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Congress, the Bush Adminstration and Continuity of Government Planning–The Showdown

by Peter Dale Scott

In August 2007, Congressman Peter DeFazio, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told the House that he and the rest of his Committee had been barred from reviewing parts of National Security Presidential Directive 51, the White House supersecret plans to implement so-called “Continuity of Government” in the event of a mass terror attack or natural disaster. ( 1 )

Norm Ornstein, of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, commented, “I cannot think of one good reason” for denial. Ornstein added, “I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House.” ( 2 )

The story, ignored by the mainstream press, involved more than the usual tussle between the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government. What was at stake was a contest between Congress’s constitutional powers of oversight, and a set of policy plans that could be used to suspend or modify the constitution.

There is nothing wrong with disaster planning per se. Like all governments, the U.S. government must develop plans for the worst contingencies. But Congress has a right to be concerned about Continuity of Government (COG) plans refined by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld over the past quarter century, which journalists have described as involving suspension of the constitution. ( 3 )

In the 1980s, a secret group of planners inside and outside the government were assigned, by an Executive Order, to develop a response to a nuclear… Continue reading

The Reflecting Pool: Investigative drama challenges official version of 9/11

Much more information and purchase details is at the Film Website: reflectingpoolfilm.com/.

Challenging the Unchallengeable
by Jim Cirile
February 19, 2008

Interview with Jarek Kupsc, Writer/Director, “The Reflecting Pool”

New feature film “The Reflecting Pool” may just be the “All the President’s Men” of our time. No, it doesn’t have Hoffman and Redford. But it is a chilling and important fact-based investigative drama.

Writer/director Jarek Kupsc (“Slumberland”) stars as Alex Prokop, a successful hard-hitting Russian/American journalist. As a last gasp before corporate takeover, his editor (Lisa Black) hands Prokop a bombshell assignment — investigate the official version of 9-11. Prokop, dismissive of 9-11 skeptics, reluctantly teams with grieving father Paul Cooper (the outstanding Joseph Culp) to investigate. After losing his daughter in the attacks, Cooper transformed himself into a 9-11 expert — at the expense of his marriage. As Prokop and Cooper kick at the hornets’ nest, a sickening, carefully orchestrated pattern of deceit emerges — and Prokop finds publishing the story may mean curtains on his career.

The well-researched (and exhaustively documented on the DVD) thriller ultimately proves more compelling than 9-11-themed documentaries such as “Loose Change” by taking a narrative approach and by personalizing the story. Disbelieving investigative reporter Prokop is an effective audience surrogate, while the passionate, fragile and self-destructive Cooper grounds the story with heart and soul — a constant reminder of the human cost of the “war on terror.” The script is solid, the characterizations moving. If the film has a flaw, it’s in… Continue reading

Why Were The Tapes Destroyed?

Paul Craig Roberts
February 2, 2008

Many Americans are content with the 9/11 Commission Report, but the two chairmen of the commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton are not. Neither was commission member Max Cleland, a US Senator who resigned from the 9/11 Commission, telling the Boston Globe (November 13, 2003): “This investigation is now compromised.” Even former FBI director Louis Freeh wrote in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 17, 2005) that there are inaccuracies in the commission’s report and “questions that need answers.”

Both Kean and Hamilton have twice stated publicly, once in their 2006 book, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, and again in the January 2, 2008, New York Times, that there are inaccuracies in their report and unanswered–or mis-answered–questions.

On the second day of this new year, Kean and Hamilton accused the CIA of obstructing their investigation: “What we do know is that government officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the President, to investigate one of the greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.”

In their book, Kean and Hamilton wrote that they were unable to obtain “access to star witnesses in custody who were the only possible source for inside information about the 9/11 plot.”

