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Bush Critics Say Threat of Martial Law in The United States is Real


Last Edited: November 7, 2007, 8:08 am

Two issues are being debated concurrently in the United States these days. On the one hand, critics of the Bush administration say that, from the look of things, the Bush/Cheney regime has been working assiduously to pave the way for a declaration of military rule in the US, such that at this point, in the words of one critic, “it really only lacks the pretext to trigger a suspension of Constitutional government.” In an article published by CommonDreams.org on July 27, 2007, Dave Lindorff, author of the book “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), says that Bush and Cheney “have done this with the support of Democrats in Congress, though most of the heavy lifting was done by the last Republican-led Congress.”

On the other hand, talk of impeachment is getting louder. In an article published by the Seattle Post Intelligencer on July 27, 2007, Hubert G. Locke, former dean of the Daniel J. Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, says that “on the eve of a congressionally mandated assessment of the unending madness in Iraq, strange and ominous signs are beginning to appear in all sorts of odd and curious quarters that this nation (the US) should not have to endure another 18 months of the George W. Bush administration and that, if we do, it might well be at the nation’s peril.”

As Locke notes, “Much of the current dismay swirls around Vice-President Dick Cheney, who is busily ignoring rules of government he doesn’t like and declaring his office to be beyond the purview of anyone’s scrutiny, while actively setting about to demolish any government agency that has the impertinence to suggest otherwise.”

Locke says, “Cheney’s advocacy of interrogation techniques for ‘enemy combatants’ that many think tantamount to torture, of monitoring phone calls and e-mails without bothering about (court) warrants, and of ignoring the niceties of the Geneva Convention when dealing with terrorists has put him out of favour even with a growing number of conservatives. Some want to jettison him as a hopeless drag on the Republican Party’s electoral prospects next year; others are beginning to join the throng that is convinced Cheney is out of control and needs to be dispatched for the health and safety of the republic itself.”

Arguing that the threat of martial law in the US is real, Lindorff says, “The first step, of course, was the first Authorisation for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed in September 2001, which the president has subsequently used to claim improperly (but so what?) that the whole world, including the US is a battlefield in a so-called ‘War’ on Terror, and that he has extra-Constitutional unitary executive powers to ignore laws passed by Congress.”

As constitutional scholar and former Reagan-era associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein observes, that one claim, that the US itself is a battlefield, is enough to allow Bush or some future president to declare martial law, “since you can always declare martial law on a battlefield. All he would need would be a pretext, like another terrorist attack inside the US.”

The AUMF was followed by the PATRIOT Act, passed in October 2001, which undermined much of the US Bill of Rights. The PATRIOT Act is an assault on constitutional protections so atrocious that legislators in several US states and local officials in more than 200 cities, towns and counties across the land have passed resolutions or ordinances condemning and rejecting its abuse of civil liberties.

More than 25 million Americans live in states or communities that have officially declared that they oppose those parts of the PATRIOT Act and the even more draconian Homeland Security Act of January 2002 that trample on their freedoms. Yet the Bush administration has continued to ignore such protests and has continued to press ahead with an agenda that has had the effect of turning America more and more into a police state.

Even libraries in America are under siege. Under the PATRIOT Act, which was enacted by Congress with hardly any debate, the FBI has the right to obtain a court order to access any records that American libraries have of books borrowed by customers. Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows law enforcement agencies to peer into Americans’ reading habits and Internet activity, not only at the nation’s libraries but in bookstores as well.

Around the same time that the PATRIOT Act was passed in October 2001, President Bush began a campaign of massive spying on Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA), conducted without any court warrants or other judicial review. As Lindorff notes, the campaign “was and remains a programme that is clearly aimed at American dissidents and the administration’s political opponents, since the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA) would never have raised objections to spying on potential terrorists.”

This, and other government spying programmes, have resulted in the Bush administration having a list now of some 325,000 “suspected terrorists”!

In October 2006, Bush and Cheney, with the help of a compliant Republican-controlled Congress (as it then was, before the November 2006 mid-term congressional elections in which the Democratic Party won control of both the Senate and House of Representatives), put in place some key elements needed for a military putsch.

As Lindorff notes, “There was the overturning of the venerable Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which barred the use of active duty military inside the United States for police-type functions, and the revision of the Insurrection Act, so as to empower the president to take control of National Guard units in the 50 states even over the objections of the governors of those states.”

Put this together, says Lindorff, “with the wholly secret construction now under way - courtesy of a $ 385-million grant by the US Army Corps of Engineers to Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc - of detention camps reportedly capable of confining as many as 400,000 people, and a recent report that the Pentagon has a document, dated June 1, 2007, classified Top Secret, which declares there to be a developing ‘insurgency’ within the US, and which lays out a whole martial law counterinsurgency campaign against legal dissent, and you have all the ingredients for a military takeover of the United States.”

