Join 3,414 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Protectng the piece of damn paper.
May 24, 2007 7:16 AM   Subscribe

It's official. On May 9th, Bush issued NSPD 51, an "explicit embrace of what has been since 9/11 an implicit but fairly clear set of assumptions," i.e. George is the Decider and he has decided to strengthen the National Business Continuity Policy within the next 90 days.
posted by and hosted from Uranus (111 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
National Security Presidential Directives, a google hot trend since May 22.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:17 AM on May 24, 2007


Anti-Christ, stage 2.
posted by four panels at 7:21 AM on May 24, 2007


At least you could have provided a link to where I could buy myself some tinfoil.
posted by dios at 7:22 AM on May 24, 2007


Surely there must be a red self-destruct button on this android - under his dorsal plate, perhaps?
posted by trondant at 7:23 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Could someone explain to me why I should be alarmed--or even a little interested--in this? Emphasis will be placed upon geographic dispersion of leadership, staff, and infrastructure in order to increase survivability and maintain uninterrupted Government Functions. Sounds good to me.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:25 AM on May 24, 2007


The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft a pen from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I, George W was to sign NSPD 51. That is why I am your king!
posted by three blind mice at 7:26 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


So, how is this any different from Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998, which this replaces?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:27 AM on May 24, 2007


I believe the red self-destruct button is located somewhere on his back.
posted by Sailormom at 7:30 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, how is this any different from Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998, which this replaces?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:27 AM on May 24


Easy. This one is by Bush and has a more nefarious and conspiratorial-sounding name.... NSPD 51.

Also this is different because nowadays we have websites full of moronic and obsessive partisans that foster stupidity and conspiracy theories with their new found access and platform. We didn't have that so much in 1998. If we did, I'm sure there would have been a website full of idiotic and conspiracy-minded right wingers who would have bought into the same asinine belief that this was all about a coup!
posted by dios at 7:31 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]



because George Bush Jr. is an evil and craaaaazy idiot who has managed to pull the wool over our eyes one time too many!

And just you mark my words, when the next "accidental disaster" happens and he imposes martial law and throws Posse Comitatus out the window - you just remember - "You heard it hear first!"

(haaaawk pthooowie! thumbs into belt loops, turn and follow belly out of the argument.)
posted by From Bklyn at 7:33 AM on May 24, 2007


Maybe it's an excuse allowing him to govern from Crawford, allowing him to wage the War on Terrah and the War on Brush at the same time.
posted by trondant at 7:38 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who bets he'll change the constitution and become a king?
posted by zouhair at 7:39 AM on May 24, 2007


well, if washington gets nuked, we'll have a simple arrangement ... he can run the government and the rest of us can run the country
posted by pyramid termite at 7:41 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]



because George Bush Jr. is an evil and craaaaazy idiot who has managed to pull the wool over our eyes one time too many!
"

Sorry but the guy's not idiot, it's the american people that is made of bunch of idiots that elected him, not once but twice.
And even with his cheating he wouldn't gets elected without at least half the americans voted for him.
posted by zouhair at 7:41 AM on May 24, 2007


There should be a tag "ItCameFromReddit" because this was there a few days ago. This is a non-event continuity of government directive, applicable only in the event of nuclear holocaust or beefsteak tomato invasion.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:41 AM on May 24, 2007


Could someone explain to me why I should be alarmed--or even a little interested--in this?

You shouldn't be anything. If you wish you can read the links to find out why you might be interested. If not, okey dokey.

I am alarmed that the President can decide unilaterally that he can take complete control of the government whenever he pleases "to protect the Constitution", especially given the utter failure of the Executive Branch to handle Katrina and 9/11 effectively. I am alarmed at the economic focus underlying this decision when human considerations should be foremost in the event of an emergency. I am alarmed at the timing of this new policy and the dearh of public debate about it. YMMV
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:42 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Future post mortem: "We had to destroy the constitution to save it."
posted by graymouser at 7:42 AM on May 24, 2007


MY FEARS REALIZED!

Atttttttttttttttttttack of the KILLER TOMAAAAAAATOES!!

Attttttttttttttack of the KILLER TOMMMMAAATTTOOOEESSS!


Thanks Pastabagel. No sleep for me now! MAN THE SALAD TOSSERS!
posted by cavalier at 7:44 AM on May 24, 2007


Also this is different because nowadays we have websites full of moronic and obsessive partisans that foster stupidity and conspiracy theories with their new found access and platform. We didn't have that so much in 1998. If we did, I'm sure there would have been a website full of idiotic and conspiracy-minded right wingers who would have bought into the same asinine belief that this was all about a coup!

What we did have was the right-wing militia movement and their allies in the mainstream who spent the 90's talking about how Bill Clinton was a front man for an internationalist coup against the US and how he was building concentration camps to put all the white Christians in when he allowed the UN to invade and occupy the United States (Jewish control of internationalist plot optional).

Tinfoil-based lunatic fear of the president is in no way novel or unique to lefties afraid of Bush.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:46 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Pastabagel yes, nuclear holocausts and beefsteak tomato invasions are covered "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" as are bird flu, a wave of immigrants or whatever the "water boarding isn't torture, we don't torture" White House wishes it to be.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:46 AM on May 24, 2007


ahfu, I'll ask again: How is this any different from the Presidential Directive of this type under Clinton, or the one under Bush I, or the one under Reagan?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:48 AM on May 24, 2007


a website full of idiotic and conspiracy-minded right wingers who would have bought into the same asinine belief that this was all about a coup!

