All it will take is one incident. A terrorist attack on a major city. A tornado wiping out some coastline. Just one incident. And we will be living in an entirely different world.
When the documents “National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51” and “Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20” were released, it gave President George W. Bush responsibility “for ensuring constitutional government” in the case of catastrophic attack.
“It defines a ‘catastrophic emergency’ as ‘any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function,’ ” wrote Matthew Rothschild for The Progressive.
Among the efforts coordinated by the President would ensuring the capability of the three branches of government to “provide for orderly succession” and “appropriate transition of leadership.”
The document designates a National Continuity Coordinator, who would be the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
Currently holding that post is Frances Fragos Townsend.
She is required to develop a National Continuity Implementation Plan and submit it within 90 days.
As part of that plan, she is not only to devise procedures for the Executive Branch but also give guidance to “state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure.”
The secretary of Homeland Security is also directed to develop planning guidance for “private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators,” as well as state, local, territorial, and tribal governments.
“I guess the obvious question here is why this directive is necessary if the president doesn’t intend to usurp real power from the other two branches of government, because it certainly sounds like what’s being suggested is a coup that keeps a pretty façade of constitutional government,” wrote Melissa McEwan on the subject.
One incident. Look how the U.S. has changed fundamentally since 9/11. We are a nation that treats the Constitution with scorn, despises rule of law, spies on its citizens, condones torture and denies habeas corpus, among other things.
Our leaders quickly ushered in clamps on civil liberties and geared up the war machine for their own purposes as the dust from 9/11 was still settling. More than five years later, with a failure of historical proportions going on in Iraq, President Bush looked at the American public and again invoked 9/11. And again. And again. After gaining the war funding he wanted from an impotent Congress, the President looked at the nation and told them to be afraid.
And nearly six years after the fact, the Patriot Act still remains. And we’re still being spied on. And they have more plans on deck for the next attack.
Just one incident and it all changes even more. Shout “panic” if you will, but there’s nothing panicky about looking to history as a guide. The U.S. is a fundamentally changed nation since 9/11. And they have plans to change it even more, and now have experience in slamming through their agenda while the public remains agog. It will just take one incident.
Crossposted at Williamkwolfrum.com