Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bush extends 9/11 national emergency yet again

by Peter Dale Scott
Global Research, September 4, 2008

Though few Americans realize it, Cheney and Rumsfeld worked through the 1980s and 1990s on emergency nuclear-response plans which allegedly suspended the American constitution and also Congress.[1] (Through these decades Rumsfeld was CEO of a major pharmaceutical firm, and in the later 1990s Cheney was CEO of Halliburton; but their private status did not deter them from continuing to exercise a supra-constitutional planning power conferred on them by Ronald Reagan.)

Even fewer Americans know that these rules, originally dealing with a nuclear attack on America, were extended by Reagan Executive Order 12656 to cover “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.”[2] And few Americans realize that at least some of these rules, known technically as Continuity of Government or COG rules, were invoked before 10:00 AM on September 11, 2001.[3]

As he did in 2007, President Bush has again, on August 28, 2008, continued for another year the national emergency first officially proclaimed on September 14, 2001, along with “the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency:”

Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks

Consistent with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, New York, New York, the Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines flight 93, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States.

Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2008. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency I declared on September 14, 2001, with respect to the terrorist threat.

This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

August 28, 2008.[4]

Once again appropriate personnel in Congress should learn and review what those “powers and authorities” are, since almost certainly they include COG (Continuity of Government) rules. In 2007 National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD 51), issued by the White House, also extended for one year the emergency proclaimed in 2001; and it empowered the President to personally ensure "continuity of government."[5]

NSPD 51 also contained "classified Continuity Annexes" to "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. The White House denied these requests, claiming that the congressmen lacked the requisite clearances. But as I wrote earlier this year,

"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….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."[6]

Oliver North, who worked on COG planning with Rumsfeld and Cheney in the 1980s, was asked in the Iran-Contra Hearings about his work on an emergency plan “that would suspend the American constitution.” Democratic Senator Inouye, who was presiding, pounded his gavel and interjected that this was a “highly sensitive and classified matter,” not to be dealt with in an open hearing.[7] Congress has never discussed COG plans publicly since that time.

According to Wikipedia, “The National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601-1651) is a United States federal law passed in 1976 to stop open-ended states of national emergency and formalize Congressional checks and balances on Presidential emergency powers. The act sets a limit of two years on states of national emergency. It also imposes certain "procedural formalities" on the President when invoking such powers, and provides a means for Congress to countermand a Presidential declaration of emergency and associated use of emergency powers (emphasis added).

Bush’s denial of the Homeland Security’s right to review the COG plans in the classified Appendices of NSPD-51 should have been seen as a constitutional crisis -- a line in the sand for Congress to assert its constitutional rights and duties. Now, one year later, I understand (although I cannot corroborate it from the Internet) that Congressman Kucinich has introduced or will introduce a bill for Congress, under the terms of the National Emergencies Act, to countermand the presidentially proclaimed national emergency. This is an important move, but it should not obviate the need for Congress to review rules which allegedly restrict its own powers under the constitution.

Between now and November the American electorate have an opportunity to present this demand to everyone running for office: that they will insist on vigorous congressional action to expose and dispose of these secret COG rules -- rules that allegedly suspend the American constitution.


Notes

[1]
"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).


[2]
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,” http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/12656.html. 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.”


[3]
Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007), 228; citing 9/11Commision Report, 38, 326; Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terrorism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 8.


[4]
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/08/20080828-7.html .


[5]
National Security Presidential Directive 51, http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070509-12.html.


[6]
Peter Dale Scott, “Congress, the Bush Adminstration and Continuity of Government Planning: The Showdown,” http://www.counterpunch.org/scott03312008.html.


[7]
Scott, Road to 9/11, 9, 23, 184. The New York Times published a complete transcript of the interchange on July 14, 1987, but did not mention it in its news story about North’s testimony.


~ Centre for Research on Globalization ~

India throws open a $100bn nuclear bazaar

MUMBAI - The deal is all but done and dealers are already in. The anticipated US$100 billion worth of nuclear power infrastructure deals are buzzing across India Inc after India last week became the only country to be allowed to trade in nuclear material without signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Last weekend, the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) gave India a waiver allowing it to engage in nuclear commerce without signing either the NPT or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, paving the way for the US Congress to ratify a potentially lucrative civilian nuclear deal with New Delhi.

Nuclear power plant infrastructure companies from the US, Russia, France and Britain are expected to fight for chunks of India's fat nuclear business pie. Investments worth more than $20 billion could now be made in infrastructure related to nuclear power plants, as India moves towards its goal of generating 40,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2020.

That increase, from the present 3,500 megawatts, will raise the nuclear share of energy production in the fast-growing economy to between 5% and 7% of the country's total energy output from the present 3%.

