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What is Bush Preparing For?
As the congressional elections later in the year could result in the loss of Republican control of Senate and Congress, Bush is making efforts now to push through some very controversial legislation.
Federal Control of the National Guard
The National Governors Association, a bipartisan organization of American governors, has sent a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to protest an upcoming bill that would allow the federal government to usurp state control over the National Guard in "emergencies".
This bill is highly significant because, if passed, it will dramatically decrease the security of the US. It will allow the federal government to unilaterally declare an emergency and take military control over America's states.
Below is an excerpt of the NGA's letter:
A provision in section 511 of the House-passed DoD Act would allow the President to federalize the National Guard of the states without the consent of the governor. Specifically, this clause amends Title 10 of the United States Code to give the President the authority to take control of the Guard in case of "a serious natural or manmade disaster, accident, or catastrophe that occurs in the United States, its territories and possessions, or Puerto Rico."
The Posse Comitatus Act
The Bush administration's push for federal military control was hinted at less than a year ago, mere months after Hurricane Katrina. In October, 2005, George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld embarked on a short-lived media campaign against an important American law: the Posse Comitatus Act.
This federal law was passed in 1878, after the American Civil War. Its purpose was to stop federal troops from supervising elections in Confederate states. The law prohibits federally controlled units of the National Guard, and the US military in general, from acting in a local law enforcement capacity.
Bush and Rumsfeld used avian flu as the rationale for their attacks on the law. The attacks were not well received.
According to Bush:
"I'm concerned about what an avian flu outbreak could mean for the United States and the world," he told reporters during a Rose Garden news conference on Tuesday.
Classified War Plans For Domestic Takeover
Shortly before the attacks against the Posse Comitatus Act, classified war plans, called CONPLAN 2002, had been revealed that are unlike any in US history. In these plans, the enemy is not foreign, but domestic.
A Washington Post article discusses these plans:
The 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.
The rationale for these plans to usurp local authority is not avian flu, but threats of "biological, chemical or nuclear attack".
Dealing With Insurgency and Media
If "taking charge" of the US, the Bush administration would have to concern itself with more than just formal authorities. Grass-roots insurgency and media criticism could also prove obstacles.
In the event of grass-roots insurgency, large numbers of insurgents and suspected insurgents would have to be detained. FEMA currently maintains a network of hundreds of camps (here is a video tour of one) that could be used for this purpose. In addition, a $385 million no-bid contract with KBR/Halliburton provides for building, when needed, many more camps. This sizable contract was purportedly awarded to deal with an "emergency influx of immigrants" (a reason borrowed from the Reagan-era Rex 84 program) and the need to "support the rapid development of new programs".
In the realm of media concerns, Bush has issued an executive order to replace the existing Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) with the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The purpose of the EAS is to "ensure that under all conditions the President can communicate with the American people". The order provides for command-and-control of media "through cooperation with the owners and operators of communication facilities" to "maintain, protect, and, if necessary, restore communications facilities and capabilities necessary for the public alert and warning system".
In regards to legality, the Bush government has already established that is can legally detain US citizens indefinitely, and without trial, in "wartime":
The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, came in the case of Jose Padilla, a former gang member and U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in 2002 and a month later designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush. ... Padilla has been held without trial in a U.S. naval brig for more than three years.
Images: Prison Planet
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