a. In 1985, the Chief of Staff of the Army established the Army Survival, Recovery, and Reconstitution System (ASRRS) to ensure the continuity of essential Army missions and functions.
ASRRS doctrine was focused primarily on a response to the worst case 1980's threat of a massive nuclear laydown on CONUS as a result of a confrontation with the Soviet Union.
b. The end of the Cold War and the breakup of the former Soviet Union significantly reduced the probability of a major nuclear attack on CONUS but the probability of other threats has increased. Army organizations must be prepared for any contingency with a potential for interruption of normal operations.
To emphasize that Army continuity of operations planning is now focused on the full all-hazards threat spectrum, the name "ASRRS" has been replaced by the more generic title "Continuity of Operations (COOP) Program.
This document embodied the secret Continuity of Government (COG) planning conducted secretly by Rumsfeld, Cheney and others through the 1980s and 1990s. This planning was initially for continuity measures in the event of a nuclear attack, but soon called for suspension of the Constitution, not just "after a nuclear war" but for any "national security emergency". This was defined in Reagan's Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988, as "any occurrence, including natural disaster, military attack, technological emergency, or other emergency, that seriously degrades or seriously threatens the national security of the United States." The effect was to impose on domestic civil society the extreme measures once planned for a response to a nuclear attack from abroad. In like fashion, ARR 500-3 Regulation clarified that it was a plan for "the execution of mission-essential functions without unacceptable interruption during a national security or domestic emergency."
Donald Rumsfeld, who as a private citizen had helped author the COG planning, promptly signed and implemented the revised ARR 500-3. Eight months later, on 9/11, Cheney and Rumsfeld implemented COG, a significant event of which we still know next to nothing. What we do know is that plans began almost immediately -- as foreseen by COG planning the 1980s -- to implement warrantless surveillance and detention of large numbers of civilians, and that in January 2002 the Pentagon submitted a proposal for deploying troops on American streets.
Then in April 2002, Defense officials implemented a plan for domestic U.S. military operations by creating a new U.S. Northern Command (CINC-USNORTHCOM) for the continental United States. In short, what were being implemented were the most prominent features of the COG planning which Oliver North had worked on in the 1980s.
"Deep Events" and Changes of Party in the White House
Like so many other significant steps since World War Two towards a military-industrial state, the Army's Regulation 500-3 surfaced in the last days of a departing administration (in this case the very last day). It is worth noticing that, ever since the 1950s, dubious events -- of the unpublic variety I have called deep events -- have marked the last months before a change of party in the White House. These deep events have tended to a) constrain the incoming president, if he is a Democrat or, alternatively, b) to pave the way for the incomer, if he is a Republican.
Consider, in the first category, the following (when a Republican was succeeded by a Democrat):
- In December 1960 the CIA secured approval for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, and escalated events in Laos into a crisis for which the Joint Chiefs proposed sending 60 000 troops. These events profoundly affected President Kennedy's posture towards Cuba and Indochina.
- In 1976 CIA Director George H.W. Bush installed an outside Team B intelligence unit to enlarge drastically estimates of the Soviet threat to the United States, eventually frustrating and reversing presidential candidate Jimmy Carter's campaign pledge to cut the U.S. defense budget.
Equally important were events in the second category (when a Democrat was succeeded by a Republican):
- In late 1968 Kissinger, while advising the Johnson administration, gave secret information to the Nixon campaign that helped Nixon to obstruct the peace agreement in Vietnam that was about to be negotiated at the peace talks then taking place in Paris. (According to Seymour Hersh, "The Nixon campaign, alerted by Kissinger to the impending success of the peace talks, was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government" in Saigon, making it clear that a Nixon presidency would offer a better deal. This was a major factor in securing the defeat of Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey. Kissinger was not the kind of person to have betrayed his president on his own personal initiative. At the time Nixon's campaign manager, John Mitchell (one of the very few in on the secret), told Hersh, "I thought Henry [Kissinger] was doing it because Nelson [Rockefeller] wanted him to. Nelson asked Henry to help and he did."
- In 1980 the so-called October Surprise, with the help of people inside the CIA, helped ensure that the Americans held hostage in Iran would not be returned before the inauguration of Reagan. This was a major factor in securing the defeat of incumbent Jimmy Carter. Once again, the influence of the Rockefellers can be discerned. A CIA officer later reported hearing Joseph V. Reed, an aide to David Rockefeller, comment in 1981 to William Casey, the newly installed CIA Director, about their joint success in disrupting Carter's plans to bring home the hostages.
Both the financial bailout, extorted from Congress and the escalated preparations for martial law can be seen as transitional events of the first category. Whatever the explanations for their timing, they constrained Obama's freedom to make his own policies. Moreover they have the consequence of easing this country into unforeseen escalations of the Afghan war.
The Intensive Quiet Preparations for Martial Law
Let us deal first with the preparations for martial law. In late September 2008, at the height of the financial meltdown, The Army Times announced the redeployment of an active Brigade Army Team from Iraq to America, in a new mission that "may become a permanent part of the active Army":
The 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.
Now they're training for the same mission -- with a twist -- at home.