It is no coincidence that the contract for the building of detention camps in the US has been awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), the construction subsidiary of Houston-based oil services giant Halliburton Corporation. Before Dick Cheney became George W. Bush’s running mate in the 2000 presidential campaign, he was Halliburton’s CEO for five years (1995-2000). When Cheney left Halliburton, he was given a $ 37 million severance package by Halliburton and continues to receive $ 100,000 a year from the company under a deferred payment arrangement. He also has stock options worth $ 18 million in Halliburton. The company’s share price has shot up over the last four years as the result of the huge profits it has earned from well over $ 12 billion worth of reconstruction, supply and services contracts it has been awarded in Iraq by the Bush administration through a manifestly non-transparent no-bid process. If Cheney were to cash in his stock option today, he would earn a windfall profit of more than $ 49 million.

Says Lindorff, “As we (Americans) go about our daily lives - our shopping, our escapist movie watching, and even our protesting and political organising - we need to be aware there is a real risk it could all blow up, and that we could find ourselves facing armed, uniformed troops at our doors.”

Former Reagan-era associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein is not an alarmist. He says he doesn’t see martial law in the US coming tomorrow. But he is also realistic. He says, “This is all sitting around like a loaded gun waiting to go off. I think the risk of martial law is trivial right now, but the minute there is a terrorist attack, then it is real. And it stays with us after Bush and Cheney are gone, because terrorism stays with us forever.”

Bush claims that the 2001 AUMF makes him commander-in-chief of a “borderless, endless war on terror.” It may be significant that Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate for president, has called for the revocation of the 2002 AUMF against Iraq, but not for the revocation of the 2001 AUMF.

As Locke notes in his article in The Seattle Post Intelligencer, the US “media are also speaking these days of a looming constitutional crisis as committee chairs in the House and Senate confront a White House refusal to provide requested documents regarding the firings of US attorneys by the Justice Department.”

by Kaleem Omar

Entry #1,247


computerhead723Comment by computerhead723 - November 7, 2007, 9:26 am
Controlling Interests
Ownership, Control, and Insurance of The World Trade Center
The World Trade Center complex came under the control of a private owner for the first time only in mid-2001, having been built and managed by the Port Authority as a public resource. The complex was leased to a partnership of Silverstein Properties and Westfield America. 1   2   The new controllers acquired a handsome insurance policy for the complex including a clause that would prove extremely valuable: in the event of a terrorist attack, the partnership could collect the insured value of the property, and be released from their obligations under the 99-year lease. 3   

Ownership Change
Author Don Paul investigated this and related issues for his 2002 book, which contains the following passage detailing financial aspects and ownership changes of the complex preceding the attack.

On April 26 of 2001 the Board of Commissioners for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey awarded Silverstein Properties and mall-owner Westfield America a 99-year-lease on the following assets: The Twin Towers, World Trade Center Buildings 4 and 5, two 9-story office buildings, and 400,000 square feet of retail space.

The partners' winning bid was $3.2 billion for holdings estimated to be worth more than $8 billion. JP Morgan Chase, a prestigious investment-bank that's the flagship firm of its kind for Rockefeller family interests, advised the Port Authority, another body long influenced by banker and builder David Rockefeller, his age then 85, in the negotiations.

The lead partner and spokesperson for the winning bidders, Larry Silverstein, age 70, already controlled more than 8 million square feet of New York City real estate. WTC 7 and the nearby Equitable Building were prime among these prior holdings. Larry Silverstein also owned Runway 69, a nightclub in Queens that was alleged 9 years ago to be laundering money made through sales of Laotian heroin. 4   

In December 2003, the Port Authority agreed to return all of the $125 million in equity that the consortium headed by Silverstein originally invested to buy the lease on the World Trade Center. The Port Authority rejected a request by the Wall Street Journal to review the transaction. 5   A press report from November 2003 about the same transaction noted that it would allow Silverstein to retain development rights. 6   

The lease deal didn't close until July 24th, just 6 weeks before the attack. 7   

Insurance Payouts
Don Paul also documented the money flows surrounding the loss of Building 7.

