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George W. Bush yesterday signed National Security Presidential Directive 51 and Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20, ordering Executive Agencies to prepare contingency plans for a "decapitating" attack on the federal govermnent.

More importantly, the NPSD and HSPD vests responsibility for coordinating the plans in the White House.

Plans for "Continuity of Government" are as old as the Cold War.  In fact, today there are career bureaucrats punching the clock in various undisclosed locations as part of a program to ensure contingency plans are in place.  COG is run by DHS and FEMA.  So Bush's plans are not new.  They already exist.  So here, only one thing is new.  They moved responsibility to the White House.

Why is this important?  It's a question of oversight.  The national security programs run by DHS and FEMA can be reviewed by Congress.

A national security program at the White House cannot.  The budgets don't have to be disclosed.  The crony hires don't have to be disclosed.  It's another step in the march toward government secrecy.

Furthermore, a national security program organized for emergency response by the White House is very troubling.  Why?  Consider the Katrina debacle.  The White House dithered.  People died.

Originally posted to citizen92 on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:56 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If this is true, this diary needs to be (9+ / 0-)

    recommended for all to see.
    Here we go, more Republican paranoia. Why are they so defective ?.

    lead, follow, or get out of the way.

    by cabinetman1 on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:50:51 AM PDT

    •  not paranoia - power grab (12+ / 0-)

      Like the diarist says. it's only paranoia if you assume that this is an attempt to improve the response of the government to a massive attack. that is NOT what they're thinking.It's a payroll bonanza for wives, girlfriends, and college chums, as well as black budget giveaways to connected contractors, and of course, lots of opportunities to just plain fuck with America out of sight.
      Leave aside the tacit admission that the GWOT is going so poorly we are still vulnerable to a "decapitating" attack.
      No. GWOT is cover for this, as it has been for everything else over the last six+ years.

      "Sweep it all up, Mr. Chairman, things related and not."

      by kamarvt on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:56:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If cronyism isn't bad enough, apply tinfoil (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kamarvt, citizen92

        Nice and convenient to have the crew meant to take over be in bed with the WH, rather than a bunch of career bureaucrats who might be less loyal and not even read the script.  The last bump upwards on the terror level was because of events in Iraq, which can hardly be expected to improve, and there's still another notch left.

  •  Could very well be used to establish a (9+ / 0-)

    presidential dictatorship in the event of a major terrorist attack.

    Katrina was America's Chernobyl.

    by lysias on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:56:23 AM PDT

  •  Ummm...wouldn't a "decapitating"... (6+ / 0-)

    attack take away the exact people who would know what the frack the plan is?

    Unless, of course, you're talking about "decapitating" that pesky House of Representatives...

    The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it -- GB Shaw

    by kmiddle on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:57:18 AM PDT

    •  That's like Guilliani putting the command (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LondonYank, citizen92, zephron, Nespolo

      center for the police and firefighters in the Twin Towers.  It makes sense if you're a republican, I'm sure.


      The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

      by nupstateny on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:02:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Giuliani. Site was citizen-proof (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        citizen92

        One of the reasons for the site he chose was that rioting citizens could not cut off the phone or electricity from the outside of WTC 7, plus he wangled a way to (illegally) store extra fuel for generators.

        He was more afraid of us than of "Jihad" from overseas.

        •  Yes, and in spite of the fact that there had (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          citizen92, zephron

          already been a terrorist attack at that exact site, and above the objections of all those involved in the planning of that communications center, he-the man who would keep us all safe from terrorist attacks-chose the twin towers.


          The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

          by nupstateny on Thu May 10, 2007 at 09:19:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Doe-Eyed Innocence (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LondonYank, murrayewv, HiBob, citizen92

    But why would Bush ever do this?

