Thursday, June 05, 2008

Is The U.S. Compiling A Secret List Of Citizens To Detain Under Martial Law?

"The truth is yes--—you do have these standby provisions, and the plans are here...whereby you could, in the name of stopping terrorism, evoke the military and arrest Americans and put them in detention camps."
---Late Democratic Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez

I heard about this chilling Radar magazine article on Mike Malloy's radio show tonight. The article notes that plans for martial law in the event of a national emergency may already be in place in the U.S. And what, you might ask, could constitute a "national emergency"? As the article notes, "according to one news report, even 'national opposition to U.S. military invasion abroad' could be a trigger."

Something to think about now that George W. Bush appears to be gearing up to attack Iran.

Is all of this rather tin-foil-hat-like? Perhaps, but after eight years of Bush, I would put nothing past this White House.

Here's the Radar magazine article:

In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president's henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.

The bureaucrat was James Comey, John Ashcroft's second-in-command at the Department of Justice during Bush's first term. Comey had been a loyal political foot soldier of the Republican Party for many years. Yet in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he described how he had grown increasingly uneasy reviewing the Bush administration's various domestic surveillance and spying programs. Much of his testimony centered on an operation so clandestine he wasn't allowed to name it or even describe what it did. He did say, however, that he and Ashcroft had discussed the program in March 2004, trying to decide whether it was legal under federal statutes. Shortly before the certification deadline, Ashcroft fell ill with pancreatitis, making Comey acting attorney general, and Comey opted not to certify the program. When he communicated his decision to the White House, Bush's men told him, in so many words, to take his concerns and stuff them in an undisclosed location.

Comey refused to knuckle under, and the dispute came to a head on the cold night of March 10, 2004, hours before the program's authorization was to expire. At the time, Ashcroft was in intensive care at George Washington Hospital following emergency surgery. Apparently, at the behest of President Bush himself, the White House tried, in Comey's words, "to take advantage of a very sick man," sending Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then–White House counsel Alberto Gonzales on a mission to Ashcroft's sickroom to persuade the heavily doped attorney general to override his deputy. Apprised of their mission, Comey, accompanied by a full security detail, jumped in his car, raced through the streets of the capital, lights blazing, and "literally ran" up the hospital stairs to beat them there.

Minutes later, Gonzales and Card arrived with an envelope filled with the requisite forms. Ashcroft, even in his stupor, did not fall for their heavy-handed ploy. "I'm not the attorney general," Ashcroft told Bush's men. "There"—he pointed weakly to Comey—"is the attorney general." Gonzales and Card were furious, departing without even acknowledging Comey's presence in the room. The following day, the classified domestic spying program that Comey found so disturbing went forward at the demand of the White House—"without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," he testified.

What was the mysterious program that had so alarmed Comey? Political blogs buzzed for weeks with speculation. Though Comey testified that the program was subsequently readjusted to satisfy his concerns, one can't help wondering whether the unspecified alteration would satisfy constitutional experts, or even average citizens. Faced with push-back from his bosses at the White House, did he simply relent and accept a token concession? Two months after Comey's testimony to Congress, the New York Times reported a tantalizing detail: The program that prompted him "to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases." The larger mystery remained intact, however. "It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate," the article conceded.

Another clue came from a rather unexpected source: President Bush himself. Addressing the nation from the Oval Office in 2005 after the first disclosures of the NSA's warrantless electronic surveillance became public, Bush insisted that the spying program in question was reviewed "every 45 days" as part of planning to assess threats to "the continuity of our government."

Few Americans—professional journalists included—know anything about so-called Continuity of Government (COG) programs, so it's no surprise that the president's passing reference received almost no attention. COG resides in a nebulous legal realm, encompassing national emergency plans that would trigger the takeover of the country by extra-constitutional forces—and effectively suspend the republic. In short, it's a road map for martial law.

More here.


Anonymous said...

Try tinfoil, but be sure to make the hat pointy, or you head will just poke right through it.

Lotus said...

I remember COG issues, including references to internment camps and roundups of dissidents, being raised in the 80s in connection with concerns about nuclear war.

I never doubted that the planning continued in some form. What is most disturbing to me about the latest reports in the reference to the program being reviewed every 45 days - implying that the plans are not just on a shelf or reviewed by some obscure panel that even the folks in the White House never think about but are regularly updated.

Marc McDonald said...

In response to the first poster, I always have found it amusing how Right-Wingers will show skepticism at a perfectly plausible account like the Radar magazine story.
And then, these same people will turn around and embrace conspiracy theories like "Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster" and "The Kyoto Treaty is a plot to undermine the U.S. economy."
After all, if Rush says it, it must be true, right?

Marc McDonald said...

Hi, Larry, thanks for stopping by and your comment.

Lotus said...

Marc -

I actually come by pretty often; I just don't say much. :-)