defines it, is "severely affecting the economy."

Now, I know this all sounds rather conspiratorial and, frankly, the one thing that is missing is motive. I cannot for the life of me understand why any administration would gear up for martial law and salivate at the thought of imprisoning who knows how many people. I just don't see the upside of any of this. What is the point? With toadies installed throughout the federal government and a compliant Congress, the Bush administration is pretty much doing whatever it wants anyway, so why bother creating conditions like this? Surely Bush and Cheney have realized that, if they haven't been tossed out already for lying the country into war and killing and maiming tens of thousands of Americans, chances are there isn't much else they can do to bestir any sense of outrage among the American population.

Besides, if one thing is guaranteed to rile up a population, it is arbitrary arrest and detention by a military that was not supposed to be used against citizens. Though, considering the gitmo-like state many Katrina victims live in at the moment -- with no end in sight -- I'm not even sure that would do it, so dull and bedimmed do Americans seem right now.

Perhaps to most megalomaniacs, martial law and the US military are nice tools to have at one's disposal, but I don't see the complacent population of this country suddenly rising up in any sense of that phrase, unless, of course, many of them start getting arrested and arbitrarily thrown into Halliburton detention centers. The whole notion is ultimately destined to defeat itself. Besides, once the clergy are dispatched to calm the rabble, we'll all be sucking thumbs and rocking in a corner, praising Jesus. I'm sure of it.

Perhaps, in the most diabolical sense, the whole thing, the whole blasted surveillance police-state is a McGuffin; something designed to look important and especially nefarious, while the real plot continues merrily along.

I wish I knew.


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