Yeah, I debated with myself for awhile whether or not to include the WorldNetDaily column.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:49 AM on May 24, 2007


Tinfoil-based lunatic fear of the president is in no way novel or unique to lefties afraid of Bush.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:46 AM on May 24


Of course not. I didn't imply it was. I just meant that the internet has fostered it and given it more of a voice and exposure now.

For proof, look no further than to see the tinfoil-based lunatic fear being posted to the front page right here in this post.
posted by dios at 7:49 AM on May 24, 2007


Also this is different because nowadays we have websites full of moronic and obsessive partisans that foster stupidity and conspiracy theories with their new found access and platform. We didn't have that so much in 1998.

Serious question: were you even on the web in 1998?
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Remember 10 years ago when all the right-wing nuts were afraid of Clinton doing something like this and he didn't?
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 7:51 AM on May 24, 2007


monju...I don't really know. If you have info about the power grabs of previous administrations, I'm very interested. (Clinton was a corporate whore too, sure.) But, if this policy is no different than previous ones, why is it even needed?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:53 AM on May 24, 2007


Oh dear lord... the US executive won't be subjected to the checks (cough) and balances (splutter) of the Supreme Court (giggle) and Congress (guffaw).

Who gives a toss? It's just one faction of the plutocracy vs another.
posted by pompomtom at 7:53 AM on May 24, 2007


If we're going to talk about constitutional crisis, let's talk about the executive branch ignoring subpoenas from Congress, and Rice admitting that Bush would probably just ignore any law Congress made about Iraq he didn't like. And let's look at some of those "signing statements," wherein Bush pretends he has the power to choose which laws from Congress he will or will not follow. And the amazing lack of interest in this by the public at large.

This guy has already admitted he thinks the Constitution is nothing but a guideline, and the legislative branch merely his advisors that serve at his pleasure -- and if you can't see that at this point, you're too stupid to vote.

In that light NSPD 51 is utterly insignificant.
posted by teece at 7:53 AM on May 24, 2007


How would "a wave of immigrants" be an incident that results in "mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting" the country?

Unless you mean "wave" in the fluid dynamics sense, in which there are so many immigrants packed so tightly together that they move as a giant tidal wave that flows, crests and crashes, spilling down city streets knocking over taxicabs and pedestrians in their wake, a la "The Day After Tomorrow".

I sot of hope this is what you mean, because that would be awesome. Especially if they are Swiss immigrants and they're yodelling the whole time.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:54 AM on May 24, 2007 [11 favorites]


I love this from the lead article:

Other than a discussion on Daily Kos led off by a posting by Leo Fender, and a pro-forma notice in a couple of mainstream newspapers, this document has gone unremarked upon.


Really? Then take a hint, jackass!

Good rule of thumb in life: if you think you have spotted something of major importance that has gone un-noticed by practically everyone else, it is more likely than not that you are wrong.
posted by dios at 7:55 AM on May 24, 2007


dios, Dush actually does do all sorts of crazy shit, hence people react when these sorts of things come up. Clinton wasn't running around the world blowing shit up. Whether this particular directive is of note or not, I haven't a clue. I think people should stick to the scandals that already exist, and when they're done with those, move on to new ones.
posted by chunking express at 7:55 AM on May 24, 2007


monju...I don't really know.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:53 AM on May 24


Wouldn't that have been useful information to figure out before posting a hyperbolic hand-wringing post to the front page and making cries of "coup"?
posted by dios at 7:56 AM on May 24, 2007


On May 9th, Bush issued NSPD

Given this administration's tin ear for naming things, I'm almost surprised that these things weren't called National Security Directives and Policies, so we could be talking about NSDAP 51's relation to Homeland Security.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:56 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


if you think you have spotted something of major importance that has gone un-noticed by practically everyone else, it is more likely than not that you are wrong.

That's pretty stupid. The US media ignores stories when they are convenient. Chomsky wrote a whole book on this topic called Necessary Illusions, which has page after page of examples of the US media fucking up.
posted by chunking express at 7:57 AM on May 24, 2007


In that light NSPD 51 is utterly insignificant.

Or that light is the answer to monju's question.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:57 AM on May 24, 2007


Invading tomatoes and yodelling immigrant tsunamis aside, I think this is a perfectly valid post.

For one, we all have seen the end of the world movies where the government tries to take over in a disaster, so we all sort of assume it would happen. Well, this is legally how it would happen.

Furthermore, based on my single initial reading, in the event that this directive becomes operable, it is open-ended. In other words, if an asteroid destroys manhattan, this would probably take effect, but for how long? Would there be elections every four years as required by the Constitution? etc.

In addition, this is interesting for its implication on edge cases. Would this become operative if Saudi Arabia were nuked? Note that it says regardless of location, and the effect can be on the economy. If oil stopped coming out of Saudi Arabia (or it were radioactive, which would result in it being stopped), the prices of gas and energy would well exceed what Americans can pay. Then what?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:05 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Serious question: were you even on the web in 1998?

"clinton ate my balls"
posted by pyramid termite at 8:07 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't that have been useful information to figure out before posting a hyperbolic hand-wringing post to the front page and making cries of "coup"?

dios, I think perhaps if your only point is "I'm not interested in this discussion and you folks shouldn't be having it" there's a more appropriate action for you to take than continuing to state that point in-thread.

and hosted from Uranus, thanks for the post. I heard about this a few days ago and let it slip my mind; now I'll go off and try to figure out if there are legitimate reasons to worry about the new directive.
posted by gurple at 8:08 AM on May 24, 2007


No sleep for me now! MAN THE SALAD TOSSERS!
posted by cavalier at 9:44 AM on May 24 [+]
[!]


