By the way…

If anyone hasn’t read NSPD 51/HSPD 20, they definitely should. It basically states that the president can take over all functions of the government as well as some private functions (read: corporate business interests) in the event of a “national emergency”. It was released May 9 of last year.

For some reason every time I think about this I can’t get images of the Reichstag fire out of my head. Less than a month after the fire Hitler was granted essentially dictatorial powers (timeline). Now, for American presidents, the pieces are in place to do the same, much more explicitly and easily than they were before 9/11 (which some have called “America’s Reichstag”).

Some people even believe the Nazis were directly involved with setting the fire.

2 Responses

  1. Although I’m sure that would be what Bush would like to see happen, I’m not so sure that this directive actually does so…

    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.

    Though this next quote seems could be taken to mean either that the National Coordinator could override or must work with more local entitites. I’ll grant that it is ambiguous:

    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.

  2. Well, obviously a document that prints out as… I think it was somewhere in the 6-8 page range, I forget (I printed it out a few weeks ago) is going to be a bit more complex than a 3 paragraph article can indicate. 😉

    But part of what bothers me is the ambiguity. That, combined with the current administration’s propensity to act as if its own will is the law or maybe even above the law makes me see this document as a potential “legal” basis for a takeover. Section 6 does specifically denote the president as leading “the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government.” The way I’m reading it, the president and his/her appointed adviser, the APHS/CT, are the ones responsible for determining what constitutes continuity of government.

    Of course, regardless of what happens on the federal stage, a lot of what goes on at the state and local levels can continue without interference from the feds.

    Given the increases in presidential power that have developed over the past half-century, this really isn’t a shocking new thing – but I see it as providing a more comprehensive “legal” rationale for implementing a presidentially-controlled police state in the event of a “national emergency”, which the president has the power to define. The really interesting thing to me is the language about the president being able to take over private interests, if for no other reason than because it illustrates just how deeply the government and private sectors are entwined.

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