Monday, November 28, 2011

State of Emergency Superseding the US Constitution

State of Emergency Superseding the US Constitution

Peter Dale Scott

In July 1987, during the Iran-Contra Hearings grilling of Oliver North, the American public got a glimpse of "highly sensitive" emergency planning North had been involved in. Ostensibly North had been handling plans for an emergency response to a nuclear attack (a legitimate concern). But press accounts alleged that the planning was for a more generalized suspension of the constitution at the president's determination.

Oliver North at the Iran-Contra Hearings

As part of its routine Iran-contra coverage, the following exchange was printed in the New York Times without journalistic comment or follow-up:

[Congressman Jack] Brooks: Colonel North, in your work at the N.S.C. were you not assigned, at one time, to work on plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster?

Both North's attorney and Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Democratic Chair of the Committee, responded in a way that showed they were aware of the issue:

Brendan Sullivan [North's counsel, agitatedly]: Mr. Chairman?

[Senator Daniel] Inouye: I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area so may I request that you not touch upon that?

Brooks: I was particularly concerned, Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed, by that same agency, a contingency plan in the event of emergency, that would suspend the American constitution. And I was deeply concerned about it and wondered if that was an area in which he had worked. I believe that it was and I wanted to get his confirmation.

Inouye: May I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this, I'm certain arrangements can be made for an executive session.1

Brooks was responding to a story by Alfonzo Chardy in the Miami Herald about Oliver North's involvement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in planning for "Continuity of Government" (COG). According to Chardy, the plans envisaged "suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the government over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, emergency appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments and declaration of martial law during a national crisis."2

Reagan had installed at FEMA a counterinsurgency team that he had already assembled as governor of California. The team was headed by Army Col. Louis Giuffrida, who had attracted Reagan's attention by a paper he had written while at the US Army War College, advocating the forcible warrantless detention of millions of black Americans in concentration camps. Reagan first installed Giuffrida as head of the California National Guard, and called on him "to design Operation Cable Splicer. … martial law plans to legitimize the arrest and detention of anti-Vietnam war activists and other political dissidents."3 These plans were refined with the assistance of British counterinsurgency expert Sir Robert Thompson, who had used massive detention and deportations to deal with the 1950s Communist insurgency in what is now Malaysia.

At the time few people (including myself) attached much importance to the Chardy story about COG. Chardy himself suggested that Reagan's Attorney General, William French Smith, had intervened to stop the COG plan from being presented to the President, and in 1985 Giuffrida was forced out of office for having spent government money to build a private residence. But COG planning not only continued, it expanded.

Seven years later, in 1994, Tim Weiner reported in the New York Times that what he called "The Doomsday Project" – the search for "ways to keep the Government running after a sustained nuclear attack on Washington" – had "less than six months to live."4

Weiner's language was technically correct, but also very misleading. In fact COG planning now simply continued with a new target: terrorism. On the basis of Weiner's article, the first two books to discuss COG planning, by James Bamford and James Mann, both reported that COG planning had been abandoned.5 Recently Tim Shorrock in 2008 repeated that "the COG program was abandoned during the Clinton administration," and Shirley Anne Warshaw in 2009 wrote that "the Clinton administration… shut down the super-secret Project."6 But on this specific point, all these otherwise excellent and well-informed authors were wrong.

What Weiner and these authors did not report was that in the final months of Reagan's presidency the purpose of COG planning had officially changed: it was no longer for arrangements "after a nuclear war," but for any "national security emergency." This was defined in Executive Order 12656 of 1988 as: "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."7 In this way a totally legitimate program dating back to Eisenhower, of planning extraordinary emergency measures for an America devastated in a nuclear attack, was now converted to confer equivalent secret powers on the White House, for anything it considered an emergency.

This expanded application of COG was apparently envisaged as early as 1984, when, according to Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan,

Lt. Col. Oliver North was working with officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency . . . to draw up a secret contingency plan to surveil political dissenters and to arrange for the detention of hundreds of thousands of undocumented aliens in case of an unspecified national emergency. The plan, part of which was codenamed Rex 84, called for the suspension of the Constitution under a number of scenarios, including a U.S. invasion of Nicaragua.8

In other words, extreme measures, designed originally to deal with an externally directed and devastating nuclear attack, were being secretly modified to deal with domestic dissenters: a situation that still pertains today.9

The Implementation of COG on 9/11

Clearly 9/11 met the conditions for the implementation of COG measures, and we know for certain that COG plans were implemented on that day in 2001, before the last plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. The 9/11 Report confirms this twice, on pages 38 and 326.10 It was under the auspices of COG that Bush stayed out of Washington on that day, and other government leaders like Paul Wolfowitz were swiftly evacuated to Site R, inside a hollowed out mountain near Camp David.11

But the implementation of COG went beyond short-term responses, to the installation of what Professor Shirley Anne Warshaw calls a ninety-day alternative "shadow government" outside Washington.

Cheney jumped into action in his bunker beneath the east Wing to ensure continuity in government. He immediately began to create his shadow government by ordering one hundred mid-level executive officials to move to specially designated underground bunkers and stay there twenty-four hours a day. They would not be rotated out, he informed them, for ninety days, since there was evidence, he hinted, that the terrorist organization al-Qa'ida, which had masterminded the attack, had nuclear weapons. The shadow government, as a result, needed to be ready to take over the government from the bunkers.12

These ninety days saw the swift implementation of the key features attributed to COG planning by Gelbspan and Chardy in the 1980s: warrantless detentions, warrantless deportations, and the warrantless eavesdropping that is their logical counterpart. The clearest example was the administration's Project Endgame—a ten-year plan, initiated in September 2001, to expand detention camps, at a cost of $400 million in Fiscal Year 2007 alone.13 This implemented the central feature of the massive detention exercise, Rex 84, conducted by Louis Giuffrida and Oliver North in 1984.14

There was also a flurry of other rapid moves to restructure America's external and domestic structures. Before discussing these, I should acknowledge the obvious: that enhanced measures to deal with terrorism are needed, and for some of them we should be grateful. We should acknowledge also, however, that the most significant achievements against terrorism have been the result of traditional intelligence and police work. As for the War on Terror, the most prominent achievement of Cheney's ninety days, as many experts have asserted, it has created far more terrorists than it has disposed of.

On September 20, 2001, Bush launched the war on terror in a televised address to a joint session of congress, when he said, "Our 'war on terror' begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." Today we now have about 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan to deal with an officially estimated 60 members of Al Qaeda. The predictable result has been an expansion of terrorist activities in Somalia, Yemen, and above all Pakistan.

Bush launches the 'War on Terror' as Rumsfeld looks on

The war on terror was administratively implemented in three National Security Presidential Directives, NSPDs 7, 8, and 9. All three are classified, and the topics of two of them are unknown. The third, NSPD 9 of October 25, 2001, directed the Secretary of Defense to plan military options against both Taliban and al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan.15

The October date is misleading. A version of the directive calling for covert action in Afghanistan had been approved by principals on September 4, 2001, one week before 9/11.16 An enhanced plan for military action in Afghanistan, had been approved by Bush on September 17; and the same document "directed the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq."17

Perhaps the most significant domestic product from Cheney's trimester mirabilis was the Patriot Act of October 25, 2001. Congress was given only one week to pass this 340-page bill, which in the opinion of researchers "was already written and ready to go long before September 11th."18 In 2007 the Justice Department acknowledged that FBI agents had abused the Patriot Act more than 1000 times.

We should not forget that the Patriot Act was only passed after lethal weapons-grade anthrax letters were mailed to two crucial Democratic Senators  – Senators Daschle and Leahy – who had initially questioned the bill. After the anthrax letters, however, they withdrew their initial opposition.19 Someone – we still do not know who – must have planned those anthrax letters well in advance. We should not forget either that some government experts initially blamed the attacks on Iraq. Much later, referring to Fort Detrick, Salon reporter Glenn Greenwald pointed out that "the same Government lab where the anthrax attacks themselves came from was the same place where the false reports originated that blamed those attacks on Iraq."20

It is generally agreed that, of the three men in National Command Authority on 9/11, Cheney was the ideologue most committed to restoring the power of a presidency that had been weakened by Watergate.21 Cheney had already declared in his Iran-Contra Minority Report of 1987 his belief that "the Chief Executive will on occasion feel duty bound to assert monarchical notions of prerogative that will permit him to exceed the law."22 And as Vice-President Cheney, along with Cheney's assistant David Addington and Cheney's appointee John Yoo, established the legal apparatus for declaring that the President had the prerogative power to "deploy military forces preemptively," and that "the Geneva Conventions and other international agreements against torture 'do not protect members of the al Qaeda organization."23

By Executive Order 13228 of October 8, 2001, the President established an Office of Homeland Security within the presidential Executive Office. This has engendered in turn the DHS, now the third largest US Cabinet Department, and also a series of Homeland Security Presidential Directives. For example Homeland Security Presidential Directive-6 (HSPD-6) of September 16, 2003, created a Terrorism Screening Center (TSC), to "consolidate the Government's approach to terrorism screening."24

Since then we have become inured to repeated stories about nonviolent individuals who are prevented from boarding airplanes, because their names are in TSC computers on the No Fly List and the Terrorist Watch List. Senator Ted Kennedy testified in Congress that he had been repeatedly delayed at airports because a "T Kennedy" was on the No Fly List. Until July 2008, Nelson Mandela was also on the list.

In addition to the No Fly List, with 4000 names in 2009 and 8000 today, some people are prevented from flying because they are on the Terrorist Watch List, a much longer list which contained over one million names as of summer 2010. This is why Walter F. Murphy, a noted professor of constitutional law, was detained in 2007 on his journey to lecture, ironically, about his book Constitutional Democracy. According to Professor Murphy, he was asked by an airline employee,

"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that" …."I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution." "That'll do it," the man said.25

In the end these cases were resolved satisfactorily. But you risk permanent deportation if you have an Arabic-sounding name. The ACLU is suing on behalf of Ayman Latif, not just a U.S. citizen but a disabled U.S. Marine veteran, who under Obama has been stranded in Egypt for months, because, on orders from the U.S. Embassy, he has not been able to board a plane to come home.