You lead a salad-tossing squad? Eeep.
posted by COBRA! at 8:08 AM on May 24, 2007


Area 51. NSPD 51. 51 Pegasus. Coincidence? Unlikely.
posted by Nelson at 8:10 AM on May 24, 2007


COOOOBRA! LA LA LA LA LA LA!

I keep trying to derail this thread. Is it working? I attempt because this , as has been clearly stated, has been running precedent for several administrations.

posted by cavalier at 8:11 AM on May 24, 2007


now I'll go off and try to figure out if there are legitimate reasons to worry about the new directive.

Hint: no.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:14 AM on May 24, 2007



Serious question:
(my previous statement, culminated by my following my belly out of the argument - was intended as hyperbole. To whit:)

Hurricane Katrina.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:15 AM on May 24, 2007


Surely there must be a red self-destruct button on this android - under his dorsal plate, perhaps?
posted by trondant at 7:23 AM on May 24


Not if he's the Second Variety.
posted by infini at 8:19 AM on May 24, 2007


So, how is this any different from Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998, which this replaces?

Great question, monju_bosatsu, and one I'd like to find an answer to myself, except that Bush's Executive Order 13233 makes it fairly impossible to find out, since the text of PDD 67 was never released.

If you can't compare what isn't in the public domain, maybe PDD 67 is not a good basis on which to make a fair comparison?

Still, if you have a copy of PDD 67 on hand, I'd love to read it so that I can compare it for myself.

In all seriousness, however, I find the rhetoric in NSPD 51 personally troubling in that it explicitly puts great powers in as few hands as possible.

I'm less worried about Continuity after an emergency, and more worried about Continuity of things like due process, civil liberties, etc.

You need not, and apparently do not, share my concerns. That's fine, but shrill "tinfoil" bleating doesn't advance much of a position beyond advocating putting one's head in the sand. Keeping a closer eye on this administration lately seems like a wise thing to do.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:22 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


It Can't Happen Here.

People prefer personal security over personal freedom. We saw that after 9/11 when people were willing to give the government almost any authority if it would just prevent future terrorist attacks. To become dictator of the US all you need is loose morals and a national crisis severe enough to declare a national emergency. Out of fear congress will legislate itself right out of power. Stuff the courts with toadies and ta da - you are king.

*adds another layer of foil to hat, just in case
posted by caddis at 8:34 AM on May 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


So when do I get to join the resistance?
posted by dead_ at 8:39 AM on May 24, 2007


At first I thought it said NSDAP, which means something else. [NOT GODWINIST]
posted by chillmost at 8:40 AM on May 24, 2007


In all seriousness, however, I find the rhetoric in NSPD 51 personally troubling in that it explicitly puts great powers in as few hands as possible.

Got it in one.

The problem isn't that Bush is doing this. The problem is that that anyone is doing it. I'd be worried if it was Clinton, Gore, or the effin' Maharishi.

Though I'm a bit more worried about Bush, and I think that's pretty easily borne by recent history
posted by poweredbybeard at 8:44 AM on May 24, 2007


I think given this context:

Bruce Fein, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, said the American system of government relies upon the leaders of each branch 'to exercise some self-restraint." But Bush has declared himself the sole judge of his own powers, he said, and then ruled for himself every time.

'This is an attempt by the president to have the final word on his own constitutional powers, which eliminates the checks and balances that keep the country a democracy," Fein said. 'There is no way for an independent judiciary to check his assertions of power, and Congress isn't doing it, either. So this is moving us toward an unlimited executive power."


it makes sense to be wary of these kinds of directives. Or you can just shout OMG TINFOIL. Your call.
posted by Otis at 8:45 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great question, monju_bosatsu, and one I'd like to find an answer to myself, except that Bush's Executive Order 13233 makes it fairly impossible to find out, since the text of PDD 67 was never released.

Of course, if PDD 67 was shielded from release pursuant to the PRA, it won't be available until 2012, regardless of EO 13233.

In any case, your concern regarding due process and civil liberties seems entirely speculative. First, there's nothing in this document that even hints that the President could impose martial law, suspend posse comitatus or the writ of habeas corpus, or interfere with the operation of the other branches of the federal government. Indeed, the document seems to respect the constitutional status of the coordinate branches. See., e.g., the discussion of ECGs. Second, this particular document does little more than require executive agencies to establish continuity plans and coordinate those plans through the National Continuity Coordinator.

I understand the generally high level of skepticism regarding everything this President and his administration does, but there's not muchhere to hang your hat on.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:45 AM on May 24, 2007


Oh, and I'll tell you what the difference between this Directive and the prior directives is: The original Continuity Directive issued by Reagan in 1982 authorized FEMA to act as the coordinator for the COOP and ECG plans. This was later shifted to DHS, and this Directive now creates a separate office to coordinate the plans, the National Continuity Coordinator. The substance of the Directive is largely unchanged. Oh, and the previous administrations classified their directives. Bush II obviously did not classify this one.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:51 AM on May 24, 2007


It's hard to tell from the description, but PDD 67 seems to be more of an authorization to develop a COOP plan, with less emphasis on the White House directing "State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure".

