Friday, May 18, 2007

National Security Misdirective

Bush Anoints Himself as the Insurer

With scarcely a mention in the mainstream media, President Bush has
ordered up a plan for responding to a catastrophic attack.

In a new National Security Presidential Directive, Bush lays out his plans
for dealing with a "catastrophic emergency."Under that plan, he entrusts
himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the Executive
Branch. And he gives himself the responsibility "for ensuring
constitutional government."


He laid this all out in a document entitled "National Security
Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and "Homeland Security Presidential
Directive/HSPD-20."

The White House released it on May 9.

Other than a discussion on Daily Kos led off by a posting by Leo Fender,
and a pro-forma notice in a couple of mainstream newspapers, this document
has gone unremarked upon.

The subject of the document is entitled "National Continuity Policy."

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."

This could mean another 9/11, or another Katrina, or a major earthquake in
California, I imagine, since it says it would include "localized acts of
nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies."

The document emphasizes the need to ensure "the continued function of our
form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of
the three separate branches of government," it states.

But it says flat out: "The President shall lead the activities of the
Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government."

The document waves at the need to work closely with the other two
branches, saying there will be "a cooperative effort among the executive,
legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government." But this
effort will be "coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with
respect to the legislative and judicial
branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of
powers."

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.

The document gives the Vice President a role in implementing the
provisions of the contingency plans.

"This directive shall be implanted in a manner that is consistent with,
and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the
Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of
its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 USC 19), with
the consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others
involved."

The document also contains "classified Continuity Annexes."

By Matthew Rothschild

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