20 July 2005 at 12:07:07 PM
NYTimes-Commandos Get Duty on US Soil
Somewhere in the shadows of the White House and the Capitol this week, a small group of super-secret commandos stood ready with state-of-the-art weaponry to swing into action to protect the presidency, a task that has never been fully revealed before.
As part of the extraordinary army of 13,000 troops, police officers and federal agents marshaled to secure the inauguration, these elite forces were poised to act under a 1997 program that was updated and enhanced after the Sept. 11 attacks, but nonetheless departs from how the military has historically been used on American soil.
These commandos, operating under a secret counterterrorism program code-named Power Geyser, were mentioned publicly for the first time this week on a Web site for a new book, "Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operation in the 9/11 World," (Steerforth Press). The book was written by William M. Arkin, a former intelligence analyst for the Army.
Three senior Defense Department and Bush administration officials confirmed the existence of the plan and mission, but disputed Mr. Arkin's characterization of the mission as "extra-legal."
One of the officials said the units operated in the United States under "special authority" from either the president or the secretary of defense.
Civilian and uniformed military lawyers said provisions in several federal statutes, including the Fiscal Year 2000 Defense Department Authorization Act, Public Law 106-65, permits the secretary of defense to authorize military forces to support civilian agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the event of a national emergency, especially any involving nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
In 1998, the Pentagon's top policy official, Walter B. Slocombe, acknowledged that the military had covert-action teams.
"We have designated special-mission units that are specifically manned, equipped and trained to deal with a wide variety of transnational threats," Mr. Slocombe told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "These units, assigned to or under the operational control of the U.S. Special Operations Command, are focused primarily on those special operations and supporting functions that combat terrorism and actively counter terrorist use of W.M.D. These units are on alert every day of the year and have worked extensively with their interagency counterparts."
THE PENTAGON'S NEW ARMIES OF THE NIGHT
Life sometimes imitates art. One of my all-time favorite films is the gripping drama, `Seven Days In May.' Made in 1964 and starring Burt Lancaster, the film depicts an attempted coup by far rightists in Washington using a top secret, Pentagon anti-terrorist unit called `Ecomcon.'
Last week, the respected former military intelligence analyst William Arkin revealed a hitherto unknown government directive, with the Orwellian sobriquet `JCS Conplan 0300-97,' authorizing the Pentagon to employ special, ultra secret `anti-terrorist' military units on American soil for what the author says are `extra legal missions.' In other words, using US soldiers to arrest or kill citizens at home, acts that have been illegal since the US Civil War and are a grave violation of the constitution and tradition. ...
Rumsfeld's new SSB will become the Pentagon's very own, in-house CIA, complete with mammoth budgets, commando units, hits squads, spies, mercenary forces, intelligence gathering and analysis, and a direct line to the White House. The Pentagon has just effectively taken over the spy business. ...
The Pentagon's new spy arm will be largely excluded from Congressional oversight or media examination. Its special operations teams will roam the globe, killing or kidnapping at will, torturing suspects, and bringing down governments, all under cover of `deep black' missions of which no records will be kept, and no questions asked.
Equally worrying, the Pentagon's new special ops units are headed up by notorious religious fanatic and loudmouth, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, who calls the US Army, `the house of God,' and Islamic insurgents, `agents of Satan;' and told Muslims `my God is bigger than your god, which is an idol. '
Boykin's command will now dispatch post-modern Christian crusaders to cleanse the world of Satanic Muslims and other miscreants. The Pentagon's new special forces will be able to hire local armies and hit men, as well as run ops of which CIA knows nothing. The 9/11 Commission called for improved intra-agency cooperation and data sharing - what we will now get is far less cooperation, as the Pentagon goes its own, secret way.
Equally worrisome, the Pentagon's new `black' warriors will not be supervised by a normal military chain of command or some degree of Congressional oversight, as were CIA combat teams. These irregular forces will draw into their ranks rabid ideologists, uniformed bounty hunters, and Bible Belt mutants wearing t-shirts proclaiming, `kill em'all, let God sort'em out.' These militarized thugs and video arcade Rambos are sure to run amok, commit serious crimes, and drag America's once good name ever deeper into the mud
Alaska's Bioterrorism Resource Guide
Department of Defense
In accordance with Department of Defense Directives and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff CONPLAN 0300-97, the Department of Defense will provide military assistance to the lead federal agency and/or Federal Response Plan Emergency Support Function primary agencies during all aspects of a terrorist incident upon approval by the Secretary of Defense. Department of Defense assistance could include threat assessment, Domestic Emergency Support Team deployment, technical advice, operational support, tactical operations, support for civil disturbances, and custody, transportation and disposal of a WMD device.
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