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FTR #1126 Bio-Psy-Op Apocalypse Now, Part 2: The Democracy-Killing Virus

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FTR #1126 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.   [6]

Intro­duc­tion: We begin a series of pro­grams high­light­ing var­i­ous aspects of the “three-dimen­sion­al chess” aspect of the Covid-19 “bio-psy-op” we feel is under­way. Actu­al­ly six or sev­en dimen­sion­al chess might be a bet­ter way of express­ing this ana­lyt­i­cal con­cept.

It is of para­mount impor­tance for listeners/readers to under­stand that the con­cep­tu­al break­down is for cog­ni­tive clar­i­ty only. The bio-psy-op” is mul­ti-dimen­sion­al in its entire­ty and must be under­stood to be a type of “fascist/totalitarian lasagna” with many lay­ers to be con­sumed.

In this pro­gram, we present ways in which the Covid-19 out­break is sub­vert­ing democ­ra­cy, both inside and out­side of the Unit­ed States.

Although he has only flirt­ed with exer­cis­ing them, to date, Trump does indeed have some emer­gency pow­ers [7] that can be invoked to fur­ther his agen­da” ” . . . . The most notable aspect of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments might be their extreme secre­cy. It’s not uncom­mon for the gov­ern­ment to clas­si­fy its plans or activ­i­ties in the area of nation­al secu­ri­ty. . . . By con­trast, we know of no evi­dence that the exec­u­tive branch has ever con­sult­ed with Con­gress — or even informed any of its mem­bers — regard­ing the con­tents of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments. . . . That is a dan­ger­ous state of affairs. The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic is fast becom­ing the most seri­ous cri­sis to face this coun­try since World War II. And it is hap­pen­ing under the watch of a pres­i­dent who has claimed [8] that Arti­cle II of the Con­sti­tu­tion gives him ‘the right to do what­ev­er I want.’ It is not far-fetched to think that we might see the deploy­ment of these doc­u­ments for the first time and that they will assert pres­i­den­tial pow­ers beyond those grant­ed by Con­gress or rec­og­nized by the courts as flow­ing from the Con­sti­tu­tion. . . .”

Next, we add that the Bio-Psy-Op Apoc­a­lypse is spawn­ing total­i­tar­i­an manifestations–not surprisingly–at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice [9] head­ed by “ex” CIA offi­cer William Barr. ” . . . . The request raised eye­brows because of its poten­tial impli­ca­tions for habeas cor­pus — the con­sti­tu­tion­al right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release. ‘Not only would it be a vio­la­tion of that, but it says ‘affect­ing pre-arrest,’” said Nor­man L. Reimer, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Crim­i­nal Defense Lawyers. ‘So that means you could be arrest­ed and nev­er brought before a judge until they decide that the emer­gency or the civ­il dis­obe­di­ence is over. I find it absolute­ly ter­ri­fy­ing. Espe­cial­ly in a time of emer­gency, we should be very care­ful about grant­i­ng new pow­ers to the gov­ern­ment.’ . . .”

It will come as no sur­prise to vet­er­an lis­ten­ers, the Pen­ta­gon has con­tin­gency plans [10] for vary­ing degrees of gov­ern­men­tal and/or civic dis­abil­i­ty. ” . . . . 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. . . .”

The mil­i­tary’s con­tin­gency plans have been par­tial­ly acti­vat­ed [11]” . . . . While being hit with coro­n­avirus at rates equiv­a­lent to the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion, the U.S. mil­i­tary has acti­vat­ed its ‘defense sup­port of civ­il author­i­ties’ appa­ra­tus, estab­lish­ing liaisons in all 50 states, acti­vat­ing units and com­mand posts, and mov­ing forces to pro­vide med­ical, trans­porta­tion, logis­tics, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­port in New York and Wash­ing­ton states. Lt. Gen. Lau­ra Richard­son, the com­mand of Army North (ARNORTH), has request­ed and received approval for the deploy­ment of ground units in response to the now declared nation­al emer­gency. . . .”

We note, in pass­ing, that, although not in effect at this point, dis­cus­sion of “mar­tial law” are far more than just social media fod­der, to coin a term. ” . . . . Because of so many rumors fly­ing in social media, the Pen­ta­gon estab­lished a ‘rumor con­trol’ web­site to beat down sto­ries of mil­i­tary-imposed quar­an­tines and even mar­tial law. And it said it was going to lim­it details of both the spe­cif­ic num­bers of coro­n­avirus cas­es and oper­a­tional details. . . .”

