Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Washington Post: Pushin' Crimes Like Weight...

War Plans Drafted To Counter Terror Attacks in U.S.

Domestic Effort Is Big Shift for Military

By Bradley Graham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 8, 2005; Page A01

COLORADO SPRINGS -- The U.S. military has devised its first-ever war plans for guarding against and responding to terrorist attacks in the United States, envisioning 15 potential crisis scenarios and anticipating several simultaneous strikes around the country, according to officers who drafted the plans.

The classified plans, developed here at Northern Command headquarters, outline a variety of possible roles for quick-reaction forces estimated at as many as 3,000 ground troops per attack, a number that could easily grow depending on the extent of the damage and the abilities of civilian response teams.

The possible scenarios range from "low end," relatively modest crowd-control missions to "high-end," full-scale disaster management after catastrophic attacks such as the release of a deadly biological agent or the explosion of a radiological device, several officers said.

Some of the worst-case scenarios involve three attacks at the same time, in keeping with a Pentagon directive earlier this year ordering Northcom, as the command is called, to plan for multiple simultaneous attacks.

The war plans represent a historic shift for the Pentagon, which has been reluctant to become involved in domestic operations and is legally constrained from engaging in law enforcement. Indeed, defense officials continue to stress that they intend for the troops to play largely a supporting role in homeland emergencies, bolstering police, firefighters and other civilian response groups.

But the new plans provide for what several senior officers acknowledged is the likelihood that the military will have to take charge in some situations, especially when dealing with mass-casualty attacks that could quickly overwhelm civilian resources.

"In my estimation, [in the event of] a biological, a chemical or nuclear attack in any of the 50 states, the Department of Defense is best positioned -- of the various eight federal agencies that would be involved -- to take the lead," said Adm. Timothy J. Keating, the head of Northcom, which coordinates military involvement in homeland security operations.

The plans present the Pentagon with a clearer idea of the kinds and numbers of troops and the training that may be required to build a more credible homeland defense force. They come at a time when senior Pentagon officials are engaged in an internal, year-long review of force levels and weapons systems, attempting to balance the heightened requirements of homeland defense against the heavy demands of overseas deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Keating expressed confidence that existing military assets are sufficient to meet homeland security needs. Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe, Northcom's chief operations officer, agreed, but he added that "stress points" in some military capabilities probably would result if troops were called on to deal with multiple homeland attacks.

Debate and Analysis

Several people on the staff here and at the Pentagon said in interviews that the debate and analysis within the U.S. government regarding the extent of the homeland threat and the resources necessary to guard against it remain far from resolved.

The command's plans consist of two main documents. One, designated CONPLAN 2002 and consisting of more than 1,000 pages, is said to be a sort of umbrella document that draws together previously issued orders for homeland missions and covers air, sea and land operations. It addresses not only post-attack responses but also prevention and deterrence actions aimed at intercepting threats before they reach the United States.

The other, identified as CONPLAN 0500, deals specifically with managing the consequences of attacks represented by the 15 scenarios.

War Plans Drafted To Counter Terror Attacks in U.S.

CONPLAN 2002 has passed a review by the Pentagon's Joint Staff and is due to go soon to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and top aides for further study and approval, the officers said. CONPLAN 0500 is still undergoing final drafting here. (CONPLAN stands for "concept plan" and tends to be an abbreviated version of an OPLAN, or "operations plan," which specifies forces and timelines for movement into a combat zone.)

The plans, like much else about Northcom, mark a new venture by a U.S. military establishment still trying to find its comfort level with the idea of a greater homeland defense role after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Military officers and civilian Pentagon policymakers say they recognize, on one hand, that the armed forces have much to offer not only in numbers of troops but also in experience managing crises and responding to emergencies. On the other hand, they worry that too much involvement in homeland missions would diminish the military's ability to deal with threats abroad.

The Pentagon's new homeland defense strategy, issued in June, emphasized in boldface type that "domestic security is primarily a civilian law enforcement function." Still, it noted the possibility that ground troops might be sent into action on U.S. soil to counter security threats and deal with major emergencies.

"For the Pentagon to acknowledge that it would have to respond to catastrophic attack and needs a plan was a big step," said James Carafano, who follows homeland security issues for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.

