Pentagon devising scenarios for martial law in US


Richard Moore

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Pentagon devising scenarios for martial law in US
By Patrick Martin
9 August 2005
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According to a report published Monday by the Washington Post, the Pentagon has 
developed its first ever war plans for operations within the continental United 
States, in which terrorist attacks would be used as the justification for 
imposing martial law on cities, regions or the entire country.

The front-page article cites sources working at the headquarters of the 
military¹s Northern Command (Northcom), located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 
The plans themselves are classified, but ³officers who drafted the plans² gave 
details to Post reporter Bradley Graham, who was recently given a tour of 
Northcom headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base. The article thus appears to be
a deliberate leak conducted for the purpose of accustoming the American 
population to the prospect of military rule.

According to Graham, ³the new plans provide for what several senior officers 
acknowledged is the likelihood that the military will have to take charge in 
some situations, especially when dealing with mass-casualty attacks that could 
quickly overwhelm civilian resources.²

The Post account declares, ³The war plans represent a historic shift for the 
Pentagon, which has been reluctant to become involved in domestic operations and
is legally constrained from engaging in law enforcement.²

A total of 15 potential crisis scenarios are outlined, ranging from ³low-end,² 
which Graham describes as ³relatively modest crowd-control missions,² to 
³high-end,² after as many as three simultaneous catastrophic mass-casualty 
events, such as a nuclear, biological or chemical weapons attack.

In each case, the military would deploy a quick-reaction force of as many as 
3,000 troops per attack‹i.e., 9,000 total in the worst-case scenario. More 
troops could be made available as needed.

The Post quotes a statement by Admiral Timothy J. Keating, head of Northcom: ³In
my estimation, [in the event of] a biological, a chemical or nuclear attack in 
any of the 50 states, the Department of Defense is best positioned‹of the 
various eight federal agencies that would be involved‹to take the lead.²

The newspaper describes an unresolved debate among the military planners on how 
to integrate the new domestic mission with ongoing US deployments in Iraq, 
Afghanistan and other foreign conflicts. One major document of over 1,000 pages,
designated CONPLAN 2002, provides a general overview of air, sea and land 
operations in both a post-attack situation and for ³prevention and deterrence 
actions aimed at intercepting threats before they reach the United States.² A 
second document, CONPLAN 0500, details the 15 scenarios and the actions 
associated with them.

The Post reports: ³CONPLAN 2002 has passed a review by the Pentagon¹s Joint 
Staff and is due to go soon to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and top 
aides for further study and approval, the officers said. CONPLAN 0500 is still 
undergoing final drafting² at Northcom headquarters.

While Northcom was established only in October 2002, its headquarters staff of 
640 is already larger than that of the Southern Command, which overseas US 
military operations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

About 1,400 National Guard troops have been formed into a dozen regional 
response units, while smaller quick-reaction forces have been set up in each of 
the 50 states. Northcom also has the power to mobilize four active-duty Army 
battalions, as well as Navy and Coast Guard ships and air defense fighter jets.

The Pentagon is acutely conscious of the potential political backlash as its 
role in future security operations becomes known. Graham writes: ³Military 
exercises code-named Vital Archer, which involve troops in lead roles, are 
shrouded in secrecy. By contrast, other homeland exercises featuring troops in 
supporting roles are widely publicized.²

Military lawyers have studied the legal implications of such deployments, which 
risk coming into conflict with a longstanding congressional prohibition on the 
use of the military for domestic policing, known as posse comitatus. Involving 
the National Guard, which is exempt from posse comitatus, could be one solution,
Admiral Keating told the Post. ³He cited a potential situation in which Guard 
units might begin rounding up people while regular forces could not,² Graham 

Graham adds: ³when it comes to ground forces possibly taking a lead role in 
homeland operations, senior Northcom officers remain reluctant to discuss 
specifics. Keating said such situations, if they arise, probably would be 
temporary, with lead responsibility passing back to civilian authorities.²

A remarkable phrase: ³probably would be temporary.² In other words, the military
takeover might not be temporary, and could become permanent!

