Who knows? There used to be more intelligence in any General of the US Army than all politicians combined. Could that still hold? Maybe this is is actually a good idea. Our Republic, which we have *not* managed to keep, despite B. Franklin's warnings, is nothing more than a cesspool of corruption, from President down to dogcatcher. The Supreme Court takes entirely too long to corrrct that damage caused by coruption of the elected raptors. The people of the USA are nothing more than cash cows for government, and there is no sign that things will improve. Install military rule. Annihilte Congress. Scratch the constitution and start over. At this point I could even tell them where the fundamental mistkes are - if they actually ask.

      January 28, 1999
      Pentagon Seeks Command for Emergencies in U.S.

     The Pentagon has decided to ask President Clinton for the power to
     appoint a military leader for the continental United States because
     of what it sees as a growing threat of major terrorist strikes on
     American soil, Defense Department officials say.
     The plan calls for the military leader to be ready, if necessary,
     to do such things as order thousands of doctors, stretchers and
     emergency personnel quickly sent to stricken areas, much as
     American commanders abroad are now prepared to do.
     The Pentagon, which currently has no organization for such crisis
     work, has quietly discussed the plan for about a year and recently
     decided to press ahead and ask for Presidential approval.
     Top White House officials have reacted favorably, characterizing
     the proposed step as a relatively minor adjustment of the lines of
     military authority and organization.
     But civil libertarians and some Administration officials fear that
     such military power could slowly expand to threaten the privacy,
     liberty and lives of private citizens. Defenders of the plan,
     including Pentagon officials, insist that it would do no such thing
     and that the nation needed homeland defense to deal with terrorists
     armed with deadly germs, chemicals and skills for attacking the
     nation's key computer networks.
     Military officials added that they had no intention of usurping
     civilian control.
     "Our only appropriate role is in support of civil agencies that
     have the primary responsibility for law and order and emergency
     response," John J. Hamre, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said in
     an interview.
     Still, a senior Pentagon official, who spoke on the condition of
     anonymity, warned that a major terrorist attack had the potential
     to be "the most threatening event to civil liberties since Pearl
     His reference was to how, after Japan's attack on the United States
     in World War II, the American military locked up some 120,000
     Americans of Japanese ancestry, an act some historians have
     characterized as reckless. The official said the current plan would
     help prevent such an overreaction.
     The official said Defense Secretary William S. Cohen had recently
     signed off on a plan to create a Joint Task Force for Civil
     Support, whose commander would develop ways for the Army, Navy,
     Marines and Air Force to aid Federal agencies in time of domestic
     The step requires approval by the President. In an interview on
     Jan. 21 with The New York Times, Clinton said he was carefully
     weighing the issue and was deeply aware of the potential abuses of
     expanded military power. And the next day, in unveiling his $10
     billion program to build up antiterror defenses, he emphasized the
     importance of protecting personal freedom.
     "It is essential," Clinton told Federal officials and military
     officers gathered at the National Academy of Sciences, "that we
     don't undermine liberty in the name of liberty."
     Many Americans have a deep mistrust of the military. That
     uneasiness is evident in "The Siege," a recent movie in which
     terrorist attacks prompt martial law in New York City and the Army
     general in charge turns out to be a loose cannon.
     Allusions to the Pentagon's new organizational plan emerged quietly
     last year when Dr. Hamre of the Defense Department gave a speech
     saying the appointment of a domestic military leader was all but
     inevitable and would be essential in helping stave off chaos.
     "If there's a bona fide chemical attack in the subway system in New
     York, it's going to quickly go beyond what the local police can
     handle," Dr. Hamre told military officials. "If there is a
     biological attack, you can easily see regional governors calling
     out the National Guard to quarantine the highways. It could get
     crazy very fast."
     Critics of the plan say the risks of military help outweigh the
     "The danger is in the inevitable expansion of that authority so the
     military gets involved in things like arresting people and
     investigating crimes," said Gregory T. Nojeim, legislative counsel
     on national security for the American Civil Liberties Union, based
     in Washington.
     Soldiers are trained to kill, not to respect the nuances of law
     enforcement, Nojeim added.
     "It's hard to believe that a soldier with a suspect in the sights
     of his M-1 tank is well positioned to protect that person's civil
     liberties," he said.
     The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nojeim said, already has the
     money, authority and manpower to handle such crises.
     But Fred C. Iklé, an Under Secretary of Defense in the Reagan
     Administration, applauded finding ways for the military to deal
     better with terrorism on American soil.
     "Only the armed services have the managerial and logistical
     capabilities to mount the all-out defensive effort," Dr. Iklé said
     in a report on homeland defense being prepared for the Center for
     Strategic and International Studies, a private policy group in
     By law, the military cannot make arrests or act in civil law
     enforcement. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed after the Civil War to
     rein in the military, bars Federal troops from doing police work
     within United States borders.
     The division of powers that bars the military from domestic law
     enforcement is similar to that between the Federal Bureau of
     Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency. The former does
     surveillance work at home and the latter abroad.
     Though venerable, the dominance of civil power under posse
     comitatus (Latin for "power of the country") has seen a growing
     number of exceptions. One, widely viewed as having mixed results,
     concerns drug interdiction. Nojeim of the A.C.L.U. said that in
     1997 that exception resulted in death when troops in Texas
     accidentally shot a teen-age to death.
     Former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, who specializes in national
     security issues, said another exception became law in the Reagan
     Administration when Congress permitted posse comitatus to be waived
     in the event of nuclear terrorism.
     Congress later widened the exception, Nunn added. After the Soviet
     Union fell apart and Western experts grew worried about the
     possible spread of powerful weapons into unfriendly hands, he
     helped sponsor a little-noticed provision that gives the Pentagon
     power to step in domestically in the event of chemical and germ
     "They already have the authority," Nunn said of the armed services
     in an interview.
     The new question, he said, is whether the services will become
     properly organized and trained and their actions well coordinated
     in advance of any mayhem.
     A senior Pentagon official, who spoke on the condition on
     anonymity, cast examples of the domestic work in strictly
     humanitarian terms. Only the military services, the official said,
     have the ability to transport 3,000 hospital cots, tons of clean
     water or "10,000 people who have been inoculated against anthrax"
     to the site of a biological attack where civilians are sick, dead
     or dying.
     "The issue is how we organize ourselves to provide meaningful
     support and not to threaten civil liberties," the official said.
     In the aid work, he added, the Pentagon would report to the
     Department of Justice, which has the lead not only in law
     enforcement but in coordinating the domestic response to terrorism.
     The official said the joint task force recently endorsed by Cohen
     would, if approved by the President, have a high-level commander.
     He and other Pentagon officials said the new post would probably go
     to the United States Atlantic Command, which is based in Norfolk,
     Formal presentation of the plan to the White House might not occur
     for months, and a Presidential decision might not be made public
     until late summer, Pentagon officials said.
     In his recent interview with The Times, Clinton said he was keeping
     an open mind on the subject and called the issue of the military's
     role "the last big kind of organizational piece" in strengthening
     the nation's defenses against new kinds of terrorism.
     "What I want us to do," he said, "is everything within reason we
     can to minimize our exposure and risks here, and that's how I'm
     going to evaluate this Pentagon recommendation."
   Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company

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Created: February 28, 1999
Last Updated: February 28, 1999