Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What? No Continuity of Government Precautions After TWA Flight 800?

How lax.

At 12:10pm on September 11th, 2001, the anchors of the local NBC affiliate in Washington D.C., interview Lieutenant Dan Nichols of the Capital Police Department.

"We have Lt. Dan Nichols of the Capital police now, who's on the telephone with us. Mr. Nichols are you there?"

Lieutenant Nichols: "Yes I am. How are you?"

"I'm doing well sir, the question is how you are doing? We understand that the government has pretty much been shut down. Can you give us the latest on the situation at the Capital?"

Lieutenant Nichols: "Approximately two hours ago we ordered a mandatory evacuation of the Capital and the House and Senate Office Buildings. All members and staff and the public who were in the buildings at the time were evacuated and sent home. We've taken measures to protect Congressional leadership and we have
protective coverage on them at this time."

"When you say 'protective coverage' have they been taken some place special or are they just surrounded by guards? Can you tell us some more about that, sir?"

Lieutenant Nichols: "We have contingency plans in order to provide exceptional protection for leadership, that's part of our Continuity of Government efforts."

"There were no reports of any terrorist attacks at the Capital this morning, tell me if you would what procedures are underway to ensure that nothing does happen there."

Lieutenant Nichols: "Well, right now, we have contingency plans in place for events like this. We've enacted them before, during the World Trade Center bombing that occurred a few years ago and after the Oklahoma City bombing. Right now, we've done a security sweep and we've locked the buildings down and we'll remain in a heightened security posture for the foreseeable future."

"All right, Lieutenant, do you know for how long the Capital will be shut down and remain evacuated?"

Lieutenant Nichols: "That's a decision to be made later this afternoon. We hope to have a word from the leadership on how we're going to proceed tomorrow, but for this afternoon and into tonight, the Capital will remain closed and we will have extraordinary security measures around the buildings."

"And just to confirm, there has been no problem, no explosion, no anything, anywhere near the Capital?"

Lieutenant Nichols: "No, and I need to reassure everyone that this is merely a precaution. We take these types of measures in light of terrorist attacks against American interests. Clearly, this is the most severe terrorist attack we've had and we decided to take these measures as a reasonable and prudent precaution. But the legislative branch still continues to function. Member's of Congress are safe, and the buildings are secure."

"All right. Lieutenant Dan Nichols with the Capital police we thank you very much for that information." (13:27)
The interview begins at the 11:11 mark of this 41:41 minute segment.

NBC Sept. 11, 2001 11:59 am - 12:41 pm (September 11, 2001)


Oklahoma City and the first World Trade Center bombings apparently were dress rehearsals for the enactment of these Continuity of Government precepts and protocols, which were fully engaged on September 11th, 2001 and which, given the Bush administration's rule of law by signing statement, we must assume continue to remain in effect.

The principles of CoG have to do with establishing defined procedures that allow a government to continue its essential operations in case of nuclear war or other catastrophic event. Not to minimize the suffering and loss in Oklahoma City, but I recall the breaking news on CNN first reporting a suspected gas main explosion. There have been fires in nightclubs that claimed similar or greater loss of life. However we categorize the bombing, it was an isolated event in the heart of Midwest America, completely manageable by city and state personnel. Was the bridge collapse across the Mississippi river in St. Paul, Minnesota, thought to be terrorism until proven otherwise? Why not? How this, or the first World Trade Center bombing, comes anywhere near ranking with a catastrophic calamity like nuclear war is untenable. They were Clintonian dress rehearsals for the events of September 11th.

The following 2-minute video clip records a moment in Col. Oliver North's testimony before the Select Committees of the U.S. Congress that in 1987 investigated the Iran/contra matter.


Congressman Jack Brooks, Democrat of Texas, asks North, "Col. North, in your work at the NSC, were you not assigned at one time to work on the plans for the continuity of government in the event of a major disaster."

This simple question caused North and his lawyer major conniption fits, as illustrated by their indignant arm crossings and eye rollings. Chairman of the panel, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, interrupted Brooks to say, "I believe that question touches upon a highly sensitive and classified area, so may I request that you not touch upon that sir."

Brooks went on, "I was particularly concerned Mr. Chairman, because I read in Miami papers, and several others, that there had been a plan developed by that same agency---contingency plan---in the event of an emergency that would suspend the American Constitution and I was deeply concerned about it and was wondering if that was the area in which he had worked? I believe that it was but I wanted..."

Inouye cuts him off again. "I most respectfully request that that matter not be touched upon at this stage. If we wish to get into this I'm certain arraignments can be made for an executive session."

Why should continuity of government plans in the event of a major disaster or emergency fall into such a "highly sensitive and classified area?" Egregious suspensions of accepted liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution due to the perils of imposing martial law may be a fact of planning, but it would be better accepted and tolerated by Americans if they understood in advance what the stakes and consequences were. This is a completely independent component from the physical security of the leadership and the protocols and procedures for managing a crisis.

The question then becomes---how far down the chain of command are the responders privy to the eventualities? Is every small-town fire department, often housed in massively upgraded, post-9/11 fire stations that more closely resemble an armory, in on it? Small-town governments have created high-ranking umbrella positions responsible for overseeing police and fire response. In my small town a female animal control officer was elevated to the six-figure job. Was this done to streamline the control and management of these quasi-militaristic forces?

That Continuity of Government protocols were enacted after the Oklahoma City bombing is astounding. That Rep. Brooks spoke up is a signpost of the truth we have been missing. Even the news caster gets a subtle dig in, with his question, "And just to confirm, there has been no problem, no explosion, no anything, anywhere near the Capital?"

Given the lies of car bombings and plane crashes that stemmed directly from federal government law enforcement agencies, like the Secret Service, no wonder he put it that way. Pray God, for "no anything, anywhere" in our future.

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