The only information the commission was permitted to have about what was learned from interrogations of alleged plot ringleaders, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, came from “thirdhand” sources. The commission was not permitted to… Continue reading

Snoop Chief: Mohamed Atta Took Us by Surprise

Kurt Nimmo
Truth News
January 17, 2008

“The US Director of National Intelligence asserts that the terror attacks
of September 11, 2001, were caused by weak domestic wiretapping laws,”
David Edwards and Mike Sheehan write for Raw Story. “Vice Admiral
Mike McConnell, former head of the National Security Agency who was appointed
DNI in 2007 by President Bush, spoke today to a group of students in St. Mary’s
City, Missouri, about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a federal
statute that outlines procedures for electronic surveillance by the US intelligence
community.”

According to McConnell, “alleged 9/11 conspirator Mohamed Atta”
was able to pull of his dastardly deed because he was “invisible to your
intelligence” after he entered the United States. “He’s now
a US person,” said McConnell, with all the rights and privileges of ordinary
American citizens.

Inside the US, McConnell continued, Atta would be “invisible to your
intelligence community. As long he doesn’t break the law, law enforcement
can’t conduct surveillance, [because] they don’t have probable
cause.”

Terror network al-Qaeda understood that, McConnell then said, “and
that’s why 9/11 happened, in my view.”

Sure, and big fat chartreuse raspberries grow on the dark side of the Moon.

In fact, the NSA has snooped the American public at large for decades now.
Mr. McConnell needs to find a computer and do a Google search of the word SHAMROCK.
It was a massive snoop program predating the NSA, created by Truman in 1952.
SHAMROCK snooped all telegraph data entering and… Continue reading

Extinguishing Liberty’s Light and Independent Views–Thinking for yourself is now a crime

By Paul Craig Roberts

01/04/08 “ICH ” — – What was the greatest failure of 2007? President Bush’s “surge” in Iraq? The decline in the value of the US dollar? Subprime mortgages? No. The greatest failure of 2007 was the newly sworn in Democratic Congress.

The American people’s attempt in November 2006 to rein in a rogue government, which has committed the US to costly military adventures while running roughshod over the US Constitution, failed. Replacing Republicans with Democrats in the House and Senate has made no difference.

The assault on the US Constitution by the Democratic Party is as determined as the assault by the Republicans. On October 23, 2007, the House passed a bill sponsored by California Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, chairwoman of a Homeland Security subcommittee, that overturns the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free expression, association, and assembly.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 404-6. In the Senate the bill is sponsored by Maine Republican Susan Collins and apparently faces no meaningful opposition.

Harman’s bill is called the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. When HR 1955 becomes law, it will create a commission tasked with identifying extremist people, groups, and ideas. The commission will hold hearings around the country, taking testimony and compiling a list of dangerous people and beliefs. The bill will, in short, create massive terrorism in the United States. But the perpetrators of terrorism will not be Muslim terrorists; they will be government agents and fellow citizens.

We are beginning to see who will be the inmates of the detention centers being built in the US by Halliburton under government contract.…

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Impeach Cheney Movement Gathers Momentum – Opportunity for 9/11 Issues to Come Forward

January 3, 2007
by Carl Weis

Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL 19th), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, has established a website,www.wexlerwantshearings.com, inviting public support for his call to hold hearings on the Kucinich H.R. 333/799, a bill to impeach the vice president.

H.R. 333, introduced on April 24, 2007, languished motionless, though it gathered twenty-two co-sponsors, until November 6, when its author, Ohio Democrat and presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, brought it to the House floor as a privileged motion. The bill has three articles outlining some of the high crimes and misdemeanors alleged against the vice president. The first two articles concern the misrepresentation of intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi ties to al Qaida in the run-up to the war, launched in March of ’03. The third pertains to the more recent lies about and threats to launch an illegal war against Iran.

The bill created unexpected drama on the House floor. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) made an immediate and expected motion to table, a move that would, if passed, have effectively killed the bill. A recorded vote was called and early voting marched along at more than 2:1 in favor of no debate. Then, as the tally reached around 250 to table, an extraordinary turnaround began. A significant number of Republican votes began to change. There was a rising buzz on the floor, audible as C-Span monitored the process, when votes for debate overtook those for tabling. When the dust had settled, it was 251-162 against tabling, a majority of Republicans joined by only 86 Democrats favoring debate.…

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One Scene From ‘In Their Own Words: The Untold Stories Of The 9/11 Families’

“9/11 – The Failure to Defend the Skies”
www.911pressfortruth.com

[Posted originally by Jon Gold at www.911blogger.com

Part I

Part II

Part III

“In Their Own Words” is available for purchase from http://911pft.com

A couple useful comments from 911blogger:
Has anyone not seen the list of the widows’ 300 questions, and the ratings showing they got just 27 answers? http://www.justicefor911.org/Appendix4_FSCQuestionRatings_111904.php
Sign the Petition of Solidarity! http://www.justicefor911.org/
Then get busy!

————–

On August 2nd, 2006, the Washington Post reported that “the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public” and that “the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation.”

Now, whether you think it was because of confusion from “the fog of events” on that day, or whether you think it was the result of “inadequate forensic capabilities”, and “poor record-keeping”, or whether you think it was blatant criminality (which I do)…

NO ONE HAS BEEN INVESTIGATED, OR HELD ACCOUNTABLE, AND THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE.

William P. Goehring, a spokesman for the Inspector General’s office, said that “the question of whether military commanders intentionally withheld the truth from the commission would be addressed in a separate report that is still in preparation.”

Where’s that report? Does it exist? If so, please show it to me. Why didn’t the media make a HUGE stink about the… Continue reading

The War on Whistleblowers

U.S. officials have long retaliated against employees who speak out, burying the dangers they expose. Now, Congress wants to give whistle-blowers greater protection — but President Bush vows to stop it.

By James Sandler

Nov. 01, 2007 | If there is any doubt about how the Bush administration treats government whistle-blowers, consider the case of Teresa Chambers. She was hired in early 2002, with impeccable law enforcement credentials, to become chief of the United States Park Police. But after Chambers raised concerns publicly that crime was up in the nation’s parks, she was rebuked by superiors and fired. When Chambers fought to regain her job through the legal system meant to protect whistle-blowers, government lawyers fought back, and associated her with terrorists. Despite a multiyear legal struggle, she is still fighting for her job.

Whistle-blowers have faced hostility not only under Republican administrations. During President Clinton’s tenure, Bogdan Dzakovic, an undercover security agent with the Federal Aviation Administration, suffered retribution for speaking out about weak airport security — three years before Sept. 11, 2001. Dzakovic was passed up for promotion time and again, and today, he says, he remains consigned to data entry duties for the Transportation Security Administration.

Every year, hundreds of federal workers sound the alarm about corruption, fraud or dangers to public safety that are caused or overlooked — or even covered up — by U.S. government agencies. These whistle-blowers are supposed to be guaranteed protection by law from retaliation for speaking out in the public’s interest.… Continue reading

Dangerous Crossroads: US Sponsored War Games

By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, October 6, 2007

US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) has announced the conduct of major war games
under Vigilant Shield 2008 (VS-08).

Vigilant Shield 2008 (15 to 20 October, 2007) is designed to deal with a “terrorist”
or “natural disaster” scenario in the United States. The operation
will be coordinated in a joint endeavor by the Pentagon and the Department of
Homeland Security.

Yet, VS-08, which includes a massive deployment of the US Air Force resembles
a war-time air scenario rather than an anti-terrorist drill. The VS-08 war games
extend over the entire North American shelf. Canadian territory is also involved
through Canada’s participation in NORAD. (See Nazemroaya, October 2007)

These war games are being conducted at an important historical crossroads,
amidst mounting US pressures and threats to actually declare a “real war”
on Iran.

VS-08 is predicated on the doctrine of preemptive warfare, with a vie to protecting
the Homeland. The war games are coordinated with anti-terrorist drills directed
against presumed Islamic terrorists.

Moreover, the announcement by NORTHCOM of the VS-08 war games-anti-terror drills
coincided with a declaration by the Bush administration in early September that
military action against Iran is being contemplated at the highest echelons of
the US government and Military:

“President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place
America on the path to war with Iran, .. Pentagon planners have developed
a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, … Pentagon and CIA officers
say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme
of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.