Mar­tial law dis­cus­sion has been spurred by, among oth­er things, Trump’s rumi­na­tions [12] about what he can and will do: “. . . . Ear­li­er Sat­ur­day, Mr. Trump said that he is con­sid­er­ing declar­ing an ‘enforce­able’ quar­an­tine affect­ing some res­i­dents of the New York met­ro­pol­i­tan area, pos­si­bly includ­ing New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut. He called the region a ‘hot spot’ of the coro­n­avirus out­break [13] sweep­ing the coun­try. . . . Mr. Trump reit­er­at­ed in his remarks before the send off of the USNS Com­fort [14] that he was con­sid­er­ing a quar­an­tine of the area. The Com­fort is a naval hos­pi­tal boat which is car­ry­ing over 1,000 beds and 1,200 med­ical per­son­nel to New York City. . . . Using active duty troops to enforce a quar­an­tine would require the pres­i­dent to sus­pend the Posse Comi­ta­tus Act, which for­bids the use of the armed ser­vices for law enforce­ment. . . .”

Trump has plen­ty of com­pa­ny [15]” . . . . In Hun­gary, a new law has grant­ed Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban the pow­er to side­step Par­lia­ment and sus­pend exist­ing laws. Mr. Orban, who declared a state of emer­gency this month, now has the sole pow­er to end the emer­gency. Par­lia­ment, where two-thirds of the seats are con­trolled by his par­ty, approved the leg­is­la­tion on Mon­day. . . .‘The draft law is alarm­ing,’ said Daniel Kar­sai, a lawyer in Budapest who said the new leg­is­la­tion had cre­at­ed ‘a big fear’ among Hun­gar­i­ans that ‘the Orban admin­is­tra­tion will be a real dic­ta­tor­ship.’ . . .”

Orban’s Hun­gary has been joined by, among oth­ers, the long-stand­ing British democ­ra­cy: ” . . . . some of the pro­vi­sions . . . . will give the gov­ern­ment unchecked con­trol. The leg­is­la­tion gives sweep­ing pow­ers to bor­der agents and the police, which could lead to indef­i­nite deten­tion and rein­force ‘hos­tile envi­ron­ment’ poli­cies against immi­grants, crit­ics said. ‘Each clause could have had months of debate, and instead it’s all being debat­ed in a few days,’ said Adam Wag­n­er, a lawyer who advis­es a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on human rights. . . . ‘These are eye-water­ing pow­ers that would have not been real­ly imag­in­able in peace­time in this coun­try before,’ said Silkie Car­lo, the direc­tor of Big Broth­er Watch, a rights group. She called the mea­sures ‘dra­con­ian.’ . . . .”

Pri­va­cy is being dra­mat­i­cal­ly cur­tailed [16] under cov­er of com­bat­ting the virus: ” . . . . As Thomas Gaulkin of the Bul­letin of the Atom­ic Sci­en­tists not­ed [17] ear­li­er this month, many Amer­i­cans— often fierce in their objec­tions to per­ceived gov­ern­ment over­reach into their lives—might nor­mal­ly object to dystopi­an images of fly­ing robots polic­ing lock­downs. But these, of course, are not nor­mal times. ‘If drones do begin to hov­er over U.S. streets to help con­trol this pan­dem­ic,’ Gaulkin wrote, ‘it will be yet anoth­er vis­i­ble reminder that we’ve entered a pub­lic health Twi­light Zone where Amer­i­cans have no bet­ter option than to embrace what was once only imag­in­able, and nev­er real.’ . . . ”

The alpha preda­tor of the elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance land­scape is Peter Thiel’s Palan­tir [18]. They have land­ed two key gov­ern­ment con­tracts in con­nec­tion with the Covid-19 out­break:” . . . . Palan­tir, the $20 bil­lion-val­ued Palo Alto tech com­pa­ny backed by Face­book-fun­der Peter Thiel, has been hand­ed a $17.3 mil­lion con­tract with one of the lead­ing health bod­ies lead­ing the charge against COVID-19. It’s the biggest con­tract hand­ed to a Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­ny to assist America’s COVID-19 response, accord­ing to Forbes’ review of pub­lic con­tracts, and comes as oth­er Cal­i­forn­ian giants like Apple and Google try to fig­ure out how best to help gov­ern­ments fight the dead­ly virus. . . . The mon­ey, from the fed­er­al government’s COVID-19 relief fund, is for Palan­tir Gotham licens­es, accord­ing to a con­tract record reviewed by Forbes. That tech­nol­o­gy is designed to draw in data from myr­i­ad sources and, regard­less of what form or size, turn the infor­ma­tion into a coher­ent whole. The ‘plat­form’ is cus­tomized for each client, so it meets with their mis­sion needs, accord­ing to Palan­tir. . . . Palan­tir Gotham is slight­ly dif­fer­ent to Foundry, a new­er prod­uct that’s aimed more at gen­er­al users rather than data sci­ence whizzes, with more automa­tion than Gotham. As Forbes pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed [19], Foundry is being used by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) to ingest infor­ma­tion from all man­ner of hos­pi­tals across Amer­i­ca to see where best to pro­vide more or less resource. . . . Palan­tir is now work­ing with at least 12 gov­ern­ments on their respons­es to coro­n­avirus, accord­ing to two sources with knowl­edge of its COVID-19 work. That includes the U.K.’s Nation­al Health Ser­vice, which is using Foundry for sim­i­lar pur­pos­es as the CDC. . . .”