The job of developing a plan to implement the policy falls to Frances Fragos Townsend so, obviously, it's a success waiting to happen...
[ED] HENRY[, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT]: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we're going to get him. Still don't have him. I know you are saying there's successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That's a failure.

TOWNSEND: Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:51 AM on May 24, 2007


Of course, if PDD 67 was shielded from release pursuant to the PRA, it won't be available until 2012, regardless of EO 13233.

The 1978 PRA is irrelevant; there's no explanation given for why it is not in the public domain, we may as well assume that the EO 13233 protects it from disclosure at the whim of the President.

Again: If PDD 67 is not in the public domain and we cannot read it for ourselves, how would you expect me to use it to invalidate any concerns I might have about NSDP 51? That is the assertion you are making.

In any case, my "speculation" is based on the text's indefinite concentration of emergency powers in the hands of people who have shown themselves incompetent, intolerant, and power- and money-hungry — all at the expense of the country. Please forgive me my humble, tinfoilesque concerns.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:57 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


NIS PID!
NISPID!
NISPID FIVE ONE!

IT EVEN SOUNDS EVAL! NIIIIIISSSSSSSPID!!!!
posted by quonsar at 8:59 AM on May 24, 2007


People prefer personal security over personal freedom.

Does that actually dismay or shock you? Any political or philosophical view which disagrees with this seems at best unrealistic to me. Isn't it much better to talk about long-term security vs. short-term security? I might even argue further that Freedom itself has little intrinsic value - it's a form of security. So we might actually agree on a lot of specifics, but enough with the condescending "oh, the rude and simplistic hoi polloi prefer security to freedom because they're not sophisticated like us." Worse than wrong - it's counterproductive.
posted by freebird at 9:05 AM on May 24, 2007


Good rule of thumb in life: if you think you have spotted something of major importance that has gone un-noticed by practically everyone else, it is more likely than not that you are wrong.
posted by dios at 10:55 AM on May 24 [+] [!]


Really? Tell that to Woodward and Bernstein.

I'm not saying anything about this PARTICULAR news item, cause I don't quite get it.
posted by shmegegge at 9:09 AM on May 24, 2007


If PDD 67 is not in the public domain and we cannot read it for ourselves, how would you expect me to use it to invalidate any concerns I might have about NSDP 51? That is the assertion you are making.

Well, it's one assertion I'm making. I notice that you conveniently ignored my other argument. To whit: if you actually read the text of this directive, there's not much to be concerned about.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:12 AM on May 24, 2007


Any political or philosophical view which disagrees with this seems at best unrealistic to me.

The Founding Fathers thought otherwise.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:13 AM on May 24, 2007


I notice that you conveniently ignored my other argument. To whit: if you actually read the text of this directive, there's not much to be concerned about.

I explained twice what my concerns were. Those who have read the directive will understand how it is possible to walk away with those concerns.

You have argued that this directive is identical to the Clinton directive. Do you have the text or not?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:18 AM on May 24, 2007


Townsend is an interesting character - especially as she relates to the Valerie Plame outing...

To the OMG TINFOIL!!1! crowd out there, here's your litmus test as to if you should be concerned or not:
  • Do you trust them to make competent appointments of security professionals, campaign contributors, partisan hacks, authoritarians, or sheer loyalists?
  • Do you trust him to make an appropriate determination of when a localized event becomes a national crisis, as the terminology indicates that a Katrina-like disaster, tornadoes, or an economic crash would be viewed on equal footing with a multi-location dirty-bomb attack?
  • Do you trust them to not turn this into another wasteland of pork for their campaign contributors?
  • Would you trust the EXACT SAME Presidential Directive from a Democratic Administration?

  • posted by rzklkng at 9:20 AM on May 24, 2007


    I understand the generally high level of skepticism regarding everything this President and his administration does, but there's not muchhere to hang your hat on.
    posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:45 AM on May 24 [+]
    [!]


    Oh, I think there's some hat-hanging room here.

    From here:

    The language written in the directive is disturbing because it doesn’t say that the President will work with the other branches of government equally to ensure a constitutional government is protected. It says clearly that there will be a cooperative effort among the three branches that will be coordinated by the President. If the President is coordinating these efforts it effectively puts him in charge of every branch. The language in the directive is entirely Orwellian in nature making it seem that it is a cooperative effort between all three branches but than it says that the President is in charge of the cooperative effort.

    And from Ron Paul here:

    It is important to understand that the Constitution already provides the framework for Congress to function after a catastrophic event. Article I section 2 grants the governors of the various states authority to hold special elections to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives. Article I section 4 gives Congress the authority to designate the time, manner, and place of such special elections if states should fail to act expeditiously following a national emergency. As Hamilton explains in Federalist 59, the "time, place, and manner" clause was specifically designed to address the kind of extraordinary circumstances imagined by COGC. Hamilton characterized authority over federal elections as shared between the states and Congress, with neither being able to control the process entirely.
    posted by Otis at 9:21 AM on May 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


    For proof, look no further than to see the tinfoil-based lunatic fear being posted to the front page right here in this post.
    posted by dios at 7:49 AM on May 24


    Wouldn't that have been useful information to figure out before posting a hyperbolic hand-wringing post to the front page and making cries of "coup"?
    posted by dios at 7:56 AM on May 24


    Minor quibble:

    Is there some "Belowthefold" or "StyleSection" page on Meta of which I'm unaware? I sense a bit of redundancy and misplaced outrage.