William M. Arkin, a defense specialist who has reported on Northcom's war planning, said the evolution of the Pentagon's thinking reflects the recognition of an obvious gap in civilian resources.

Since Northcom's inception in October 2002, its headquarters staff has grown to about 640 members, making it larger than the Southern Command, which oversees operations in Latin America, but smaller than the regional commands for Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific. A brief tour late last month of Northcom's operations center at Peterson Air Force Base found officers monitoring not only aircraft and ship traffic around the United States but also the Discovery space shuttle mission, the National Scout Jamboree in Virginia, several border surveillance operations and a few forest firefighting efforts.

'Dual-Use' Approach

Pentagon authorities have rejected the idea of creating large standing units dedicated to homeland missions. Instead, they favor a "dual-use" approach, drawing on a common pool of troops trained both for homeland and overseas assignments.

Particular reliance is being placed on the National Guard, which is expanding a network of 22-member civil support teams to all states and forming about a dozen 120-member regional response units. Congress last year also gave the Guard expanded authority under Title 32 of the U.S. Code to perform such homeland missions as securing power plants and other critical facilities.

But the Northcom commander can quickly call on active-duty forces as well. On top of previous powers to send fighter jets into the air, Keating earlier this year gained the authority to dispatch Navy and Coast Guard ships to deal with suspected threats off U.S. coasts. He also has immediate access to four active-duty Army battalions based around the country, officers here said.

Nonetheless, when it comes to ground forces possibly taking a lead role in homeland operations, senior Northcom officers remain reluctant to discuss specifics. Keating said such situations, if they arise, probably would be temporary, with lead responsibility passing back to civilian authorities.

Military exercises code-named Vital Archer, which involve troops in lead roles, are shrouded in secrecy. By contrast, other homeland exercises featuring troops in supporting roles are widely publicized.

Legal Questions

Civil liberties groups have warned that the military's expanded involvement in homeland defense could bump up against the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which restricts the use of troops in domestic law enforcement. But Pentagon authorities have told Congress they see no need to change the law.

According to military lawyers here, the dispatch of ground troops would most likely be justified on the basis of the president's authority under Article 2 of the Constitution to serve as commander in chief and protect the nation. The Posse Comitatus Act exempts actions authorized by the Constitution.

"That would be the place we would start from" in making the legal case, said Col. John Gereski, a senior Northcom lawyer.

But Gereski also said he knew of no court test of this legal argument, and Keating left the door open to seeking an amendment of the Posse Comitatus Act.

One potentially tricky area, the admiral said, involves National Guard officers who are put in command of task forces that include active-duty as well as Guard units -- an approach first used last year at the Group of Eight summit in Georgia. Guard troops, acting under state control, are exempt from Posse Comitatus prohibitions.

"It could be a challenge for the commander who's a Guardsman, if we end up in a fairly complex, dynamic scenario," Keating said. He cited a potential situation in which Guard units might begin rounding up people while regular forces could not.

The command's sensitivity to legal issues, Gereski said, is reflected in the unusually large number of lawyers on staff here -- 14 compared with 10 or fewer at other commands. One lawyer serves full time at the command's Combined Intelligence and Fusion Center, which joins military analysts with law enforcement and counterintelligence specialists from such civilian agencies as the FBI, the CIA and the Secret Service.

A senior supervisor at the facility said the staff there does no intelligence collection, only analysis.

He also said the military operates under long-standing rules intended to protect civilian liberties. The rules, for instance, block military access to intelligence information on political dissent or purely criminal activity.

Even so, the center's lawyer is called on periodically to rule on the appropriateness of some kinds of information-sharing. Asked how frequently such cases arise, the supervisor recalled two in the previous 10 days, but he declined to provide specifics.



Congress Not Advised Of Shadow Government

Bush Calls Security 'Serious Business'

Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
March 2, 2002; Page A1

Key congressional leaders said yesterday the White House did not tell them that President Bush has moved a cadre of senior civilian managers to secret underground sites outside Washington to ensure that the federal government could survive a devastating terrorist attack on the nation's capital. Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said he had not been informed about the role, location or even the existence of the shadow government that the administration began to deploy the morning of the Sept. 11 hijackings. An aide to House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) said he similarly was unaware of the administration's move.