This is a real hardship case: Latif told NPR that "because I missed my appointments in the U.S. to be evaluated [as a disabled vet], now the VA administration is saying that they're going to cut my benefits from what they are now to zero." On the same program Stewart Baker, a former assistant secretary for policy with the Department of Homeland Security, vigorously defended the No Fly List. But when asked if there is "any legal authority by which the United States can say to a citizen who is abroad, you may not return to this country?" Baker replied, "I know of none."26 This did not seem to concern him.

Ayman Latif's case is far from unique. According to the New York Times,

Advocacy groups say they are trying to help Americans stranded in Yemen, Egypt, Colombia and Croatia, among other countries. At least one American, Raymond Earl Knaeble IV, who studied in Yemen and is now in Colombia, was returned to Colombia by the Mexican authorities after he sought to cross the border into the United States, the groups say.27

The Militarization of American Law Enforcement

Another post-9/11 innovation from the Giuffrida-Oliver North COG plans was the militarization of domestic United States law enforcement in 2002, under a new military command, NORTHCOM.28 Through NORTHCOM the U.S. Army now is engaged with local enforcement in the surveillance and counter-terrorism planning of America, in the same way that through CENTCOM it is engaged with local enforcement to police Iraq. Of course army platoons do not patrol roads and break down the doors of Kansas homes, as they routinely do in Iraq or Afghanistan. But behind the scenes, in so-called fusion centers, the military, the FBI, state police, along with private intelligence corporations like SAIC, maintain and analyze data to identify potential threats to those in power.29

Northcom strategy to combat weapons of mass destruction

These fusion centers "have been internally promoted by the US Army as means to avoid restrictions preventing the military from spying on the domestic population."30 In other words, administrative arrangements have been used to fulfill Giuffrida's plans of circumventing the Posse Comitatus Acts on the statute books, without repealing them.

The Proclamation of Permanent Emergencies

Finally, still in the 90-day "shadow government" period after 9/11, President Bush proclaimed two important emergencies that are still in force today.

1) On September 14, 2001, Bush issued Proclamation 7463 ("Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks") together with Executive Order 13223 ("Ordering the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces To Active Duty"). As we shall see, the terms of this proclamation were significantly expanded when it was renewed in 2007.

2) "On September 23, 2001, by Executive Order 13224, the President declared a national emergency with respect to persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706)."31 This gave the president the power to confiscate without trial or warning the property of individuals providing funds to entities, such as charitable foundations, which were judged to be supporting terrorism. The Executive Order initially blocked property of twenty-seven designated terrorists. But the list has become enormous. When I last looked at it, on November 18, 2010, the list included 87 pages just for the letter A.

A lawsuit has been instituted, asserting that the designation of alleged terrorists was arbitrary; and a lower court agreed that the president's designation authority is unconstitutionally vague.32 The case is under appeal.

Cheney and Rumsfeld on the Secret Committee to Plan COG

From its beginning in 1982, two of the key planners on the secret COG planning committee were Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the same two men who implemented COG on 9/11.33 The committee had been established by Reagan under a secret executive order, NSDD 55 of September 14, 1982. Despite what Weiner implied, the committee continued to meet without interruption until the George W. Bush presidency in 2001.34

Thus Cheney and Rumsfeld continued their secret planning during the Clinton presidency; even after both men, both Republicans, were by that time heads of major corporations and not in the government. Andrew Cockburn cites a Pentagon source to support a claim that the Clinton administration had "no idea what was going on."

Although the exercises continued, still budgeted at over $200 million a year in the Clinton era, the vanished Soviets were now replaced by terrorists. . . . There were other changes, too. In earlier times the specialists selected to run the "shadow government" had been drawn from across the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans alike. But now, down in the bunkers, Rumsfeld found himself in politically congenial company, the players' roster being filled almost exclusively with Republican hawks. . . ."You could say this was a secret government-in-waiting. The Clinton administration was extraordinarily inattentive, [they had] no idea what was going on."35

Cockburn's account requires some qualification. Richard Clarke, a Clinton Democrat, makes it clear that he participated in the COG games in the 1990s and indeed drafted Clinton's Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 67 on "Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government."36 But COG planning involved different teams for different purposes. It is quite possible that the Pentagon official was describing the Department of Defense team dealing with retaliation.

It is important to understand that the COG "Doomsday Project" in the 1980s involved more than planning and exercises. It also oversaw "Project 908," the construction of a multibillion dollar infrastructure for an alternative government. The key element of this was an $8 billion communications and logistics program headquartered at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, the headquarters for Army Intelligence.37

Despite initial failures in the communications network, it was ready to be put into operation and utilized on September 11, 2001 by Vice-President Cheney.38 Key commands, including the implementation of COG itself, appear to have been made over this highest-classification security network.39 This may explain why a Boeing E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Post or "Doomsday Plane," the mobile communications center for the COG shadow government, was seen around 10 AM in the prohibited air space above the White House.40

There is no way to determine how many of the constitutional changes since 9/11 can be traced to COG planning. However we do know that new COG planning measures  were still being introduced in 2007, when President Bush issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51/HSPD-20). This Directive set out what FEMA later called "a new vision to ensure the continuity of our Government," and was followed in August by a new National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan.41

Under pressure from his 911truth constituents, Congressman Peter DeFazio of the Homeland Security Committee twice requested to see these Annexes. When his request was denied, DeFazio made a second request, in a letter signed by the Chair of his committee. The request was denied again.42

COG, The National Emergency, and the National Emergencies Act

I mentioned earlier that the Proclamation of a national emergency, issued by Bush on September 14, 2001, and since renewed annually to this day, changed significantly in 2007. All previous annual renewals had enumerated the emergency measures that were being renewed, for example "the measures taken on September 14, 2001, November 16, 2001, and January 16, 2002." After Bush issued NSPD-51 of 2007, with its "new vision" and its new classified COG Annexes, the next renewal of the Emergency proclamation replaced the previous specific enumerations with a more sweeping general sentence:

Because the terrorist threat continues, the national emergency declared on September 14, 2001, last extended on September 5, 2006, and the powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond September 14, 2007.43

"The powers and authorities adopted to deal with that emergency." This language is so vague, it is hard to see how it could not cover the "classified continuity annexes" of NSPD-51 as well. If so, the public proclamation was now proclaiming the continuation of  secret powers. (The two renewals of the Emergency by Barack Obama do not repeat this language from 2007, but likewise fail to enumerate just what powers are being extended.)44

The National Emergencies Act, one of the post-Watergate reforms that Vice-President Cheney so abhorred, specifies that: "Not later than six months after a national emergency is declared, and not later than the end of each six-month period thereafter that such emergency continues, each House of Congress shall meet to consider a vote on a joint resolution to determine whether that emergency shall be terminated" (50 U.S.C. 1622, 2002).45 The law does not permit Congress to review an emergency; it requires Congress to review it.

Yet in nine years Congress has not once met to discuss the State of Emergency declared by George W. Bush in response to 9/11, a State of Emergency that remains in effect today. Appeals to the Congress to meet its responsibilities to review COG have fallen on deaf ears, even during periods when the Congress has been dominated by Democrats.46

Former Congressman Dan Hamburg and I appealed publicly in 2009, both to President Obama to terminate the emergency, and to Congress to hold the hearings required of them by statute.47 But Obama, without discussion, extended the 9/11 Emergency again on September 10, 2009,48 and again a year later.49 Meanwhile Congress has continued to ignore its statutory obligations.

One Congressman explained to a constituent that the provisions of the National Emergencies Act have now been rendered inoperative by COG. If true, this would indicate that the constitutional system of checks and balances no longer applies, and also that secret decrees now override public legislation as the law of the land.

With a few notable exceptions, there has thus far been scant interest in the media and the public in the extraordinary facts that Cheney and Rumsfeld were able to

1) help plan successfully for constitutional modifications, when not in government, and 

2) implement these same changes themselves when back in power.

The first of these facts gives us a glimpse of an on-going power realm independent of the publicly acknowledged state. In the words of James Mann, "Cheney and Rumsfeld were, in a sense, a part of the permanent, though hidden, national security apparatus of the United States, inhabitants of a world in which Presidents come and go, but America always keeps on fighting."50 A CNN Special Assignment assessment of the COG planners was even more dramatic: "In the United States of America there is a hidden government about which you know nothing."51

What is the first step out of this current state of affairs, in which the constitution appears to have been superseded by a higher, if less legitimate authority? I submit that it is to get Congress to do what the law requires, and determine whether our present proclamation of emergency "shall be terminated" (50 U.S.C. 1622, 2002).

As part of this procedure, Congress should find whether secret COG powers, never submitted to Congress or seen by it, are among "the powers and authorities" which Bush in 2007 included in his prolongation of the 2001 emergency and which are maintained today under Obama.

This is not a technical or procedural detail. It is a test of whether the United States is presently governed by its laws and constitution, or whether, as has been alleged, the laws and constitution have now in places been superseded by COG.

Congress should go further to look into the activities of Cheney's ninety days of COG shadow government in 2001, and their relationship to the genesis of the Patriot Act, the ten-year program for detention camps, and the permanent militarization of US domestic law enforcement.


This is a slightly revised, expanded, and developed text of an address to the Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, November 23, 2010.

Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan is in press.

His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.

Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, "Is the State of Emergency Superseding the US Constitution? Continuity of Government Planning, War and American Society," The Asia-Pacific Journal, 48-1-10, November 29, 2010.