In February of 2002 Silverstein Properties won $861 million from Industrial Risk Insurers to rebuild on the site of WTC 7. Silverstein Properties' estimated investment in WTC 7 was $386 million. So: This building's collapse resulted in a profit of about $500 million. 8   

The insurance money flows involved in the destruction of the original six World Trade Center buildings were far greater. Silverstein Properties, the majority owner of WTC 7, also had the majority interest in the original World Trade Center complex. Silverstein hired Willis Group Holdings Ltd. to obtain enough coverage for the complex. Willis undertook "frenetic" negotiations to acquire insurance from 25 carriers. The agreements were only temporary contracts when control of the WTC changed hands on July 24. 9   

After the attack, Silverstein Properties commenced litigation against its insurers, claiming it was entitled to twice the insurance policies' value because, according to a spokesman for Mr. Silverstein, "the two hijacked airliners that struck the 110-story twin towers Sept. 11 were separate 'occurrences' for insurance purposes, entitling him to collect twice on $3.6 billion of policies." This was reported in the Bloomberg News less than one month after the attack. 10   

The ensuing legal battle between the leaseholders and insurers of the World Trade Center was not about how the 9/11/01 attack on the WTC could be considered two attacks, when the WTC was only destroyed once. Rather it seemed to revolve around whether the beneficiaries thought it was one or two "occurrences." The proceedings before U.S. District Judge John S. Martin involved a number of battles over the insurers' discovery rights regarding conversations about this issue between insurance beneficiaries and their lawyers. 11   12   

In December 2004, a jury ruled in favor of the insurance holders' double claim. 13   

A Parable
To put these events in perspective, imagine that a person leases an expensive house, and immediately takes out an insurance policy covering the entire value of the house and specifically covering bomb attacks. Six weeks later two bombs go off in the house, separated by an hour. The house burns down, and the lessor immediately sues the insurance company to pay him twice the value of the house, and ultimately wins. The lessor also gets the city to dispose of the wreckage, excavate the site, and help him build a new house on the site.

Rick GComment by Rick G - November 7, 2007, 3:20 pm
It's just a matter of time, America. The seeds have been sown. Governments all over the world are cracking down on civil rights, freedoms and liberty.

Unfortunately the very country that so loudly pontificates about those rights is also the leader of the global crackdown on civil liberties...the US.

Our Founding Fathers are not just rolling in their graves, their reaching out to every American to do something to protect their Constitution. As John Kennedy said, "It's not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." Forty-five years later, these words have prophetic meaning.

Get involved...vote, contribute, speak out. This is not America as it was intended nor is it the world we envisioned for our children. Let's change it!!!

justxploringComment by justxploring - November 7, 2007, 4:51 pm
computerhead - Enough with the conspiracy theories!! I once sold a life insurance policy to a man who died in a car accident 2 months later. Do you think he planned it? Or maybe his wife paid the drunk driver who ran into him - yeah, that must be it! I also worked with a woman who had a major heart attack just a few weeks after qualifying for her group health insurance. What a sly cookie she was!

Silverstein Properties had actual losses on 9-11 of $8.2 billion, including $5.7 billion for the Twin Towers & retail property at the site and blgs 4 and 5, which were also destroyed by the effects of the attack. The $3.5 billion he was awarded doesn't give him nearly enough to rebuild the WTC, which was his plan.   People love to hate the wealthy & successful and, when the economy is bad and people need someone to blame, they will point their fingers at certain individuals or groups to blame for their misery. This was Adolph Hitler's strongest tool. The devil will always point the finger at someone else and call him evil.

Yes, I do believe the American people aren't being told everything and that our government knew well in advance that an attack was not only possible, but imminent.

Mike, I find it very strange & puzzling that you choose to quote Mr. Omar. I agree with RickG that we must speak up for our civil liberties. But I shudder at the thought that an American citizen is using the words of a Pakistani journalist to support his views.
justxploringComment by justxploring - November 7, 2007, 5:51 pm
Edit to my comment:
Sorry, I read computerhead's comment first, wanted to address it, and then got off-topic. Your post isn't about a 9-11 conspiracy theory and my comment belongs on another thread.   

Yes, I believe martial law in America is possible. Did you ever see this video? Watch it. The date is April 2000 so this was well before 9-11. Scary stuff.
Regarding martial law, I'm 100% for freedom of speech and assembly, but what about situations where there is civil unrest? The government did a crappy job of helping the victims of Katrina, but if your town was hit by a disaster, wouldn't you want soldiers guarding your neighborhood from looters? Still, New Orleans was never officially under martial law. Remember, I went to college during the Kent State shootings when the Ohio Natl Guard opened fire on unarmed students. So believe me when I say that using the military to enforce the law is something that I find frightening and a complete violation of democracy.
TenajComment by Tenaj - November 7, 2007, 7:22 pm
Mike, I find it very strange & puzzling that you choose to quote Mr. Omar. I agree with RickG that we must speak up for our civil liberties. But I shudder at the thought that an American citizen is using the words of a Pakistani journalist to support his views.

He posts just for the sake of debate, controversy. . . sharpening up our tools for when the Pub bloggers start in on the presidential election. Hilliary was a target last week. I had fun last year - the Dems slammed the pubs in the primaries. I knew we would win but I didn't expect "skunk" I learned a lot and I'm still laughing.

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