Among Congress's GOP leadership, aides to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.), second in line to succeed the president if he became incapacitated, and to Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (Miss.) said they were not sure whether they knew.

Aides to Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) said he had not been told. As Senate president pro tempore, he is in line to become president after the House speaker.

Bush acknowledged yesterday that the administration had taken extensive measures to guarantee "the continuity of government," after it was revealed that about 100 top officials, spanning every executive branch department, have been sent to live and work in two fortified locations on the East Coast. This system, in which high-ranking administrators are rotating in and out of the two sites, represents the first time a president has activated the contingency plan, which was devised during the Cold War of the 1950s so that federal rule could continue if Washington were struck by a catastrophic attack.

It was unclear yesterday whether any federal documents -- prepared either by the current White House or by Bush's predecessors dating to Dwight D. Eisenhower -- specify whether congressional leaders should be told if the plan is put into effect. At least one relatively general document, a 1988 executive order entitled "Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities," said the White House's National Security Council "shall arrange for Executive branch liaison with, and assistance to, the Congress and the federal judiciary on national security-emergency preparedness matters."

The executive order, signed by President Ronald Reagan, is a precursor to documents outlining the contingency plans in greater detail, which have not been made public. Regardless of whether Bush had an obligation to notify legislative leaders, the congressional leaders' ignorance of the plan he set in motion could raise the question of how this shadow administration would establish its legitimacy with Congress in the event it needed to step in for a crippled White House.

At least some members of Congress suggested yesterday that the administration should have conferred about its plans, which were first reported in The Washington Post yesterday.

"There are two other branches of government that are central to the functioning of our democracy," said Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee. "I would hope the speaker and the minority leader would at least pose the question, 'What about us?' "

Other lawmakers said they believe the federal government lacks adequate plans to be certain that all three of its branches could function if terrorists disabled Washington.

White House officials did not elaborate on why the president did not consult with congressional leaders. "The president addressed this earlier today, and I will have to refer you to his comments," spokesman Taylor Gross said.

Speaking yesterday on a trip to Des Moines, Bush did not describe the deployment in detail. He said he had "an obligation as the president [to] put measures in place that, should somebody be successful in attacking Washington, D.C., [would guarantee] there's an ongoing government."

"This is serious business," the president said. "I still take the threats that we receive from al Qaeda killers and terrorists very seriously." He made clear the extent to which he believes that terrorism poses a lingering threat to the U.S. government. "That's one reason why the vice president was going to undisclosed locations," Bush told reporters.

"And I will tell you, there are people still in this world who want to harm America," the president said, vowing that "we're doing everything in our power to protect the American people."

At the Pentagon, which routinely rotates top military officials to secure locations, spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said: "It is absolute common sense, absolutely appropriate that the government should have all the parts and all the pieces in place so in case of a crisis, in case of an emergency, the government can and will continue to function."

The House and Senate each has a contingency plan. "Precautions have been taken and arrangements have been made to move the work of Congress to another location," Daschle said.

Bush made his remarks at the Printer Inc., a relatively small Des Moines business that the White House chose as a backdrop to tout changes the administration favors to the nation's pension laws. The printing plant assists workers with 401(k) plans and encourages them to take an active role in saving money for retirement.

For the second day in a row, Bush sought to draw attention to his plans for what he has begun to call "retirement security," a combination of pension changes and redesign of Social Security.

"You see, we're going to have to encourage more savings in America, because people are going to live longer lives," Bush said.

Alluding to his more controversial view that workers should be allow to invest some of their Social Security taxes in the stock market, Bush said: "We ought to do everything we can in Washington, D.C., to encourage people to own a piece of the future."

His visit to Iowa of slightly more than three hours followed a formula the White House has used since New Year's, as the president has begun to travel to states in which GOP candidates face tight races in the fall elections. These visits combine a forum to promote one of the administration's legislative priorities with a political fundraiser.

Bush attended a luncheon on behalf of Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), a quiet conservative first elected in the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. He has easily won reelection since then, but his prospects are far less certain this year because his district -- until now heavily Republican -- has been redrawn to include more Democratic voters.

The luncheon raised $275,000 for Latham and $200,000 for the Iowa Republican Party.