1 New York Times, July 14, 1987. We have never heard if there was or was not an executive session, or if the rest of Congress was ever aware of the matter. According to James Bamford, "The existence of the secret government was so closely held that Congress was completely bypassed. Rather than through legislation, it was created by Top Secret presidential fiat. In fact, Congress would have no role in the new wartime administration. 'One of the awkward questions we faced,' said one of the participants, 'was whether to reconstitute Congress after a nuclear attack. It was decided that no, it would be easier to operate without them.'" (James Bamford, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies [New York: Doubleday, 2004], 74); cf. James Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet [New York: Viking, 2004], 145). But key individuals in Congress were, such as Sen. Inouye of the Senate Intelligence Committee, were certainly aware of something.   

2 Miami Herald, July 5, 1987. In October 1984 Jack Anderson reported that FEMA's plans would "suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, effectively eliminate private property, abolish free enterprise, and generally clamp Americans in a totalitarian vise."

3 Diana Reynolds, The Rise of the National Security State: FEMA and the NSC, Political Research Associates, Covert Action Information Bulletin, #33 (Winter 1990). "Earlier, Governor Reagan in California had authorized the development of a counterinsurgency plan (known as Cable Splicer) and exercises to deal with such crises, in conjunction with the U.S. Sixth Army and the Pentagon (Operation Garden Plot). The cadres developing Cable Splicer (headed by Louis Giuffrida), were with Reagan's elevation to the presidency transferred into FEMA. As head of FEMA, Giuffrida pursued plans for massive detention of dissidents; these became so extreme that even Reagan's attorney general, William French Smith, raised objections" (Scott, The Road to 9/11, 184; citing Gelbspan, Break-ins, 184).

4 Tim Weiner, New York Times, April 17, 1994.

5 Bamford, A Pretext for War, 74; cf. James Mann, The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (New York: Viking, 2004), 138-45.

6 Tim Shorrock, Spies for hire: the secret world of intelligence outsourcing (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008)., 78; Shirley Anne Warshaw, The co-presidency of Bush and Cheney (Stanford, Calif. : Stanford Politics and Policy, 2009), 162

7 The provisions of Executive Order 12656 of Nov. 18, 1988, appear at 53 FR 47491, 3 CFR, 1988 Comp., p. 585, link. The Washington Post (March 1, 2002) later claimed, falsely, that Executive Order 12656 dealt only with "a nuclear attack." Earlier there was a similar misrepresentation in the New York Times (November 18, 1991).

8 Ross Gelbspan, Break-ins, Death Threats, and the FBI (Boston: South End Press, 1991), 184; cf. New York Times, November 18, 1991. REX 84 (short for Readiness Exercise 84) turned out to be part of a series of such exercises (now known as Continuity of Operations Exercises) that have continued under FEMA down into the Obama era. See for example the Department of Homeland Press Release, "DHS Conducts Continuity of Operations Exercise," June 17, 2009, link.

9 In stressing the alteration of our present political milieu by an extra-governmental group, I do not intend to exonerate Congress. In 1981 Congress passed the Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act. According to a brilliant and prescient essay written by an Air Force Colonel at the National War College, the Act "was specifically intended to force reluctant military commanders to actively collaborate in police work" (Air Force Lt. Col. Charles E. Dunlap, "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012;" quoted in Harry G. Summers, The new world strategy: a military policy for America's future (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 195.

10 9/11 Commission Report, 38, 326;  Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007), 228-29.

11 Alfred Goldberg et al., Pentagon 9/11 (Washington: Department of Defense, 2007), 132.

12 Warshaw, The co-presidency of Bush and Cheney, 164-65; cf. Washington Post, March 1, 2002; Scott, Road to 9/11, 237. Warshaw took the characterization of "shadow government" from earlier reports by U.S. News and World Report in 1989, and CNN in 1991 (Warshaw, 162).

13 Scott, Road to 9/11, 238, 240-41.

14 "The exercise anticipated civil disturbances, major demonstrations and strikes that would affect continuity of government and/or resource mobilization. To fight subversive activities, there was authorization for the military to implement government ordered movements of civilian populations at state and regional levels, the arrest of certain unidentified segments of the population, and the imposition of martial rule" (Diana Reynolds, "The Rise of the National Security State: FEMA and the NSC," Political Research Associates, Covert Action Information Bulletin, #33 (Winter 1990).

15 "NSPD-9: Combating Terrorism," Federation of American Scientists: "On April 1, 2004, the White House released the following characterization of this otherwise classified document: "The NSPD called on the Secretary of Defense to plan for military options 'against Taliban targets in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control, air and air defense, ground forces, and logistics.' The NSPD also called for plans 'against al Qaeda and associated terrorist facilities in Afghanistan, including leadership, command-control-communications, training, and logistics facilities.'" 

16 "NSPD-9: Combating Terrorism," citing testimony of Donald Rumsfeld before 9/11 Commission, March 23, 2304. Cf. Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies, 237-38; Steve Coll, Ghost Wars (New York: Penguin, 2004), 574-76; 9/11 Commission Report, 212-14. A draft of the presidential directive had originally been circulated in June 2001 (9/11 Commission Report, 208). But the directive approved on September 4 was for covert action only (9/11 Commission Report, 213).

17 James Bamford, A Pretext for War,  287.

18 Jennifer Van Bergen, "The USA PATRIOT Act Was Planned Before 9/11,", May 20, 2002. Van Bergen notes a parallel with the Patriot Act's predecessor, the Antiterrorism Act of 1996: "James X. Dempsey and David Cole state in their book, 'Terrorism & the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security,' that the most troubling provisions of the pre-USAPA anti-terrorism laws, enacted in 1996 and expanded now by the USAPA, 'were developed long before the bombings [i.e. the Oklahoma bombing of 1995] that triggered their final enactment.'"

19 Cf. Time, Nov. 26, 2001: "While Daschle, the Senate majority leader, could have been chosen as a representative of all Democrats or of the entire Senate, Leahy is a less obvious choice, most likely targeted for a specific reason. He is head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is involved in issues ranging from antitrust action to antiterror legislation" [emphasis added]. See also Anthony York, "Why Daschle and Leahy?" Salon, November 21, 2001.

20 Glenn Greenwald, "Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News," Salon, August 1, 2008.

21 Lew Dubose and Jake Bernstein, Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency (New York: Random House, 2006), 28: "Dick Cheney…would spend the rest of his career working to restore the Nixon vision of an all-powerful executive, by undoing the Watergate reforms that came out of the early seventies."

22 Schwarz and Huq, Unchecked and Unbalanced, 174; emphasis added.

23 Lew Dubose and Jake Bernstein, Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency, 187-90; citing John Yoo memos of September 25, 2001 ("deploy") and January 2002 ("do not protect").

24 Department of Justice, "Review of the Terrorist Screening Center," link.

25 Naomi Wolf, "Fascist America," Guardian (London), April 24, 2007.

26 "Former U.S. Marine Placed On 'No Fly' List, Sues FBI," NPR, August 5, 2010, link. Even my two-year old grandson and his family were taken aside for special questioning at the airport, because of his middle name, Yusuf.

27 Scott Shane, "American Man in Limbo on No-Fly List," New York Times, June 16, 2010.

28 U.S. Department of Defense, "U.S. Northern Command," link. Cf. John R. Brinkerhoff, PBS, Online Newshour, 9/27/02: "The United States itself is now for the first time since the War of 1812 a theater of war. That means that we should apply, in my view, the same kind of command structure in the United States that we apply in other theaters of war." Brinkerhoff had earlier developed the martial law provisions of REX 84 in the Reagan era.

29 Shorrock, Spies for Hire, 344.

30 Julian Assange, "The spy who billed me twice," Wikileaks. The March 2009 Army manual "US Army Concept of Operations for Police Intelligence Operations" contains phrases such as "It [fusion] does not have constraints that are emplaced on MI [Military Intelligence] activities within the US, because it operates under the auspice and oversight of the police discipline and standards." 

31 "Notice-Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to Persons Who Commit, Threaten To Commit, or Support Terrorism," Daily Compilation Of Presidential Documents" ("Author: Obama, Barack H"), September 16, 2010, link

32 Humanitarian Law Project v. United States Department of Treasury.

33 Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007), 183-87.

34 Mann, Rise of the Vulcans, 142 (order); (Boulder, CO: Westview Press), pp. 59, 71, 102-104, and 158-178 (NSDD 55); Andrew Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy (New York: Scribner, 2007), 88 (2001).

35 Andrew Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy (New York: Scribner, 2007), 88.

36 Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terrorism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 8, 165-75.

37 Shorrock, Spies for hire, 72-75, 292-96. Warshaw and others have referred to the whole COG operation as "Project 908;" but on the basis of available evidence I believe that Project 908 was the construction program only, as opposed to the planning and exercises which also took place. Project 908 attracted the attention of Steve Emerson and other journalists in 1989, when it was revealed that there had been huge cost overruns, double billing for the same work, and eventually destruction of many key contract documents in the course of an Army investigation. The son of the Army general overseeing the project, former Congressman Rick Renzi, was eventually indicted in 2008 on related charges of extortion, fraud, money laundering and other crimes. Steven Emerson, "America's Doomsday Project," U.S. News & World Report, August 7, 1989, 26-31. As of this writing, Rick Renzi's trial, which was scheduled to begin in March 2010, "has been postponed indefinitely" (Arizona Republic, March 16, 2010,

38 See e.g. Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies, 91.

39 See discussion in Scott, Road to 9/11, 223-36. There were reports that when Bush was airborne in Air force One on 9/11, there were connectivity problems forcing the president to use an ordinary cell phone (Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute [NewYork: HarperCollins/Regan Books, 2004], 437). This may help explain why Air Force One eventually flew to Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, where the E4-B "Doomsday Planes" are based.

