Saturday, September 18, 2010

National Emergencies and the Secret Government

        On September 10, 2010 President Obama extended the National Emergency With Respect To Certain Terrorist Attacks until September of 2011, this being the ninth time the emergency has been extended since it was originally declared by President Bush on September 14, 2001. Each National Emergency must be extended annually by a notification to Congress, though it is the job of Congress to meet and decide when and if an emergency should end. In this case, the emergency can only be nullified or continued by the president because the authorization of use of force is included here.
   What does this mean?
    Officially, it means that sufficient conditions exist both domestically and internationally to warrant those policies, initiatives, and powers being extended to help safeguard the United States against terrorist attacks of any nature. Unofficially, it means an open-ended extension of such provisions as the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the warrantless surveillance operations of the NSA, extrajudicial assassinations of suspected terrorists, and the oft-forgotten detaining of several hundred “enemy non-combatants” at the Guatanamo Bay concentration camp. These are all by-products of the attacks on 9/11 that killed 3,000 Americans and destroyed four buildings and four aircraft. However, they may also be deemed indirect results of the attacks since all of these provisions seem to have found their authority in the declaration of the National Emergency With Respect To Terrorist Attacks. This act, it should be noted, followed the authorization, on the morning of September 11, 2001, of Continuity of Government provisions as outlined by numerous executive orders. As any number of dedicated conspiracy theorists can attest, the Continuity of Government provisions essentially set up a condition of martial law while likewise initiating the “secret government” at Mount Weather, a mirror of the functioning government that operates in its stead in the event of an actual emergency. To what extent this “secret government” supersedes either Congress or the Constitution is unknown—literally. The fact is, no one who is not authorized to know the extent of its powers can know legally what they are, thus what is created is a kind of vacuous space between the obvious and the unknown.
     Whether this “secret government” has been activated or not is a serious question nonetheless. One need only examine the provisions to understand the seriousness of the situation. It would mean that there is no Constitution, no Bill of Rights, and no legal foundation whatsoever to safeguard the rights of the people of the United States. Thus the question of the National Emergency, the Continuity of Government provisions, and the “secret government” are absolutely essential to knowing where we stand with regard to ourselves, our rights, and our government as a whole.
      For this reason it is necessary to review what we know to be true about the actions, laws, and provisions set forth by the current and former administrations. To that end, we will examine the concept of the “Unitary Executive” as defined by the Bush administration, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the sprawling national intelligence apparatus that has ballooned since 9/11.
       As regards the concept of the “unitary executive”, this idea has a place in the Constitution. It’s basic premise is that the Executive Branch has all of the authority it needs to do what the Constitution says it should do—execute the laws as passed by the Legislative Branch: Congress. If any law is challenged as to it’s constitutionality, it is the Judicial Branch in the guise of the Supreme Court who decides on the legality of the said law. In that vein it is easy to see what and why the “unitary executive” is. Basically, if the president is charged with executing laws by way of himself and the various departments, it makes sense that he should have all legal authority to do so. However, such a provision does NOT provide for unlimited power for it’s own sake. This should be obvious to any Constitutional scholar. The limits on the authority of the president and the executive branch are the Bill of Rights, the powers of Congress, and the powers of the several states. Clearly the Founding Fathers did not create a system of checks and balances in order to vest unlimited authority in the seat of the president. That any president would decide to reach that broadly, especially George Bush with Dick Cheney in tow, would indicate that they envisioned some authority greater than that of the constitution giving them such allowances. Such an authority would be, in essence, the emergency powers granted them by the declaration of a national emergency, this made possible by the COG(Continuity of Government).
     Armed with these powers, the executive proceeded to present to Congress various underminings of civil liberties in the form of the USA PATRIOT Act, which basically gave full license to whatever actions the president needed to take against “terror”. This included warrantless wire-tapping and electronic surveillance of US citizens. Likewise, it gave the government the power to interfere with and manipulate markets and banks as it saw fit. Thus we not only see the source of the Federal Governments right to put armed Blackwater mercenaries in New Orleans after Katrina, but also the grounds for taking action when the financial crisis occurred(and it’s occurrence is itself a result of federal actions, actions that clearly made the crisis worse). The ideas behind the Toxic Asset Relief Program and the measures taken to curtail what appeared to be imminent financial ruin had everything to do with both the provisions under the Patriot Act and the powers under a national emergency, which only makes one wonder to what extent the cart is before the horse. Add to this President Obama’s assertion that the government has the right to target and assassinate any threat, even an American citizen, and the implications of living under martial law become very clear.​index.php?context=va&aid=10473 
   Finally, the immense intelligence community that has grown since 9/11, as reported by the Washington Post in it’s story Top Secret America, indicates a level of intrusion, surveillance, and obscurity that seem to indicate something other than simple intelligence gathering and analysis. There are 1271 government organizations involved, 1931 private companies, and 17 million square feet of office space built or being built all over the United States To what extent is this massive, 840,000 person behemoth a substitute government? As far as the Post article is concerned, we don’t really know, and attempts to find out are thwarted by lack of clearance. Thus we have again a vacuous space between the obvious and the unknown.​america
     It would appear from the evidence above that there is indeed a secret government operating. It looks like the Constitution has been suspended indefinitely, or least until this national emergency actually ends. In the meantime, it is worth recognizing that much of what our government has done in the past nine years has been, technically, legal.
    Bush declared president by the Supreme Court in 2000.
    The 9-11 Terrorist Attacks and the resulting "coup d'etat" in 2001.
    The invasion of Iraq in 2003.
    Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath in 2005.
    The financial crisis in 2008.
    The Swine Flu scare of 2010.
    This series of disasters is bewildering, yet each instance has some kind of governmental abuse or exploitation in it's midst. They operate in a fog, but it is a legal fog. They have trampled on all of our rights, but they have done so by the rule of law. After all, since the Constitution allows for executive orders, and executive orders allow for national emergencies which allow, in turn, for Continuity of Government provisions, who am I to argue? What is disturbing, however, is the absolute silence that our people, our media, and our representatives have on all of this. No one seems alarmed. No one seems concerned. No one is riding through the night on horseback yelling “The Feds are Coming! The Feds are Coming!” Even now the alarm bells everywhere are saying that the current economic crisis is about to get far worse. Yes, the Titanic hit the iceberg, but only now is the ship breaking up and beginning to sink. I wonder, as they sat around those tables drinking that coffee and making their plans, whether the Project For A New American Century envisioned all of this. It is indeed the American Century so far, but not at all the way I would have imagined it.
    Still, I hear those cargo planes every day. One after another they take off and land at McGuire Air Force Base, bound for the Middle East or coming back, powered by fuel that is dwindling in supply and paid for with money that continues to lose it's value. The war goes on, the economy gets worse, the money disappears, the fatcats stashing their bundles while the poor struggle to make it through another day, all while we twitch under the awesome power of a beast so big we know we can no longer control it.
    Maybe that’s why it is so quiet.
    Everyone is too afraid to speak for fear they will be heard.

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