Exem­pli­fy­ing the mul­ti-dimen­sion­al chess sce­nario in con­nec­tion with the “bio-psy-op” is the GOP’s plan to use the Covid-19 out­break to scape­goat Chi­na and tar the Democ­rats and Joe Biden with the same brush. Of par­tic­u­lar note in this regard is the Steve Bannon‑J. Kyle Bass-Tom­my Hicks, Jr. tri­umvi­rate dis­cussed in–among oth­er pro­grams–FTR #‘s 1111 and 1112. [20]

At the epi­cen­ter of the anti-Chi­na effort, Ban­non is net­worked with Bass, who is asym­met­ri­cal­ly invest­ed with regard to the Hong Kong and Chi­nese economies. Hicks, in turn, is a co-investor with Bass, co-chair­man of the RNC, and one of the prime movers of the inter­a­gency gov­ern­men­tal net­works involved in the anti-Chi­na desta­bi­liza­tion oper­a­tion. This net­worked rela­tion­ship affords investors like Bass and Hicks the ulti­mate posi­tion from which to prof­it from “insid­er” infor­ma­tion. 

The syn­the­sis of covert oper­a­tions and elec­toral pol­i­tics reminds us of the 1952 elec­tion, in which Arthur Bliss Lane occu­pied a key posi­tion in the Cru­sade For Free­dom, as well as the GOP. (We dis­cussed this in AFA #37 [21], and uti­lized infor­ma­tion from, among oth­er sources, Blow­back [22] by Christo­pher Simp­son.

Exem­plary, as well, of the bio-psy-op as syn­the­sis of covert oper­a­tion and polit­i­cal cru­sad­ing is the GOP’s cyn­i­cal manip­u­la­tion of emer­gency appro­pri­a­tions to achieve their long­stand­ing objec­tive of crip­pling state and local gov­ern­ments, as well as dri­ving the Postal Ser­vice into bank­rupt­cy. Pri­va­tiz­ing postal ser­vice has been a right-wing/­GOP objec­tive for a long time. ” . . . . Every­one, and I mean every­one, knows what is real­ly hap­pen­ing: McConnell is try­ing to get more mon­ey for busi­ness­es while con­tin­u­ing to short­change state and local gov­ern­ments. After all, “starve the beast” — forc­ing gov­ern­ments to cut ser­vices by depriv­ing them of resources — has been Repub­li­can strat­e­gy for decades. This is just more of the same. . . . Oh, and Trump per­son­al­ly [23] has ruled out aid for the Postal Ser­vice. . . .”

1a. Although he has only flirt­ed with exer­cis­ing them, to date, Trump does indeed have some emer­gency pow­ers that can be invoked to fur­ther his agen­da” ” . . . . The most notable aspect of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments might be their extreme secre­cy. It’s not uncom­mon for the gov­ern­ment to clas­si­fy its plans or activ­i­ties in the area of nation­al secu­ri­ty. . . . By con­trast, we know of no evi­dence that the exec­u­tive branch has ever con­sult­ed with Con­gress — or even informed any of its mem­bers — regard­ing the con­tents of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments. . . . That is a dan­ger­ous state of affairs. The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic is fast becom­ing the most seri­ous cri­sis to face this coun­try since World War II. And it is hap­pen­ing under the watch of a pres­i­dent who has claimed [8] that Arti­cle II of the Con­sti­tu­tion gives him ‘the right to do what­ev­er I want.’ It is not far-fetched to think that we might see the deploy­ment of these doc­u­ments for the first time and that they will assert pres­i­den­tial pow­ers beyond those grant­ed by Con­gress or rec­og­nized by the courts as flow­ing from the Con­sti­tu­tion. . . .”