40 CNN, September 11, 2007, video. On the CNN show 9/11 Commission Co-chair Lee Hamilton said he had a vague memory of the mystery plane story, but that it was never discussed by the 9/11 Commission. CNN promptly withdrew its 9/11 E-4B story from its website ("CNN Pulls 9/11 E4B 'Doomsday' Plane Video Over White House," digg, September 13, 2007,

41 Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Continuity Directive 1, link. NSPD-51 also nullified PDD 67, Richard Clarke's COG directive of a decade earlier; and it referred to new "classified Continuity Annexes" which shall "be protected from unauthorized disclosure." 

42 Dennis Kucinich, David Swanson, Elizabeth De La Vega, The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush ([Port Townsend, Wash.] : Feral House, [2008]), 81; Peter Dale Scott, "Congress, the Bush Administration and Continuity of Government Planning: The Showdown," CounterPunch, March 31, 2008.

43 "Notice: Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks," Federal Register, September 12, 2007, link, emphasis added.

44 "Notice from the President on the 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 previously declared on September 14, 2001, in Proclamation 7463, with respect to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, 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, 2010. Therefore, I am continuing in effect for an additional year the national emergency that was 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. BARACK OBAMA, THE WHITE HOUSE, September 10, 2010," link.

45 This language overruled the specification in President Ford's Executive Order 11921 the same year, that, when a state of emergency was declared by the President, Congress could not review the matter for a period of six months.

46 Cf. Peter Dale Scott and Dam Hamburg, "To All Readers: Help Force Congress To Observe the Law on National Emergencies!!!,", March 24, 2009, link.  

47 Peter Dale Scott, "To All Readers: Help Force Congress To Observe the Law on National Emergencies!!!" (with Dan Hamburg), http.//, March 24, 2009. 

48 White House Press Release, September 10, 2009, link. A press briefing by Obama's spokesman Robert Gibbs the same day did not mention the extension.

49 White House Press Release, September 10, 2010, link.

50 James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans, 145.

51 CNN Special Assignment, November 17, 1991.

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Peter Dale Scott - The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11

The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11

by Prof. Peter Dale Scott

"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [the National Security Agency] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."

       -- Senator Frank Church (1975)

I would like to discuss four major and badly understood events – the John F. Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11. I will analyze these deep events as part of a deeper political process linking them, a process that has helped build up repressive power in America at the expense of democracy.

The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11

by Prof. Peter Dale Scott

In recent years I have been talking about a dark force behind these events -- a force which, for want of a better term, I have clumsily called a "deep state," operating both within and outside the public state. Today for the first time I want to identify part of that dark force, a part which has operated for five decades or more at the edge of the public state. This part of the dark force has a name not invented by me: the Doomsday Project, the Pentagon's name for the emergency planning "to keep the White House and Pentagon running during and after a nuclear war or some other major crisis."1

My point is a simple and important one: to show that the Doomsday Project of the 1980s, and the earlier emergency planning that developed into it, have played a role in the background of all the deep events I shall discuss.

More significantly, it has been a factor behind all three of the disturbing events that now threaten American democracy. The first of these three is what has been called the conversion of our economy into a plutonomy – with the increasing separation of America into two classes, into the haves and the have-nots, the one percent and the 99 percent. The second is America's increasing militarization, and above all its inclination, which has become more and more routine and predictable, to wage or provoke wars in remote regions of the globe. It is clear that the operations of this American war machine have served the one percent.2

The third – my subject today -- is the important and increasingly deleterious impact on American history of structural deep events: mysterious events, like the JFK assassination, the Watergate break-in, or 9/11, which violate the American social structure, have a major impact on American society, repeatedly involve law-breaking or violence, and in many cases proceed from an unknown dark force.

There are any number of analyses of America's current breakdown in terms of income and wealth disparity, also in terms of America's increasing militarization and belligerency. What I shall do today is I think new: to argue that both the income disparity – or what has been called our plutonomy -- and the belligerency have been fostered significantly by deep events.

President Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961 warned that "We must guard against the unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex."

We must understand that the income disparity of America's current economy was not the result of market forces working independently of political intervention. In large part it was generated by a systematic and deliberate ongoing political process dating from the anxieties of the very wealthy in the 1960s and 1970s that control of the country was slipping away from them.

This was the time when future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, in a 1971 memorandum, warned that survival of the free enterprise system depended on "careful long-range planning and implementation" of a well-financed response to threats from the left.3 This warning was answered by a sustained right-wing offensive, coordinated by think tanks and funded lavishly by a small group of family foundations.4 We should recall that all this was in response to serious riots in Newark, Detroit, and elsewhere, and that increasing calls for a revolution were coming from the left (in Europe as well as America). I will focus today on the right's response to that challenge, and on the role of deep events in enhancing their response.

What was important about the Powell memorandum was less the document itself than the fact that it was commissioned by the United States Chamber of Commerce, one of the most influential and least discussed lobbying groups in America. And the memorandum was only one of many signs of that developing class war in the 1970s, a larger process working both inside and outside government (including what Irving Kristol called an "intellectual counterrevolution"), which led directly to the so-called "Reagan Revolution."5

It is clear that this larger process has been carried on for almost five decades, pumping billions of right-wing dollars into the American political process. What I wish to show today is that deep events have also been integral to this right-wing effort, from the John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963 to 9/11. 9/11 resulted in the implementation of "Continuity of Government" (COG) plans (which in the Oliver North Iran Contra Hearings of 1987 were called plans for "the suspension of the U.S. constitution"). These COG plans, building on earlier COG planning, had been carefully developed since 1982 in the so-called Doomsday Project, by a secret group appointed by Reagan. The group was composed of both public and private figures, including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

I shall try to show today that in this respect 9/11 was only the culmination of a sequence of deep events reaching back to the Kennedy assassination if not earlier, and that the germs of the Doomsday Project can be detected behind all of them.

More specifically, I shall try to demonstrate about these deep events that

1) prior bureaucratic misbehavior by the CIA and similar agencies helped to make both the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 happen;

2) the consequences of each deep event included an increase in top-down repressive power for these same agencies, at the expense of persuasive democratic power;6

3) there are symptomatic overlaps in personnel between the perpetrators of each of these deep events and the next;

4) one sees in each event the involvement of elements of the international drug traffic – suggesting that our current plutonomy is also to some degree a narconomy;

5) in the background of each event (and playing an increasingly important role) one sees the Doomsday Project -- the alternative emergency planning structure with its own communications network, operating as a shadow network outside of regular government channels.

Bureaucratic Misbehavior as a Factor Contributing to both the JFK Assassination and 9/11

Both the JFK assassination and 9/11 were facilitated by the way the CIA and FBI manipulated their files about alleged perpetrators of each event (Lee Harvey Oswald in the case of what I shall call JFK, and the alleged hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi in the case of 9/11). Part of this facilitation was the decision on October 9, 1963 of an FBI agent, Marvin Gheesling, to remove Oswald from the FBI watch list for surveillance. This was shortly after Oswald's arrest in New Orleans in August and his reported travel to Mexico in September. Obviously these developments should normally have made Oswald a candidate for increased surveillance.7

This misbehavior is paradigmatic of the behavior of other agencies, especially the CIA, in both JFK and 9/11. Indeed Gheesling's behavior fits very neatly with the CIA's culpable withholding from the FBI, in the same month of October, information that Oswald had allegedly met in Mexico City with a suspected KGB agent, Valeriy Kostikov.8 This also helped ensure that Oswald would not be placed under surveillance. Indeed, former FBI Director Clarence Kelley in his memoir later complained that the CIA's withholding of information was the major reason why Oswald was not put under surveillance on November 22, 1963.9

A more ominous provocation in 1963 was that of Army Intelligence, one unit of which in Dallas did not simply withhold information about Lee Harvey Oswald, but manufactured false intelligence that seemed designed to provoke retaliation against Cuba. I call such provocations phase-one stories, efforts to portray Oswald as a Communist conspirator (as opposed to the later phase-two stories, also false, portraying him as a disgruntled loner). A conspicuous example of such phase-one stories is a cable from the Fourth Army Command in Texas, reporting a tip from a Dallas policeman who was also in an Army Intelligence Reserve unit:

Assistant Chief Don Stringfellow, Intelligence Section, Dallas Police Department, notified 112th INTC [Intelligence] Group, this Headquarters, that information obtained from Oswald revealed he had defected to Cuba in 1959 and is a card-carrying member of Communist Party."10

This cable was sent on November 22 directly to the U.S. Strike Command at Fort MacDill in Florida, the base poised for a possible retaliatory attack against Cuba.11

The cable was not an isolated aberration. It was supported by other false phase-one stories from Dallas about Oswald's alleged rifle, and specifically by concatenated false translations of Marina Oswald's testimony, to suggest that Oswald's rifle in Dallas was one he had owned in Russia.12

These last false reports, apparently unrelated, can also be traced to officer Don Stringfellow's 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit.13 The interpreter who first supplied the false translation of Marina's words, Ilya Mamantov, was selected by a Dallas oilman, Jack Crichton, and Deputy Dallas Police Chief George Lumpkin.14 Crichton and Lumpkin were also the Chief and the Deputy Chief of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit.15 Crichton was also an extreme right-winger in the community of Dallas oilmen: he was a trustee of the H.L. Hunt Foundation, and a member of the American Friends of the Katanga Freedom Fighters, a group organized to oppose Kennedy's policies in the Congo.

