22 March 2020

What if coronavirus cripples the government ?

It could happen.  It has already infected its first senator (Rand Paul).  Newsweek explains what contingency arrangements are possible:
Even as President Trump says he tested negative for coronavirus, the COVID-19 pandemic raises the fear that huge swaths of the executive branch or even Congress and the Supreme Court could also be disabled, forcing the implementation of "continuity of government" plans that include evacuating Washington and "devolving" leadership to second-tier officials in remote and quarantined locations.

But Coronavirus is also new territory, where the military itself is vulnerable and the disaster scenarios being contemplated -- including the possibility of widespread domestic violence as a result of food shortages -- are forcing planners to look at what are called "extraordinary circumstances".

Above-Top Secret contingency plans already exist for what the military is supposed to do if all the Constitutional successors are incapacitated. Standby orders were issued more than three weeks ago to ready these plans, not just to protect Washington but also to prepare for the possibility of some form of martial law.

According to new documents and interviews with military experts, the various plans – codenamed Octagon, Freejack and Zodiac – are the underground laws to ensure government continuity. They are so secret that under these extraordinary plans, "devolution" could circumvent the normal Constitutional provisions for government succession, and military commanders could be placed in control around America...

When might the military's "emergency authority" be needed? Traditionally, it's thought of after a nuclear device goes off in an American city. But now, planners are looking at military response to urban violence as people seek protection and fight over food. And, according to one senior officer, in the contingency of the complete evacuation of Washington.

Under Defense department regulations, military commanders are authorized to take action on their own – in extraordinary circumstances – where "duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation." The conditions include "large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances" involving "significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property." The Joint Chiefs of Staff codified these rules in October 2018, reminding commanders that they could decide, on their own authority, to "engage temporarily" in military control in circumstances "where prior authorization by the President is impossible" or where local authorities "are unable to control the situation." A new Trump-era Pentagon directive calls it "extreme situations." In all cases, even where a military commander declares martial law, the directives say that civil rule has to be restored as soon as possible.

"In scenarios where one city or one region is devastated, that's a pretty straightforward process," the military planner told me. "But with coronavirus, where the effect is nationwide, we're in territory we've never been in before."
More at the link.


  1. I was tempted to reply "How would we know the difference" if Washington were incapacitated, but, indeed, that would be a fearful thing....

    Trump--or any other president--is likely to create deep concern if martial law is declared...and yet it may very well be necessary to do what is needed for America.

    As much as we might dislike Trump, he is, for all practical purposes, a war-time president now. He will be judged, NOT on the initial missteps in the first few days/weeks of the coronavirus threat, but on whether he gets his act together and begins to make a difference, whether by what he enacts...or by the encouragement he is able to give.

    FDR, for all that us conservatives might dislike his programs, DID give the American people HOPE. And in hard times, that is the most valuable currency of all! I knew a dyed-in-the-wool conservative that voted a straight Democrat ticket...because he never could forget how the Democrats--FDR in particular--had given hope to his family during the Great Depression.

    I don't think anyone would WANT Trump to fail at this point, even if they don't want him reelected.

    I can only imagine what a true biological threat would mean, but it should concern all of us that, if we are this messed over by a RELATIVELY minor virus (in terms of percentages killed), what would we do if it were Ebola?

    Hopefully, this will serve as a wake-up call for America to be far more ready the next time. We've seldom had to operate at this level. I dare say that the next time, we'll be far better prepared.

  2. "says he tested negative.." Oh boy.


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