Readers – We republish this translated piece from Eurasia Daily, though it is simply a summary of Newsweek’s own article from early February, linked below for full disclosure. Despite the accuracy of this report of Newsweek’s journalism, and the accuracy of our headline – we expect tremendous censorship and risks associated with that, as a result of our dedication to inform the American people during this time of great concern and duress.
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Please excuse some awkward phrasings and Europeanization of government position terms (ministry of defense instead of defense department, etc.) as is inevitable in a quick translation
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US authorities are taking practical steps to introduce a state of emergency in which power can pass from civilian to military. This is reported by a large article by William M. Arkin published in Newsweek entitled “ Exclusive: inside top-secret military plans in case the coronavirus cripples the government .”
An article in Newsweek reported that on February 1, 2020, US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper signed orders directing NORTHCOM to implement nationwide plans to fight the pandemic. In addition, Minister Esper also secretly signed Warning Orders, WARNORDs to NORTHCOM and its subordinate military units on the US East Coast “to deploy in support of potential emergency missions.”
Top-secret emergency plans have been prepared not only to protect the capital of the country – Washington, but also for the possible introduction of martial law in one form or another in the United States. The plans include actions by the US military in case “all constitutional successors are incapable.”
Various plans, codenamed Octagon, Freejack, and Zodiac, provide for the continuity of government. According to these emergency plans, the transfer of power is bypassing the usual constitutional procedures for the succession of the government. According to them, military commanders can take control of certain territories of the country or even all of America.
After the September 11 terrorist attack, the Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was created as part of the US Armed Forces. According to the Joint Command Plan (UCP), the NORTHCOM function is:
– conduct operations to deter, prevent and repel threats and aggression directed against the United States, its territories and interests within the allotted zone of responsibility ;
– at the direction of the president or defense minister, provide military assistance to non-military authorities, including consequences management operations .
It was NORTHCOM that created the three comprehensive contingency plans. A Neesweek publication says that the commander of the Northern Command (NORTHCOM) four-star general Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy may in the event of an emergency take charge of US government until “a new civilian leader is established “. Essentially, General O’Shaughnessy is a potential US military ruler during an emergency. NORTHCOM is headquartered in Colorado Springs.
Now, in preparation for deployment for emergency operations, the Pentagon imposed unprecedented restrictions on the departure of its subordinates outside military bases. Last Wednesday, he restricted most foreign military trips to 60 days, and then issued an additional internal order on Friday that essentially holds all cadre military personnel at or near military bases. Of course, there are exceptions, including for trips that are “necessary to complete the mission.”
An order was also given that Defense Minister Esper and his deputy David Norkvist act without physical contact with each other to prevent a situation of simultaneous incapacity of both military leaders. Other national security agencies follow this example. Specialists in the “continuity of power” are preparing for the evacuation of White House personnel in the event that the coronavirus begins to affect its inhabitants.
US military experts argue that only mass destruction caused by the explosion of nuclear devices, or huge casualties that can be caused by a “biological agent”, is a catastrophic situation that justifies the transition to “unconstitutional actions” and the use of emergency plans. But the military’s extraordinary power may be required not only in the situation of the use of weapons of mass destruction in American cities, but also in the case of mass riots and violence in a situation of “struggle for survival” with a shortage of living means.
According to the instructions of the Defense Department, military commanders have the right to act independently in emergency situations where “properly formed local authorities are not able to control the situation.” These “circumstances” include “large-scale, unexpected civil unrest” associated with “significant loss of life or senseless destruction of property”. In October 2018, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) codified these rules, reminding military commanders that they can make decisions on their own and “temporarily engage” military control in conditions “when the president’s prior permission is not possible” or when local authorities “aren’t able to control the situation. ” The new Pentagon directive calls this situation “extreme situations.”
After September 11, 2001, a bipartisan government commission was set up in Washington to examine decisions in a situation where US constitutional authorities would be paralyzed. However, this commission was not able to come to practical decisions and adopt new legislation for emergency situations or the creation of working procedures that would allow for emergency operations.
Now the US federal government is not ready to act in a situation if a pandemic hits the very people who are called to lead the emergency. That is why for the first time, in addition to engaging in the planning of the consequences of a nuclear war, emergency procedures for the continuity of power are considered, with the possible transfer of state power to the military. The plans say that the US government will continue to perform critical functions in all circumstances, even if they are carried out by a “second tier” of civilian officials or under the interim military command.