We have to keep in mind that some of the Joint Chiefs were furious that the 1962 Missile Crisis had not led to an invasion of Cuba, and that, under new JCS Chairman Maxwell Taylor, the Joint Chiefs, in May 1963, still believed "that US military intervention in Cuba is necessary."16 This was six months after Kennedy, to resolve the Missile Crisis in October 1962, had given explicit (albeit highly qualified) assurances to Khrushchev, that the United States would not invade Cuba.17 This did not stop the J-5 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the JCS Directorate of Plans and Policy) from producing a menu of "fabricated provocations to justify military intervention."18 (One proposed example of "fabricated provocations" envisioned "using MIG type aircraft flown by US pilots to … attack surface shipping or to attack US military.")19

The deceptions about Oswald coming from Dallas were immediately post-assassination; thus they do not by themselves establish that the assassination itself was a provocation-deception plot. They do however reveal enough about the anti-Castro mindset of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit in Dallas to confirm that it was remarkably similar to that of the J-5 the preceding May – the mindset that produced a menu of "fabricated provocations" to attack Cuba. (According to Crichton there were "about a hundred men in [the 488th Reserve unit] and about forty or fifty of them were from the Dallas Police Department.")20 

It can hardly be accidental that we see this bureaucratic misbehavior from the FBI, CIA, and military, the three agencies with which Kennedy had had serious disagreements in his truncated presidency.21 Later in this paper I shall link Dallas oilman Jack Crichton to the 1963 emergency planning that became the Doomsday Project.

Analogous Bureaucratic Misbehavior in the Case of 9/11

Before 9/11 the CIA, in 2000-2001, again flagrantly withheld crucial evidence from the FBI: evidence that, if shared, would have led the FBI to surveil two of the alleged hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaz al-Hazmi. This sustained withholding of evidence provoked an FBI agent to predict accurately in August, 2001, that "someday someone will die."22 After 9/11 another FBI agent said of the CIA: "They [CIA] didn't want the bureau meddling in their business—that's why they didn't tell the FBI....  And that's why September 11 happened. That is why it happened. . . . They have blood on their hands. They have three thousand deaths on their hands"23 The CIA's withholding of relevant evidence before 9/11 (which it was required by its own rules to supply) was matched in this case by the NSA.24

Without these withholdings, in other words, neither the Kennedy assassination nor 9/11 could have developed in the manner in which they did. As I wrote in American War Machine, it would appear that

Oswald (and later al-Mihdhar) had at some prior point been selected as

designated subjects for an operation. This would not initially have been for the commission of a crime against the American polity: on the contrary, steps were probably taken to prepare Oswald in connection with an operation against Cuba and al-Mihdhar [I suspect] for an operation against al-Qaeda. But as [exploitable] legends began to accumulate about both figures, it became possible for some witting people to subvert the sanctioned operation into a plan for murder that would later be covered up. At this point Oswald (and by analogy al-Mihdhar) was no longer just a designated subject but also now a designated culprit.25

Kevin Fenton, in his exhaustive book Disconnecting the Dots, has since reached the same conclusion with respect to 9/11: "that, by the summer of 2001, the purpose of withholding the information had become to allow the attacks to go forward."26 He has also identified the person chiefly responsible for the misbehavior: CIA officer Richard Blee, Chief of the CIA's Bin Laden Unit. Blee, while Clinton was still president, had been one of a faction inside CIA pressing for a more belligerent CIA involvement in Afghanistan, in conjunction with the Afghan Northern Alliance.27 This then happened immediately after 9/11, and Blee himself was promoted, to become the new Chief of Station in Kabul.28

How CIA and NSA Withholding of Evidence in the Second Tonkin Gulf Incident, Contributed to War with North Vietnam

I will spare you the details of this withholding, which can be found in my American War Machine, pp. 200-02. But Tonkin Gulf is similar to the Kennedy assassination and 9/11, in that manipulation of evidence helped lead America – in this case very swiftly – into war.

Historians such as Fredrik Logevall have agreed with the assessment of former undersecretary of state George Ball that the US destroyer mission in the Tonkin Gulf, which resulted in the Tonkin Gulf incidents, "was primarily for provocation."29 The planning for this provocative mission came from the J-5 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the same unit that in 1963 had reported concerning Cuba that, "the engineering of a series of provocations to justify military intervention is feasible."30

The NSA and CIA suppression of the truth on August 4 was in the context of an existing high-level (but controversial) determination to attack North Vietnam. In this respect the Tonkin Gulf incident is remarkably similar to the suppression of the truth by CIA and NSA leading up to 9/11, when there was again a high-level (but controversial) determination to go to war.

Increases in Repressive Power After Deep Events

All of the deep events discussed above have contributed to the cumulative increase of Washington's repressive powers. It is clear for example that the Warren Commission used the JFK assassination to increase CIA surveillance of Americans. As I wrote in Deep Politics, this was the result of

the Warren Commission's controversial recommendations that the Secret Service's domestic surveillance responsibilities be increased (WR 25-26). Somewhat illogically, the Warren Report concluded both that Oswald acted alone (WR 22), . . . and also that the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, should coordinate more closely the surveillance of organized groups (WR 463). In particular, it recommended that the Secret Service acquire a computerized data bank compatible with that already developed by the CIA.31

This pattern would repeat itself four years later with the assassination of

Robert Kennedy. In the twenty-four hours between Bobby's shooting and his

death, Congress hurriedly passed a statute— drafted well in advance (like the Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964 and the Patriot Act of 2001) — that still further augmented the secret powers given to the Secret Service in the name of protecting presidential candidates.32

This was not a trivial or benign change: from this swiftly considered act, passed under Johnson, flowed some of the worst excesses of the Nixon presidency.33

The change also contributed to the chaos and violence at the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968. Army intelligence surveillance agents, seconded to the Secret Service, were present both inside and outside the convention hall. Some of them equipped the so-called "Legion of Justice thugs whom the Chicago Red Squad turned loose on local anti-war groups."34

In this way the extra secret powers conferred after the RFK assassination contributed to the disastrous turmoil in Chicago that effectively destroyed the old Democratic Party representing the labor unions: The three Democratic presidents elected since then have all been significantly more conservative.

Turning to Watergate and Iran-Contra, both of these events were on one level setbacks to the repressive powers exercised by Richard Nixon and the Reagan White House, not expansions of them. On the surface level this is true: both events resulted in legislative reforms that would appear to contradict my thesis of expanding repression.

We need to distinguish here, however, between the two years of the Watergate crisis, and the initial Watergate break-in. The Watergate crisis saw a president forced into resignation by a number of forces, involving both liberals and conservatives. But the key figures in the initial Watergate break-in itself – Hunt, McCord, G. Gordon Liddy, and their Cuban allies -- were all far to the right of Nixon and Kissinger. And the end result of their machinations was not finalized until the so-called Halloween Massacre in 1975, when Kissinger was ousted as National Security Adviser and Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller was notified he would be dropped from the 1976 Republican ticket. This major shake-up was engineered by two other right-wingers: Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney in the Gerald Ford White House.35

That day in 1975 saw the permanent defeat of the so-called Rockefeller or liberal faction within the Republican Party. It was replaced by the conservative Goldwater-Casey faction that would soon capture the nomination and the presidency for Ronald Reagan.36 This little-noticed palace coup, along with other related intrigues in the mid-1970s, helped achieve the conversion of America from a welfare capitalist economy, with gradual reductions in income and wealth disparity, into a financialized plutonomy where these trends were reversed.37

Again in Iran-Contra we see a deeper accumulation of repressive power under the surface of liberal reforms. At the time not only the press but even academics like myself celebrated the termination of aid to the Nicaraguan Contras, and the victory there of the Contadora peace process. Not generally noticed at the time was the fact that, while Oliver North was removed from his role in the Doomsday Project, that project's plans for surveillance, detention, and the militarization of the United States continued to grow after his departure.38

Also not noticed was the fact that the US Congress, while curtailing aid to one small drug-financed CIA proxy army, was simultaneously increasing US support to a much larger coalition of drug-financed proxy armies in Afghanistan.39 While Iran-Contra exposed the $32 million which Saudi Arabia, at the urging of CIA Director William Casey, had supplied to the Contras, not a word was whispered about the $500 million or more that the Saudis, again at the urging of Casey, had supplied in the same period to the Afghan mujahedin.40 In this sense the drama of Iran-Contra in Congress can be thought of as a misdirection play, directing public attention away from America's much more intensive engagement in Afghanistan – a covert policy that has since evolved into America's longest war.

We should expand our consciousness of Iran-Contra to think of it as Iran-Afghan-Contra. And if we do, we must acknowledge that in this complex and misunderstood deep event the CIA in Afghanistan exercised again the paramilitary capacity that Stansfield Turner had tried to terminate when he was CIA Director under Jimmy Carter. This was a victory in short for the faction of men like Richard Blee, the protector of al-Mihdhar as well as the advocate in 2000 for enhanced CIA paramilitary activity in Afghanistan.41

Personnel Overlaps Between the Successive Deep Events

I will never forget the New York Times front-page story on June 18, 1972, the day after the Watergate break-in. There were photographs of the Watergate burglars, including one of Frank Sturgis alias Fiorini, whom I had already written about two years earlier in my unpublished book manuscript, "The Dallas Conspiracy" about the JFK assassination.