“Trump Has Emer­gency Pow­ers We Aren’t Allowed to Know About” by Eliz­a­beth Gotein and Andrew Boyle; The New York Times; 4/10/2020. [7]

The past few weeks have giv­en Amer­i­cans a crash course in the pow­ers that fed­er­al, state and local gov­ern­ments wield dur­ing emer­gen­cies. We’ve seen busi­ness­es closed down, cit­i­zens quar­an­tined and trav­el restrict­ed. When Pres­i­dent Trump declared emer­gen­cies on March 13 under both the Stafford Act and the Nation­al Emer­gen­cies Act, he boast­ed, “I have the right to do a lot of things that peo­ple don’t even know about.”

The pres­i­dent is right. Some of the most potent emer­gency pow­ers at his dis­pos­al are like­ly ones we can’t know about, because they are not con­tained in any pub­licly avail­able laws. Instead, they are set forth in clas­si­fied doc­u­ments known as “pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments.”

These doc­u­ments con­sist of draft procla­ma­tions, exec­u­tive orders and pro­pos­als for leg­is­la­tion that can be quick­ly deployed to assert broad pres­i­den­tial author­i­ty in a range of worst-case sce­nar­ios. They are one of the government’s best-kept secrets. No pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ment has ever been released or even leaked. And it appears that none has ever been invoked.

Giv­en the real pos­si­bil­i­ty that these doc­u­ments could make their first appear­ance in the coro­n­avirus cri­sis, Con­gress should insist on hav­ing full access to them to ensure that they are con­sis­tent with the Con­sti­tu­tion and basic prin­ci­ples of democ­ra­cy.

Pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments emerged dur­ing the Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion as a set of plans to pro­vide for con­ti­nu­ity of gov­ern­ment after a Sovi­et nuclear attack. Over time, they were expand­ed to include pro­posed respons­es to oth­er types of emer­gen­cies. As described in one declas­si­fied gov­ern­ment mem­o­ran­dum [24], they are designed “to imple­ment extra­or­di­nary pres­i­den­tial author­i­ty in response to extra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions.”

Oth­er gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments have revealed some of the actions that old­er pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments — those issued up through the 1970s — pur­port­ed to autho­rize. These include sus­pen­sion of habeas cor­pus by the pres­i­dent (not by Con­gress, as assigned in the Con­sti­tu­tion), deten­tion of Unit­ed States cit­i­zens who are sus­pect­ed of being “sub­ver­sives,” war­rant­less search­es and seizures and the impo­si­tion of mar­tial law.

Some of these actions would seem uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, at least in the absence of autho­riza­tion by Con­gress. Past pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments, how­ev­er, have test­ed the line of how far pres­i­dents’ con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty may stretch in an emer­gency.

For exam­ple, a Depart­ment of Jus­tice mem­o­ran­dum from the Lyn­don B. John­son admin­is­tra­tion dis­cuss­es a pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ment that would impose cen­sor­ship on news sent abroad. The memo notes that while no “express statu­to­ry author­i­ty” exists for such a mea­sure, “it can be argued that these actions would be legal in the after­math of a dev­as­tat­ing nuclear attack based on the president’s con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­ers to pre­serve the nation­al secu­ri­ty.” It then rec­om­mends that the pres­i­dent seek rat­i­fy­ing leg­is­la­tion from Con­gress after issu­ing the orders.

Much less is known about the con­tents of more recent pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments — but we do know they exist. They under­go peri­od­ic revi­sion to take into account new laws, con­di­tions and con­cerns. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice reviews the pro­posed changes for legal sound­ness, the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency plays a coor­di­nat­ing role and the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil pro­vides pol­i­cy direc­tion and final approval.

Based on bud­getary requests from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice to Con­gress and oth­er doc­u­ments, it appears that pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments were revised in the late 1980s, in the 2000s and again start­ing in 2012 and con­tin­u­ing into the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. The lat­est num­bers avail­able sug­gest there are between 50 and 60 such doc­u­ments in exis­tence.

There is no ques­tion that pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments could be used in a pan­dem­ic like that caused by the coro­n­avirus. A 2006 Nuclear Reg­u­la­to­ry Com­mis­sion mem­o­ran­dum [25] addressed that agency’s plan under Pres­i­dent Bush’s 2005 “Nation­al Strat­e­gy for Pan­dem­ic Influen­za [26].” The con­cern was how to main­tain oper­a­tions in response to a pan­dem­ic that proved to be “per­sis­tent, wide­spread, and pro­longed.” The memo’s authors offered [27] the Nuclear Reg­u­la­to­ry Com­mis­sion 14 bul­let points of actions, includ­ing to “review pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments” and “select those most like­ly to be need­ed” by the com­mis­sion.