This was Bush's fourth trip to Iowa since becoming president. The state is significant to the GOP's struggle to retain its majority in the House and to win back control of the Senate this fall -- and to Bush's reelection aspirations in two years. Bush narrowly lost the state to Vice President Al Gore in 2000.

Goldstein reported from Des Moines.



Memo: U.S. Lacked Full Postwar Iraq Plan

Advisers to Blair Predicted Instability

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 12, 2005; Page A01

A briefing paper prepared for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers eight months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq concluded that the U.S. military was not preparing adequately for what the British memo predicted would be a "protracted and costly" postwar occupation of that country.

The eight-page memo, written in advance of a July 23, 2002, Downing Street meeting on Iraq, provides new insights into how senior British officials saw a Bush administration decision to go to war as inevitable, and realized more clearly than their American counterparts the potential for the post-invasion instability that continues to plague Iraq.

In its introduction, the memo "Iraq: Conditions for Military Action" notes that U.S. "military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace," but adds that "little thought" has been given to, among other things, "the aftermath and how to shape it."

The July 21 memo was produced by Blair's staff in preparation for a meeting with his national security team two days later that has become controversial on both sides of the Atlantic since last month's disclosure of official notes summarizing the session.

In those meeting minutes -- which have come to be known as the Downing Street Memo -- British officials who had just returned from Washington said Bush and his aides believed war was inevitable and were determined to use intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and his relations with terrorists to justify invasion of Iraq.

The "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," said the memo -- an assertion attributed to the then-chief of British intelligence, and denied by U.S. officials and by Blair at a news conference with Bush last week in Washington. Democrats in Congress led by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), however, have scheduled an unofficial hearing on the matter for Thursday.

Now, disclosure of the memo written in advance of that meeting -- and other British documents recently made public -- show that Blair's aides were not just concerned about Washington's justifications for invasion but also believed the Bush team lacked understanding of what could happen in the aftermath.

In a section titled "Benefits/Risks," the July 21 memo states, "Even with a legal base and a viable military plan, we would still need to ensure that the benefits of action outweigh the risks."

Saying that "we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective," the memo's authors point out, "A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise." The authors add, "As already made clear, the U.S. military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden."

That memo and other internal British government documents were originally obtained by Michael Smith, who writes for the London Sunday Times. Excerpts were made available to The Washington Post, and the material was confirmed as authentic by British sources who sought anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter.

The Bush administration's failure to plan adequately for the postwar period has been well documented. The Pentagon, for example, ignored extensive State Department studies of how to achieve stability after an invasion, administer a postwar government and rebuild the country. And administration officials have acknowledged the mistake of dismantling the Iraqi army and canceling pensions to its veteran officers -- which many say hindered security, enhanced anti-U.S. feeling and aided what would later become a violent insurgency.

Testimony by then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz, one of the chief architects of Iraq policy, before a House subcommittee on Feb. 28, 2003, just weeks before the invasion, illustrated the optimistic view the administration had of postwar Iraq. He said containment of Hussein the previous 12 years had cost "slightly over $30 billion," adding, "I can't imagine anyone here wanting to spend another $30 billion to be there for another 12 years." As of May, the Congressional Research Service estimated that Congress has approved $208 billion for the war in Iraq since 2003.

The British, however, had begun focusing on doubts about a postwar Iraq in early 2002, according to internal memos.

A March 14 memo to Blair from David Manning, then the prime minister's foreign policy adviser and now British ambassador in Washington, reported on talks with then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Among the "big questions" coming out of his sessions, Manning reported, was that the president "has yet to find the answers . . . [and] what happens on the morning after."

About 10 days later, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw wrote a memo to prepare Blair for a meeting in Crawford, Tex., on April 8. Straw said "the big question" about military action against Hussein was, "how there can be any certainty that the replacement regime will be any better," as "Iraq has no history of democracy."

Straw said the U.S. assessments "assumed regime change as a means of eliminating Iraq's WMD [weapons of mass destruction] threat. But none has satisfactorily answered how that regime change is to be secured. . . ."

