Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No worries, Mate

Ft Devin, Mass. detention center

There are only two months to go until General Petraeus presents his assessment of the Surge; Senate Repugs are battling Dems to a standstill in the ongoing debate about defunding the troops preparatory to a withdrawal from Iraq; and we're hearing lots of paranoid noise across the Internet about a possible false flag operation that would allow the Shrub to assume dictatorial powers and Take Over the World.

This operation would theoretically take the form of a terrorist incident of such scope and mendacity that all Americans will quake in their collective boots and will cry out for a total lockdown of the country. The scenario calls for the Shrub to declare a National Emergency and invoke his authority under the Warner Appropriations Act of 2007 (HR-5212) to federalize the National Guard – or what’s left of them; he then sends Congress home and begins the roundup of the usual suspects while simultaneously nuking Iran with bunker busters.

Granted, there’s lots of craziness going on lately and people who worry about these things have lots of things to be worried about; presidential hopeful Senator John McCain recently sang - to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” - “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” to a cheering American Legion audience; Department of Homeland (sic) Security chief Michael Chertoff recently announced that he had an attack of stomach gas and this inspired him to announce with near-certainty a terrorist attack on the Homeland - wherever that might be - “sometime this summer.” Adding fuel to the paranoia is the existence of Executive Order 12919, an obnoxious piece of gobbeldygook originating in the Clinton administration. (You really need to follow that link; the list of executive orders concerning federalization of private property alone is enough to make one very, very nervous.)

This EO is a controversial (but not controversial enough, IMHO) document which theoretically streamlines federal governmental response (and executive consolidation of power, e.g. the “unitary executive”) in the event of a catastrophic event such as a nuclear war or asteroid strike, although it presumably could be triggered by something as minor as a threat to poison the water supply of a major American city. The signing of this document was enough to trigger mass hysteria and hand-wringing among the more sensitive of civil libertarians, and perhaps rightly so, as members of Congress apparently never even heard of this stealth EO until it hit the blogosphere. (The “liberal” mainstream media ignored it completely.)

Unasked in all this anxiety and fretting is the question, who’s going to do all this taking-over and martial-lawing? Have any of these people (whether conspirator or anti-conspirator) ever looked at a map of the United States? Its one thing for a president to declare martial law for a continent-spanning country and quite another to have it actually go into effect.

Consider this: It’s about 3,100 miles from Washington, D.C. to Seattle, Washington. (That’s roughly the distance from London to Teheran, Iran.) Let’s say some idiot terrorist bombs the Holland Tunnel in New York state, the Shrub declares a national emergency and calls out the troops. According to the paranoids, the plan is to bring in National Guard units from distant states; this reduces the odds that the troops will be likely to resist orders to shoot “dissenters” and “protesters” because they are not fellow staters; further, out-of-state Guardsmen will have no compunction in shooting, clubbing, or herding non-fellow states-people into “internment camps.”

But is that true? It seems to me that the National Guard of any state has just about had it with this president. And anyway, how do you get these Guardsmen across the country? How do you get the governor of Washington state (for instance) to release the troops to federal control, or better yet, why would the governor of Washington state even call the Guard up in the first place, only to have it federalized right out from under him?

Governors aren’t stupid; they can very plainly see what the feds have done with their Guard units in Iraq. Ditto for the officers and certainly ditto for the Guardsmen themselves. In the event of a true national emergency, any sane governor will want his Guardsmen at home where he can use them when and as he (or she) sees fit. Additionally, how do you force a governor to call out the Guard? Have a federal marshal put a gun to his or her head? No, this “martial law” thing is one big can of worms for all concerned and, I submit, an unnecessary worry.

So how about a military coup? Considering that most of the paranoid scenarios call for – simultaneously - a declaration of martial law, a nuclear attack on Iran, and the rounding up of civilians all over the country, we’re talking about a fucking revolution right there. It’s far more likely that the governor of a big state (or several governors of several states) calls out the National Guard and sends it to Washington, D.C. to arrest the president and anybody else hanging around the White House.

And about bloody time, if you ask me.