The most notable aspect of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments might be their extreme secre­cy. It’s not uncom­mon for the gov­ern­ment to clas­si­fy its plans or activ­i­ties in the area of nation­al secu­ri­ty. How­ev­er, even the most sen­si­tive mil­i­tary oper­a­tions or intel­li­gence activ­i­ties must be report­ed to at least some mem­bers of Con­gress. By con­trast, we know of no evi­dence that the exec­u­tive branch has ever con­sult­ed with Con­gress — or even informed any of its mem­bers — regard­ing the con­tents of pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments.

That is a dan­ger­ous state of affairs. The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic is fast becom­ing the most seri­ous cri­sis to face this coun­try since World War II. And it is hap­pen­ing under the watch of a pres­i­dent who has claimed [8] that Arti­cle II of the Con­sti­tu­tion gives him “the right to do what­ev­er I want.” It is not far-fetched to think that we might see the deploy­ment of these doc­u­ments for the first time and that they will assert pres­i­den­tial pow­ers beyond those grant­ed by Con­gress or rec­og­nized by the courts as flow­ing from the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Even in the most dire of emer­gen­cies, the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States should not be able to oper­ate free from con­sti­tu­tion­al checks and bal­ances. The coro­n­avirus cri­sis should serve as a wake-up call. Pres­i­den­tial emer­gency action doc­u­ments have man­aged to escape demo­c­ra­t­ic over­sight for near­ly 70 years. Con­gress should move quick­ly to rem­e­dy that omis­sion and assert its author­i­ty to review these doc­u­ments, before we all learn just how far this admin­is­tra­tion believes the president’s pow­ers reach.

Eliz­a­beth Goitein is a co-direc­tor and Andrew Boyle is a lawyer at the Lib­er­ty and Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Pro­gram at the Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice at New York Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law.

1b. The Bio-Psy-Op Apoc­a­lypse is spawn­ing total­i­tar­i­an man­i­fes­ta­tions, including–not surprisingly–at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice head­ed by “ex” CIA offi­cer William Barr.

“DOJ seeks new emer­gency pow­ers amid coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic” by Bet­sy Woodruff Swan; Politi­co; 03/21/2020 [9]

The Jus­tice Depart­ment has qui­et­ly asked Con­gress for the abil­i­ty to ask chief judges to detain peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly with­out tri­al dur­ing emer­gen­cies — part of a push for new pow­ers that comes as the nov­el coro­n­avirus spreads through­out the Unit­ed States.

Doc­u­ments reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to law­mak­ers on a host of top­ics, includ­ing the statute of lim­i­ta­tions, asy­lum and the way court hear­ings are con­duct­ed. POLITICO also reviewed and pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed [28] on doc­u­ments seek­ing the author­i­ty to extend dead­lines on merg­er reviews and pros­e­cu­tions.

The move has tapped into a broad­er fear among civ­il lib­er­ties advo­cates and Don­ald Trump’s crit­ics — that the pres­i­dent will use a moment of cri­sis to push for [29] con­tro­ver­sial pol­i­cy changes. Already, he has cit­ed the pan­dem­ic as a rea­son for height­en­ing bor­der restric­tions and restrict­ing asy­lum claims. He has also pushed for fur­ther tax cuts as the econ­o­my with­ers, argu­ing it would soft­en the finan­cial blow to Amer­i­cans. And even with­out pol­i­cy changes, Trump has vast emer­gency pow­ers that he could deploy [30] right now to try to slow the coro­n­avirus out­break.

The DOJ requests — which are unlike­ly to make it through a Demo­c­ra­t­ic-led House — span sev­er­al stages of the legal process, from ini­tial arrest to how cas­es are processed and inves­ti­gat­ed.

In one of the doc­u­ments, the depart­ment pro­posed that Con­gress grant the attor­ney gen­er­al pow­er to ask the chief judge of any dis­trict court to pause court pro­ceed­ings “when­ev­er the dis­trict court is ful­ly or par­tial­ly closed by virtue of any nat­ur­al dis­as­ter, civ­il dis­obe­di­ence, or oth­er emer­gency sit­u­a­tion.”

The pro­pos­al would also grant those top judges broad author­i­ty to pause court pro­ceed­ings dur­ing emer­gen­cies. It would apply to “any statutes or rules of pro­ce­dure oth­er­wise affect­ing pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-tri­al, tri­al, and post-tri­al pro­ce­dures in crim­i­nal and juve­nile pro­ceed­ings and all civ­il process and pro­ceed­ings,” accord­ing to draft leg­isla­tive lan­guage the depart­ment shared with Con­gress. In mak­ing the case for the change, the DOJ wrote that indi­vid­ual judges can cur­rent­ly pause pro­ceed­ings dur­ing emer­gen­cies but that their pro­pos­al would make sure all judges in any par­tic­u­lar dis­trict could han­dle emer­gen­cies “in a con­sis­tent man­ner.”

The request raised eye­brows because of its poten­tial impli­ca­tions for habeas cor­pus — the con­sti­tu­tion­al right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release.

“Not only would it be a vio­la­tion of that, but it says ‘affect­ing pre-arrest,’” said Nor­man L. Reimer, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Crim­i­nal Defense Lawyers. “So that means you could be arrest­ed and nev­er brought before a judge until they decide that the emer­gency or the civ­il dis­obe­di­ence is over. I find it absolute­ly ter­ri­fy­ing. Espe­cial­ly in a time of emer­gency, we should be very care­ful about grant­i­ng new pow­ers to the gov­ern­ment.”

Reimer said the pos­si­bil­i­ty of chief judges sus­pend­ing all court rules dur­ing an emer­gency with­out a clear end in sight was deeply dis­turb­ing.

“That is some­thing that should not hap­pen in a democ­ra­cy,” he said.

The depart­ment also asked Con­gress to pause the statute of lim­i­ta­tions for crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions and civ­il pro­ceed­ings dur­ing nation­al emer­gen­cies, “and for one year fol­low­ing the end of the nation­al emer­gency,” accord­ing to the draft leg­isla­tive text.

Trump recent­ly declared [31] the coro­n­avirus cri­sis a nation­al emer­gency.

Anoth­er con­tro­ver­sial request: The depart­ment is look­ing to change the Fed­er­al Rules of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure in some cas­es to expand the use of video­con­fer­ence hear­ings and to let some of those hear­ings hap­pen with­out defen­dants’ con­sent, accord­ing to the draft leg­isla­tive text.

“Video tele­con­fer­enc­ing may be used to con­duct an appear­ance under this rule,” read a draft of poten­tial new lan­guage for Fed­er­al Rule of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure 5(f), cross­ing out the phrase “if the defen­dant con­sents.”

“Video tele­con­fer­enc­ing may be used to arraign a defen­dant,” read draft text of rule 10©, again strik­ing out the phrase “if the defen­dant con­sents.”

Reimer said forc­ing peo­ple to have hear­ings over video rather than in per­son would threat­en civ­il lib­er­ties.

“If it were with the con­sent of the accused per­son it would be fine,” he said. “But if it’s not with the con­sent of the accused per­son, it’s a ter­ri­ble road to go down. We have a right to pub­lic tri­als. Peo­ple have a right to be present in court.”

The depart­ment also wants Con­gress to change the law to explic­it­ly say that peo­ple with COVID-19 — the ill­ness caused by the nov­el coro­n­avirus — are not includ­ed among those who may apply for asy­lum. And the depart­ment asked for the same change regard­ing peo­ple who are “sub­ject to a pres­i­den­tial procla­ma­tion sus­pend­ing and lim­it­ing the entry of aliens into the Unit­ed States,” accord­ing to the draft leg­isla­tive lan­guage.

Layli Miller-Muro, the CEO of the Tahir­ih Jus­tice Cen­ter, which advo­cates for women and girls flee­ing vio­lence, said the lan­guage would block any­one on a pres­i­den­tial trav­el ban list from seek­ing asy­lum in the U.S.

“I think it’s a human­i­tar­i­an tragedy that fails to rec­og­nize that vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple from those coun­tries are among the most per­se­cut­ed and that pro­tect­ing them is exact­ly what the refugee con­ven­tion was designed to do,” she said.

The asy­lum request comes as the Trump admin­is­tra­tion says it will begin deny­ing entry to all migrants ille­gal­ly cross­ing the U.S. south­ern bor­der, includ­ing those seek­ing asy­lum.

“I hope we come out of this with a sense of one­ness, inter­con­nect­ed­ness,” Miller-Muro said of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. “Bor­ders can’t pro­tect us. Virus­es do not care.”

2. It will come as no sur­prise to vet­er­an lis­ten­ers, the Pen­ta­gon has con­tin­gency plans for vary­ing degrees of gov­ern­men­tal and/or civic dis­abil­i­ty. ” . . . . 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. . . .”

