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from here on April 08, 2008
March 31, 2008
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 attack in which the U.S. government had been decapitated, forcing an alternative to the constitutional rules of succession. Two of these planners were Dick Cheney, then a Congressman, and Donald Rumsfeld, then a private citizen and CEO of the G.D. Searle drug company.
"One of the awkward questions we faced was whether to reconstitute Congress after a nuclear attack.It was decided that no, it would be easier to operate without them," said one of the COG planners in the 1980s, who spoke to James Mann (The Rise of the Vulcans, 141-42). James Bamford reported the same remark in his book Pretext for War (p. 74).
After the end of the Cold War, the urgency of coming up with plans faded. The COG nuclear planning project "has less than six months to live," reported Tim Weiner of the New York Times. (April 17, 1994). Mann and Bamford concluded, wrongly, that all the COG planning of the Reagan era had been abandoned.
In fact, Reagan's Executive Order
12656, issued in 1988, remained in effect. The order states that Continuity of
Government procedures are called for in the event of "any occurrence, including
natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency,
that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the
United States." (4)
Under Clinton, some parts of the planning, presumably military, were continued by a group including Rumsfeld and others whose roster (according to Andrew Cockburn) was "filled almost exclusively with Republican hawks." Cockburn quotes one participant, a former Pentagon official, who said "They'd meet, do the exercise, but also sit around and castigate the Clinton administration in the most extreme way." (5)
According to the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 326; cf. p. 38), "Contingency plans for the continuity of government" were implemented on September 11, 2001. (6) But what measures were invoked remains unclear.
Some clues may be supplied by COG's past history. COG planning in the 1980s was handled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its controversial director, Louis Giuffrida. According to a Miami Herald article by Alfonso Chardy on July 5, 1987, Giuffrida's plans included "suspension of the Constitution," along with detailed arrangements for the declaration of martial law. (7)
Those suspicious of what COG means today have pointed to a number of post 9/11 steps to facilitate the implementation of martial law, including the creation of a new military command (NORTHCOM) for the continental United States. They note also Homeland Security's strategic plan Endgame, whose stated goal is the creation of detention camps designed to "remove all removable aliens," including "potential terrorists."
Then in 2007 National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD 51), issued by the White House, empowered the President to personally ensure "continuity of government" in the event of any "catastrophic emergency." (8) According to the Washington Post (May 10, 2007), this directive "formalizes a shift of authority," from the Department of Homeland Security to the White House, in establishing " a shadow government" after an emergency. (9) Congress has yet to hold a single hearing on NSPD 51. (10)
NSPD 51 contains "classified Continuity Annexes" which shall "be protected from unauthorized disclosure." Congressman DeFazio twice requested to see these Annexes, the second time in a letter cosigned by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Carney. It was these requests that the White House denied.
Without full disclosure, such suspicions will only fester and distract from the real issue: the role of Congress in constitutional government. In the event of national emergency, Congress must be at the heart of the defense of democratic government and American territory. It is reasonable for the citizenry to ask, "How do Continuity of Government plans preserve and protect the role of the popularly chosen branch of government?" The answer is, we simply don't know.
DeFazio's inability to get access to the NSPD Annexes is less than reassuring. If members of the Homeland Security Committee cannot enforce their right to read secret plans of the Executive Branch, then the systems of checks and balances established by the U.S. Constitution would seem to be failing.
To put it another way, if the White
House is successful in frustrating DeFazio, then Continuity of Government
planning has arguably already superseded the Constitution as a higher authority.
Will Congress insist on its right of review COG planning? The answer to this question will depend on discussion in the blogosphere, the degree of pressure exerted by the electorate on their representatives, and the questions asked the men and women who would be president.
Peter Dale Scott is the author of The Road to 9/11.
1. Congressional Record, August 2, 2007. The text of National Security Presidential Directive 51 can be seen here.
2. Jeff Kosseff, The Oregonian, July 20, 2007.
3. Scott, The Road to 9/11, 183-87; citing Ross Gelbspan, Break-ins, Death Threats, and the FBI: The Covert War against the Central America Movement (Boston: South End Press, 1991), 184; Alfonso Chardy, Miami Herald, July 5, 1987.
4. The provisions of Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988, appear at 53 FR 47491, 3 CFR, 1988 Comp., p. 585, "Executive Order 12656-Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities," . The Washington Post (Gellman and Schmidt, "Shadow Government Is at Work in Secret," March 1, 2002) later claimed, incorrectly, that Executive Order 12656 dealt only with "a nuclear attack."
5. Andrew Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy (New York: Scribner, 2007), 88)
6. 9/11 Commission Report, 326, cf. 38; Scott, Road to 9/11, 220-29.