Continue reading

A Coup Has Occurred

‘A Coup Has Occurred’

By Daniel Ellsberg
September 26, 2007 (Text of a speech delivered September 20, 2007)

Consortium Editor’s Note: Daniel Ellsberg, the former
Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret Pentagon Papers history of
the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming war with Iran and the loss
of liberty in the United States at an American University symposium on Sept.
20.

Below is an edited transcript of Ellsberg’s remarkable speech:

I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which
I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here
that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they
switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently
constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and
accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? …
They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not.
But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.

And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran,
you will then see an increased attack on Iran — an escalation —
which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country,
including… Continue reading

Helicopter Ben Unleashes Dollar Hyperinflation

Helicopter Ben Unleashes Dollar Hyperinflation:

Fed Atempts to Bail Out Bankrupt Wall Street Speculators; Cheney Demands Staged Terror Attacks, War with Iran

By Webster G. Tarpley
Monday, August 13, 2007

Washington DC – August 12, 2007 – By deciding to ante up $38 billion for a hopeless bailout of predatory Wall Street hedge funds and the banks that stand behind them, Federal Reserve Chairman Helicopter Ben Bernanke has placed the bankrupt US dollar on a direct course towards the precipice of hyperinflation. In so doing, he has given new momentum to the backers and controllers of Dick Cheney, who favor an insane flight forward into general war with Iran, deluding themselves that they can thus escape from both military defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and from the death agony of the dollar.

On August 9-10, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Federal Reserve, plus the central banks of Australia, Norway, Switzerland, and other countries “injected” the equivalent about a third of a trillion dollars ($325 billion) into the money systems of the world. The Bank of Japan handed out a dramatic ¥ 1 trillion, about $8.5 billion. The European Central Bank showed signs of panic, or of realism, by spewing out about € 160 billion over two days. Their goal was to stave off a spreading panic at bond trading desks and in the capital markets of the world about junk bonds, collateralized debt obligations (CDOS), mortgage backed securities, and other paper debt instruments. At about 9… Continue reading

Calls for Impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney Spreading

For Immediate Release

What: Impeachment Rallies
When: Friday July 27
Where: Across America
Contact: Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime

Calls for Impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney Spreading

Declare It Now: Wear Orange! Drive Out the Bush Regime Campaign Launches

Asking, “Do you want to see the Bush regime impeached and driven from office? Do you want the war in Iraq ended?” a new campaign challenges people to “Declare It Now! Wear Orange.” Proponents of removing Bush and Cheney from office are wearing bright orange shirts, bandanas, ribbons and buttons, wrapping trees and cars in orange tape, and holding bright orange signs.

Launch events Friday July 27 will inaugurate “Orange Fridays” on which people are especially urged to wear orange and gather in public places. According to Dr. Dennis Loo, of California State University Pomona, the Declare It Now campaign is “a way of publicly declaring ourselves, seizing the moral high ground and showing our collective determination to bring the crimes of the Bush administration to a halt NOW. People will stand out loud in the crowd, making their sentiments visible as more people associate orange with ‘Bush & Cheney must go,’ and find people who think as they do.”

Wednesday the Washington Post reported a poll showing that President Bush has a disapproval rating of 65%, nearly equal to Richard Nixon’s 66% rating, four days before he resigned the presidency, and reporting that this is the longest sustained disapproval rating in modern history.…

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Immediate Action Item

Editor’s comments, continued:

The partisan circus that spent $80 million+ to investigate and impeach Clinton (compare to the $3 million originally alloted to the 9/11 Commission mandated “to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 attacks”) for perjury, rather than pursuing his myriad other crimes, certainly cheapened the weighty Constitutional duty of impeachment. Elizabeth Holtzman, a member of the House Panel that impeached Richard Nixon, thoroughly discusses this in her excellent book, “The Impeachment of George W. Bush.” In her article, “Impeachment: The Case in Favor” published in the February, 2007 issue of “The Nation,” she states:

Our country’s Founders provided the power of impeachment to prevent the subversion of the Constitution. President Bush has subverted and defied the Constitution in many ways. His defiance and his subversion continue. (emphasis added)

“Failure to impeach Bush would condone his actions. It would allow him to assume he can simply continue to violate the laws on wiretapping and torture and violate other laws as well without fear of punishment. …

“There is no remedy short of impeachment to protect us from this President, whose ability to cause damage in the next two years is enormous. If we do not act against Bush, we send a terrible message of impunity to him and to future Presidents and mark a clear path to despotism and tyranny. Succeeding generations of Americans will never forgive us for lacking the nerve to protect our democracy.”

From the Washington Post, Friday July 20: “Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S.…

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9/11 Press for Truth Campaign, August, 2007

From August 3rd – 12th, 911truth.org will join a coalition of organizations
to help host “Answers For 9/11 Families” week. Hundreds
of Americans will come together at house parties across the country to screen
the acclaimed film featuring the September 11th families, 9/11 Press For
Truth
.

This stunning movie exposes the government’s and the media’s failure to answer
the many important questions of the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, a group
of twelve victim’s relatives who tenaciously fought the White House to force
the creation of the 9/11 Commission. Six of them tell their story first-hand
in the movie, revealing for the first time that “70% of our questions”
were not answered
by the Final Report. The movie stitches together rare overlooked
news clips, buried stories, and government press conferences to clearly detail
a pattern of deception by U.S. officials.

Now, Congressman Dennis Kucinich
has announced plans
for a new 9/11 investigation beginning in September
because “the 9/11 Commission… never resolved some conflicting facts.”
Recently, Please join the effort to encourage Congress to support investigations
until all remaining Family Steering Committee questions are answered.
Send a “Press
For Truth Pack
” to your Congressman and sign up today to host
or attend a 9/11 Press For Truth house party
in your community.

(NOTE: Simple instructions on how to make your house party film screening a
success will be emailed to everyone who signs up to host a party. Please order
your DVD immediately after signing up in order to ensure it arrives in time
for your house party.)

“We thought the country was at risk from terrorists and from incompetence,”
says Jersey widow Lorie Van Auken in the movie, “and maybe worse.”
Fellow ‘Jersey Girl’ Patty Casazza puts it more succinctly: “They lied.…

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Asleep at the Wheel: Press ignores congressional OK for martial law

Written by Robert Kubey, EXTRA!
Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Editor’s Note:
In this media analysis from the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, EXTRA!, an article published by TowardFreedom.com is cited as “The most substantive online coverage” of President Bush’s move toward martial law.

In addition, another excellent article is posted there right now, entitled “The Media’s Mayor: Mythologizing Guiliani and 9/11″ by Steve Rendall.

 

Read the full article (below): Bush Moves Toward Martial Law by Frank Morales, published in TowardFreedom.com on October 26, 2006.

The article below is reprinted from EXTRA! Magazine

Police at G-8 Protest
Police at G8 Protest in Georgia. Photo by Ben Dangl

On October 17, 2006, when George W. Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2007–a $538 billion military spending bill–he enacted into law a section called “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.” In the view of many, this Act substantially changed fundamental laws of the United States, giving Bush–and all future U.S. presidents–new and sweeping powers to use the U.S. military anywhere in the United States, virtually as he sees fit–for disaster relief, crowd control, suppression of public disorder, or any “other condition” that might arise.

News coverage of these significant changes in the law has been virtually nonexistent. At nearly every stage when it might have received coverage, the news media have completely ignored the story: When the NDAA was debated, when it was passed in the House on September 29 and in the Senate on Sept.… Continue reading

Bush Directive for a ‘Catastrophic Emergency’ in America: Building a Justification for Waging War on Iran?