    Middle Class Mother-F!cking Warrior

    by bink on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:59:28 AM PDT

  •  well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    duckhunter

    I can't really get worked up about this because the diary is so vague. I seriously doubt that the continuity of government planning is suddenly out of reach of Congress due to this order.. but at the same time there is no mistaking that the President is the Chief Executive and it is his power to run the branch. So long as this order doesn't violate any existing laws, I can't really object.

    Reading the NSPD, I see

    Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 ("Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations"), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.

    Now my question would be, how does this new policy differ from the Clinton one?

    •  More to come (10+ / 0-)

      I'll add details in a forthcoming diary, but the crux of the point is this.

      Moving the organization and funds from an Agency to direct control of the Executive Office of the President takes it out of Congressional site.

      The White House won't give up visit records of Abramoff to the complex because they are "Presidential Records."

      Moving the funding and organizational capacity of this secret program from DHS to the White House has the same effect.

      It's a minor adminstrative move with tremendous ramifications.  And pushes the program further into the black world.

      BTW Cheney was a huge fan of the whole continuity of government scheme back in the 1990's -- and was one of his favorite activities to "practice" back when he was SecDef.

      •  If there is oversight right now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        citizen92

        before this executive order, does this not have to have Congressional oversight in order to be approved.  I am really naive about how this all works, but how can the President just make it happen without oversight?  Did the Bushies find a loophole (like their between session appoinments racket) do get this done?

        Moving more and more out of the reach of Congressional oversight seems very suspicious.

        Also - this is a lame duck presidency (really really lame) so what would be the purpose at this point?  I am sure the Prez and cronies can see the writing on the wall that the GOP is dead in the water at the moment, and with the debacle in Iraq showing no end, they've got to be figuring that in the 2008 election, it will not be a GOP administration that is in place.

        Or, do they have some bizarre plans up their sleeves that we can't even imagine?

        I trust nothing that this group does.

        •  Executive Orders (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Statusquomustgo, blue armadillo

          Generally stand unless they are overturned by the Supreme Court or Congress.  I would doubt that Congress is likely to get involved in this.

          Considering the White House needs to hire someone to run the Iraq War ("czar") because the NSC policy apparatus is so broken, why would it want to take on this responsibility - when it already exists in governnment?

          My guess is that Dick Cheney's getting a little bored and wanted to run these silly war games.  And hire some more staffers.

          •  Does this stand (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            citizen92

            when an new administration takes over?

            Or will this only be in effect while the executive is in office?  Sounds like once an Executive Order is issued, it is in place unless another one supercedes it or Congress or SCOTUS get involved.

            Is that correct?

            •  Effectively, yes (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blue armadillo

              The NSPD/HSPD issued yesterday apparently supercedes/rescinds guidance issued in 1998 by President Clinton.

              It's kind of a serioes of "active memo file" that's passed between administrations.  Usually they can't even settle on what to call these things -- I think Clinton's Admi used the term "Presidential Decision Document (PDD)" instead of the present NSPD term, which was revived from Bush I.

  •  Recommended (11+ / 0-)

    Not pleased to be doing this, because I hate being dragged into tin foil hat territory again and again by this government.  But I would like to hear how other people interpret the designs of this executive order.

    Middle Class Mother-F!cking Warrior

    by bink on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:01:00 AM PDT

  •  Who is in charge? (7+ / 0-)

    The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator.

    That would be Frances Fragos Townsend.

    Who's that?

    In 1991, she worked in the Office of the Attorney General to assist in establishing the newly created Office of International Programs, the predecessor to the Executive Office for National Security. In December 1993, she joined the Criminal Division where she served as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Attorney General and played a critical part in establishing the Division's international training and rule of law programs.

    She came to the White House from the United States Coast Guard, where she had served as Assistant Commandant for Intelligence. Prior to that, Townsend spent thirteen years at the United States Department of Justice in a variety of senior positions, her last assignment as Counsel to the Attorney General for Intelligence Policy.

