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On The ‘Continuity Of Government’

03 September 2014 @ 20:43

In his latest post, Angelo Codevilla explains the origins of the Continuity Of Government Program and asks a question we can no longer avoid answering.

This is worth quoting at length [but I do urge you to eventually to read the full article here]:

The immediate question, whether the data stored under this program is for the government’s internal use only or for the good of the country as a whole, stands for the larger one: whether the government’s vast and growing security apparatus exists for the government to protect the public or whether it exists for the government to protect itself against the public.

The following makes no attempt to resolve this essential question. Rather, it casts light onto the origins of “continuity of government,” in which I was tangentially involved while on the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It also mentions some public glimpses of how the program has evolved beyond its origins, and how its use or misuse might cast an unbecoming light on the federal government.

Circa 1980, the U.S. government gradually (albeit partially) awakened from a quarter-century-long, self-induced delusion that, while it would have to make lots of preparations for the day on which it might “push the button” of nuclear war, it would not have to make any preparations for the day after because nuclear war would be the end of the world. Never was there the slightest scientific basis for this. Furthermore, there was never any doubt that the Soviet Union was making all the plans it could to fight, survive, and win a nuclear war. But faith in Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) offered U.S. officials the twin comforts of posturing as “more horrified than thou” about nuclear war and of abdication of responsibility concerning it. By the late Carter administration and into the Reagan administration, however, the fact that Soviet strategic weaponry was designed specifically to kill weapons rather than populations forced officials to confront the fact that, almost certainly, they would survive to face life on “the day after.”

In late 1982, President Reagan ordered that plans be made for the federal government to survive a nuclear war. The “continuity of government” project grew quickly as federal agencies and contractors scrambled to get in. New “undisclosed locations” for relocating government functions were established, furnished, and connected with secure communications. Data was duplicated and plans were made to move officials.

The plans were highly classified to prevent the enemy from knowing where else to target the government, but also because the very notion that Reagan was preparing for war increased his vulnerability to the then-standard charge that he was a warmonger.

“Continuity of government” was inherently controversial because the government was providing for its own safety while making zero provisions for America’s survival. That is because the government’s awakening from the illusion of deterrence based on MAD was only partial. Acknowledgment that the Soviets had built shelters for civilians, factory workers, and even for agricultural products – and that they had built their own anti-missile defense as best their technology allowed – did not dent the high-level bipartisan consensus that our government would do no such thing here. Not then, not since, has the U.S. government built a “civil defense” or an anti-missile defense. Nor does it have any intention of doing so.  Hence, the thought of bureaucrats snug and safe while the rest of Americans suffer is hidden away.

Recall how naturally hostile was the American people’s impression, on 9/11, of President George W. Bush flying safely above his country, as per “continuity of government” protocol, while Americans frantically streamed out of cities.

By the same token, the American people have taken note that post-9/11 “homeland security” provides for secure working spaces, armed bodyguards and traffic-stopping motorcades for more and more officials. More and more secrecy, more and more government activities have been made safe from terrorism. But for us, ”security” means being subjected to more and more arbitrary treatment by officials who are ever more remote and less and less accountable to us.

That is why the possibility that “Lois Lerner’s smoking gun e-mails” may be in the “continuity of government” archives (it is not certain that these archives automatically copy communications at that level) sets up an interesting test. Of course these records were not meant to be used to back up the ordinary workings of government. But if the government uses their security classification to shield its partisan abuse of the public, it will thereby tell the public that perhaps this government is now so corrupt that it no longer deserves continuity.

Some thoughts…

-President Reagan’s intention was a good one: to see that the national government would continue to function and provide some sort of level of national defense after a nuclear exchange.

He trusted that his successors would see to it that their Administrations and the Bureaucratic Class would not abuse the Program and use it as it has been used for political ends and to insure the survival of the members of the Administrative State — Mr. Reagan was wrong.  While he understood the dangers of Leftism, he failed to see how deeply Leftist Thinking had infected the national government and both major political parties.  Every President since he left office has been a member of the Establishment Elite, a group that believes it, in a sense, has a ‘Divine Right’ to rule over America, because they are so ‘Enlightened’.  Be they Liberal Fascist Republicans or Socialist Democrats, they all look out for their own first, the ‘pragmatism’ they so often tout being nothing but a synonym for ruthless selfishness.

Some safeguards should have been put in place to prevent some of the abuses that have occurred, while the rest were clearly beyond his control, so dependent are republican forms of government on Virtuous Men in order for them to survive.  And we are afflicted in America with a deficiency of Virtue these days.  As Samuel Adams wrote about the British people in 1775, so it is for a large number of citizens here today:

I cannot conceive that there is any room to hope from the virtuous efforts of the people of Britain. They seem to be generally unprincipled and fitted for the yoke of arbitrary power. The opposition of the few is feeble and languid — while the Tyrant is flushed with expectations from his fleets & armies…. [Letter to James Bowdoin, 16 November 1775]

-That the current national government will use it’s ‘security classification to shield its partisan abuse of the public’ we cannot doubt any longer if we are to consider ourselves clear thinkers.  After all, it’s three Branches are all guilty of serially ignoring The Constitution and it’s restrictions, to the point where The Constitution Of The United States has been rendered inoperative in fact, as well as in Spirit.

Such a situation means that the national government is no longer legitimate; it does not deserve any sanction to continue in operation.  The national government has willfully broken the sacred bond of allegiance to the laws and The Constitution.  The people who run it have violated the covenant between themselves and the American People, who are the Sovereignty.

‘Continuity of government’?  No.  What we need is an impeachment of the whole national government.

LIVE FREE OR DIE.

 

10 Comments
  1. 04 September 2014 @ 07:13 07:13

    How much of this monster is a failure to anticipate the spread of individualized technology? Yeah, futurists would talk about handheld this or that, but did anyone in 1980 really successfully and convincingly predict smart phones would be in the hands of everyone in 25 years? IOW, policy didn’t evolve to deal with the reality of advancing technology–yes, the gov’t may justify backing up the back up of everyone’s Social Security data in perpetuity, but when the same law justifies backing up the back ups of everyone’s smart phone metadata (or, as I suspect, their data), they’ve violated the spirit of the law due to their own shortsightedness.

    If anything successfully demonstrates a justification for the TEA Party agenda, it’s our current domestic security intelligence monster. Sclerotic AND expensive AND short-sighted.

    • thecampofthesaints permalink
      04 September 2014 @ 07:16 07:16

      Bingo!

      On Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 7:13 AM, The Camp Of The Saints wrote:

      >

      • 04 September 2014 @ 08:15 08:15

        If only someone in the GOP would figure out that that’s a winning issue. I mean someone without the last name “Paul”.

  2. Ernst Schreiber permalink
    04 September 2014 @ 14:32 14:32

    First Reaction, quoth Codavilla:

    Recall how naturally hostile was the American people’s impression, on 9/11, of President George W. Bush flying safely above his country, as per “continuity of government” protocol, while Americans frantically streamed out of cities.

    I don’t recall any such thing at all. Netiher hostility towards Bush, nor frantic Americans streaming out of cities.

    I do recall being hit with the image of cement-dust covered New Yorkers streaming down whatever street they were streaming away from the wreckage of the Twin Towers over and over again for days afterwards though.

    I thought only the media make the mistake of assuming that New York city was America.

    • thecampofthesaints permalink
      04 September 2014 @ 14:39 14:39

      I know the media commented on it, but they are bastards, so their commentary wasn’t unexpected.

      I, like Mr. Codevilla, live in New England and there was some grumbling about this by the people I work with. Of course, they’re all Democrats – even the ones who lean conservative.

      On Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 2:32 PM, The Camp Of The Saints wrote:

      >

    • Ernst Schreiber permalink
      04 September 2014 @ 15:04 15:04

      There was some snarking about “the image thing” from the left. And probably more fretting about the same from the right as Air Force One wandered around. But that was very quickly righted when Bush went to Ground Zero.

      When did we give up on Civil Defense anyways? Kennedy? Johnson? Or was it as late as Nixon?

      • 04 September 2014 @ 20:08 20:08

        -Indeed. By the end of that day, the President had redeemed himself, I think, in many eyes [including mine, as I thought his speech the night of 11 September was rather lame].

        -Based on my elementary school experience, I think it started in the last year or two of LBJ’s term. It was then, when I was about seven, that we stopped having Civil Defense drills. But I have no doubt that President Nixon thought CD a futile effort, based on my study of the man [who has always fascinated me].

  3. Ernst Schreiber permalink
    04 September 2014 @ 14:57 14:57

    After some reflection.

    Let’s not mistake the symptom (continuity of government) for the accute disease (entrenched leftists in control of the bureaucracy) aggravating the chronic condition (bureaucracy).

    I have no doubt that paper pushers who pushed the paper Reagan wanted to keep on pushing back in ’82 pulled the lever for the Democrats just as reliably as their successor will in 2014. The difference, however, is that unlike today, they at least were competent in their jobs back then. Who knows? maybe death by nuclear incineration concentrated the mind as effectively as the hangman’s noose.

    So the question for me becomes: when did the bureaucracy go completely to shit? My guess is right after Bush v. Gore, when all those Clinton era appointees found out they weren’t going to be working for the boss whom they expected.

    I’ll wrap it up by conceding that my remarks on competence apply mostly to the foreign policy side of the bureaucracy. The domestic bureaucrats have probably always been mostly shit. So maybe it’s as simple incompetence and indifference spread like the common cold.

    • 04 September 2014 @ 20:22 20:22

      As someone who has been working for government for over thirty years, I think the ‘simple incompetence and indifference’ spread like a disease – although perhaps Syphilis-like rather than Rhino-like.

      As for when The Bureaucracy went to Hell:

      (1) it inevitably does;

      (2) as the quality of the work ethic has gone down in Society in general, so has it in government, but, perhaps, faster in the latter because Society’s Indolent Class has always found a comfortable home there;

      (3) when the Left decided, starting in the latter part of the 1970’s, to destroy ‘The System’ from within, they had their community organizers start working to place their members and followers inside the cubicles – and, at this, they have been very, very successful; and

      (4) for years the Left concentrated on building and maintaining the Unions in private companies, but, once such Unions were crippled in the 1980’s, the Left turned it’s efforts towards the public sector unions.

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