“Exclu­sive: Inside the Military’s Top Secret Plans If the Coro­n­avirus Crip­ples Gov­ern­ment” by William M. Arkin; Newsweek; 3/18/2020. [10]

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.

“We’re in new ter­ri­to­ry,” says one senior offi­cer, the entire post‑9/11 par­a­digm of emer­gency plan­ning thrown out the win­dow. The offi­cer jokes, in the kind of mor­bid humor char­ac­ter­is­tic of this slow-mov­ing dis­as­ter, that Amer­i­ca had bet­ter learn who Gen. Ter­rence J. O’Shaugh­nessy is.

He is the “com­bat­ant com­man­der” for the Unit­ed States and would in the­o­ry be in charge if Wash­ing­ton were evis­cer­at­ed. That is, until a new civil­ian leader could be installed.

‘We’re in ter­ri­to­ry we’ve nev­er been in before’

What hap­pens, gov­ern­ment expert Nor­man Orn­stein asked last week, if so many mem­bers of Con­gress come down with the coro­n­avirus that the leg­is­la­ture can­not meet or can­not muster a quo­rum? After 9/11, Orn­stein and oth­ers, alarmed by how lit­tle Wash­ing­ton had pre­pared for such pos­si­bil­i­ties, cre­at­ed a bipar­ti­san Con­ti­nu­ity of Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion to exam­ine pre­cise­ly these and oth­er pos­si­bil­i­ties.

It has been a two-decade long futile effort, Orn­stein says, with Con­gress unin­ter­est­ed or unable to either pass new laws or cre­ate work­ing pro­ce­dures that would allow emer­gency and remote oper­a­tions. The rest of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment equal­ly is unpre­pared to oper­ate if a pan­dem­ic were to hit the very peo­ple called upon to lead in an emer­gency. That is why for the first time, oth­er than plan­ning for the after­math of a nuclear war, extra­or­di­nary pro­ce­dures are being con­tem­plat­ed.

In the past, almost every imag­ined con­tin­gency asso­ci­at­ed with emer­gency pre­pared­ness has assumed civ­il and mil­i­tary assis­tance com­ing from the out­side. One mil­i­tary offi­cer involved in con­ti­nu­ity plan­ning calls it a “cav­al­ry” men­tal­i­ty: that mil­i­tary assis­tance is request­ed or ordered after local civ­il author­i­ty has been exhaust­ed.

“There might not be an out­side,” the offi­cer says, ask­ing that she not be named because she is speak­ing about sen­si­tive mat­ters.

In recog­ni­tion of the equal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of mil­i­tary forces, the Pen­ta­gon has insti­tut­ed unprece­dent­ed restric­tions on off-base trav­el. Last Wednes­day it restrict­ed most over­seas trav­el for 60 days, and then on Fri­day issued sup­ple­men­tal domes­tic guid­ance that essen­tial­ly keeps all uni­formed per­son­nel on or near mil­i­tary bases. There are excep­tions, includ­ing trav­el that is “mis­sion-essen­tial,” the Pen­ta­gon says.

Mis­sion essen­tial in this regard applies to the maze of more than a dozen dif­fer­ent secret assign­ments, most of them falling under three larg­er con­tin­gency plans:

  • CONPLAN 3400, or the mil­i­tary’s plan for “home­land defense,” if Amer­i­ca itself is a bat­tle­field.
  • CONPLAN 3500, “defense sup­port of civ­il author­i­ties,” where the mil­i­tary assists in an emer­gency short of armed attack on the nation.
  • CONPLAN 3600, mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in the Nation­al Cap­i­tal Region and con­tin­u­a­tion of gov­ern­ment, under which the most-secret plans to sup­port con­ti­nu­ity are nest­ed.

All of these plans are the respon­si­bil­i­ty of U.S. North­ern Com­mand (or NORTHCOM), the home­land defense mil­i­tary author­i­ty cre­at­ed after 9/11. Air Force Gen­er­al O’Shaugh­nessy is NORTH­COM’s Col­orado Springs-based com­man­der.

On Feb­ru­ary 1, Defense Sec­re­tary Mark T. Esper signed orders direct­ing NORTHCOM to exe­cute nation­wide pan­dem­ic plans. Secret­ly, he signed Warn­ing Orders (the WARNORD as it’s called) alert­ing NORTHCOM and a host of east coast units to “pre­pare to deploy” in sup­port of poten­tial extra­or­di­nary mis­sions.