    I've always considered it part of the charm of Metafilter that subjects ranging from Presidential Directives to Jewel-Encrusted Scrotal Sacks all had a few moments at the top.
    posted by uri at 9:21 AM on May 24, 2007


    It is not in the public domain...
    The text of PDD-67 has not been released, and there is no White House Factsheet summarizing its provisions.
    ...althought there are some details here.
    posted by rzklkng at 9:23 AM on May 24, 2007


    I don't see anything about who gets authority to form squads of Wolverines in here, though. Because that would be kind of sweet.
    posted by norm at 9:25 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Will the squads of Wolverines be able to destroy the squads of Salad Tossers though?
    posted by Elmore at 9:32 AM on May 24, 2007


    who needs directives when you've got the world's biggest armed forces?

    if bush had wanted to be dictator for life, he could have tried to be one by now

    do you think hitler ... (yes, i went there, sue me) ... took over germany with fucking directives?

    no, he used thugs with guns and wrote a bunch of papers after the fact to justify what he did anyway

    when you see the president on tv explaining why troops are marching down the streets of every american city, THEN we have a real problem ...

    what do you think? ... he'd TELL us about it before he'd do it?

    besides, he'd have to triple the size of the army and get it out of iraq, wouldn't he?

    and THAT is why this is tinfoil hattery
    posted by pyramid termite at 9:40 AM on May 24, 2007


    So...what's Vegas line on whether we'll have an election in '08? I gotta think someone is taking bets on that one.
    posted by Thorzdad at 9:43 AM on May 24, 2007


    when you see the president on tv explaining why troops are marching down the streets of every american city, THEN we have a real problem ...

    Standards, meet New Low
    posted by uri at 9:45 AM on May 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


    From my summary skimming of CRS reports and *.gov and *.mil sources, the big difference is that PDD-67 had a 30-day limit of activation, whereas NSPD-51 is open-ended.

    I'd recommend checking the relavent CRS Reports.
    posted by rzklkng at 9:46 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Perhaps one way to describe these plans is a way to Ensure The Continuity Of Bush, and not so much Ensure The Continuity Of What Makes The United States The United States.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:55 AM on May 24, 2007


    pyramid termite writes "do you think hitler ... (yes, i went there, sue me) ... took over germany with fucking directives?"

    Actually, it was a gradual process. And, yes, he did.
    posted by krinklyfig at 9:57 AM on May 24, 2007


    So...what's Vegas line on whether we'll have an election in '08? I gotta think someone is taking bets on that one.
    posted by Thorzdad at 11:43 AM on May 24


    I'll take that bet. I'll give one any odds one wants. I don't mind taking money from abject morons. Extra credit if they make that bet based on this Directive.

    Really? Tell that to Woodward and Bernstein.
    posted by shmegegge at 11:09 AM on May 24


    Is there something about "rule of thumb" and "more likely than not" that made you think I was saying that it was true in every case?

    Otis: Ron Paul's comments are about a commission recommendation for constitutional amendments and are not addressed to this Directive in any way.
    _________

    Summary: no one knows what is particularly disconcerting about this particular directive over past versions. Some apparently believe it is problematic that power would be vested in Department A of the Executive Branch instead of Department B of the Executive Branch.

    No one can cite to particular language that is bad or worse than any prior version of this law, nor can anyone suggest an alternative that would be preferable.

    So in other words, this is just baseless hand-wringing as if this was "news."

    Here is a pretty simple question which ought to show how utterly stupid it is to be discussing this as if it was problematic: given the fact that Democrats have been very vocal in opposition to most of the President's actions and policies, don't you think that maybe... just maybe... there would have been any serious and substantial objection to this directive from Congress in the two weeks since this issued if it was even the least bit as disconcerting as the poster and some are trying to make it here?
    posted by dios at 9:59 AM on May 24, 2007


    Also ...

    pyramid termite writes "when you see the president on tv explaining why troops are marching down the streets of every american city, THEN we have a real problem ... "

    ... at that point, it's already too late.
    posted by krinklyfig at 10:06 AM on May 24, 2007


    dios, the handwringing comes from the fact that Bush is still not denying that Rex 84 happened, and FEMA's still going to run the concentration camps after the apocalypse. It is disturbing.

    You being from Texas, though, I bet you shoot plenty straight. So you're welcome in my paramilitary squad.
    posted by norm at 10:11 AM on May 24, 2007


    Otis: Ron Paul's comments are about a commission recommendation for constitutional amendments and are not addressed to this Directive in any way.

    Rep. Ron Paul analyses several problems with implementing emergency plans which indefinitely usurp separation of powers, such as those in NSPD 51. Otis makes an entirely valid point citing this conservative's argument in this discussion.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:12 AM on May 24, 2007


    i'm bookmarking this thread ... when we discuss the election results next year, i'm linking to it and laughing in your faces
    posted by pyramid termite at 10:13 AM on May 24, 2007


    I'll take that bet. I'll give one any odds one wants. I don't mind taking money from abject morons. Extra credit if they make that bet based on this Directive.
    Jeez, dude. Take the blinders off and learn to recognize sarcasm. Your spleen will thank you for it.
    posted by Thorzdad at 10:16 AM on May 24, 2007


    BushHaterFilter:

    It seems that the issues and dangers represented by NSPD 51 have always existed, which is the problem, rather than Bush himself. Assuming that there will be democratic elections in 2008, there is always the chance that there will be another leader like Bush in the future. Bush is merely acting on instinct to make use of a political opportunity, and shouldn't be blamed for that.