The size of India's nuclear business potential, with US firms being promised preference, gives ample indication of the kind of American pressure that went into getting approval from reluctant countries such as Ireland and New Zealand in the 45-nation NSG. The waiver agreement follows strong lobbying by groups such as the Washington-based US-India Business Council vowing to secure congress ratification to "clear the way for US companies to participate in India's nuclear renaissance".

The Confederation of Indian Industry was also quick to indicate the expectations of Indian and US companies, with a statement released on September 8 entitled "Important role for industry to play in clean energy sector". The statement began with David Bohigian, the US assistant secretary of commerce, saying nearly $17 trillion would be invested in clean energy technologies by 2025, and that "India and the United States can be active partners in this drive towards sustainable and green industry".

India's communist parties (which withdrew parliamentary support to the government on July 9 after the government pressed ahead with the nuclear deal with the US) were left impotently screaming about India having surrendered its nuclear sovereignty, and suspicion gave way to satisfaction that it is now in a club of one: the only country that can trade in nuclear fuel material without signing the NPT.

~ more... ~

Triangulating an Asian conflict

Even as the media feverishly debates the paternity of the Republican vice-presidential candidate's granddaughter and the difficulties associated with sitting through an Obama speech without either dancing or dozing off, these important Asian stories are being relegated to the back pages. The first of these stories gets some coverage, but perhaps without any comprehensive analysis of its longer-term ramifications; the second and third are virtually missing from all media.

These stories are: firstly, the encirclement of Pakistan; secondly the resurgence of Han nationalism and thirdly the trend towards Hindu fanaticism.

[ ... ]

As a postscript to the above, one thought that does strike a chord is the likelihood that future US elections will matter a whole lot less to the rest of the world. The decline of the sole superpower, along with a concurrent emergence of alternative powers on the military, ideological and economic fronts, means that parts of the global media could well be disengaged from US election reviews - that is, regurgitating the latest specials from US media outlets - to doing something a lot more productive in their own backyards.

The opposite side of that loop is that the column inches devoted to candidate discussions could well decline in the US media itself, as the relative importance of the rest of the world becomes increasingly apparent.

~ more... ~

'Tens of thousands to be laid off every week' as UK falls into recession

Tens of thousands of people could be laid off every week in the run-up to Christmas as the UK economy falls into recession, David Blanchflower of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee warned today.

Blanchflower told MPs to expect "a large increase in unemployment", and warned that a "horrible surprise" could be just around the corner. The gloomy assessment sent shares in London falling, and also weakened sterling yet further against the dollar.

Blanchflower, who has repeatedly tried and failed in recent months to persuade the MPC to cut interest rates, predicted that the unemployment count will rise by 60,000 a month for several months in a row, probably starting in October.

"I believe we will see a deeper economic decline than other people think," Blanchflower told the Treasury select committee, ruling out the possibility that the UK GDP will not shrink.

~ more... ~

US a step closer to Iran blockade

The United States government has imposed new sanctions on Iran, this time targeting its shipping industry, by blacklisting the main shipping line and 18 subsidiaries, accusing the maritime carrier of being engaged in contraband nuclear material, a charge vehemently denied by Iran.

While the economic impact of the measures against Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) will be minimal in light of the near absence of any connection between the shipping company and US businesses, this latest US initiative against Iran sends a strong signal about the US's intention to escalate pressure on Iran, even unilaterally if need be. And, perhaps, it is a prelude for more serious and dangerous actions in the near future, above all a naval blockade of Iran to choke off its access to, among other things, imported fuel.

~ more... ~

North America's other election

I know the last thing we need right now is another North American election to worry about. Just as the coverage of the US election reaches saturation point in Europe, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that Canada will go to the polls on October 14, in an attempt by Harper to increase the ruling conservative party's position to a majority government. And we should be worried.

The US election obviously matters to Europeans - the last eight years have shown us how much of a stake the rest of us have in who America chooses as its next leader on November 4. What we might forget, in the next two months of North American election campaigning, is how much the Canadian election matters too.

The lack of interest abroad in Canada's national politics is striking - probably partly a perennial stereotype of Canada as peaceful (read: boring) country, partly because the last eight years have required a heightened focus on the big bag of crazy that the institutional politics of Canada's southern neighbour has become. No one has benefited from this more than Harper: outside of Canada, there's barely been a mention of the fact that even calling this election is a violation of his earlier electoral promise to set fixed election dates, to stop politicians calling elections whenever they're in a favourable position in the polls (can you guess why Harper called the election now?).

In Britain we seem to be inured to how bizarre and undemocratic it is for leaders to be able to pick an election date. Harper's outright flip-flopping on the issue makes the whole problem transparent - and, sure enough, the likely outcome of the October election will be a majority Conservative government in Canada.