Bush Directive for a “Catastrophic Emergency” in America: Building a<br /> Justification for Waging War on Iran?<br />

By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, June 24, 2007

Another [9/11 type terrorist] attack could create both a justification
and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets

(Statement by Pentagon official, leaked to the Washington Post, 23 April 2006)

The US media consensus is that “the United States faces its greatest
threat of a terrorist assault since the September 11 attacks” (USA Today,
12 February 2006) The American Homeland is threatened by ” Islamic terrorists”,
allegedly supported by Tehran and Damascus.

America is under attack” by an illusive “outside enemy”.

Concepts are turned upside down. War becomes Peace. “Offense” becomes
a legitimate means of “self-defense”. In the words of President Bush:

“Against this kind of enemy, there is only one effective response:
We must go on the offense, stay on the offense, and take the fight to them.”
(President George W. Bush, CENTCOM Coalition Conference, May 1, 2007)

The intent is to seek a pretext to wage a preemptive war.

A “terrorist attack on America” could be used to justify, in the
eyes of an increasingly credulous public opinion, on “humanitarian grounds”,
the launching of a major theater war directed against Iran and Syria.

Allegedly supported by Iran, the terrorists are said to possess nuclear capabilities.
They are supposedly planning to explode “radiological dispersion devices”
(RDD) or “dirty bombs” in densely populated urban areas in the US.… Continue reading

The CIA’s Family Jewels: Agency Violated Charter for 25 Years, Wiretapped Journalists and Dissidents

CIA Announces Declassification of 1970s “Skeletons” File, Archive Posts Justice Department Summary from 1975, With White House Memcons on Damage Control

 

WASHINGTON – JUNE 22 – The Central Intelligence Agency violated its charter for 25 years until revelations of illegal wiretapping, domestic surveillance, assassination plots, and human experimentation led to official investigations and reforms in the 1970s, according to declassified documents posted today on the Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden announced today that the Agency is declassifying the full 693-page file amassed on CIA’s illegal activities by order of then-CIA director James Schlesinger in 1973–the so-called “family jewels.” Only a few dozen heavily-censored pages of this file have previously been declassified, although multiple Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed over the years for the documents. Gen. Hayden called today’s release “a glimpse of a very different time and a very different Agency.”

Editor’s Note »

I’m sure General Hayden would like us to take him at his word. But who on earth will believe the CIA has ‘reformed’ itself, when even the mainstream press reports blatantly illegal acts like extraordinary rendition? The worst abuses we never hear about.

The unfortunate truth is that the prescriptive atmosphere in Washington permits ANY abuse of human and civil rights so long as it ‘advances’ the ‘war on terror’. According to this sick mindset, anything LESS than torturing, kidnapping, illegally surveilling and stripping people of their basic human rights would be doing ‘less than everything’ we could to fight terror!
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Making Martial Law Easier

Working for the Clampdown: What might the president do with his new power to declare martial law?
By James Bovard

04/25/07 “American Conservative” — – How many pipe bombs might it take to end American democracy? Far fewer than it would have taken a year ago.

The Defense Authorization Act of 2006 [Ed.: Details at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-1815], passed on Sept. 30, empowers President George W. Bush to impose martial law in the event of a terrorist “incident,” if he or other federal officials perceive a shortfall of “public order,” or even in response to antiwar protests that get unruly as a result of government provocations.

The media and most of Capitol Hill ignored or cheered on this grant of nearly boundless power. But now that the president’s arsenal of authority is swollen and consecrated, a few voices of complaint are being heard. Even the New York Times recently condemned the new law for “making martial law easier.”

It only took a few paragraphs in a $500 billion, 591-page bill to raze one of the most important limits on federal power. Congress passed the Insurrection Act in 1807 to severely restrict the president’s ability to deploy the military within the United States. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 tightened these restrictions, imposing a two-year prison sentence on anyone who used the military within the U.S. without the express permission of Congress. But there is a loophole: Posse Comitatus is waived if the president invokes the Insurrection Act.

Section 1076 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 [Ed.: Details at www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-5122"] changed the name of the key provision in the statute book from “Insurrection Act” to “Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act.” The Insurrection Act of 1807 stated that the president could deploy troops within the United States only “to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” The new law expands the list to include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition”–and such “condition” is not defined or limited.…

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