    BTW: DO NOT WANT BUSH
    posted by KokuRyu at 10:24 AM on May 24, 2007


    Whatever each of us believes, our government is more concerned with continuing its own existence and grasp on power than it is with any of the ideas the nation was founded upon. And that's a problem. YMMV.
    posted by SaintCynr at 10:24 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, there's lots of 'baseless hand-wringing' to be sure. But there are some real problems with this directive. A) it fails to sufficiently limit and narrowly define what constitutes a catastrophic emergency, and B) it advances the Unitary Executive Theory, that old Bush favorite which is rather clearly at odds with the intentions of the founders.

    Now, is it possible that a truly catastrophic emergency would in fact require a unitary executive to hold things together? Sure, I think in any case where we are talking about a really catastrophic emergency (and 9-11 surely would not qualify as one), it's a bit starry-eyed to think otherwise. But the spirit of this particular directive is such that it's simply not interested in putting harsh limits and very clear definitions ahead of any assumption of expanded executive powers - and as such it's just another of many fundamentally undemocratic gestures on the part of this administration.

    That said, I'll also put down hard cash for whomever is betting on there not being '08 Elections, or other tinfoil hat propositions.
    posted by blackberet at 10:27 AM on May 24, 2007


    nor can anyone suggest an alternative that would be preferable.

    How did you come to this conclusion?

    We willmay be allowed to see how this policy is to be implemented when Townsend has completed her job in 90 days. Then we will have a better idea exactly what the White House has in mind by issuing this directive, though we will still have only the faintest idea of how this shadow government will function. The very fact that Bush saw reason to issue the new policy means that Bush wants changes to established emergency government procedure.

    Under most administrations, I would not be so wary of such changes. Katrina showed how woefully unprepared we are. But this President responded to the American people's will to end the Iraq war, as demonstrated last November, with a troop surge. This President has publically expressed his wish to run a dictatorship. This President has outed CIA agents, fired U.S. Attorneys and ousted every general who posed any counterpoint whatsoever to the imposition of his will. So, yeah, I don't trust him when he makes assertions that emergency chain of command is to be modified.

    You're welcome to accept the Chimperor's every edict without question, just don't call me the stupid one for holding a critical view of those in power.
    posted by and hosted from Uranus at 10:38 AM on May 24, 2007


    Mmmmm...spleen!
    posted by taosbat at 10:41 AM on May 24, 2007


    do you think hitler ... (yes, i went there, sue me) ... took over germany with fucking directives?

    Familiarize yourself with some history--namely the Reichstag Fire Decree, the Enabling Act and the "catastrophic emergency" that preceded them. Draw appropriate parallels at will.
    posted by oncogenesis at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


    I'll bet that there will be US elections held in 2008. I'll bet any quantity of money at any odds. Do you know why?

    Because if there are no elections, we'll be so fucked that money won't matter anymore. Maybe you'll be able to trade your twenty million US dollars for a can of beans and a chicken.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2007


    I'm less worried about Continuity after an emergency, and more worried about Continuity of things like due process, civil liberties, etc.

    This is a valid concern. Jefferson, vaunted enlightenment libertarian was first out of the gate with the Alien and Sedition Acts.

    This directive is for continuity of government, not continuity of liberty. The purpose of these things is to make sure the federal government controls New York City after a disaster, not the city government.

    Think of how it would actually play out. DC and New York get nuked. For people living in Denver, what does that mean? Should the government of Colorado declare martial law, do nothing, what? Once the telecommunications apparatus goes down, what really connects the more remote parts of the country, even the remote urban parts, from the government? In the apparent absence of a central government, apparent because while it may be intact, no one can get in touch with them or knows where they are, can or should states declare themselves sovereign? Should states secede or form regional groups? What if states like California decide they don't want Arizona competing with them for water, etc?

    We do not have a homogenous country in the US, either in terms of political attitudes or economic interests. There has to be some provision for continuity of central government so that the states don't usurp that authority for themselves.

    Furthermore, although this directive certainly doesn't provide for it, the constitution does not have a "suspension of rights" clause, so the continuity of central government would at least imply a continuity of your rights under that government, although things may not work out so nicely in reality.
    posted by Pastabagel at 11:14 AM on May 24, 2007


    Familiarize yourself with some history

    "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

    - mao zedong
    posted by pyramid termite at 11:15 AM on May 24, 2007


    pyramid termite writes "'Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.'
    "- mao zedong"


    "War is merely a continuation of politics."

    - Carl von Clausewitz
    posted by krinklyfig at 11:29 AM on May 24, 2007


    "when you see the president on tv explaining why troops are marching down the streets of every american city, THEN we have a real problem ..."

    Well, see, that didn't work so well last time. The end result, within about 10 years, was an almost completely destroyed and demoralized nation with most of the leaders dead or imprisoned for life after the rest of the world banded together to defeat them militarily and try them as war criminals.

    Ya think they might be trying something new (and both more devious and patient) this time? Hm?

    "I'll bet that there will be US elections held in 2008. I'll bet any quantity of money at any odds."

    Of course there will be. As long as there are elections involving more than one party, vast numbers of Americans won't suspect anything's amiss. Get it?

    "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

    This is, of course, the crudest form of mind control: "Do what I say or I will kill you." It's highly effective, but it's messy and as history has progressed, governments which use such crude, direct methods have had ever-decreasing longevity - people are not so abjectly afraid of such threats as they once were.

