Seth Edenbaum points us to Granite Shadow, an expose by the Washington Post’s William Arkin, inaugurating a very promising new blog, Early Warning. One the one hand, it’s obviously good to have the federal government do disaster planning. On the other hand, having an off-the-shelf plan in place for a military takeover is not one of your warm and fuzzy developments.
Early Warning by William M. Arkin – washingtonpost.com: Granite Shadow is yet another new Top Secret and compartmented operation related to the military’s extra-legal powers regarding weapons of mass destruction. It allows for emergency military operations in the United States without civilian supervision or control.
A spokesman at the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR) confirmed the existence of Granite Shadow to me yesterday, but all he would say is that Granite Shadow is the unclassified name for a classified plan.
That classified plan, I believe, after extensive research and after making a couple of assumptions, is CONPLAN 0400, formally titled Counter-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 0400 is a long-standing contingency plan of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) that serves as the umbrella for military efforts to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction. It has extensively been updated and revised since 9/11.
Further, Granite Shadow posits domestic military operations, including intelligence collection and surveillance, unique rules of engagement regarding the use of lethal force, the use of experimental non-lethal weapons, and federal and military control of incident locations that are highly controversial and might border on the illegal.
My guess is that Power Geyser and CONPLAN 0300 refers to operations in support of a civil agency "lead"(most likely the Attorney General for a WMD attack) while Granite Shadow and CONPLAN 0400 lays out contingencies where the military is in the lead. I’ll wait to be corrected by someone in the know.
Both plans seem to live behind a veil of extraordinary secrecy because military forces operating under them have already been given a series of ”special authorities” by the President and the secretary of defense. These special authorities include, presumably, military roles in civilian law enforcement and abrogation of State’s powers in a declared or perceived emergency.
This sort of contingency plan may have a place, indeed probably has a place, but only in the context of carefully crafted legislation which spells out the circumstances under which the emergency plan can be activated — and more importantly sets out the ways in which the emergency authority will end. (Was it really Robert Heinlein — and not someone more like or Machiavelli or de Tocqueville — who first said “There is nothing so permanent as a temporary emergency”?)
For the executive branch to draft secret plans for a military takeover of government, however laudable the motives and however extreme the circumstances for which they are intended, does not in the end best serve our long-term national interests.