7. Alfonso Chardy, "Reagan Aides and the `Secret' Government, Miami Herald, July 5, 1987.
8. National Security Presidential Directive 51.
9. Spencer S. Hsu, "Bush Changes Continuity Plan: Administration, Not DHS, Would Run Shadow Government," Washington Post, May 10, 2007,
10. Lewis Seiler and Dan Hamburg, San Francisco Chronicle (February 4, 2008),
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end article from CounterPunch as linked above. Below please find another copy of the White House page referred to by Peter Dale Scott's footnote number one, the NSPD-51:
from here on April 08, 2008: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070509-12.html
EA note: This is also archived here: http://www.thejeffersonrivergazette.com/Bush_ON_COG_And_COOP.htm
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 9, 2007
National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive
SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD 51
HOMELAND SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/HSPD-20
Subject: National Continuity Policy
(1) This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.
(2) In this directive:
(a) "Category" refers to the categories of executive departments and agencies listed in Annex A to this directive;
(b) "Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;
(c) "Continuity of Government," or "COG," means a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency;
(d) "Continuity of Operations," or "COOP," means an effort within individual executive departments and agencies to ensure that Primary Mission-Essential Functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies;
(e) "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;
(f) "Executive Departments and Agencies" means the executive departments enumerated in 5 U.S.C. 101, independent establishments as defined by 5 U.S.C. 104(1), Government corporations as defined by 5 U.S.C. 103(1), and the United States Postal Service;
(g) "Government Functions" means the collective functions of the heads of executive departments and agencies as defined by statute, regulation, presidential direction, or other legal authority, and the functions of the legislative and judicial branches;
(h) "National Essential Functions," or "NEFs," means that subset of Government Functions that are necessary to lead and sustain the Nation during a catastrophic emergency and that, therefore, must be supported through COOP and COG capabilities; and
(i) "Primary Mission Essential Functions," or "PMEFs," means those Government Functions that must be performed in order to support or implement the performance of NEFs before, during, and in the aftermath of an emergency.
(3) It is the policy of the United States to maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability composed of Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government programs in order to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and the continuing performance of National Essential Functions under all conditions.
(4) Continuity requirements shall be incorporated into daily operations of all executive departments and agencies. As a result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the assumption that no such warning will be received. Emphasis will be placed upon geographic dispersion of leadership, staff, and infrastructure in order to increase survivability and maintain uninterrupted Government Functions. Risk management principles shall be applied to ensure that appropriate operational readiness decisions are based on the probability of an attack or other incident and its consequences.
(5) The following NEFs are the foundation for all continuity programs and capabilities and represent the overarching responsibilities of the Federal Government to lead and sustain the Nation during a crisis, and therefore sustaining the following NEFs shall be the primary focus of the Federal Government leadership during and in the aftermath of an emergency that adversely affects the performance of Government Functions:
(a) Ensuring the continued functioning of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government;
(b) Providing leadership visible to the Nation and the world and maintaining the trust and confidence of the American people;
(c) Defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and preventing or interdicting attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;
(d) Maintaining and fostering effective relationships with foreign nations;
(e) Protecting against threats to the homeland and bringing to justice perpetrators of crimes or attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;
(f) Providing rapid and effective response to and recovery from the domestic consequences of an attack or other incident;
(g) Protecting and stabilizing the Nation's economy and ensuring public confidence in its financial systems; and
(h) Providing for critical Federal Government services that address the national health, safety, and welfare needs of the United States.
(6) The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator. The National Continuity Coordinator, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), without exercising directive authority, shall coordinate the development and implementation of continuity policy for executive departments and agencies. The Continuity Policy Coordination Committee (CPCC), chaired by a Senior Director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, shall be the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination.
(7) For continuity purposes, each executive department and agency is assigned to a category in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and responsibilities in support of the Federal Government's ability to sustain the NEFs. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall serve as the President's lead agent for coordinating overall continuity operations and activities of executive departments and agencies, and in such role shall perform the responsibilities set forth for the Secretary in sections 10 and 16 of this directive.
(8) The National Continuity Coordinator, in consultation with the heads of appropriate executive departments and agencies, will lead the development of a National Continuity Implementation Plan (Plan), which shall include prioritized goals and objectives, a concept of operations, performance metrics by which to measure continuity readiness, procedures for continuity and incident management activities, and clear direction to executive department and agency continuity coordinators, as well as guidance to promote interoperability of Federal Government continuity programs and procedures with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate. The Plan shall be submitted to the President for approval not later than 90 days after the date of this directive.
(9) Recognizing that each branch of the Federal Government is responsible for its own continuity programs, an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall ensure that the executive branch's COOP and COG policies in support of ECG efforts are appropriately coordinated with those of the legislative and judicial branches in order to ensure interoperability and allocate national assets efficiently to maintain a functioning Federal Government.
(10) Federal Government COOP, COG, and ECG plans and operations shall be appropriately integrated with the emergency plans and capabilities of State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to promote interoperability and to prevent redundancies and conflicting lines of authority. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall coordinate the integration of Federal continuity plans and operations with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency.
