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October 27, 2005

Will The Military Choose The Constitution Or The Party?

-- by Dave Johnson

So, here we are, waiting to see if there are indictments of White House officials. What will Bush and the "conservative movement" do if the PlameGate, Abramoff, DeLay, Reed and/or other crime/corruption investigations finally threaten to bring down the Bush Presidency -- along with Republican control of the House and Senate?

Let's look back at what happened when Nixon was being forced out.

But first, here's what got me thinking about this. I came across the following, Military's Advice to Reporters: 2,000 Dead in Iraq 'Not a Milestone',

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force's combined press center, wrote in an e-mail to reporters, "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."
And this, The Party's nominee for chief Pentagon Spokesman, claiming the America media are in "partnership" with al Queda,
"Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda have a partner in Al Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the U.S.," Mr. Smith wrote. "This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq."
Our media "in partnership" with al Queda...

The first was from a Lt. Col., the second from a political appointee, both in the Pentagon. When I hear official military spokesmen echoing Rush Limbaugh and saying that the press is "in partnership" with terrorists, or insinuating that I am somehow anti-American it makes me nervous. That's because I remember Nixon.

When Nixon was in his last days in office, drunk, paranoid and raving, the Secretary of Defense instructed the Joint Chiefs to ignore any orders given by Nixon, in case he attempted a coup. From The Modern History Project:

Then in October, came the rumor that Nixon may be considering a military coup to stay in office. Gen. Alexander Haig told the Congress during his confirmation hearings for the position of Secretary of State on January, 1981, that some people in Washington were "flirting with solutions which would have been extra-Constitutional". Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski warned the grand jury that if they decided to indict Nixon he might use force to remain in office. In June, 1982, Harold Evans, Watergate grand juror, appearing on a segment of the ABC-TV news show "20/20." said that Jaworski told them that if they indicted Nixon he might "surround the White House with armed forces."

On October 26, 1973, in a Washington Star article called "Has President Nixon Gone Crazy?" syndicated columnist Carl Rowan wrote: "...in the face of a vote to impeach he might try, as 'commander-in-chief' to use military forces to keep himself in power." In another article called "The Pardon," in the August, 1983 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, by Seymour Hersh, one of Nixon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, recalled that in a December 22, 1973 meeting:

"He kept on referring to the fact that he may be the last hope, (that) the Eastern elite was out to get him. He kept saying, 'This is our last and best hope. The last chance to resist the fascists'. His words brought me straight up out of my chair. I felt the President, without the words having been said, was trying to sound us out to see if we would support him in some extra-constitutional action ...

(Secretary of Defense James) Schlesinger began to investigate what forces could be assembled at his order as a counterweight to the Marines, if Nixon -- in a crisis -- chose to subvert the Constitution. The notion that Nixon could at any time resort to extraordinary steps to preserve his presidency was far more widespread in the government than the public perceived..."

He felt it would be led by General Robert Cushman, the Marine Representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been loyal to Nixon ever since he had been his military aide while he was the Vice President under Eisenhower. Schlesinger, in July, 1974, believing the Washington contingent of Marines to be the probable force used in a coup attempt began developing a strategy to bring in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

On August 2, 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger admitted that General Haig had informed him that Nixon was considering the idea of surrounding the White House with troops. In an August 27, 1974 article in the Washington Post titled "Military Coup Fears Denied," the fact was revealed that:

"Defense Secretary James Schlesinger requested a tight watch in the military chain of command to ensure that no extraordinary orders went out from the White House during the period of uncertainty (and) that no commanders of any forces should carry out orders which came from the White House, or elsewhere, outside the normal military channels."

Tantamount to a military coup, and contrary to the Constitution, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a secret communiqué to all Commanders of the U.S. military forces around the world: "Upon receipt of this message you will no longer carry out any orders from the White House. Acknowledge receipt."

More graphically, from a review of the book "THE ARROGANCE OF POWER, The Secret World of Richard Nixon",
The inescapable conclusion, well bodyguarded by meticulous research and footnotes, is that in the Nixon era the United States was, in essence, a ''rogue state.'' It had a ruthless, paranoid and unstable leader who did not hesitate to break the laws of his own country in order to violate the neutrality, menace the territorial integrity or destabilize the internal affairs of other nations. At the close of this man's reign, in an episode more typical of a banana republic or a ''peoples' democracy,'' his own secretary of defense, James Schlesinger, had to instruct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to disregard any military order originating in the White House.

Schlesinger had excellent grounds for circumspection. Not only had he learned that Nixon had asked the Joint Chiefs ''whether in a crunch there was support to keep him in power,'' but he had also been told the following by Joseph Laitin, public affairs spokesman of the Office of Management and Budget. On his way to the West Wing in the spring of 1974, Laitin recalls:

''I'd reached the basement, near the Situation Room. And just as I was about to ascend the stairway, a guy came running down the stairs two steps at a time. He had a frantic look on his face, wild-eyed, like a madman. And he bowled me over, so I kind of lost my balance. And before I could pick myself up, six athletic-looking young men leapt over me, pursuing him. I suddenly realized that they were Secret Service agents, that I'd been knocked over by the president of the United States.''

Well I'm old enough to remember Nixon. And I have to tell you that this Bush crowd just picks up where Nixon left off. It's not even a comparison. This crowd is much more corrupt and ideologically crazed and cynical and dangerous that Nixon.

So here's the thing. Times have changed since the days of Nixon. The far-right is far more powerful and entrenched, far more self-righteous, have an extreme persecution complex and have become very insular and cult-like. Their ideology has spun itself so far that regular people have a difficult time even understanding the language and references they use in their "home" discussions at discussion centers like Free Republic.

As I said, times have changed. The Right has made great inroads infiltrating and indoctrinating the institutions of society -- the churches, business, media and the courts. They have been purging the agencies of the government and installing Party hacks. And they have largely purged the reasonable people and the moderate and civil voices from their ranks. Who is there in place today to defy the Dobsons and Norquists? Here we are amazed at Patrick Fitzgerald because we no longer expect to see even ONE person who is willing and able to go against the Right's machine.

So it comes down to whether they're willing to pull the trigger or not if backed up against the wall. How does Bush stack up against Nixon when pressed? (I keep thinking about the 1991 coup attempt against Gorbechev, tanks surrounding the Soviet Parliament building.) Under Nixon we came close, but our traditions of democracy and moderation saved us. It was Nixon's Secretary of Defense who ordered the Joint Chiefs to check before following Nixon's commands. In the Gorbechev coup enough of the military refused to go along. But infiltration and indoctrination have been the hallmarks of the Right for the past thirty years and the military has been a natural target for such activity.

If Bush decides to pull the trigger, will the military follow The Party or the Constitution?

Posted by Dave Johnson at October 27, 2005 5:31 PM

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I stopped using the signoff phrase "Watch Your Backs" for a while, after the Senate "Gang of 14" saved the filibuster. I felt that was a turning point is the Christian Right's attempts to take over, and relaxed. I am... [Read More]

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» Watch Your Backs Is Back from Seeing the Forest
I stopped using the signoff phrase "Watch Your Backs" for a while, after the Senate "Gang of 14" saved the filibuster. I felt that was a turning point is the Christian Right's attempts to take over, and relaxed. I am... [Read More]

Tracked on November 7, 2005 9:41 AM

» Watch Your Backs Is Back from Seeing the Forest
I stopped using the signoff phrase "Watch Your Backs" for a while, after the Senate "Gang of 14" saved the filibuster. I felt that was a turning point is the Christian Right's attempts to take over, and relaxed. I am... [Read More]

Tracked on November 7, 2005 9:42 AM


Comments

Wow, that whole post was filled with speculation, wishful thinking, baseless theories and paranoia.

And this:

The far-right is far more powerful and entrenched, far more self-righteous, have an extreme persecution complex and have become very insular and cult-like.

I had to reread that, at first I thought it was a self-description of this site and the left in general.

Posted by: Pericles at October 27, 2005 6:25 PM

You know the answer Dave... why else would Bush & Co. have removed career military officers and replaced them with Dominionist Evangelicals at every level in the chain of command..?

