The Department of Homeland Security recently carried out an extensive anti-terrorist exercise entitled TOPOFF 3 (April 4-8, 2005). The “drill” was described by officials as “a multilayered approach to improving North American security”.
The stated objective of the TOPOFF 3 “Full Scale Exercise” was to “prepare America” in the case of an actual bioterrorism attack by Al Qaeda:
“.. we deliberately built the scenario as a very complex WMD bioterrorism attack in New Jersey, as well as a kind of a dual-header in the state of Connecticut in terms of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, and then a simultaneous chemical attack.
The system in TOPOFF 3 across the board was tested as never before, and this was deliberate. We wanted to test the full range of our incident management processes and protocols that spanned prevention, intelligence and information-sharing, and then the more classic or traditional response and recovery. But really for the first time in a national-level exercise, we really got at a near simultaneous WMD attack which is, of course, very, very stressful for the federal folks, as well as our state, local and international partners. (DHS spokeperson at Press Conference, * april, 2005, complete transcript at http://www.allamericanpatriots.com/m-news+article+storyid-9058.html )
“The War on Terrorism”
These exercises must be understood in the broader context of America’s National Security doctrine, which presents Al Qaeda as the main threat to the American homeland.
The “war on terrorism” is the central building block of the administration’s foreign policy and domestic security agendas. In the words of DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff:
Homeland security is one piece of a broader strategy [which] brings the battle to the enemy… But while one key to defense is offense, it is not the entirety of our security picture. For we also need a “defense in depth” as part of the strategic whole. That means even as we pursue terrorists overseas, we work at home to prevent infiltration by terrorists and their weapons; to protect our people and places if infiltration occurs; and to respond and recover if an attack is carried out. This is embodied in our strategy of building multiple barriers to terrorist attacks.(Transcript of complete March 2005 speech of Secr. Michael Chertoff at http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=42&content=4392 empasis added)
Illusive Outside enemy
Known and documented, Al Qaeda is a creation of the US intelligence apparatus.
The purpose of the TOPOFF anti-terrorist exercises is not to “defend America” against terrorists, but to build a consensus within federal, State and municipal bodies, as well as within the business community and civil society (hospitals, schools, etc.) that this illusive outside enemy exists and that “the threat is real”.
We are not dealing with a classical media disinformation campaign. While the TOPOFF exercise has been casually mentioned in press reports, it is not the object of a national debate.
With regard to TOPOFF, the consensus building process is “internal”, it does not pertain the public at large. it is largely addressed to key decision-makers within these various governmental and nongovernmental bodies. It includes more than 10,000 participants in important decision-making positions (federal and State officials, law enforcement, fire departments, hospitals, etc), who may be called to act in the case of an emergency situation. These individuals in turn have a mandate to spread the word within their respective organizations, –i.e. with their coworkers and colleagues, as well as with the people working under their direct supervision.
In other words, this consensus building process reaches out to tens of thousands of people in positions of authority. The antiterrorist agenda and exercises thus become a “talking point” within numerous governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
In turn, the holding of these antiterrorist exercises supports the National Security doctrine of “preemptive war”, –i.e. that America has to legitimate right to self defense by intervening in foreign lands and that America must defend itself against terrorists. It also sustains the myth of WMD in the hands of terrorists, being used against America, when in fact the US is the largest producer of WMD, with a defense budget of more than 400 billion dollars a year.
The objective is to sustain the war and national security agenda –and of course the possibility of martial law– within the governmental, nongovernmental and corporate business sectors.
