I consider myself to be fairly well educated concerning the lies, flipflops, misdirections and outright fabrications of the Bush administration.
But this took my breath away. Do you know what Rep. Dick Cheney and pharmaceutical CEO Donald Rumsfeld had in common in 1982? They were important players in a secret, shadow federal government of the United States.
Sounds tinfoil I know. Take a deep breath and read below.
From the Atlantic Monthly
At least once a year during the 1980s Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld vanished. Cheney was working diligently on Capitol Hill, as a congressman rising through the ranks of the Republican leadership. Rumsfeld, who had served as Gerald Ford's Secretary of Defense, was a hard-driving business executive in the Chicago area--where, as the head of G. D. Searle & Co., he dedicated time and energy to the success of such commercial products as Nutra-Sweet, Equal, and Metamucil. Yet for periods of three or four days at a time no one in Congress knew where Cheney was, nor could anyone at Searle locate Rumsfeld. Even their wives were in the dark; they were handed only a mysterious Washington phone number to use in case of emergency.
Sound familiar yet? This story is founded upon the release of some Eisenhower papers which described the creation of a shadow government in 1957 as a "response to Sputnik". I should add that this shadow government was and remains extra-constitutional or outside of the constitutionally mandated lines of succession.
But Rumsfeld and Cheney are big players in the world of politics now. Wouldn't it make sense to include them in secret plans under Reagan?
The inspiration for this program came from within the Administration itself, not from Cheney or Rumsfeld; except for a brief stint Rumsfeld served as Middle East envoy, neither of them ever held office in the Reagan Administration. Nevertheless, they were leading figures in the program.
How's that for scary? And you don't think GW Bush inherited these guys from his father? There is most definitely a homegrown conservative "all-star" team that has been working behind the scenes for more than 20 years. If that doesn't scare you, what will?
Even scarier is that Eisenhower's original plans included having corporate bigwigs run the federal government in the event of an emergency:
In the heart of the Cold War, faced with the possibility of nuclear attack from the Soviets, President Dwight Eisenhower annointed Toledo business and civic giant Harold Boeschenstein as one of six private citizens to lead the United States in the event the government was decimated in a nuclear strike.
The plan, revealed in recently publicized Eisenhower administration letters, was hatched in the fall of 1957 after the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first manmade satellite.
In response, Eisenhower turned to Mr. Boeschenstein, then the leader of Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., and five other citizens, including CBS President Frank Stanton, Harvard Business School professor George Baker, Title Guaranty Co. President Aksel Nielsen, bank vice president J. Ed Warren, and the vice president of CBS, Theodore Koop. In presidential form letters, each of the men was given the authority to run major components of the government in an emergency. Mr. Boeschenstein was entrusted with overseeing manufacturing and production. No public announcement was ever made, and the men were told to keep the plan top secret.
But isn't that the ancient past? 1957? Not really:
Shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush created a shadow government of 75 to 150 officials who worked in mountainside bunkers outside Washington to ensure the government would function if the capital came under attack.
If that isn't scary enough, read this little excerpt concerning the Reagan version of this shadow government:
"One of the awkward questions we faced," one participant in the planning of the program explains, "was whether to reconstitute Congress after a nuclear attack. It was decided that no, it would be easier to operate without them." For one thing, it was felt that reconvening Congress, and replacing members who had been killed, would take too long. Moreover, if Congress did reconvene, it might elect a new speaker of the House, whose claim to the presidency might have greater legitimacy than that of a Secretary of Agriculture or Commerce who had been set up as President under Reagan's secret program.
And for all of you who think I have my tinfoil hat on, here is the AP version of this story:
A few weeks after the Soviets launched the first manmade satellite in 1957, shattering America's sense of security, CBS President Frank Stanton was summoned to the White House to see President Eisenhower.
Stanton, who had no experience or ambitions in government, was taken aback when the president asked if he would be willing to oversee a federal communications agency after such an attack.
"I was surprised and startled by the breadth of the assignment," said the 96-year-old Stanton, who lives in Boston.
Nervous about the awesome task of keeping the nation's telephone, radio and television systems operating after an attack, Stanton said he nevertheless "agreed to do my chore."
Stanton was one of six private citizens secretly recruited and granted authority by Eisenhower to run major components of the government in an emergency. No public announcement of the appointments was made. Their existence was confirmed by recently publicized Eisenhower administration letters.
There's a lot more to read and I earnestly implore you to read the entire Atlantic Monthly article. One especially scary part:
Vice President George H.W. Bush was given the authority to supervise some of these efforts, which were run by a new government agency with a bland name: the National Program Office. It had its own building in the Washington area, run by a two-star general, and a secret budget adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
The thing not discussed in these articles it that this "shadow government" business seems to be entirely a Republican piece of work.
Finally, during the early Clinton years, it was decided that this scenario was farfetched and outdated, a mere legacy of the Cold War. It seemed that no enemy in the world was still capable of decapitating America's leadership, and the program was abandoned.
I'm still shocked. I continue to underestimate the Machiavellan audacity of a certain group of people who are far more determined to govern the world than I am seemingly able to grasp.