Later in the summer, the postwar doubts would be raised again, at the July 23 meeting memorialized in the Downing Street Memo. Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6, the British intelligence service, reported on his meetings with senior Bush officials. At one point, Dearlove said, "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman, appearing June 5 on "Meet the Press," disagreed with Dearlove's remark. "I think that there was clearly planning that occurred."

The Blair government, unlike its U.S. counterparts, always doubted that coalition troops would be uniformly welcomed, and sought U.N. participation in the invasion in part to set the stage for an international occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, said British officials interviewed recently. London was aware that the State Department had studied how to deal with an invasion's aftermath. But the British government was "shocked," in the words of one official, "when we discovered that in the postwar period the Defense Department would still be running the show."

The Downing Street Memo has been the subject of debate since the London Sunday Times first published it May 1. Opponents of the war say it proved the Bush administration was determined to invade months before the president said he made that decision.

Neither Bush nor Blair has publicly challenged the authenticity of the July 23 memo, nor has Dearlove spoken publicly about it. One British diplomat said there are different interpretations.

Last week, it was the subject of questions posed to Blair and Bush during the former's visit to Washington.

Asked about Dearlove being quoted as saying that in the United States, intelligence was being "fixed around the policy" of removing Hussein by military action, Blair said, "No, the facts were not being fixed in any shape or form at all." He then went on to discuss the British plan, outlined in the memo, to go to the United Nations to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq.

Bush said he had read "characterizations of the memo," pointing out that it was released in the middle of Blair's reelection campaign, and that the United States and Britain went to the United Nations to exhaust diplomatic options before the invasion.



DC Journalists Have Escape Plans If Nation’s Capital Is Attacked

The Washington Post is moving its data center to Tysons Corner in Virginia.

U.S. News has plans to send reporters and editors to hotels in Frederick, Maryland.

The BBC would evacuate its staff to waiting boats on the Potomac River to avoid land-based escape routes that are likely to be jammed.

The New York Times bureau has geared up with a Geiger counter, dust masks, flashlights, food, water, and other survival equipment.

As the threat of a terrorist attack on Washington occupies the front pages and airwaves, news organizations are trying to figure out how to keep going in a capital city where the air or water might be toxic.

“We’re putting our plan together now,” says U.S. News executive editor Brian Kelly. “We have people here and in New York. If [terrorists] hit both places, we’ll be in Frederick.”

The Washington Post newsroom had been blasé about the prospect of a terrorist attack, according to staffers working on contingency plans, but editors now seem to be in a panic to prepare for a scenario blasted across the paper’s front page all week.

“They’re really taking it seriously,” says a member of the communications team.

The Post has been doing some planning for worst-case scenarios for months. A move of its data center to Tysons Corner is scheduled to be done in June. But the pace picked up Thursday in meetings with top editors such as managing editor Steve Coll. Post Company chair Don Graham also has been involved in daily meetings.

“We have a pretty well-developed plan to keep publishing the newspaper,” Coll says.

According to internal communications, the Post is planning for three levels of trouble:

l. A chemical or biological attack, such as anthrax, in the newsroom.
2. The downtown DC headquarters is uninhabitable but still standing.
3. The Post building is destroyed.

”We are working on plans to keep publishing at each level,” says one editor. “How do we recreate ourselves?”

If the newsroom is out of commission, the foreign desk reorganizes in the Alexandria bureau. The national desk would reorganize in Silver Spring, north of DC in suburban Maryland. Coll calls it “a dispersal strategy.”

The paper is also stocking up on basic survival supplies, like water. “We are preparing for lockdown,” one staff member said.

USA Today is already about 14 miles west of the White House in Tysons Corner, but it has begun to plan for second and third publishing sites.

“We will work out of these offices here as long as possible,” says director of communications Steven Anderson, “but we have offices in Silver Spring where we could publish if necessary.”

USA Today also is setting up a potential publishing site farther away in Winchester, Virginia, 75 miles west of Washington. It already has moved some computers to Shenandoah University there.

The BBC’s plan to evacuate its Washington staff by boat was explained to Post executives. BBC news editor Patrick Howse referred calls about the use of boats to corporate headquarters.

At U.S. News, editors and managers were doing what they could to make sure their building and its ventilation systems were secure.

“We’re trying to reassure people,” says Brian Kelly. “There’s not much more you can do.”