In the event of an emergency, NORTHCOM has prepared three comprehensive action plans:
– CONPLAN 3400, or the military plan of “defense of the homeland,” if America itself becomes a battlefield;
– CONPLAN 3500, “support for civilian authorities” – this is when the military helps the civilian authorities in an emergency outside the conditions of an external armed attack on the American nation;
– CONPLAN 3600, military operations in the National Capital Region and the continuation of the work of the government, within the framework of which the most secret plans for supporting the continuity of power are laid.
There are seven secret plans to prepare for these emergency missions. Three of them are associated with transport to relocate and support the White House and the federal government when they are evacuated and work from alternative facilities.
The Executive Mansion (or RESEM) plan focuses on the rescue and evacuation of White House residents. In particular, the plan envisages a situation when it is necessary to dig out bunkers with personnel, covered with debris of the White House.
The second is called the Joint Emergency Evacuation Plan (JEEP) and provides transportation for the Secretary of Defense and other national security officials so that they can quickly leave the Washington area.
The third plan – Atlas provides for the transfer of non-military leaders – the leadership of Congress, the Supreme Court and other important figures to the places of their emergency relocation. According to the Atlas plan, they will be moved to some secret bunker, and government structures will be transported to facilities in Maryland.
Three more plans – the fourth, fifth and sixth: Octagon, Freejack and Zodiac provide for protection in a situation of complete collapse of government actions by military units in the metropolitan area of Washington, North Carolina and East Maryland.
The seventh plan, code-named Granite Shadow, provides for emergency domestic operations involving the use of weapons of mass destruction in the United States. As part of the US Armed Forces, there are units that are on constant alert, ready to respond to a terrorist attack or threat of using nuclear weapons.
Most of the above plans are being tested during the annual Capital Shield exercises. At last year’s exercises, for example, the situation of the attack with the use of weapons of mass destruction at the metro station was “played”.
The problem of the continuity of government and the protection of the president was raised under President Dwight Eisenhower (1953−1961), when it became possible to destroy Washington as a result of an atomic attack. The need for action by the decision maker on the use of nuclear weapons and their survival, even in a direct nuclear attack, led to the construction of bunkers and the preparation of secret procedures. The next to defend Congress, or at least Congressional leadership, was to guarantee the preservation of the constitutional successor to power. Then the Supreme Court was added to this crisis group of authorities.
Until September 11, 2001, the continuity of power and emergency programs were expanded beyond nuclear preparedness, especially after hurricanes began to have a devastating impact on modern urban society. Due to the emergence of pandemics, civilian institutions responsible for national security, such as the Ministry of Health and social services, have also been called upon to provide ongoing protection in an emergency.
But, despite well-prepared plans and ongoing exercises over the previous three decades, the September 11, 2001 attacks became a serious test for the emergency procedures adopted. Many procedures written on paper were either ignored or thrown into the trash. As a result, the problem received a new development in the Department of Homeland and other US national security agencies. A new system has been created, ready for a terrorist attack to occur without warning. The bunkers, many of which were closed after the end of the Cold War, were reopened and expanded. The most extraordinary planning scenario involves a terrorist attack that would involve the use of a nuclear device or radioactive contamination of isotopes in a large American city.
The terrorist attack scenario dominated until 2006, followed by a government reaction to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Civilian institutions in 50 states and local communities, especially in large cities, all began to synchronize emergency preparedness with common federal protocols.
The government at all levels currently has extensive “continuity of power” programs to respond to man-made and natural disasters. In July 2016, President Barack Obama signed the secret presidential directive No. 40 on “the policy of national continuity”, defining the “core functions” that public institutions must protect and preserve. At the highest level are the most important national functions – those that ensure the “continuous functioning” of the government in accordance with the Constitution. To preserve constitutional rule, government departments were ordered to provide not only a line of continuity of power (that is, from the president to vice-president, etc.), but also a line of “devolution” – that is, a duplicating chain of people involved in the work in the event of a catastrophic emergency. Federal Succession Directive No. 40, issued just a few days before Donald Trump became president, states that he must establish “procedures for the transfer of statutory authority and duties” to this secondary appointed staff to maintain the basic functions of the state.
“The transfer of authority may be temporary or lengthy,” the directive No. 40 says. It further stipulates that personnel designated for the transfer of power should be located in a “geographically dispersed area not affected by the incident.” As it turned out, such a condition cannot be observed now with the current spread of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2006, not a single state of emergency forced any state to even seek federal military assistance in accordance with established procedures. Local police forces themselves have become more capable of emergency operations by acquiring military equipment, weapons and having received the necessary training. State governors have also worked together to strengthen the National Guard, which can enforce domestic law in crisis situations. The current willingness to deploy a federal army to provide an emergency is an extraordinary experiment.