Ultimately, the objective is develop across the land, an unequivocal acceptance by key officials (and of their coworkers and subordinates), from the federal to the local level, for an emergency situation, where civil liberties and the rights of citizens would be suspended:
Officials will not give a specific figure, but they say the exercise involved several thousand fake deaths and thousands more injuries. This time, the sick and dying were only acting. But officials are aware that someday there could well be a real attack. They say the more they learn about how to coordinate prevention and response efforts, the better job they will be able to do to minimize casualties if and when that happens. ( http://www.voanews.com/english/2005-04-08-voa81.cfm
From TOPOFF 2 to the “Full Scale Exercise”: TOPOFF 3
The previous “anti-terrorist exercise” entitled TOPOFF 2 was held two years ago in May 2003. It was described as “the largest and most comprehensive terrorism response and homeland security exercise ever conducted in the United States.” It was carried out in a military style exercise by federal, State and local level governments, including Canadian participants. TOPOFF 2 established various “scenarios” under a Red Code Alert.
In other words, it was conducted on the same assumptions as a military exercise, in anticipation of an actual war situation, examining various WMD terror attack scenarios and the institutional response of State and local governments:
“It assessed how responders, leaders, and other authorities would react to the simulated release of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in two U. S. cities, Seattle, WA and Chicago, IL. The exercise scenario depicted a fictitious, foreign terrorist organization that detonated a simulated radiological dispersal device (RDD or dirty bomb) in Seattle and released the pneumonic plague in several Chicago metropolitan area locations. There was also significant pre-exercise intelligence play, a cyber-attack, and credible terrorism threats against other locations.”
(For full text see, Department of Homeland Security, Summary Conclusions From National Exercise, Office of the Press Secretary, December 19, 2003, http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=2693 )
The April 2005 so-called Full Scale Exercise“ TOPOFF 3 goes much further than the May 2003 TOPFF 2.
TOPOFF 3 involved a larger number of individual participants. Moreover, in addition to Canada which had been involved in TOPOFF 2 , the exercise also included the participation of Britain’s Home Office. The UK had labeled its exercise “Atlantic Blue”, whereas Canada designated its component of TOPOFF 3 as “Triple Play”.
While there was mention of the Canadian exercise in the news, the details of “Atlantic Blue” were not revealed, nor were they reviewed in the British press. Britain’s Home Office Minister Hazel Blears admitted in March that “There will be no visible ‘on the ground’ activity within the UK exercise”. (quoted in the Sunday Express, 3 April 2005).
TOPOFF 3: Organizational Structure
More than 200 Federal, State, local, tribal, private sector, and international agencies and organizations and volunteer groups were involved.
TOPOFF 3 was organized in terms of five separate “venues”: 1. Interagency, 2. Connecticut, 3. New Jersey: 4. United Kingdom, 5. Canada:
The FSE offers agencies and jurisdictions a way to exercise a coordinated national and international response to a large-scale, multipoint terrorist attack. It allows participants to test plans and skills in a real-time, realistic environment and gain the in-depth knowledge that only experience can provide.”
The TOPOFF 3 scenario will depict a complex terrorist campaign and drive the exercise play through the homeland security system, beginning in Connecticut and New Jersey, and leading to national and international response.
Over the course of several days fire personnel will conduct search and rescue, hospitals will treat the injured (played by role players), subject-matter experts will analyze the effects of the attack on public health, and top officials will deploy resources and make the difficult decisions needed to save lives.
An internal Virtual News Network (VNN) and news website will provide real-time reporting of the story like an actual TV network would. The mock media will keep players up-to-date on unfolding events and enable decision makers to face the challenge of dealing with the real world media. Only participating agencies can view the VNN broadcast.
A Code Red alert, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) , would create conditions for the (“temporary” we are told) suspension of the normal functions of civilian government. According to FEMA, code red would:
Increase or redirect personnel to address critical emergency needs; Assign emergency response personnel and pre-position and mobilize specially trained teams or resources; Monitor, redirect, or constrain transportation systems; and Close public and government facilities not critical for continuity of essential operations, especially public safety. (FEMA, http://www.fema.gov/pdf/areyouready/security.pdf )
Several functions of civilian administration would be suspended, others would be transferred to the jurisdiction of the military. More generally, the procedure would disrupt government offices, businesses, schools, public services, transportation, etc.
“Continuity in Government” (COG)
A secret “Shadow government” under the classified “Continuity of Operations Plan” was installed on September 11, 2001.(See http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A20584-2002Feb28?language=printer ).