However, it won't come to that... he'll just pardon whomever is indicted and move on.

When you can steal elections and subvert the constitution, what's there to worry about, really?

Maybe when the indictments are announced they'll all be raptured away...

Posted by: David HM Spector at October 27, 2005 6:31 PM

There's another possibility here, raised last week in a speech by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.

The Army and Marines have been shabbily treated, and they know it. The Colonel hints that he speaks for the common wisdom among the best and brightest of those at least in the generation he taught. If things have reached such a pass that a career field-grade officer and Naval War College professor--the deputy to the past Secretary of State--thinks the situation is so bad that professional soldiers may be seriously considering armed revolution to rid the nation of these stupid Republican traitors, then Iraq must be even worse than we can know, even as the Gulf devastation is.

What a story. And nobody whispers a word about it but a few on the net, and some foreign newspapers.

I say that Wilkerson himself is one of the professional soldiers who seems here to be considering the prospect of armed revolution. He is a professional diplomat, of high order. So he speaks in metaphors, the lingua franca of the diploma. He even points to this very skill when he speaks of using the Declaration of Independence in study classes with his tutored students. And in the very next sentence after he speaks about metaphors, he refers to the Declaration as calling the people "to throw off tyranny, to throw off ineptitude." The inept and tyrannical Bush administration? ("Cabal" is a word historically associated with treason).

He clearly implies that the time is getting close for a return to the principles of the Declaration, and that the circumstances Americans faced then may parallel what we face now. And the Declaration is nothing less than a call to join an armed revolution to overthrow tyranny. There is thus at least one soldier who seems to be considering it, and I think the reference to his former military officer/students at the start of the speech hints at his saying what they may not say. In my view, he hints at the possible overthrow of King George.

Entire Wilkerson speech transcript at: http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/Wilkerson%20Speech%20--%20WEB.htm

Posted by: Anonymous at October 27, 2005 9:27 PM

I'm not sure I'd welcome Wilkerson's intervention, either. If you have listened to the speech, it's clear he's not so much opposed to the US drive for empire, just the means and the level of cooperation with the bureaucracy. The military stepping up to "save democracy" is usually not quite the quick and liberal process Anonymous seems to think it could be. I didn't vote for Bush, but I didn't vote for Wilkerson, either.

And while I think the likelihood of extra-constitutional measures from this administration to stay in power is slim, the time when we'd see this escalate is if in 2007, having retaken Congress, the Dems start pursuing impeachment, given information clearly demonstrating that the country was knowingly lied into war.

There's every reason to believe such information exists, perhaps from direct testimony from lower level conspirators, from as yet unshredded documents. We "know" they did it, but we don't have legal proof that will stand up in court. Perhaps even Fitzgerald will find it.

But I expect it would fail, if attempted. People wouldn't accept it. But it could be very ugly. Very

Posted by: Dr. Laniac [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 28, 2005 7:01 AM

I see that the ever hovering pericles has returned to Seeing the Forest to warn us of the growing threat of liberal loonies who suspect Karl Rove, Dick Cheney or Tom DeLay would ever consider ignoring the rule of law. We can all rest peacefully knowing that pericles would be the first to condemn any suggestion that Conservative Republicans are above the law.

Terrific post Dave! Your analysis is spot on. I am re-reading Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style In American Politics. I'll post something on it over the weekend.

Posted by: Gary Boatwright [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 28, 2005 7:12 AM

Here is one we shouldn't forget about:

unauthorised journalists will be shot at

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/03/20/airstrike_the_pentagon_simplifies_media/

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 28, 2005 3:13 PM

I have some more journalist links parked in a draft form that I haven't had time to get to, but the attempt was inspired by Daves post that set all the demons sputtering on fire.

Posted by: grannyinsanity [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 28, 2005 3:16 PM

Bullshit Alert!!!