Sturgis was no nonentity: a former contract employee of the CIA, he was also well connected to the mob-linked former casino owners in Havana.42 My early writings on the Kennedy case focused on the connections between Frank Sturgis and an anti-Castro Cuban training camp near New Orleans in which Oswald had shown an interest; also in Sturgis' involvement in false "phase-one" stories portraying Oswald as part of a Communist Cuban conspiracy.43

In spreading these "phase-one" stories in 1963, Sturgis was joined by a number of Cubans who were part of the CIA-supported army in Central America of Manuel Artime. Artime's base in Costa Rica was closed down in 1965, allegedly because of its involvement in drug trafficking.44 In the 1980s some of these Cuban exiles later became involved in drug-financed support activities for the Contras.45

The political mentor of Artime's MRR movement was future Watergate plotter Howard Hunt; and Artime in 1972 would pay for the bail of the Cuban Watergate burglars. The drug money-launderer Ramón Milián Rodríguez has claimed to have delivered $200,000 in cash from Artime to pay off some of the Cuban Watergate burglars; later, in support of the Contras, he managed two Costa Rican seafood companies, Frigorificos and Ocean Hunter, that laundered drug money.46

It is alleged that Hunt and McCord had both been involved with Artime's invasion plans in 1963.47 It was I believe no accident that the organization of Hunt's protégé Artime became enmired in drug trafficking. Hunt, I have argued elsewhere, had been handling a U.S. drug connection since his 1950 post in Mexico City as OPC (Office of Policy Coordination) chief.48 

But McCord not only had a past in the anti-Castro activities of 1963, he was also part of the nation's emergency planning network that would later figure so prominently in the background of Iran-Contra and 9/11. McCord was a member of a small Air Force Reserve unit in Washington attached to the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP); assigned "to draw up lists of radicals and to develop contingency plans for censorship of the news media and U.S. mail in time of war."49 His unit was part of the Wartime Information Security Program (WISP), which had responsibility for activating "contingency plans for imposing censorship on the press, the mails and all telecommunications (including government communications) [and] preventive detention of civilian 'security risks,' who would be placed in military 'camps.'"50 In other words, these were the plans that became known in the 1980s as the Doomsday Project, the Continuity of Government planning on which Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld worked together for twenty years before 9/11.

A Common Denominator for Structural Deep Events: Project Doomsday and COG

McCord's participation in an emergency planning system dealing with telecommunications suggests a common denominator in the backgrounds of almost all the deep events we are considering. Oliver North, the Reagan-Bush OEP point man on Iran-Contra planning, was also involved in such planning; and he had access to the nation's top secret Doomsday communications network. North's network, known as Flashboard,  "excluded other bureaucrats with opposing viewpoints…[and] had its own special worldwide antiterrorist computer network, … by which members could communicate exclusively with each other and their collaborators abroad."51

Flashboard was used by North and his superiors for extremely sensitive operations which had to be concealed from other dubious or hostile parts of the Washington bureaucracy. These operations included the illegal shipments of arms to Iran, but also other activities, some still not known, perhaps even against Olof Palme's Sweden.52 Flashboard, America's emergency network in the 1980s, was the name in 1984-86 of the full-fledged Continuity of Government (COG) emergency network which was secretly planned for twenty years, at a cost of billions, by a team including Cheney and Rumsfeld. On 9/11 the same network was activated anew by the two men who had planned it for so many years.53

But this Doomsday planning can be traced back to 1963, when Jack Crichton, head of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit of Dallas, was part of it in his capacity as chief of intelligence for Dallas Civil Defense, which worked out of an underground Emergency Operating Center. As Russ Baker reports, "Because it was intended for 'continuity of government' operations during an attack, [the Center] was fully equipped with communications equipment."54 A speech given at the dedication of the Center in 1961 supplies further details:

This Emergency Operating Center [in Dallas] is part of the National Plan to link Federal, State and local government agencies in a communications network from which rescue operations can be directed in time of local or National emergency. It is a vital part of the National, State, and local Operational Survival Plan.55

Crichton, in other words, was also part of what became known in the 1980s as the Doomsday Project, like James McCord, Oliver North, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney after him. But in 1988 its aim was significantly enlarged: no longer to prepare for an atomic attack, but now to plan for the effective suspension of the American constitution in the face of any emergency.56 This change in 1988 allowed COG to be implemented in 2001. By this time the Doomsday Project had developed into what the Washington Post called "a shadow government that evolved based on long-standing 'continuity of operations plans.'"57

It is clear that the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP, known from 1961-1968 as the Office of Emergency Planning) supplies a common denominator for key personnel in virtually all of the structural events discussed here. This is a long way from establishing that the OEP itself (in addition to the individuals discussed here) was involved in generating any of these events. But I believe that the alternative communications network housed first in the OEP (later part of Project 908) played a significant role in at least three of them: the JFK assassination, Iran-Contra, and 9/11.

This is easiest to show in the case of 9/11, where it is conceded that the Continuity of Government (COG) plans of the Doomsday Project were implemented by Cheney on 9/11, apparently before the last of the four hijacked planes had crashed.58 The 9/11 Commission could not locate records of the key decisions taken by Cheney on that day, suggesting that they may have taken place on the "secure phone " in the tunnel leading to the presidential bunker – with such a high classification that the 9/11 Commission was never supplied the phone records.59 Presumably this was a COG phone.

It is not clear whether the "secure phone" in the White House tunnel belonged to the Secret Service or (as one might expect) was part of the secure network of the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). If the latter, we'd have a striking link between 9/11 and the JFK assassination. The WHCA boasts on its Web site that the agency was "a key player in documenting the assassination of President Kennedy."60  However it is not clear for whom this documentation was conducted, for the WHCA logs and transcripts were in fact withheld from the Warren Commission.61

The Secret Service had installed a WHCA portable radio in the lead car of the presidential motorcade.62 This in turn was in contact by police radio with the pilot car ahead of it, carrying DPD Deputy Chief Lumpkin of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit.63 Records of the WHCA communications from the motorcade never reached the Warren Commission, the House Committee on Assassinations, or the Assassination Records Review Board.64 Thus we cannot tell if they would explain some of the anomalies on the two channels of the Dallas Police Department. They might for example have thrown light upon the unsourced call on the Dallas Police tapes for a suspect who had exactly the false height and weight recorded for Oswald in his FBI and CIA files.65

Today in 2011 we are still living under the State of Emergency proclaimed after 9/11 by President Bush. At least some COG provisions are still in effect, and were even augmented by Bush through Presidential Directive 51 of May 2007. Commenting on PD-51, the Washington Post reported at that time,

After the 2001 attacks, Bush assigned about 100 senior civilian managers [including Cheney] to rotate secretly to [COG] locations outside of Washington for weeks or months at a time to ensure the nation's survival, a shadow government that evolved based on long-standing "continuity of operations plans."66

Presumably this "shadow government" finalized such long-standing COG projects as warrantless surveillance, in part through the Patriot Act, whose controversial provisions were already being implemented by Cheney and others well before the Bill reached Congress on October 12.67 Other COG projects implemented included the militarization of domestic surveillance under NORTHCOM, and the Department of Homeland Security's Project Endgame—a ten-year plan to expand detention camps at a cost of $400 million in fiscal year 2007 alone.68

I have, therefore, a recommendation for the Occupy movement, rightfully incensed as it is with the plutonomic excesses of Wall Street over the last three decades. It is to call for an end to the state of emergency, which has been in force since 2001, under which since 2008 a U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team has been stationed permanently in the United States, in part to be ready "to help with civil unrest and crowd control."69

Democracy-lovers must work to prevent the political crisis now developing in America from being resolved by military intervention.

Let me say in conclusion that for a half century American politics have been constrained and deformed by the unresolved matter of the Kennedy assassination. According to a memo of November 25 1963, from Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, it was important then to persuade the public that "Oswald was the assassin," and that "he did not have confederates."70 Obviously this priority became even more important after these questionable propositions were endorsed by the Warren Report, the U.S. establishment, and the mainstream press. It has remained an embarrassing priority ever since for all succeeding administrations, including the present one. There is for example an official in Obama's State Department (Todd Leventhal), whose official job, until recently, included defense of the lone nut theory against so-called "conspiracy theorists"71

If Oswald was not a lone assassin, then it should not surprise us that there is continuity between those who falsified reports about Oswald in 1963, and those who distorted American politics in subsequent deep events beginning with Watergate. Since the deep event of 1963 the legitimacy of America's political system has become vested in a lie -- a lie which subsequent deep events have helped to protect.72


Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here  

Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, 'The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 47 No 2, November 21, 2011.

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Site R, Raven Rock Complex - Many of the facility's activities are classified, and distribution of most unclassified information about the facility is discouraged by the government. Colloquially, the facility is known as an "underground Pentagon"
E-4, EC-135, and E-6 are all airborne command centers.Air Force One is the term for any USAF plane the President of the United States travels on. However, the term normally refers to a Boeing VC-25A the President normally uses. While the VC-25A is equipped with numerous systems to ensure its survival, in an emergency, it would be recommended that he use the National Airborne Operations Center, a Boeing E-4 specially built to serve as a survivable mobile command post.
The E-6A was renamed Mercury in Autumn 1991 by request of the US Navy.[2] Sixteen were delivered up to 1992.


1 Tim Weiner, "The Pentagon's Secret Stash," Mother Jones Magazine Mar-Apr 1992, 26.

2 J.A. Myerson "War Is a Force That Pays the 1 Percent: Occupying American Foreign Policy," Truthout, November 14, 2001, link. Cf. Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 6, etc.

3 Scott, Road to 9/11, 22, 29, 98.

4 Scott, Road to 9/11, 22, 97.

5 Scott, Road to 9/11, 21, 51-52; Kristol as quoted in Lewis H. Lapham, "Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, a Brief History," Harper's Magazine, September 2004, 36.

6 E.g. Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 204-05.

7 Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy, 354.

8 Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics II, 30-33; Scott, The War Conspiracy, 387; Scott, American War Machine, 152.

9 Clarence M. Kelley, Kelley: The Story of an FBI Director (Kansas City, MO:

Andrews, McMeel, and Parker, 1987), 268, quoted in Scott, The War Conspiracy (2008), 389.

10 Scott, Deep Politics, 275; Scott, Deep Politics II, 80, 129n; HSCA Critics Conference of 17 September 1977, 181, link. Stringfellow worked under Jack Revill in the Vice Squad of the DPD Special Services Bureau. As such he reported regularly to the FBI on such close Jack Ruby associates as James Herbert Dolan, a "known hoodlum and strong-arm man" on the FBI's Top Criminal list for Dallas (Robert M. Barrett, FBI Report of February 2, 1963, NARA#124-90038-10026, 12 [Stringfellow]; cf. NARA#124-10212-10012, 4 [hoodlum], NARA#124-10195-10305, 9 [Top Criminal]). Cf. 14 WH 601-02 Ruby and Dolan]. Robert Barrett, who received Stringfellow's reports to the FBI, had Ruby's friend Dolan under close surveillance; he also took part in Oswald's arrest at the Texas Theater, and claimed to have seen DPD Officer Westbrook with Oswald's wallet at the site of the Tippit killing [Dale K. Myers, With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit (Milford, MI: Oak Cliff Press, 1998), 287-90]).