The broken pledge on fixed elections is just the latest dubious act from Harper, a man who has dismissed the Kyoto Protocol as a "socialist" enterprise with no purpose other than to punish rich nations, acquiesced to George Bush's war on terror, culled funding for women's advocacy programmes and accepted same-sex marriages only after members of his own party voted against him on a motion to "restore the traditional definition of marriage". For a prime minister with a powerless minority government, he's managed to do an almost impressive amount of damage since coming to power two years ago, damage that - particularly on environmental issues - has an impact far beyond Canada.

~ read on... ~

Historians fight Bush/Cheney to stop destruction of presidential records

Thirty-two of the nation's leading historians have sent letters to congressional leaders calling on them to strengthen the Presidential Records Act (PRA). The effort, led by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and joined by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the National Coalition for History, notes that while the PRA requires the administration to preserve presidential records, “it fails to provide an effective means of enforcing compliance with that requirement.” (View the letters here and here.)

This effort has taken on increased urgency as the Bush administration prepares to leave office and may be ready to expunge the record on its tenure. Bush has already repeatedly manipulated and rewritten open government laws in order to cover up his wrongdoings:

– The White House is “missing as many as 225 days of e-mail dating back to 2003 and there is little if any likelihood a recovery effort will be completed by the time the Bush administration leaves office.”


~ more... ~



Lunatic drug warriors still ignore powerful pot science

Twenty years ago, on Sept. 6, 1988, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's chief administrative law judge issued a landmark ruling, but don't expect any celebrations or commemorations in Washington, D.C. Our government has ignored this historic decision since the day it was issued, inflicting needless misery on millions.

Indeed, most Americans don't know it ever happened.

In response to a petition asking that marijuana be moved from Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, which bars medical use, to a lower schedule that would permit physician prescriptions, Judge Francis Young held extensive hearings that began in the summer of 1986. He heard from an impressive array of expert witnesses, resulting in thousands of pages of documentation.

Young laid out his findings in a detailed, 69-page ruling, walking readers through the scientific evidence. He concluded that the law didn't just permit moving marijuana to Schedule II, but required it.

"Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man," he wrote. "By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care. ... The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record."

~ more... ~

'He has helped the Republicans to steal elections to save the babies'

...Now it really gets weird. Two of Karl Rove's computer experts have come forward with details about how it was done. Stephen Spoonamore and Michael Connell are lifelong Republicans, and insiders in campaigns going back to George Bush, Sr in 1988.

Here's a segment from a transcript of Mark Crispin Miller's recent interview on the Thom Hartmann show:

[Mark]: Spoonamore...a lifelong Republican and erstwhile member of the McCain campaign until he discovered so much about the Republicans' election fraud that he resigned, and a prominent expert on computer crime. Now two years ago, Thom, this guy gave a long interview to ... the news division of one of the three major networks. It's up online, you know, people can get it at my blog.... It's stunning... This guy has come out and said, and he has documentary evidence to prove this,... that the Bush team has been stealing elections since and including 2000. Spoonamore has named Karl Rove's IT guy...Mike Connell, a fervent Catholic and fanatical pro-lifer who told Spoon that he has helped the Republicans to steal elections to save the babies. I'm not making this up. Whenever Karl Rove wanted something done, he would say to Connell 'just make it happen', and this kind of thing has included Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004, also Don Siegelman's stolen re-election in Alabama in 2002. Evidence suggests he was involved in the theft of Max Cleland's re-election in Georgia in 2002.

The mystery is what sustains the veil of silence in the 'liberal media', including NPR, the New York Times, and even The Nation? And yet more mysterious: Why isn't this a campaign issue? There is little doubt that millions of votes will be stolen from Obama this November, via a devil's grabbag of dirty tricks. I know personally election integrity activists who have approached the Obama campaign with solid evidence about elections that have already been stolen from him, and Obama's staff has rebuffed them.

Now that the perps themselves have come forward, what is keeping the lid on this story?...

~ more... ~

Finance ministers rule out coordinated bailout of European economy

EU finance ministers today ruled out a coordinated package to reboot the European economy despite mounting evidence of recession in key countries.

The 27 ministers, meeting informally under the French EU presidency, are at most expected to discuss measures - such as reduced rates of VAT - to help poorer people hurt by rising inflation and soaring food and energy prices.

Peer Steinbrück, German finance minister and apostle of budgetary discipline, said: "I am against a European economic stimulus programme." Germany fears relaxing fiscal constraints could mark a return to 1970s-style stagflation.

Earlier this week the European commission slashed its forecast for EU growth this year from 2% to 1.4%, with Britain, Germany and Spain headed for recession.

~ more... ~


EU finance chiefs still see no end in sight to crisis

The crisis roiling the financial sector will probably grind on for some time, but European banks should be able to avert serious trouble, EU finance chiefs said.

US investment bank Lehman Brothers' fight for its very survival over the weekend highlighted just how fragile the sector remains more than one year after the crisis first broke.

"Everybody who was saying for the last few weeks that the light was at the end of the tunnel have had the surprise of finding a locomotive bearing down on them," said German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck on Saturday.

~ more... ~

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