While I have to agree with the main crux of this post there is one sentence that is so absolutely wrong that it undermines everything else here. That blatant inaccuracy is the sentence,


"In another article called "The Pardon," in the August, 1983 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, Seymour Hersh, one of Nixon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote that in a December 22, 1973 meeting:"

I had to read that over and over again to be sure I wasn't simply misunderstanding a poorly written statement. Unfortunately, I had to conclude that I was interpreting it as written, although I hope and suspect that it was a typo. As presented, this apparently states that Seymour Hersh was one of Nixon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is so incredibly wrong that I am amazed no one else has commented upon it.


Seymour Hersh is an author and investigative reporter, one of the best in the business. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War. He has never been a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Nixon - or any other - administration.


I strongly suspect that the author of the post above intended to type,

"In another article called "The Pardon," in the August, 1983 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, Seymour Hersh, QUOTING one of Nixon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote that in a December 22, 1973 meeting:",

but that the word "quoting" was inadvertantly omitted.


That missing word changes the meaning of the statement entirely and thereby unfortunately undermines the entire article. It needs to be fixed!!!

Posted by: Anonymous at October 28, 2005 6:08 PM

Dr. Laniac,

I don't disagree with anything in your post.

Upon close analysis it appears to me that what Wilkerson is doing is firing a warning shot over Bush's bow, in case Bush tries some more treasonous ideas. The evangelicals haven't captured the officer corps as yet.
Wilkerson is a bloody-minded empire yesman, and I wouldn't want him in power either. But he's right to oppose Bush, and he's right to characterize the usurper as a tyrant. This ought to be more frankly reported.
May it never, ever come to force majeur. I'm not sure the little democracy we have left would survive it. Free speech certainly wouldn't.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 28, 2005 6:48 PM

You are correct, and thanks for catching that. The source for that part had a typo. The correct wording should be "...BY Seymour Hersh, one of Nixon's Joint Chiefs of Staff, RECALLED that..."

And there's a second source for that here.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 28, 2005 7:53 PM

A problem "liberals" have is in taking the worst-case scenario as fact. On an energy level, it gives power to the pretenders to power.

That's not to say that we shouldn't be concerned. The Bush gang is totally criminal and sociopathic. They just aren't very smart, and don't have much of an understanding of either history or of how power is gained and lost. Or, as Louis L'Amour used to say, "The criminal mind always underestimates the forces it is up against."

It seems the best approach is the Patrick Fitzgerald method: Take your time, don't say anything bombastic or too revealing, chip away at the truth, let the momentum build, stay humble. If ever there was a hero who arrived just in time, it is him.

As far as a coup by the Bush crime family, if it does happen, it will likely be short lived. We will have ceased to be a nation of laws, and the breakdown of civil order will be unmanageable. The elites, the rich, the money behind the throne, will likely find themselves faced with an economy that is fair game for comeuppance from every country that we exploited in the past.

The military itself will not likely have an easy time with martial law. They've already been played for chumps by the Bush regime, and propping him up will not have much appeal.

In other words, cheer up! This sleazy gang is not destined for longevity. Lacking faith, the atheist faction of liberalism tends to make a religion out of cynicism. It's a kind of perverse comfort, postulating the worst, and not-so-unconsciously hoping it will happen, but it is not the kind of dialogue we need at this time. Humpty Dumpty is not the metaphor for power and leadership that guides us into the future. Patrick Fitzgerald, as the new Mr. Smith goes to Washington, is.

Posted by: John Hamilton at October 29, 2005 11:40 AM

In none of those posts written by me but displayed as by Anonymous did I intend to hide any further than I do by my nose-out-of-joint-moniker "the cubist."
The "Anonymous" business was caused by my discipline for the edit, and forgetting. This is not to say I'll never post Anonymously, this is to say that free speech is with us yet, so let's us continue to use it...

Posted by: the cubist at October 29, 2005 11:05 PM

In none of those posts written by me but displayed as by Anonymous did I intend to hide any further than I do by my nose-out-of-joint-moniker "the cubist."
The "Anonymous" business was caused by my discipline for the edit, and forgetting. This is not to say I'll never post Anonymously, this is to say that free speech is with us yet, so let's us continue to use it...

Posted by: the cubist at October 29, 2005 11:06 PM

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