(11) Continuity requirements for the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and executive departments and agencies shall include the following:
(a) The continuation of the performance of PMEFs during any emergency must be for a period up to 30 days or until normal operations can be resumed, and the capability to be fully operational at alternate sites as soon as possible after the occurrence of an emergency, but not later than 12 hours after COOP activation;
(b) Succession orders and pre-planned devolution of authorities that ensure the emergency delegation of authority must be planned and documented in advance in accordance with applicable law;
(c) Vital resources, facilities, and records must be safeguarded, and official access to them must be provided;
(d) Provision must be made for the acquisition of the resources necessary for continuity operations on an emergency basis;
(e) Provision must be made for the availability and redundancy of critical communications capabilities at alternate sites in order to support connectivity between and among key government leadership, internal elements, other executive departments and agencies, critical partners, and the public;
(f) Provision must be made for reconstitution capabilities that allow for recovery from a catastrophic emergency and resumption of normal operations; and
(g) Provision must be made for the identification, training, and preparedness of personnel capable of relocating to alternate facilities to support the continuation of the performance of PMEFs.
(12) In order to provide a coordinated response to escalating threat levels or actual emergencies, the Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions (COGCON) system establishes executive branch continuity program readiness levels, focusing on possible threats to the National Capital Region. The President will determine and issue the COGCON Level. Executive departments and agencies shall comply with the requirements and assigned responsibilities under the COGCON program. During COOP activation, executive departments and agencies shall report their readiness status to the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary's designee.
(13) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall:
(a) Conduct an annual assessment of executive department and agency continuity funding requests and performance data that are submitted by executive departments and agencies as part of the annual budget request process, in order to monitor progress in the implementation of the Plan and the execution of continuity budgets;
(b) In coordination with the National Continuity Coordinator, issue annual continuity planning guidance for the development of continuity budget requests; and
(c) Ensure that heads of executive departments and agencies prioritize budget resources for continuity capabilities, consistent with this directive.
(14) The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall:
(a) Define and issue minimum requirements for continuity communications for executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President;
(b) Establish requirements for, and monitor the development, implementation, and maintenance of, a comprehensive communications architecture to integrate continuity components, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President; and
(c) Review quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities, as prepared pursuant to section 16(d) of this directive or otherwise, and report the results and recommended remedial actions to the National Continuity Coordinator.
(15) An official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall:
(a) Advise the President, the Chief of Staff to the President, the APHS/CT, and the APNSA on COGCON operational execution options; and
(b) Consult with the Secretary of Homeland Security in order to ensure synchronization and integration of continuity activities among the four categories of executive departments and agencies.
(16) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:
(a) Coordinate the implementation, execution, and assessment of continuity operations and activities;
(b) Develop and promulgate Federal Continuity Directives in order to establish continuity planning requirements for executive departments and agencies;
(c) Conduct biennial assessments of individual department and agency continuity capabilities as prescribed by the Plan and report the results to the President through the APHS/CT;
(d) Conduct quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities in consultation with an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;
(e) Develop, lead, and conduct a Federal continuity training and exercise program, which shall be incorporated into the National Exercise Program developed pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 of December 17, 2003 ("National Preparedness"), in consultation with an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;
(f) Develop and promulgate continuity planning guidance to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators;
(g) Make available continuity planning and exercise funding, in the form of grants as provided by law, to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators; and
(h) As Executive Agent of the National Communications System, develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive continuity communications architecture.
(17) The Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall produce a biennial assessment of the foreign and domestic threats to the Nation's continuity of government.
(18) The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall provide secure, integrated, Continuity of Government communications to the President, the Vice President, and, at a minimum, Category I executive departments and agencies.
(19) Heads of executive departments and agencies shall execute their respective department or agency COOP plans in response to a localized emergency and shall:
(a) Appoint a senior accountable official, at the Assistant Secretary level, as the Continuity Coordinator for the department or agency;
(b) Identify and submit to the National Continuity Coordinator the list of PMEFs for the department or agency and develop continuity plans in support of the NEFs and the continuation of essential functions under all conditions;
(c) Plan, program, and budget for continuity capabilities consistent with this directive;
(d) Plan, conduct, and support annual tests and training, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, in order to evaluate program readiness and ensure adequacy and viability of continuity plans and communications systems; and
(e) Support other continuity requirements, as assigned by category, in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and responsibilities
(20) This directive shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved. Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions.
(21) This directive:
(a) Shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and the authorities of agencies, or heads of agencies, vested by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations;
(b) Shall not be construed to impair or otherwise affect (i) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, and legislative proposals, or (ii) the authority of the Secretary of Defense over the Department of Defense, including the chain of command for military forces from the President, to the Secretary of Defense, to the commander of military forces, or military command and control procedures; and
(c) Is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(22) Revocation. Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 ("Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations"), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.
(23) Annex A and the classified Continuity Annexes, attached hereto, are hereby incorporated into and made a part of this directive.
(24) Security. This directive and the information contained herein shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure, provided that, except for Annex A, the Annexes attached to this directive are classified and shall be accorded appropriate handling, consistent with applicable Executive Orders.
GEORGE W. BUSH
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end mirrored article from White House at above link.
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