    Trying something more devious makes a lot of sense, don't you think?
    posted by zoogleplex at 11:33 AM on May 24, 2007


    The Name of the Game

    Those who define the rules, control the game. Power becomes the ability to define reality for others. When we allow others to define reality for us, we have yielded sovereignty and lost the game before it has begun. And we do this all the time.
    posted by taosbat at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2007


    Geez, every President has had a continuity plan for the Executive branch, from at least Carter on. The biggest news hear is that the coordinating office used to be FEMA, now it is the White House.

    There is nothing in here that would change separation of powers, and I have yet to see any MeFier who has any legal or governmental experience point out anything particularly ominous, just our amateur analyses.

    And it was covered in the mainstream press, in the Washington Post article in the link. They didn't seem to think it is news, except as a planning event. So why do we think it is?
    posted by blahblahblah at 11:37 AM on May 24, 2007


    Trying something more devious makes a lot of sense, don't you think?

    of course ... which is why i think this directive is just a red herring ... it's not anywhere as devious as pretending to have a two party system that's sponsored by one multi-corporate interest

    even augustus was smart enough to pretend he had to show deference to the senate

    the great thing about rumors of fascist takeovers of the government is that they often cause people to assume the fascists haven't already taken over in a more subtle way ...
    posted by pyramid termite at 11:42 AM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


    "I'll bet that there will be US elections held in 2008. I'll bet any quantity of money at any odds."

    Of course there will be. As long as there are elections involving more than one party, vast numbers of Americans won't suspect anything's amiss. Get it?


    We're on the same side here. I'd never say that I expect the 2008 elections to be fair, untampered-with or in any way meaningful; I just said I'm confident they'll happen.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 11:58 AM on May 24, 2007


    Jeez, doesn't everyone already know to ignore dios in Bush threads by now? His pro-Republican rants are good for their entertainment value only.

    As I like to do, I read the directive and highlighted the parts I consider relevant or worth further review. Text of the directive in italics, my comments not. And away we go:

    2(b) "Catastrophic Emergency" means 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; As discussed above, this does not rule out things happening in other parts of the world, provided they have impact on the US. Whether that is something that should unduly concern us, I leave to your pondering.

    2(e) "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency; (emphasis mine). This seems to suggest that there is no official plan to do away with separation of powers. It also addresses concerns about the emergency state going on indefinitely under the same group of people; anyone looking to establish him or herself as permanent dictator would hardly make provisions for his or her successor.

    5(a) Ensuring the continued functioning of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government; (emphasis mine). Again, this seems to preclude any official plan to dismantle checks and balances.

    5(c) Defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and preventing or interdicting attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests; (emphasis mine). This clearly states that the Constitution is to remain in place and protected from ANY attacks; I assume that would include power-hungry US politicians.

    6 The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is a simple restatement of the President's actual job. The framers very intentionally separated powers, but put one branch as the titular head to make sure that in cases of emergency, someone was in charge. The fact that many of us (myself included) don't especially care for the current "someone" is, unfortunately, irrelevant.

    11(a) Succession orders and pre-planned devolution of authorities that ensure the emergency delegation of authority must be planned and documented in advance in accordance with applicable law;

    11(f) Provision must be made for reconstitution capabilities that allow for recovery from a catastrophic emergency and resumption of normal operations; (emphasis mine). Reiterates that this power is temporary and that getting back to normal is of the utmost importance.

    And finally:

    (20) This directive shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved.

    If this is a naked power grab, it's a really bad one. I'm not saying there is no cause for concern with this administration or certain acts thereof (*cough* the war, domestic surveillance program, the attorney general mess, prisoner torture,*cough*), but this act in and of itself doesn't seem to be cause for concern.

    Because, you see, if anyone is going to become a dictator, they aren't going to pass laws to do it. Or, they'll pass laws that look like this one, then do whatever they want anyway.
    posted by jennaratrix at 12:37 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


    So you take at dios, and then after doing the analysis, come to the same conclusion he did?
    posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:52 PM on May 24, 2007


    take a shot at dios, natch.
    posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:53 PM on May 24, 2007


    FoB: the "Get it?" was more aimed generally. I know we agree. :)
    posted by zoogleplex at 1:16 PM on May 24, 2007


    Eh, the shot at dios was a freebie, and taken not because of his conclusions but because of his attitude. I wasn't quite sure which way my analysis was going to go until I got there, but was completely sure that dios was being an ass about his.

    In fact, I was all ready to don my tinfoil hat and be proud, but this act doesn't seem to warrant it. As I stated at the end, it's not the laws and written, for-the-record stuff we need to worry about: it's everything else. If anything, this act (if implemented properly and as the last word on this issue), should reassure me. It doesn't, but it also doesn't give me anything concrete to hold onto to scream "AHA! I WAS RIGHT! EVERYBODY PANIC!"

    I'm not in the business of telling anyone else how to interpret anything, or to convince anyone of my viewpoint. I just parsed it out for my own enlightenment, and posted it for general interest.
    posted by jennaratrix at 1:32 PM on May 24, 2007


    Because, you see, if anyone is going to become a dictator, they aren't going to pass laws to do it. Or, they'll pass laws that look like this one, then do whatever they want anyway.
    posted by jennaratrix at 3:37 PM on May 24


    I don't think the objection to this is that it will make Bush a dictator. Bush cannot be President after January whatever, 2009. The constitution limits him to two terms. He's had them. He may sit in the white house and give press conferences, but he won't be the president.

