of a Cover-Up
In the wake
of the Flight 253 provocation, over-hyped terrorism panics, and
last year’s Big Pharma and media-engineered hysteria over the H1N1
flu pandemic, President Barack Obama signed Executive
Order 13528 on January 11.
things, the Executive Order (EO) established a Council of Governors,
an "advisory panel" chosen by the President that will
rubber-stamp long-sought-after Pentagon contingency plans to seize
control of state National Guard forces in the event of a "national
the White House press
release, the ten-member, bipartisan Council was created "to
strengthen further the partnership between the Federal Government
and State Governments to protect our Nation against all types of
appointed" the announcement continues, "the Council will
be reviewing such matters as involving the National Guard of the
various States; homeland defense; civil support; synchronization
and integration of State and Federal military activities in the
United States; and other matters of mutual interest pertaining to
National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities."
to weaken the Posse
Comitatus Act of 1878 which bars the use of the military for
civilian law enforcement, EO 13528 is the latest in a series of
maneuvers by previous administrations to wrest control of armed
forces historically under the democratic control of elected state
officials, and a modicum of public accountability.
of moves to "synchronize and integrate" state National
Guard units with those of the Armed Forces would be to place them
under the effective control of United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM),
created in 2002 by Bushist legislators in both capitalist parties
under the pretext of imperialism’s endless "War on Terror."
At the time, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called USNORTHCOM’s
launch "the most sweeping set of changes since the unified
command system was set up in 1946."
consequences of those changes weren’t long in coming.
criminal inaction during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, the
Bush regime sought, but failed, to seize control of depleted Gulf
Coast National Guard units, the bulk of which had been sent to Iraq
along with equipment that might have aided the recovery. Bush demanded
that then Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco sign over control of
the Guard as well as state and local police units as the blood price
for federal assistance.
At the height
of the crisis, Bush cited presidential prerogatives for doing so
under the Insurrection
Act, a repressive statute which authorizes the President to
federalize National Guard units when state governments fail to "suppress
rebellion." How the plight of citizens engulfed by Katrina’s
flood waters could be twisted into an act of "rebellion"
was achieved when Orwellian spin doctors, aided and abetted by a
compliant media, invented a new criminal category to cover traumatized
New Orleans residents: "Drowning while Black."
five years. Given the serious implications such proposals would
have for a functioning democracy, the media’s deafening silence
on Obama’s Executive Order is hardly surprising. Like their role
as cheerleaders in the escalating wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan,
media self-censorship tell us much about the state of affairs in
"new normal" America.
Like his predecessors
in the Oval Office, stretching back to the 1960s with Pentagon "civil
disturbance" plans such as Cable
Splicer and Garden
Plot, both of which are continuously updated, our "change"
President will forge ahead and invest the permanent National Security
bureaucracy with unprecedented power.
of the 2008
National Defense Authorization Act, an unsavory piece of Bushist
legislative detritus, "The President shall establish a bipartisan
Council of Governors to advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary
of Homeland Security, and the White House Homeland Security Council
on matters related to the National Guard and civil support missions."
Council, whose Executive Director will be designated by the Secretary
of Defense no less, "shall meet at the call of the Secretary
of Defense or the Co-Chairs of the Council."
Will such a
Council have veto power over administration deliberations? Hardly.
They are relegated "to exchange views, information, or advice
with the Secretary of Defense; the Secretary of Homeland Security"
and "the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and
entities covered by the EO with whom the Governors Council will
"exchange views" include, "the Assistant to the President
for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement; the Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security
Affairs; the Commander, United States Northern Command; the Chief,
National Guard Bureau; the Commandant of the Coast Guard; and other
appropriate officials of the Department of Homeland Security and
the Department of Defense, and appropriate officials of other executive
departments or agencies as may be designated by the Secretary of
Defense or the Secretary of Homeland Security."
In other words,
right from the get-go, the Council will serve as civilian cover
for political decisions made by the Executive Branch and the security
apparat. EO 13528 continues, "Such views, information, or advice
shall concern: (a) matters involving the National Guard of the various
States; (b) homeland defense; (c) civil support; (d) synchronization
and integration of State and Federal military activities in the
United States; and (e) other matters of mutual interest pertaining
to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities."
When news first
broke last summer of Obama’s proposal to expand the military’s authority
to respond to domestic disasters, it was opposed by the National
Governors Association (NGA).
Quarterly reported that a letter sent on behalf of the NGA
opposed creation of the Council on grounds that it "would invite
confusion on critical command and control issues, complicate interagency
planning, establish stove-piped response efforts, and interfere
with governors’ constitutional responsibilities to ensure the safety
and security of their citizens," Govs. Jim Douglas, R-Vt.,
and Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., wrote.
their August letter to Paul N. Stockton, Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs, Douglas
and Manchin III argued that "without assigning a governor tactical
control" of military forces during a natural disaster such
as a flood or earthquake, or an unnatural disaster such as a terrorist
attack or other mass casualty event, the "strong potential
exists for confusion in mission, execution and the dilution of governors’
control over situations with which they are more familiar and better
capable of handling than a federal military commander."
With slim prospects
of congressional authorization for the scheme, in fact the 2008
language was removed from subsequent Defense spending legislation,
other means were required. Playing bureaucratic hardball with the
governors, this has now been accomplished by presidential fiat,
further eroding clear constitutional limits on Executive Branch
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San
Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action
Quarterly and Global Research,
an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists
and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on
The Intelligence Daily,
Pacific Free Press
and the whistleblowing website Wikileaks.
He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil
Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK