*** How about that Pentagon plan for martial law?
- Jerry Mazza

Of course, few are putting it that way. But in an August 8, 2005,
Washington Post article, its author Bradley Graham headlined it this
way: "War Plans Drafted To Counter Terror Attacks in U.S. Domestic
Effort is Big Shift for Military." What a flair for understatement.

Datelined from Colorado Springs, the Evangelical Christian, Northern
Command headquarters, Graham writes, "The U.S. Military has devised
its first-ever war plans for guarding against and responding to
terrorist attacks in the United States, envisioning 15 potential
crisis scenarios and anticipating several simultaneous strikes
around the country, according to officers who drafted the plans."
Well thanks, fellas, for the effort, but it's been nearly four years
since 9/11.

Nevertheless, "the classified plans. . . outline a variety of
possible roles for quick-reaction forces estimated at as many as
3,000 ground troops per attack, a number that could easily grow
depending on the extent of the damage and the abilities of civilian
response teams." Huh? When, where, who?

And "the possible scenarios range from 'low end,' relatively modest
crowd-control missions to 'high-end,' full-scale [and/or multiple]
disaster management after catastrophic attacks such as the release
of a deadly biological agent or the explosion of a radiological
device, several officers said."

Translated into everyday English, if there's a real or, dare I say,
"false flag" op/disaster in the A (atomic), B (biological) or C
(chemical) areas, a la 9/11, or like the Maryland-based, government
"anthrax" attack, we could be in a national state of martial law, up
to our ears. C'est la vie, n'est pas, or non?

The article says, "The war plans represent a historic shift for the
Pentagon, which has been reluctant [not] to become involved in
domestic operations and is legally constrained from engaging in law
enforcement. Indeed, defense officials continue to stress that they
intend for troops to play largely a supporting role in homeland
emergencies, bolstering police, the firefighters and other civilian
reponse groups."

Bolstering is it? A largely supporting role? That may be. "But
the new plans provide for what several senior officers acknowledged
is the likelihood that the military will have to take charge in some
situations, especially when dealing with mass-casualty attacks that
could quickly overwhelm civilian resources." Take charge? Take
civil liberties away. Okay, and take what else?

Admiral Timothy J. Keating, head of NORTHCOM, which coordinates
military involvement in homeland security operations, said, "In my
estimation in a biological, a chemical or nuclear attack in any of
the 50 states, the Department of Defense is best positioned of the
various eight federal agencies that would be involved to take the

I'm sure you'll also be running parallel drills left and right. I
know the military exercises code-named Vital Arch involve troops in
lead roles and are zip-the-lips secret. But "other homeland
exercises featuring troops in supporting roles are widely
publicized," you say. I haven't heard of one. Also, who knows if
and when a real attack strikes how much of your ability to respond
will be siphoned off or even caused by drills giving you the power
to take over a city, a state, even the nation. And what about the
cops, firemen and EMS I guess they're under your command as well?

In general, Admiral, it seems like a stretch of the law let alone
your capability "to build a more credible homeland defense force .
. ." As you say, "They come at a time when senior Pentagon
officials are engaged in an internal, year-long review of force
levels and weapons systems, attempting to balance the heightened
requirement of homeland defense against the heavy demands of
overseas deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere." Seems
like you've got a lot on your plate as well as phrases in that
sentence, sir.

Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe, NORTHCOM's chief operations officer,
worries that the "'stress points' in some military capabilities
probably would result if troops were called on to deal with multiple
homeland attacks." Well, internal stress points certainly
complicated things on 9/11, like United Airlines Flight 93 going
down over southwest Pennsylvania. Ironically, many witnesses
claimed it was shot down by a military looking plane accompanied by
two F-16's. What's more, American Airlines Flight 77 somehow
managed to squeeze itself into the Pentagon and vanish in an 18-foot
wide hole (including fuselage, wings, baggage, body parts, et al).
Yet some part of it [?] exited from an 8-foot wide hole three rings
through. And we weren't even at war with Afghanistan then or
illegally at war with Iraq. Nor had we lost thousands of men or
experienced thousands more casualties. So how are you guys going to
juggle all this?

Presenting the Plan

The Pentagon talks about two command plans. First (and don't be put
off by the names) CONPLAN 2002, over 1,000 pages, is an "umbrella
document." The CON is for concept, not what you may have thought,
or maybe not. This draws together previous orders for homeland
missions for air, sea and land ops, both for post-attack responses
and prevention/deterrence actions to intercept threats before they
reach the United States. Whew. Pity we couldn't do a whit of this
on 9/11 just in old New York, D.C. or Pa. The second plan (aptly
named CONPLAN 2005) is solely about managing the attacks'
consequences as presented in the 15 scenarios. What if it's
something not in the scenarios, like two jetliners whacking the Twin
Towers for the first time? Do we still call 911? Or will the
Pentagon make sure it's one of the 15 scenarios as only it can do?

Now CONPLAN 2002, we're told, has passed muster with the Pentagon's
Joint Staff and will soon get passed up to Donald H. Rumsfeld for
study and stamp of approval. You remember Rumsfeld, don't you?
He's the one who in the October 12, 2002, interview with Parade
Magazine was noted in regard to the Pentagon attack to say, "Here
we're talking about plastic knives and using an American Airlines
flight filled with our citizens, and the missile to damage this
building and similar (inaudible) that damaged the World Trade

Missile? What missile? Did he know something we didn't? Did he
have any proof? He'd better or he'd be in a helluva lot of hot
water. Missile. Jesus.

Getting back to CONPLAN 0500, that's still undergoing rewrites, like
any good script. Both CONPLANs tend to be shortened versions of an
OPLAN, or "operations plan," which we're told specifies forces and
timelines for movement into a time zone. I'll bet. Today New
Jersey, tomorrow California.

We're also told the plans, like much about NORTHCOM, "mark a new
venture by a U.S. military establishment still trying to find its
comfort level with the idea of a greater homeland defense role after
the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks." Uh huh, got it.

Ranking military and civilian Pentagon policymakers understand, they
say, that on one hand the armed forces have a lot to offer in
numbers of troops, and also in their breadth of experience managing
crises and responding to emergencies. On the other hand, they do
worry too much involvement in homeland missions would cut the
military's clout to deal with threats abroad. And I say it might
also make America look like a fascist state, what with the U.S.
boots filling your town and mine, coast to coast. We certainly
wouldn't want that.

In fact, the Pentagon's new homeland defense strategy actually
emphases in boldface type that "domestic security is primarily a
civilian law enforcement function." Ah the Pentagon doth protest
too much, though the caveat is that ground troops might be sent into
action on U.S. soil to counter security threats and deal with major
emergencies. And I guess they decide what such threats are and what
constitutes major.

But have no fear. James Carafano, who deals with homeland security
issues for the slightly-to-the-right-of-Ghengus Khan Heritage
Foundation, says, "For the Pentagon to acknowledge that it would
have to respond to catastrophic attack and needs a plan was a big
step." Wow, that is large, James: really big thinking. Their
motives must be pure. But just so you know, "since NORTHCOM's
inception in October 2002, its headquarters staff has grown to about
640 members, making it larger than the Southern Command, which
oversees operations in Latin America, but smaller than the regional
commands for Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific." Well, at
least there's some perspective. No one would want it that big,
would we America? Nevertheless, "A brief tour late last month of
NORTHCOM's operations center. . . found officers monitoring not
only aircraft and ship traffic around the United States but also the
Discovery space shuttle mission, the National Scott Jamboree in
Virginia, several border surveillance operations and a few forest
firefighting efforts." And tomorrow the world. And how?

Introducing the "Dual-Use" Approach

The command settled on using one big pool of troops trained for both
the homeland und overseas assignments. And they'll be counting on
the old National Guard, which has a growing network of 22-member
civil support teams for all states while putting together a dozen or
so 12-member regional response units. Sounds like they are spread a
little thin, though I realize the NORTHCOM chief can call on
active-duty troops as well. Would he call them back from Iraq or
Afghanistan if need be, or call some more from high school and
college classes? Congress did give the Guard a wider authority to
perform homeland missions, including securing power plants and other
important facilities. So, they could be very busy guys.

Also, Admiral Keating gained authority to send fighter jets out,
even to dispatch Navy and Coast Guard ships for off-coast threats.
Plus he has immediate access to four, count 'em, four active duty
Army battalions based around the USA. Don't mess with him.

But, supposedly, even if they had to take the lead role in homeland
ops, it would "probably" just be temporary. Sooner (preferably) or
later, the leadership responsibility would pass back to civilian
authorities. Or else, someone might get that old martial law
feeling again.

Nasty Legal Questions

Now, those pesky civil liberties groups are waving fingers at all
this, saying the military's widened participation in homeland
defense could conflict with the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. It
definitely restricts the use of troops in homeland law enforcement.
But then why did the Pentagon tell Congress they saw no need to
change the law? Are they just going to ignore it?

The military lawyers say the use of ground troops would be likely
justified under the president's authority in Article 2 of the
Constitution, where he serves as commander in chief to protect the
nation. What? Like starting an illegal unilateral war with Iraq
was supposed to protect us from weapons of mass destruction? Does
he have the credibility and judgment to do that even though Col.
John Gereski, a senior NORTHCOM lawyer cites Article 2 as a good
starting place to hand Bush these powers?

What's more, there's another sticky wicket that Admiral Keating
pointed out. National Guard officers put in command of task forces
including active-duty and/or Guard units, which act under state
control, are not covered under the Posse Comitatus restrictions. As
Keating said, "It could be a challenge for the commander who's a
Guardsman, if we end up in a fairly complex, dynamic scenario." He
envisioned a situation in which Guard units might begin to round up
people while regular forces could not. Well, they could toss a coin
for who's really in control, and best two out of three flips for
which people should be "rounded up." Let's be fair here. Works in
the Superbowl.

But hey, the command is sensitive to legal issues, Gereski noted.
Why they've got 14, count 'em, 14 lawyers on staff, compared to 10
or fewer at other commands. One lawyer, we're told, serves "full
time at the command's Combined Intelligence and Fusion Center, which
joins military analysts with law enforcement and counterintelligence
specialists from such civilian agencies as the FBI, CIA and the
Secret Service." Boy, that makes me feel safe, the Fusion Center.
In fact, we're told, there's no intelligence collection at all
there, only analysis. Well, I can relax now.

One senior supervisor noted "the military operation under
long-standing rules [is] intended to protect civilian liberties.
The rules, for instance, block military access to intelligence
information on political dissent or purely criminal activity." I
bet you all feel like a million bucks now, especially you bloggers,
Internet writers and investigative reporters. Though keep in mind,
the center's lawyer is called in every now and then to rule on the
right or wrong-ness of some kinds of info sharing. Recently, he was
called in twice in 10 days, but declined to give specifics. You
know, loose lips sink ships. So button those lips. Because any day
now, someone, somewhere, somehow, could decide to attack. And like
the song says, "That could be the start of something new."
Something like a Brave New World.