Sunday, November 4, 2007

WC: What If They Gave a Coup and Nobody Came?

Coup: A sudden appropriation of leadership or power; a takeover

The NY Times has been giving full coverage to General Musharraf’s imposition of military rule in Pakistan, as well they should. Pakistan is ostensibly democratic, and even the leaders of democracies must obey the law. Right?

How odd then that the Times has ignored National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51, also know as Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20 (available for your reading pleasure at the White House website).

NSPD 51 covers the continuity of the federal government in the case of an emergency. Okay, that seems like a good idea in the post-9/11 world. We really do need some guidelines should, for instance, a nuke or two take out a chunk of the East Coast.

But, and these are serious buts:

  • "Catastrophic Emergency" is defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.”
Say, for example, our supply of oil was cut off. That would severely affect our economy, right? Or there was a huge earthquake on the West Coast―that would severely affect our population, right? So, this is not just for terrorist attacks or acts of war.
  • Who gets to decide if it’s a “catastrophic emergency”? The President.
  • What can the President then do, once he or she has decided that a catastrophic emergency has occurred? Well, pretty much anything he wants to. Like suspend elections. (Gosh, President Bush wouldn’t mess with elections, would he? That would be so unlike him.)
  • Oh, and there are parts of NSPD-51―known as annexes―that are so classified that even a high-level, high-security congressman has been refused access. Who knows what they contain? Bush, Cheney, and Rice, I guess, plus whoever typed the damn things.
  • What are the roles of Congress and the Supreme Court after this emergency? Well, the president might take the time to tell them that he’s taken over their powers.

What has Congress done about this so far? Well, kind of nothing.

The Supreme Court? The same.

At least there’s been a hue and cry in the press, right? Wrong. Like I said, the New York Times, the so-called "paper of record," hasn’t even covered the damn thing.

What can we do about it? Call or email your representatives. Tell them that NPSD-51 is unacceptable and that you insist they get off their damn butts and do something about it. And write the people at the Times and tell them that they should be ashamed of themselves!

Senator Clinton (New York)

Senator Shumer (New York)

New York Times email:

All senator's website urls follow the same pattern, by the way, so you can get to them easily:

1 comment:

The Write Bunch said...

RS: Well this is terrifying. I sent e-mails to all three. Could it be that blogging is the only free press left? Keep on keeping us informed.