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US prepares for ‘continuity of government’, Bruce Fein

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December 1, 2008
Reporting by Zaa Nkweta

Bruce Fein: Army to deal with potential domestic "civil unrest
and crowd control"

Watch this brief news video at
Transcript below.

The US federal government has made strong preparations for "continuity
of government" in the event of a national catastrophe. A full army brigade
is now on active duty within domestic borders, and the Bush administration has
issued a directive which allows the president to coordinate all three branches
of the federal government in such an event. The Real News spoke to Bruce Fein.


Bruce Fein is the founder of the American Freedom Agenda, that works to restore
constitutional checks and balances. He served in the US Justice Department under
President Reagan and has been an adjunct scholar with the American Enterprise
Institute, a resident scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a lecturer at the
Brookings Institute, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University.
He is an adviser to Ron Paul.


U.S. Army prepares to invade U.S. corbettreport.

Context of ‘1992-2000: Secret Continuity of Government Exercises Prepare for
Terrorist Threat’ –


TRANSCRIPT: US prepares for "continuity of government"

ZAA NKWETA, TRNN: With recent warnings of potential terrorist attacks coming
from US authorities, civil liberty proponents are growing increasingly concerned
about preparations the federal government is making for a potential emergency
situation. As of October, a full army brigade is on active duty within the United
States to deal with civil unrest and crowd control. According to a late-September
Army Times article, the brigade will be under the control of Northern Command
as a federal response force for natural or man-made emergencies, including terrorist
attacks. The Real News spoke to American Freedom Project founder Bruce Fein
to discuss the constitutional significance of this development.

tradition of frowning on the use of the military for domestic law enforcement
purposes, and that finds expression most vividly in what’s known as the Posse
Comitatus Act, passed in the late 1800s, which, generally speaking, makes it
a crime to use the military for domestic law enforcement unless Congress has
expressly authorized an exception to that prohibition. The most gaping hole
created in the act was the provision sponsored by Senator John Warner, called
the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. And it basically
said Congress hereby creates an exception for Posse Comatatus any time that
the president says there’s a terrorist incident, a natural disaster, and then
this open-ended loophole: "or other other conditions" that makes him
conclude that state authorities are not sufficient to suppress insurrection,
domestic violence, rebellion, or otherwise. So that statute now basically endows
the president with authority, in his own unilateral discretion, to decide that
he will use the military any time he wishes for domestic law enforcement purposes,
and this brigade or this combat unit is certainly prepared to do such implementation
at the president’s beck and call.

NKWETA: In May 2007, President Bush signed the National Security Presidential
Directive 51. The unclassified portion of NSPD 51 states that in the event of
catastrophic emergency, a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative,
and judicial branches of the federal government coordinated by the president
will replace normal governmental procedure.

FEIN: Combined with the Posse Comitatus Act, and now having that look more
like [inaudible] than the rule against the military running the government,
we have this National Security Directive 51 that is equally problematic. Number
one, the greatest problem: it’s not known to the American people, and after
all, in a government by the people, of the people, for the people, the government
has to tell the people what it’s doing to know whether it has authorization
to do so. Sovereignty is the people, not the government. But this directive
purports to establish a regime that would take hold in the event of some kind
of huge national disaster, where you’re trying to ensure a continuity of the
government when it’s made impossible, because of an attack, for the Congress
or the Supreme Court or even the president’s cabinet to meet. This situation
has never happened in the history of the United States. The Constitution does
not contemplate any emergency other than an invasion or a domestic rebellion,
whereby you could suspend habeas corpus. There’s nothing in the Constitution
that says we revert to a state of nature, and the president then can become
all branches to himself in the name of keeping the country alive. And this secret
national security directive—and we don’t know all of it, because it remains
classified—insinuates that it’ll be the president opposed to the other
two branches of government who will be the steward of the nation’s sovereignty
in the event of a crisis and would then direct other branches as to what their
duties should be. And it’s outrageous, in my judgment, that these ideas or plans
for a continuity of government that would purport to have the force of law should
occur in secret. You know, secret government is what you do in the old Soviet
Union or in communist China, not in the United States of America where the people

DISCLAIMER: Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording
of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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