11 It was sent for information to Washington, which received it three days later (Scott, Deep Politics, 275; Scott, Deep Politics II, 80, 129n; Scott, War Conspiracy, 382).

12 Warren Commission Exhibit 1778, 23 WH 383. (Marina's actual words, before mistranslation, were quite innocuous: "I cannot describe it [the gun] because a rifle to me like all rifles" (Warren Commission Exhibit 1778, 23 WH 383; discussion in Scott, Deep Politics, 168-72).

13 Stringfellow himself was the source of one other piece of false intelligence on November 22: that Oswald had confessed to the murders of both the president and Officer Tippit (Dallas FBI File DL 89-43-2381C; Paul L. Hoch, "The Final Investigation? The HSCA and Army Intelligence," The Third Decade, 1, 5 [July 1985], 3),

14 9 WH 106; Scott, Deep Politics, 275-76; Russ Baker, Family of Secrets, 119-22.

15 Rodney P. Carlisle and Dominic J. Monetta, Brandy: Our Man in Acapulco (Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 1999), 128.

16 Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II)," Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1 May 1963, NARA #202-10002-10018, 12. Cf. pp. 15-16: "The United States should intervene militarily in Cuba and could (a) engineer provocative incidents ostensibly perpetrated by the Castro regime to serve as the cause of invasion…"

17 Robert Dallek, An Unfinished Life, 568; James A. Nathan, The Cuban missile crisis revisited, 283; Waldron and Hartmann, Legacy of Secrecy, 9.

[18 Joint Chiefs of Staff, "Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II)," Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1 May 1963, NARA #202-10002-10018, 12.

19 "Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II)," NARA #202-10002-10018, 20. I see nothing in this document indicating that the President should be notified that these "fabricated provocations" were false. On the contrary, the document called for "compartmentation of participants" to insure that the true facts were not leaked ("Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II)," NARA #202-10002-10018, 19).

20 Quoted in Baker, Family of Secrets, 122. One of these, DPD Detective John Adamcik, was a member of the party which retrieved a blanket said to have contained Oswald's rifle; and which the Warren Commission used to link Oswald to the famous Mannlicher Carcano. Adamcik was later present at Mamantov's interview of Marina about the rifle, and corroborated Mamantov's account of it to the Warren Commission. There is reason to believe that Mamantov's translation of Marina's testimony was inaccurate (Scott, Deep Politics, 268-70, 276).

21 See James Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2008).

22 9/11 Commission Report, 259, 271; Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower:

Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 352–54 (FBI agent).

23 James Bamford, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies (New York: Doubleday, 2004, 224. For a fuller account of the CIA's withholding before 9/11, see Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots; Rory O'Connor and Ray Nowosielski, "Insiders Voice Doubts about CIA's 9/11 Story," Salon, October 14, 2011, link.

24 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 7-12, 142-47, etc.

25 Scott, American War Machine, 203.

26 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 371, cf. 95. Quite independently, Richard Clarke, the former White House Counterterrorism Chief on 9/11, has charged that "There was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share information" (Rory O'Connor and Ray Nowosielski, "Insiders Voice Doubts about CIA's 9/11 Story," Salon, October 14, 2011).

27 Coll, 467-69.

28 Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots, 107-08.

29 James Bamford, Body of Secrets, 201. Cf. Fredrik Logevall, Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 200, citing John Prados, The Hidden History of the Vietnam War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1995), 51.

30 "Courses of Action Related to Cuba (Case II)," Report of the J-5 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 1, 1963, JCS 2304/189, NARA #202-10002-10018, link.

31 Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 280.

32 Public Law 90-331 (18 U.S.C. 3056); discussion in Peter Dale Scott, Paul L.

Hoch, and Russell Stetler, The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond (New York: Random

House, 1976), 443–46.

33 Army intelligence agents were seconded to the Secret Service, and at this time there was a great increase in their number. The Washington Star later explained that "the big build-up in [Army] information gathering…did not come until after the shooting of the Rev. Martin Luther King" (Washington Star, December 6, 1970; reprinted in Federal Data Banks Hearings, p. 1728).

34 George O'Toole, The Private Sector (New York: Norton, 1978), 145, quoted in

Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 278–79.

35 Scott, Road to 9/11, 52-53.

36 Scott, Road to 9/11, 53-54.

37 Scott, Road to 9/11, 50-64.

38 Peter Dale Scott, "Northwards without North," Social Justice (Summer 1989). Revised as "North, Iran-Contra, and the Doomsday Project: The Original Congressional Cover Up of Continuity-of-Government Planning," Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, February 21, 2011.

39 Scott, Road to 9/11, 132.

40 Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter, The Iran-Contra Connection, 13 (Contras); Richard Coll, Ghost Wars, 93-102 (mujahedin).

41 Richard Coll, Ghost Wars, 457-59, 534-36,

42 According to testimony from CIA Deputy Director Vernon Walters, only "Hunt and McCord had ever been CIA full-time employees. The others [including Sturgis] were contract employees for a short duration or a longer duration" (Watergate Hearings, 3427). Cf. Marshall, Scott, and  Hunter, The Iran-Contra Connection, 45 (casino owners).

43 Peter Dale Scott, "From Dallas to Watergate," Ramparts, December 1973; reprinted in Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch, and Russell Stetler, The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond, 356, 363.

44 Peter Dale Scott, Crime and Cover-Up, 20.

45 Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 25-32, etc.

46 Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press  (London: Verso, 1998), 308-09; Martha Honey, Hostile Acts: U.S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1994), 368 (Frigorificos).

47 Tad Szulc, Compulsive Spy: The Strange Career of E. Howard Hunt (New York: Viking, 1974), 96-97.

48 Scott, American War Machine, 51-54. Hunt helped put together what became the drug-linked World Anti-Communist League. Artime's Costa Rica base was on land whose owners were part of the local WACL chapter (Scott and Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 87, 220).

49 Woodward and Bernstein, All the President's Men (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974), 23

50 Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda (New York: Random House, 1984), 16, citing Department of Defense Directive 5230.7, June 25, 1965, amended May 21, 1971.

51 Peter Dale Scott, "North, Iran-Contra, and the Doomsday Project: The Original Congressional Cover Up of Continuity-of-Government Planning," Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, February 21, 2011. Cf. Peter Dale Scott, "Northwards Without North: Bush, Counterterrorism, and the Continuation of Secret Power." Social Justice (San Francisco), XVI, 2 (Summer 1989), 1-30; Peter Dale Scott, "The Terrorism Task Force." Covert Action Information Bulletin, 33 (Winter 1990), 12-15.

52 Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 140-41, 242 (Iran, etc.); Ola Tunander, The secret war against Sweden: US and British submarine deception in the 1980s, 309 (Sweden).

53 Scott, Road to 9/11, 183-87.

54 Russ Baker, Family of Secrets, 121.

55 "Statement by Col. John W. Mayo, Chairman of City-County Civil Defense and Disaster Commission at the Dedication of the Emergency Operating Center at Fair Park," May 24, 1961, link.

Six linear inches of Civil Defense Administrative Files are preserved in the Dallas Municipal Archives; a Finding Guide is viewable online here.  I hope an interested researcher may wish to consult them.

56 Scott, Road to 9/11, 183-87.

57 Washington Post, May 10, 2007.

58 9/11 Report, 38, 326, 555n9; Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America, 224.

59 Scott, Road to 9/11, 226-30. A footnote in the 9/11 Report (555n9) says:

"The 9/11 crisis tested the U.S. government's plans and capabilities to ensure the continuity of constitutional government and the continuity of government operations. We did not investigate this topic, except as needed to understand the activities and communications of key officials on 9/11. The Chair, Vice Chair, and senior staff were briefed on the general nature and implementation of these continuity plans."

The other footnotes confirm that no information from COG files was used to document the 9/11 report. At a minimum these files might resolve the mystery of the missing phone call which simultaneously authorized COG, and (in consequence) determined that Bush should continue to stay out of Washington. I suspect that they might tell us a great deal more.

60 "White House Communications Agency," Signal Corps Regimental History, link.

61 The Warren Commission staff knew of the WHCA presence in Dallas from the Secret Service (17 WH 598, 619, 630, etc.).

62 Statement of Secret Service official Winston Lawson, 17 WH 630 (WHCA radio).

63 Pamela McElwain-Brown, "The Presidential Lincoln Continental SS-100-X," Dealey Plaza Echo, Volume 3, Issue 2, 23, link (police radio); Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 272-75 (Lumpkin).

64 In the 1990s the WHCA supplied statements to the ARRB concerning communications between Dallas and Washington on November 22 (NARA #172-10001-10002 to NARA #172-10000-10008).  The Assassination Records Review Board also attempted to obtain from the WHCA the unedited original tapes of conversations from Air Force One on the return trip from Dallas, November 22, 1963. (Edited and condensed versions of these tapes had been available since the 1970s from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin, Texas.) The attempt was unsuccessful: "The Review Board's repeated written and oral inquiries of the White House Communications Agency did not bear fruit. The WHCA could not produce any records that illuminated the provenance of the edited tapes." See Assassinations Records Review Board: Final Report, chapter 6, Part 1, 116, link. In November 2011 AP reported that Gen. Chester Clifton's personal copy of the Air Force One recordings was being put up for sale, with an asking price of $500,000 (AP, November 15, 2011, link).

65 See Scott, War Conspiracy (2008), 347-48, 385-87.

66 Washington Post, May 10, 2007.

67 Dick Cheney, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (New York: Threshold Editions, 2011), 348: "One of the first efforts we undertook after 9/11 to strengthen the country's defenses was securing passage of the Patriot Act, which the president signed into law on [sic] October 2001." Cf. "The Patriot Act, which the president signed into law on October 2001,″ link; "Questions and Answers about Beginning of Domestic Spying Program; link.

68 Scott, Road to 9/11, 236-45; Peter Dale Scott, "Is the State of Emergency Superseding our Constitution? Continuity of Government Planning, War and American Society," November 28, 2010, http:/1/

69 "Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1," Army Times, September 30, 2008, link. As part of the Army's emergency plan GARDEN PLOT in the 1960s, there were until 1971 two brigades (4,800 troops) on permanent standby to quell unrest.

70 "Memorandum for Mr. Moyers" of November 25, 1963, FBI 62-109060, Section 18, p. 29, link. Cf. Nicholas Katzenbach, Some of It Was Fun (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008), 131-36.

71 Leventhal's official title is (or was) "Chief of the Counter-Misinformation Team, U.S. Department of State" (link). In 2010 the U.S. State Department "launched an official bid to shoot down conspiracy theories….The "Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation" page… insists that Lee Harvey Oswald killed John F Kennedy alone, and that the Pentagon was not hit by a cruise missile on 9/11" Daily Record [Scotland], August 2, 2010, (link). The site still exists here, ("Conspiracy theories exist in the realm of myth, where imaginations run wild, fears trump facts, and evidence is ignored.") The site still attacks 9/11 theories, but a page on the Kennedy assassination has been suspended (link). Cf. Robin Ramsay, "Government vs Conspiracy Theorists: The official war on "sick think," Fortean Times, April 2010, link; "The State Department vs 'Sick Think'

The JFK assassination, 9/11, and the Tory MP spiked with LSD," Fortean Times, July 2010, link; William Kelly, "Todd Leventhal: The Minister of Diz at Dealey Plaza," CTKA, 2010, link.

72 For Nixon's sensitivity concerning the Kennedy assassination, and the way this induced him into some of the intrigues known collectively as Watergate, see e.g. Scott, Hoch, and Stetler, The Assassinations, 374-78; Peter Dale Scott, Crime and Cover-up (Santa Barbara, CA: Open Archive Press, 1993), 33, 64-66.

As author Michael Lind has observed, there have for a long time been two prevailing and different political cultures in America, underlying political differences in the American public, and even dividing different sectors of the American government.  One culture is predominantly egalitarian and democratic, working for the legal consolidation of human rights both at home and abroad. The other, less recognized but with deep historical roots, prioritizes and teaches the use of repressive violence against both domestic and Third World populations to maintain "order."

To some extent these two mindsets are found in all societies. They correspond to two opposing modes of power and governance that were defined by Hannah Arendt as "persuasion through arguments" versus "coercion by force." Arendt, following Thucydides, traced these to the common Greek way of handling domestic affairs, which was persuasion (πείθειν) as well as the common way of handling foreign affairs, which was force and violence (βία)."

Hannah Arendt

Writing amid the protests and riots of the 1960s, Arendt feared that traditional authority was at risk, threatened (in her eyes) by the contemporary "loss of tradition and of religion." A half century later, I would argue that a far greater danger to social equilibrium comes now from those on the right who invoke authority in the name of tradition and religion. With America's huge expansion into the enterprise of covertly dominating and exploiting the rest of the world, the open processes of persuasion, which have been America's traditional ideal for handling domestic affairs, have increasingly tilted towards top-down violence.

This tilt towards violent or repressive power is defended rhetorically as a means to preserve social stability, but in fact it threatens it. As Kevin Phillips and others have demonstrated, empires built on violent or repressive power tend to rise and then fall, often with surprising rapidity.  Underlying the discussion in this essay is the thesis that repressive power is unstable, creating dialectical forces both within and outside its system. Externally, repressive power helps create its own enemies, as happened with Britain (in India), France (in Indochina) and the Netherlands (in Indonesia).

The Socio-dynamics of Repressive Power in Large-scale Societies

But more dangerous and destabilizing has been the conversion of those empires themselves, into hubristic mechanisms of war. The fall of Periclean Athens, which inspired Thucydides' reflections, is a case in point. Thucydides described how Athens was undone by the overreaching greed (pleonexia) of its unnecessary Sicilian expedition, a folly presaging America's follies in Vietnam and Iraq. Thucydides attributed the rise of this folly in the rapid change in Athens after the death of Pericles, and in particular to the rise of a rapacious oligarchy.  Paul Kennedy, Kevin Phillips, and Chalmers Johnson have described the recreation of this process in the Roman, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and British empires.  Its recurrence again in recent American history corroborates that there is a self-propelling dynamic of power that becomes repressive.

We are conditioned to think that the open institutions of American governance could not possibly provide a milieu for plots like 9/11 against public order. But since World War Two covert U.S. agencies like the CIA have helped create an alternative world where power is exercised with minimal oversight, often at odds with public agencies' proclaimed policy objectives of law and order, and often in conjunction with lawless and even criminal foreign and domestic elements.

The expansion of this covert world has occurred principally in Asia. There covert U.S. decisions were made to build up drug-financed armies in Burma, Thailand, and Laos, in a series of aggressive actions that by the 1960s involved America in a hot Indochina War. This war, like the related wars that ensued later in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, was initiated by America for a mix of geostrategic and economic reasons, above all the desire to establish a dominant U.S. presence an important region of petroleum reserves.

Air America at Sam Thong, Laos, 1961

The country most deeply affected by the succession of Asian Wars has been America itself. Its expansive forces, backed by powerful interest groups, are now out of control, as our managers, like other empire managers before them, have "come to believe that there is nowhere within their domain – in our case, nowhere on earth – in which their presence is not crucial."7

To illustrate this, loss of control, let us look for a moment at a milieu which I believe to have been an important factor in all of America's major domestic deep events: the CIA's ongoing interactions with the global drug connection.

Unaccountable Power: The CIA and the Return of the Global Drug Connection

Since World War Two the CIA has made systematic use of drug trafficking forces to increase its covert influence -- first in Thailand and Burma, then in Laos and Vietnam, and most recently in Afghanistan.8 With America's expansion overseas, we have seen more and more covert programs and agencies, all using drug traffickers to different and opposing ends.

In 2004 Time and USA Today ran major stories about two of the chief Afghan drug traffickers, Haji Juma Khan and Haji Bashir Noorzai, alleging that each was supporting al-Qaeda, and that Khan in particular "has helped al-Qaeda establish a smuggling network that is peddling Afghan heroin to buyers across the Middle East, Asia and Europe."9 Later it was revealed that both traffickers were simultaneously CIA assets, and that Khan in particular was "paid a large amount of cash by the United States," even while he was reportedly helping al-Qaeda to establish smuggling networks.10

There is no longer anything surprising in the news that large U.S. payments were made to a drug trafficker who was himself funding the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The arrangement is no more bizarre than the CIA's performance during the U.S. "war on drugs" in Venezuela in the 1990s, when the CIA first set up an anti-drug unit in Venezuela, and then helped its chief, Gen. Ramon Guillén Davila, smuggle at least one ton of pure cocaine into Miami International Airport.11

It would be easy to conclude from these reports that the CIA and Pentagon intentionally use drugs to help finance the enemy networks that justify their overseas operations. Yet I doubt that such a cynical Machiavellian objective is ever consciously voiced by those responsible in Washington.

More likely, it is an inevitable consequence of the U.S. repressive style of conducting covert operations. Great emphasis is put on recruiting covert assets; and in unstable areas with weak governance, drug traffickers with their own ample funds and repressive networks are the most obvious candidates for recruitment by the CIA. The traffickers in turn are happy to become U.S. assets, because this status affords them at least a temporary immunity from U.S. prosecution.12

In a nutshell: I am describing a development that is not so much intentional, as a consequence of repressive dynamics. A related example would be the CIA's recurring use of double agents, again for the reason just suggested. In the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, the chief planner was a double agent, Ali Mohammed, who surveyed the Embassy and reported to Osama bin Laden in 1993, just months after the FBI had ordered the Canadian RCMP to release him from detention.13 In the Mumbai terrorist attack of 2008, the scene was initially surveyed for the attackers by a DEA double agent, David Headley (alias Daood Sayed Gilani) whom "U.S. authorities sent … to work for them in Pakistan…despite a warning that he sympathized with radical Islamic groups."14

David Headley in court

The central point is that expansion beyond a nation's borders engenders a pattern of repressive power with predictable results -- results that transcend the conscious intentions of anyone within that repressive power system. Newly formed and ill-supervised agencies spawn contradictory policies abroad, the net effect of which is usually both expansive and deleterious – not just to the targeted nation but also to America.

This is especially true of covert agencies, whose practice of secrecy means that controversial policies proliferate without either coordination or review. Asia in particular has been since 1945 the chief area where the CIA has ignored or overridden the policy directives of the State Department. As I document in American War Machine, CIA interventions in Asia, especially those that escalated into the Laotian, Vietnam, and Afghan wars, fostered an ongoing global CIA drug connection, or what I have called elsewhere a dark quadrant of unaccountable power.

This drug connection, richly endowed with huge resources and its own resources of illegal violence, has a major stake in both American interventions and above all unwinnable wars to aggravate the conditions of regional lawlessness that are needed for drug trafficking. Thus it makes perfect sense that the global drug connection has, as I believe, been an ongoing factor in the creation of an overseas American empire that most U.S. citizens never asked for. More specifically, the dark quadrant has contributed to all the major deep events – including Dallas, Watergate, and 9/11, that have helped militarize America and overshadow its public institutions.

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