Known internally as “Continuity of Government” or COG, the secret Shadow government would become functional in the case of a code red alert, leading to the redeployment of key staff to secret locations.
Code red alert would suspend civil liberties, including public gatherings and/ or citizens’ protests against the war or against the Administration’s decision to declare martial law.
The emergency authorities would also have the authority to exert tight censorship over the media and would no doubt paralyze the alternative news media on the internet.
In turn, code red alert would trigger the “civilian” Homeland Emergency response system, including the DHS’ Ready.Gov instructions, the Big Brother Citizen Corps, not to mention the USAonWatch and the Department of Justice Neighborhood Watch Program which have a new post 9/11 mandate to “identify and report suspicious activity in neighborhoods” across America. The DOJ Neighborhood Watch is involved in ” Terrorism Awareness Education” (www.USAonWatch.org ).
Under the Citizen Corps, which is a component of the USA Freedom Corps, citizens across America are invited to participate in what could potentially develop into a civilian militia:
Americans are responding to the evil and horror of the terrorist attacks of September 11 with a renewed commitment to doing good … As part of that initiative, we created Citizen Corps to help coordinate volunteer activities that will make our communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to any emergency situation.
… We are asking cities and counties across the country to create Citizen Corps Councils of their own design, bringing together first responders, volunteer organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community-serving institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and houses of worship. Some Citizen Corps Councils will feature local activities that reflect new and existing national programs such as Neighborhood Watch, Community Emergency Response Teams, Volunteers in Police Service, and the Medical Reserve Corps. Some will include local programs that involve partnerships with law enforcement agencies, hospitals, first responders, and schools. What all Citizen Corps Councils will have in common is that our local leaders will be working to expand opportunities for their community members to engage in volunteer service that will support emergency preparation, prevention, and response. (Citizen Corps, Guide for Local Officials, President Bush’s introductory remarks, http://www.citizencorps.gov/pdf/council.pdf )
The Role of the Military
What would be the involvement of the Military in a code red emergency situation?
In theory, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 adopted in the wake of the US civil war, prevents the military from intervening in civilian police and judicial functions. This law is central to the functioning of constitutional government.
While the Posse Comitatus Act is still on the books, in practice the legislation is no longer effective in preventing the militarization of civilian institutions.(See Frank Morales at http://globalresearch.ca/articles/MOR309A.html ).
Legislation inherited from the Clinton administration, not to mention the post 9/11 Patriot Acts I and II, “blurs the line between military and civilian roles”. It allows the military to intervene in judicial and law enforcement activities even in the absence of an emergency situation.
In 1996, legislation was passed which allowed the military to intervene in the case of a national emergency (e.g.. a terrorist attack). In 1999, Clinton’s Defense Authorization Act (DAA) extended those powers (under the 1996 legislation) by creating an “exception” to the Posse Comitatus Act, which permits the military to be involved in civilian affairs “regardless of whether there is an emergency”. (See ACLU at http://www.aclu.org/NationalSecurity/NationalSecurity.cfm?ID=8683&c=24 )
“The new proposed exception to the Posse Comitatus Act would further expand a controversial measure adopted by Congress in 1996 that permitted military involvement in “emergencies” involving chemical and biological weapons crimes.
Under that new measure, which was proposed by the Defense Department, the military would be authorized to deal with crimes involving any chemical or biological weapons — or any other weapon of mass destruction — regardless of whether there is an “emergency.” In addition, the new proposal would lift requirements that the military be reimbursed for the cost of its intervention, thus likely increasing the number of requests for military assistance.
“Under this new provision,” Nojeim said, “the mere threat of an act of terrorism would justify calling in military units. That represents a loophole large enough to drive a battalion of army tanks through.”
The defense authorization bill would also require the Pentagon to develop a plan to assign military personnel to assist Customs and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to “respond to threats to national security posed by entry into the U.S. of terrorists or drug traffickers.”