In his article, Graham describes the Northern Command¹s ³Combined Intelligence 
and Fusion Center, which joins military analysts with law enforcement and 
counterintelligence specialists from such civilian agencies as the FBI, the CIA 
and the Secret Service.² The article continues: ³A senior supervisor at the 
facility said the staff there does no intelligence collection, only analysis. He
also said the military operates under long-standing rules intended to protect 
civilian liberties. The rules, for instance, block military access to 
intelligence information on political dissent or purely criminal activity.²

Again, despite the soothing reassurances about respecting civil liberties, 
another phrase leaps out: ³intelligence information on political dissent.² What 
right do US intelligence agencies have to collect information on political 
dissent? Political dissent is not only perfectly legal, but essential to the 
functioning of a democracy.

The reality is that the military brass is intensely interested in monitoring 
political dissent because its domestic operations will be directed not against a
relative handful of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists‹who have not carried out a
single operation inside the United States since September 11, 2001‹but against 
the democratic rights of the American people.

The plans of Northcom have their origins not in the terrible events of 9/11, but
in longstanding concerns in corporate America about the political stability of 
the United States. This is a society increasingly polarized between the 
fabulously wealthy elite at the top, and the vast majority of working people who
face an increasingly difficult struggle to survive. The nightmare of the 
American ruling class is the emergence of a mass movement from below that 
challenges its political and economic domination.

As long ago as 1984‹when Osama bin Laden was still working hand-in-hand with the
CIA in the anti-Soviet guerrilla war in Afghanistan‹the Reagan administration 
was drawing up similar contingency plans for military rule. A Marine Corps 
officer detailed to the National Security Council drafted plans for Operation 
Rex ¹84, a headquarters exercise that simulated rounding up 300,000 Central 
American immigrants and likely political opponents of a US invasion of Nicaragua
or El Salvador and jailing them at mothballed military bases. This officer later
became well known to the public: Lt. Colonel Oliver North, the organizer of the 
illegal network to arm the ³contra² terrorists in Nicaragua and a principal 
figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.

As for the claims that these military plans are driven by genuine concern over 
the threat of terrorist attacks, these are belied by the actual conduct of the 
American ruling elite since 9/11. The Bush administration has done everything 
possible to suppress any investigation into the circumstances of the attacks on 
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon‹most likely because its own negligence, 
possibly deliberate, would be exposed.

While the Pentagon claims that its plans are a response to the danger of 
nuclear, biological or chemical attacks, no serious practical measures have been
taken to forestall such attacks or minimize their impact. The Bush 
administration and Congress have refused even to restrict the movement of rail 
tank cars loaded with toxic chemicals through the US capital, though even an 
accidental leak, let alone a terrorist attack, would cause mass casualties.

In relation to bioterrorism, the Defense Science Board determined in a 2000 
study that the federal government had only 1 of the 57 drugs, vaccines and 
diagnostic tools required to deal with such an attack. According to a report in 
the Washington Post August 7, in the five years since the Pentagon report, only 
one additional resource has been developed, bringing the total to 2 out of 57. 
Drug companies have simply refused to conduct the research required to find 
antidotes to anthrax and other potential toxins, and the Bush administration has
done nothing to compel them.

As for the danger of nuclear or ³dirty-bomb² attacks, the Bush administration 
and the congressional Republican leadership recently rammed through a measure 
loosening restrictions on exports of radioactive substances, at the behest of a 
Canadian-based manufacturer of medical supplies which conducted a well-financed 
lobbying campaign.

Evidently, the administration and the corporate elite which it represents do not
take seriously their own warnings about the imminent threat of terrorist attacks
using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons‹at least not when it comes to 
security measures that would impact corporate profits.

The anti-terrorism scare has a propaganda purpose: to manipulate the American 
people and induce the public to accept drastic inroads against democratic 
rights. As the Pentagon planning suggests, the American working class faces the 
danger of some form of military-police dictatorship in the United States.

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