    In 2007, her name was floated as a possible replacement for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Revolutionary words start revolutions

    by Catte Nappe on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:06:50 AM PDT

    •  Here's some more interesting history on Townsend (5+ / 0-)

      She was head the DOJ's top official in charge of overseeing requests for wiretaps to FISA courts during the 90's.  FBI whistle-blower Robert Wright, amongst others, charged her with obstructing investigations into Hamas and al-Qaeda financiers, including Yassin al-Qadi.  Yassin al-Qadi just happens to be one of the founders of P-tech, the notorious "risk assessment" software firm  that was hired by numerous government agencies including the FBI, FAA, White House, DOE and others.  This is part of the much larger story of the troubling collusion between the US and the Muslim Brotherhood For more on that Townsend, go here and skip down to the section on "Operation Vulgar Betrayal".  And for moe on P-tech, and now this mess tie in with the Abramoff gang, there's a bunch of links on that here.

      Enjoy!

  •  Spelled Out in the Constitution: Article CMXI nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citizen92

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:12:59 AM PDT

  •  people this is scary s**t (5+ / 0-)

    and if taken in the context of the president's increased ability to declare martial law (see my post above) there is sufficient reason for concern. I do not mean to be alarmist, but I find it hard to believe that this protocol-change is simply a meaningless formality.

  •  If not else (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gnat, citizen92, Statusquomustgo

    For the Bush administration to be focused on this issue when succession plans and procedures already exist is diagnostic.  They look desperate to create some sort of pretext or justification to essentially suspend our constitutional framework in the event of another attack.  This smells funny.

    A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

    by DWG on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:28:08 AM PDT

  •  Please explain about state and local (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citizen92, Statusquomustgo

    response and/or resistance to Federal.

    And what Congressional oversight might be, too?

  •  good points here... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arkdem, citizen92, Statusquomustgo

    The budgets don't have to be disclosed.  The crony hires don't have to be disclosed.  It's another step in the march toward government secrecy.

    Furthermore, a national security program organized for emergency response by the White House is very troubling.

    ...now check this out:

    GSA Administrator Lurita Doan named North Carolina native Richard Reed to the post effective April 29, 2007.
    [...]
    OERR is responsible for coordinating all GSA resources in support of first responders, emergency workers and recovery teams across all levels of government. GSA is the nation's premier contracting and acquisition resource; with the creation of OERR, GSA is better prepared to respond to national emergencies. As head of the office, Mr. Reed will report through the Chief of Staff Office to the Administrator.

    Prior to his appointment at GSA, Mr. Reed served as Director of Continuity of Policy for the Homeland Security Council at the White House. In that position, he led continuity of operations policy development, coordination and implementation. In addition, he was the senior policy representative for the Department of Homeland Security on interagency organizations relating to continuity of operations. Prior to working at the White House, Mr. Reed was Director of the Operations Division, Office of National Security Coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). There he was responsible for Continuity of government programs for the federal government and Chairperson of the Interagency Advisory Group.

    So Mr. Reed seems like the go-to guy for continuity of government planning--and now he's got a big piggy bank:

    Founded in 1949, GSA serves as a centralized procurement and property management agency for the federal government. GSA manages more than one- fourth of the government's total procurement dollars and influences the management of $500 billion in federal assets, including 8,300 government-owned or leased buildings and 205,000 vehicles.

  •  I've never understood why Bush (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citizen92, Statusquomustgo

    is attempting to accumulate so much power in the White House.  At one point, I thought it was because the Pretzeldent intended to be Pretzeldent-for-Life.  Whether or not that ever was the plan, it is no longer practicable.  No one can grab power like that without the military, and the military no longer is enamored of the Commander Guy Decider Chimp.  What if their worst nightmare came true, the presidency of Hillary Rodham: do they really want her to have the power they had intended for the Commander Guy Decider Chimp?

    If Hillary Clinton wins, the Democratic Party wins.

    by DCDemocrat on Thu May 10, 2007 at 09:19:58 AM PDT

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