“the mere threat of an act of terrorism would justify calling in military units. That represents a loophole large enough to drive a battalion of army tanks through.” (ibid)
In other words, the Clinton era legislation had already laid the legal and ideological foundations of the “war on terrorism”.
Despite this 1999 “exception” to the Posse Comitatus Act”, which effectively invalidates it, both the Pentagon and Homeland Security, have been actively lobbying Congress for the outright repeal of the 1878 legislation:
“new rules are needed to clearly set forth the boundaries for the use of federal military forces for homeland security. The Posse Comitatus Act is inappropriate for modern times and needs to be replaced by a completely new law …
It is time to rescind the existing Posse Comitatus Act and replace it with a new law. … The Posse Comitatus Act is an artifact of a different conflict-between freedom and slavery or between North and South, if you prefer. Today’s conflict is also in a sense between freedom and slavery, but this time it is between civilization and terrorism. New problems often need new solutions, and a new set of rules is needed for this issue.
President Bush and Congress should initiate action to enact a new law that would set forth in clear terms a statement of the rules for using military forces for homeland security and for enforcing the laws of the United States.
(John R. Brinkerhoff, former associate director for national preparedness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), http://www.homelandsecurity.org/journal/Articles/brinkerhoffpossecomitatus.htm )
The Posse Comitatus Act, is viewed by military analysts as a “Legal Impediment to Transformation”:
“[The Posse Comitatus Act constitutes] a formidable obstacle to our nation’s flexibility and adaptability at a time when we face an unpredictable enemy with the proven capability of causing unforeseen catastrophic events. The difficulty in correctly interpreting and applying the Act causes widespread confusion at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels of our military. Given that future events may call for the use of the military to assist civil authorities, a review of the efficacy of the PCA is in order. ( Donald J. Currier, The Posse Comitatus Act: A Harmless Relic from the Post-Reconstruction Era or a Legal Impediment to Transformation? Authors; Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Pa, September 2003)
The ongoing militarization of civilian justice and law enforcement is a bi-partisan project. Senator Joseph Biden (a Democrat), former Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been waging, since the mid-1990s, in consultation with his Republican counterparts, a battle for the outright repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act.
The Patriot Legislation
In turn, the Bush administration PATRIOT Acts have set the groundwork of the evolving Homeland Security State. In minute detail, they go much further in setting the stage for the militarisation of civilian institutions.
The various provisions are very detailed and precise. The USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001 entitled “Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” as well as the “Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003,” (“PATRIOT Act II”) create the conditions for the militarization of justice and police functions:
The “PATRIOT Act” is a repressive “coordination” of the entities of force and deception, the police, intelligence and the military. It broadens, centralizes and combines the surveillance, arrest and harassment capabilities of the police and intelligence apparatus. Homeland defense is, in essence, a form of state terrorism directed against the American people and democracy itself. It is the Pentagon Inc. declaring war on America.
The “domestic war on terrorism” hinges upon the Pentagon’s doctrine of homeland defense. Mountains of repressive legislation are being enacted in the name of internal security. So called “homeland security”, originally set within the Pentagon’s “operations other than war”, is actually a case in which the Pentagon has declared war on America. Shaping up as the new battleground, this proliferating military “doctrine” seeks to justify new roles and missions for the Pentagon within America. Vast “legal” authority and funds to spy on the dissenting public, reconfigured as terrorist threats, is being lavished upon the defense, intelligence and law enforcement “community.”
All this is taking place amidst an increasingly perfected “fusion” of the police and military functions both within the US and abroad, where the phenomena is referred to as “peacekeeping”, or the “policization of the military”. Here in America, all distinction between the military and police functions is about to be forever expunged with the looming repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act.
In other words, the “New World Law and Order” based on the repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act, requires a system of domestic and global counterinsurgency led by the Pentagon.
(Frank Morales, Homeland Defense: The Pentagon Declares War on America, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/MOR312A.html In 2003, Frank Morales was granted A Project Censored Award of Sonoma University, Cal.