    The objection seems to be that this is a shift of power to the executive branch which is not subject to congressional oversight (separation of powers) from a federal agency which straddled the execeutive and legistative branches but was subject to congressional oversight.
    posted by Pastabagel at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2007


    The objection seems to be that this is a shift of power to the executive branch which is not subject to congressional oversight (separation of powers) from a federal agency which straddled the execeutive and legistative branches but was subject to congressional oversight.
    posted by Pastabagel at 3:33 PM on May 24


    Well, that is one that is not found in the directive itself.

    This directive does not give any agency power. This directive does not assume power on behalf of the Executive Branch other than that which is in the Constitution and has been vested in the Executive Branch since the beginning. The only "shift" here is that one agency of the executive branch once had the obligation for coordination and now another agency of the executive branch has that obligation. It's still an office of the executive exclusively.

    Know what this guy's job is going to be? He is the one who has to make sure that every agency has a continuity plan in place and that the various agencies can work together and be aware of what the others are going to do. That's it. That's what this whole thing is about. There is no assumption of power contained in the words of that directive. There is no change in this policy. That is why no one other than fringe partisan hacks are talking about it. There is nothing here.


    Eh, the shot at dios was a freebie, and taken not because of his conclusions but because of his attitude. I wasn't quite sure which way my analysis was going to go until I got there, but was completely sure that dios was being an ass about his.

    For someone calling me an ass, don't you feel the least bit like an idiot for insulting me and then finding out that you agree with me?
    posted by dios at 1:55 PM on May 24, 2007


    For someone calling me an ass...

    Oh, please. You've proven yourself incapable of making a comment without insulting somebody, but you're gonna fucking whine about that?

    posted by and hosted from Uranus at 2:02 PM on May 24, 2007


    dios: not at all. I don't base my conclusions about ANYTHING on who I may agree or disagree with. If you're going around changing your opinion or feeling stupid because you found that you (eeps!) agreed with someone who you normally wouldn't, then I'm pretty sure I'm not the idiot here.

    As I said, I'm not calling you an ass because of your opinion; I'm calling you an ass because of the way you chose (and the way you ALWAYS choose) to express it: as nastily as possible. Resulting in a derail that gets the whole thread talking about you, which I just inadvertently fed into. Now THAT makes me feel like an idiot.

    If anyone would like to talk about the ACTUAL topic, I'd be happy to hear that my conclusions are wrong and why. I did a very quick read and didn't see anything that get my panties in a bunch over, but I may have missed something.
    posted by jennaratrix at 2:18 PM on May 24, 2007


    pastabagel: I see that as an issue, too, but there's just nothing really concrete in this act alone that screams for attention. I think the sense of unease I get from this is because it isn't just this act - it's this, plus all the other little things that we've been discussing here over the past several years. It would be worth sitting down and looking at all the various laws and acts that have been passed to see how they all fit together for a larger picture, but what a project that would be.

    I'm certainly not arguing that there is no cause for concern; but I don't think this particular act is quite as open-ended as many fear. It's this act in combination with everything else that I'm worried about.
    posted by jennaratrix at 2:31 PM on May 24, 2007


    FEMA's still going to run the concentration camps

    Any semblance of future-possible-truth that this may have had was completely blown out of the water when we saw their reaction to Hurricane Katrina.
    posted by mrbill at 2:39 PM on May 24, 2007


    Any semblance of future-possible-truth that this may have had was completely blown out of the water when we saw their reaction to Hurricane Katrina.

    Presumably someone at FEMA will be even vaguely interested in running such camps.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 3:05 PM on May 24, 2007


    So....why wasn’t this done after 9/11? Why is it being done at the tail end of his administration?

    And - as with any new law - why do we need it? The “small government” folks have pretty much been swept away here, but redundancy in law or policy can lead to wasteful spending.
    posted by Smedleyman at 3:16 PM on May 24, 2007


    But wait, wasn't it FEMA that tried to get Bush's attention about the impending disaster in NO? So disaster control is going to be taken from the (former) professionals at FEMA and placed into the hands of the moral equivalents of Karl Rove and Tony Snow? WTF?
    posted by Mental Wimp at 4:37 PM on May 24, 2007


    Is there something about "rule of thumb" and "more likely than not" that made you think I was saying that it was true in every case?

    No, it's something about "rule of thumb" that I object to. See, it's a bad rule of thumb. Especially when regarding an administration that tends to have pundits that scapegoat the media for failures of the administration itself. Hence my objection to your statement. It's rules of thumb of precisely that nature that have contributed to the erosion of the fourth estate.
    posted by shmegegge at 9:23 PM on May 24, 2007


    FEMA's still going to run the concentration camps

    Any semblance of future-possible-truth that this may have had was completely blown out of the water when we saw their reaction to Hurricane Katrina.


    Since I was obviously serious, this is really cutting.
    posted by norm at 7:09 AM on May 25, 2007


    I just hope they don't lock up Harry Dean Stanton in a detainee camp again.

    < / more red dawn references>
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:20 PM on May 25, 2007


    A couple of updates: Mark Morford in today's SF Gate that I enjoyed reading but concludes with 'wait-and-see'.

    Also: a debunking entry in Irregular Times which echoes some of the points raised here, and which links to this OpEd in The Chattanoogan where Matthew Hine seems to lift directly from Jerome Corsi's WorldNet piece. WTH?
    posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:21 AM on May 30, 2007


    « Older "Bling Ballz" is a song by The Bassturd featuring ...  |  ...Rembrandt's last self-portr... Newer »


    This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments