Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Preparing for the coup

Several blogs have been reporting on a little-known US military organization called USNORTHCOM. Established in April 2002 by President Bush, USNORTHCOM is the first military deployment on US soil since the Civil War. This is a very scary development, made possible by the exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 pushed through by the Bush Administration.

Posse Comitatus was enacted after the Civil War to prevent the US military from ever being deployed on US soil, and was meant to prevent US soldiers ever being ordered to fire on US citizens:
From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress.
Note that exceptions to this law were limited to those permitted by the Constitution (namely fighting of an invasion force) or CONGRESS. However, the exceptions pushed through the Republican Congress has changed all of that. Now NORTHCOM has the authority to deploy on American soil, and kill Americans at the order of the President. Section 1076 of H.R. 5122, which was passed in 2006, says that military forces may now be used to:

"...restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States..., where the President determines that,...domestic violence has occurred..."

So, let's have a hypothetical. Let's say Obama wins, but Republicans are able to steal it again by caging voters, hacking voting machines, etc. I think it is safe to say that there would be mass demonstrations. I would join them if I lived in the US. This law would allow USNORTHCOM to gun down peaceful marchers if Bush (or a future President) decides that violence has occurred, even if it really hasn't.

Now, USNORTHCOM's website emphasizes their other domestic missions, including dealing with the aftermath of chemical, biological or nuclear attacks, natural disasters, etc. However, these have traditionally been the job of the National Guard. Of course, the Guard has been federalized to fight in Iraq, and is no longer available for state-level missions, as was famously declared by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sibelius (the future first female President IMO). Hence the supposed need for a military force for the homeland.

So, fresh off of near constant combat missions in Iraq, the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has been assigned to missions on US soil. It is an ominous development that some of their first training for this mission has been for crowd control and civil disobedience response (from the Army Times):

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack...

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them...

The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.

Glenn Greenwald explains all of this much more coherently than me. However, I agree with Naomi Wolf (somewhat) that the Bush administration has been putting in place all of the pieces of a Fascist police state. Her 10 Steps To Tyranny read like the history of the last 7 1/2 years. Remember that we are not necessarily talking about Nazis when we use the term "fascist." Mussolini defined the term as "the convergence of state and corporate interests." It is not (necessarily) about racism or anti-semitism.

I take exception to Wolf's prediction that the Republicans are going to either cancel the election or throw it to McCain/Palin. Though they might like to do so, I don't think it will work. As Greenwald points out, a single brigade is not enough to enforce a police state, and there is little indication that soldiers will back the government in a coup of this type. The President also has his own private militia in the form of Blackwater, who were secretly deployed during Katrina. However, this is nothing like Mussolini's Brown Shirts. I am optimistic that the American people will elect Obama by a safe margin, and will not stand for such a thing. I also think that Obama, who is not the Messiah or FDR, will do a lot of good work to reverse Bush's damage to the Constitution.

That said, I think we need to be ready on November 5 to take back America if an attempt is made to flip the election. There are already signs that the Republican operatives are attempting to suppress the vote, hack voting machines, and incite violence against Obama. Americans of all parties, races and ideologies need to organize themselves to be ready to take to the streets on November 5 to PEACEFULLY contest a stolen election. We cannot repeat the mistake John Kerry made in 2004 when he chose not to contest Ohio, and just rolled over.

Enough for today.

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