Even under a functioning civilian government, the PATRIOT Acts have already instated several features of martial law. The extent to which they may be applied is at the discretion of the military authorities.
The 2003 Patriot Act II goes much further in extending and enlarging the “Big Brother functions” of control and surveillance of people. It vastly expands the surveillance and counterinsurgency powers, providing government access to personal bank accounts, information on home computers, telephone wire tapping, credit card accounts, etc. (for further details, see Ratical.org at http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/USAPA2.html#DSEAanalysis
The Role of Northern Command (Northcom)
Northern Command (Northcom) (based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado) was set up in April 2002 specifically in the context of “the pre-emptive war on terrorism”.
The creation of Northcom is consistent with the de facto repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act. In fact, the position of a “Homeland Defense Command” leader “in the event of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil”, had already been envisaged in early 1999 by Clinton’s Defense Secretary William Cohen. ( http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Civil_Liberties/Posse_Comitatus_Law.html ).
Following the Bush Administration’s decision to create Northcom, the White House instructed Justice Department lawyers “to review the Posse Comitatus law in light of new security requirements in the war on terrorism.” The 1878 Act was said to “greatly restrict the military’s ability to participate in domestic law enforcement”. (National Journal, Government Record, 22 July 2002)
The role of Northern Command defined in the Pentagon’s “Joint Doctrine for Homeland Security (JP-26)”, constitutes a blueprint on how to defend the Homeland.
Martial law could be triggered even in the case of a bogus terror alert based on fabricated intelligence. Even in the case where it is known and documented to senior military officials that the “outside enemy” is fabricated, a martial law situation, characterized by detailed command military/ security provisions, would become operational almost immediately.
Northcom has a mandate to “defend the homeland” against this illusive “outside enemy”, (Al Qaeda) which is said to be threatening the security of America. According to Frank Morales, “the scenario of a military take-over of America is unfolding.” And Northern Command is the core military entity in this takeover and militarisation of civilian institutions.
Northcom’s “Command Mission” encompasses a number of “non-military functions” including “crisis management” and “domestic civil support”. Under Northcom jurisdiction, the latter would imply a process of “military support to federal, state and local authorities in the event of a terror attack”. The latter would include:
the preparation for, prevention of, deterrence of, preemption of, defense against, and response to threats and aggression directed towards U.S. territory, sovereignty, domestic population, and infrastructure; as well as crisis management, consequence management, and other domestic civil support.” (See http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/dod/northcom.htm )
Northcom is described as having “a Creeping Civilian Mission”. (David Isenberg, Asian Times, 5 December 2003). Since its inception, it has been building capabilities in domestic intelligence and law enforcement. It is in permanent liaison with the DHS and the Justice Department. It has several hundred FBI and CIA officers stationed at its headquarters in Colorado. (National Journal, 1 May 2004). It is in permanent liaison, through an advanced communications system, with municipalities and domestic civilian law enforcement agencies around the country. (Ibid). It also has links to Canadian military and government authorities through the so-called “binaitonal planning group”. (See Is the Annexation of Canada part of Bush’s Military Agenda? November 2004 http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO411C.html )
Meanwhile the CIA, which has a unit operating out of Northcom, has extended its mandate to issues of “domestic intelligence”.
In the case of a Code Red Alert, a national emergency would be declared. Northern Command would deploy its forces on air, land and sea. Several functions of civilian government would be transferred to Northcom headquarters, which already has several structures, which enables it to oversee and supervise civilian institutions.
In other words, Northcom’s “command structure” would be activated in the case of a code red terror alert. But Northcom does not require, in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Defense Authorization Act (DAA), a terror alert, a terror attack or a war-like situation to intervene in the country’s civilian affairs.
The jurisdiction of the Northern Command now extends from Mexico to Alaska. Under (“bi-national”) agreements signed with Canada and Mexico, Northern Command can intervene and deploy its forces and military arsenal on land, air and sea in Canada (extending into its Northern territories), throughout Mexico and in parts of the Caribbean. (See http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/dod/northcom.htm )
Taken together, the existing legislation grants the military extensive rights to intervene in an “emergency situation”, without the prior formal approval of the Commander in Chief.
America’s Big Brother Data Banks
To prepare for new “law enforcement” missions for the military within America, overseen by the Northern Command, the Center for Law and Military Operations, based in Charlottesville, Virginia has published a “useful” Handbook entitled “Domestic Operational Law for Judge Advocates.” According to Frank Morales, the Handbook:
“attempts to solidify, from a legal standpoint, Pentagon penetration of America and it’s ‘operations other than war,’ essentially providing the U.S. corporate elite with lawful justification for its class war against the American people, specifically those that resist the “new world law and order” agenda.” (Frank Morales, Homeland Defense and the Militarisation of America, Global Outlook, No. 6, Winter 2004, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/MOR309A.html )
According to Morales: “the ‘war on terrorism’ is the cover for the war on dissent.” which requires setting up comprehensive procedures and data banks for the surveillance of individual citizens.
In this context, In the wake of September 11, the Bush Administration established its proposed Big Brother data bank: “the Total Information Awareness Program (TIAP).
TIAP was operated by the Information Awareness Office (IAO), which had a mandate “to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralized location, for easy perusal by the United States government.” This would include medical records, credit card and banking information, educational and employment data, records concerning travel and the use of internet, email, telephone and fax.
TIAP was operated in the offices of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a division of the Pentagon in Northern Virginia. (See Washington Post, 11 Nov 2002 at http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40942-2002Nov11 )
Ironically, when it was first set up, it was headed by a man with criminal record, former National Security Adviser ret. Admiral John Poindexter.
Pointexter, who had been indicted on criminal charges for his role in the Iran Contra scandal during the Reagan Administration, subsequently resigned as TIAP Director and the program was “officially” discontinued.
(See Pointedexter’s PowerPoint presentation at http://www.darpa.mil/darpatech2002/presentations/iao_pdf/slides/poindexteriao.pdf )
While the IAO no longer exists in name, the initiative of creating a giant data bank was by no means abandoned. Several US government bodies including Homeland Security, the CIA and the FBI, respectively oversee giant “Big Brother” data banks, which are fully operational. They also collaborate in the controversial Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange ( MATRIX). The latter is defined as “a crime-fighting database” used by law enforcement agencies, the US Justice Department and Homeland Security.
The National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, sets the framework for establishing a centralized “Information Sharing Network” which will coordinate data from “all available sources”. The proposed network would bring together the data banks of various government agencies under a single governmental umbrella. (Deseret Morning News, 29, 2004). Needless to say, this integration of Big Brother data banks also includes tax records, immigration data as well as confidential information on travelers.
Similar procedures have been implemented in Canada. The federal government in Ottawa is collaborating with the US, leading to the eventual merger of tax and immigration data banks between the two countries.
(Text of the C-7 Public Safety Act at http://www.parl.gc.ca/37/3/parlbus/chambus/house/bills/government/C-7/C-7_3/C-7TOCE.html
see also http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/bills_ls.asp?Parl=37&Ses=3&ls=c7 and http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1074294906470
America at a Critical Crossroads
Unquestionably America is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in its history.
The coded terror alerts and “terror events”, which have been announced by DHS are part of a disinformation campaign carried out by the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department and Homeland Security.
US intelligence is not only involved in creating phony terror warnings, it is indirectly also behind the terror groups, providing them with covert support.( See http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO301B.html )
Meanwhile, the militarization of civilian institutions is not only contemplated, it has become a talking point on network TV; it is openly debated as a “solution” to “protecting American democracy” which is said to be threatened by Islamic terrorists.
The implications of a code red alert are rarely the object of serious debate.
The terror exercises under TOPOFF serve to condition public officials and key decision makers. In turn through media disinformation, citizens are being prepared and gradually conditioned for the unthinkable.
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