View Full Version : Bush's Plan For "Catastrophic Emergency"

07-30-2007, 08:54 AM
Bush's plan for 'catastrophic emergency'


Stewart M. Powell
Hearst newspapers
Web Posted: 07/30/2007 12:54 AM CDT

WASHINGTON — "A blueprint for instituting martial law in the United States."

"Sounds like something out of Star Wars."

"The old blue bloods have taken over."

These are just a few of the claims being bandied about by bloggers on the Internet and radio talk-show hosts alarmed by President Bush's plan for the federal government's survival in the aftermath of a catastrophic attack or natural disaster.

The plan, embodied in National Security Presidential Directive 51, was issued without fanfare by Bush on May 9. It draws upon blueprints prepared by past administrations stretching back to the Truman administration. The latest directive underscores long-standing presidential authority to declare a "catastrophic emergency" and coordinate "enduring constitutional government."

But it also awards the president broader authority to take over disaster recovery from state officials and calls on federal authorities to provide "appropriate support" to the vice president to orchestrate any post-attack recovery, if necessary.

Bush says the new plan for dealing with a catastrophic emergency would "enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency."

The president has ordered White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend to develop details for the plan by Aug. 10. But the general outline of the plan already has stirred heated reactions across the political spectrum.

Michael Harrison, editor of Talkers Magazine, which serves many of the nation's estimated 5,000 radio and television talk show hosts, says progressive radio hosts claim Bush "might just create a disaster to grab more power — that's how far it goes."

Conservatives, on the other hand, "have distanced themselves from Bush for all his wrong calls, mistakes and incompetence and they see this directive handing Bush's critics yet another weapon," Harrison added.

One congressman, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, complains that the White House has rejected his request to review secret parts of the Bush plan.

"Maybe people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right," DeFazio speculates. "I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack."

He asked for the plan's details after constituents raised concerns about the scope of Bush's directive.

The controversy evokes different assessments by experts on national security law.

Some say Bush is on solid ground overhauling the nation's Cold War-era preparations to deal with the post-9-11 possibility of an al-Qaida attack using explosives, a dirty radiological bomb or a purloined nuclear weapon.

"The president is obviously going to be the quarterback if we get hit," says Robert Turner, associate director of University of Virginia law school's center for national security law. "I don't see any effort by the White House to seize legislative or judicial powers — and I've looked very carefully."

The independent, nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has concluded that Bush's directive merely "updates long-standing continuity policy" in order to assure that parts of government "are able to recover from a wide range of potential operational interruptions."

Others have a different take.

Richard Blau, a lawyer in Tampa, Fla., a member of the advisory committee of the American Bar Association's committee on law and national security, says there may be "nothing sinister" about the Bush plan.

But Blau says he's concerned about provisions that could enable a president to brush aside state objections to impose federal control in a disaster.

"It's ironic that an administration and a Republican party that are suspicious of big government would be advancing this particular directive," Blau says.

"There are people who suggest — some quite irrationally and others very dispassionately — that this is a power grab and that the administration is gearing up, spending money and getting ready for the right moment to take over."

07-30-2007, 07:05 PM
At first I thought, "why is he bothering? He's out of their in 18 months or so..." Then it dawned on me that since they pretty much steal elections and put whoever "they" want in there, it's merely a matter of setting it up for the next one...