Sev­en secret plans – some high­ly com­part­ment­ed – exist to pre­pare for these extra­or­di­nary mis­sions. Three are trans­porta­tion relat­ed, just to move and sup­port the White House and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment as it evac­u­ates and oper­ates from alter­nate sites. The first is called the Res­cue & Evac­u­a­tion of the Occu­pants of the Exec­u­tive Man­sion (or RESEM) plan, respon­si­ble for pro­tect­ing Pres­i­dent Trump, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, and their families–whether that means mov­ing them at the direc­tion of the Secret Ser­vice or, in a cat­a­stro­phe, dig­ging them out of the rub­ble of the White House.

The sec­ond is called the Joint Emer­gency Evac­u­a­tion Plan (or JEEP), and it orga­nizes trans­porta­tion for the Sec­re­tary of Defense and oth­er nation­al secu­ri­ty lead­ers so that they can leave the Wash­ing­ton area. The Atlas Plan is a third, mov­ing non-mil­i­tary lead­ers – Con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship, the Supreme Court and oth­er impor­tant fig­ures – to their emer­gency relo­ca­tion sites. Under Atlas, a still- secret bunker would be acti­vat­ed and cor­doned, with gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions shift­ing to Mary­land.

The three most com­part­ment­ed con­tin­gen­cies – Octa­gon, Free­jack, and Zodi­ac – call upon var­i­ous mil­i­tary units in Wash­ing­ton DC, North Car­oli­na and east­ern Mary­land to defend gov­ern­ment oper­a­tions if there is a total break­down. The sev­enth plan – code­named Gran­ite Shad­ow [32] – lays out the play­book for extra­or­di­nary domes­tic mis­sions that involve weapons of mass destruc­tion. (I dis­closed the exis­tence of this plan in 2005, and its asso­ci­at­ed “nation­al mis­sion force”–a force that is on alert at all times, even in peace­time, to respond to a ter­ror­ist attack or threat with the nuclear weapon.)

Most of these plans have been qui­et­ly acti­vat­ed dur­ing pres­i­den­tial inau­gu­rals and State of the Union address­es, the cen­tral­i­ty of the weapons of mass destruc­tion sce­nario seen in the annu­al Cap­i­tal Shield [33] exer­cise in Wash­ing­ton. Last year’s exer­cise posit­ed a WMD attack on Metro Sta­tion. Mil­i­tary sources say that only the mas­sive destruc­tion caused by a nuclear device – or the enor­mous loss of life that could be caused by a bio­log­i­cal agent – present cat­a­stroph­ic pres­sure great enough to jus­ti­fy move­ment into extra-Con­sti­tu­tion­al actions and extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances plans.

“WMD is such an impor­tant sce­nario,” a for­mer NORTHCOM com­man­der told me, “not because it is the great­est risk, but because it stress­es the sys­tem most severe­ly.”

Accord­ing to anoth­er senior retired offi­cer, who told me about Gran­ite Shad­ow and is now work­ing as a defense con­trac­tor, the nation­al mis­sion force goes out on its mis­sions with “spe­cial author­i­ties” pre-del­e­gat­ed by the pres­i­dent and the attor­ney gen­er­al. These spe­cial author­i­ties are need­ed because under reg­u­la­tions and the law, fed­er­al mil­i­tary forces can sup­plant civ­il author­i­ty or engage in law enforce­ment only under the strictest con­di­tions.

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.”

An extend­ed peri­od of devo­lu­tion

Con­ti­nu­ity of gov­ern­ment and pro­tec­tion of the pres­i­den­cy began in the Eisen­how­er admin­is­tra­tion with the pos­si­bil­i­ty emerg­ing that Wash­ing­ton could be oblit­er­at­ed in an atom­ic attack. The need to plan for a nuclear deci­sion-mak­er to sur­vive even a direct attack led to the build­ing of bunkers and a maze of secret pro­ce­dures and excep­tions, many of which are still fol­lowed to this day. Con­gress was also fold­ed in – at least Con­gres­sion­al lead­er­ship – to ensure that there would always be a Con­sti­tu­tion­al suc­ces­sor. And then the Supreme Court was added.

Before 9/11, con­ti­nu­ity and emer­gency pro­grams were broad­ened beyond nuclear war pre­pared­ness, par­tic­u­lar­ly as hur­ri­canes began to have such dev­as­tat­ing effects on mod­ern urban soci­ety. And because of the advent of pan­demics, broad­ly begin­ning with the Avian Influen­za, civ­il agen­cies respon­si­ble for nation­al secu­ri­ty, such as the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, which is the lead agency to respond to coro­n­avirus, were also brought into con­ti­nu­ity pro­tec­tion.

Despite well-honed plans and con­stant test­ing over 30 years, the attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 severe­ly test­ed all aspects of con­ti­nu­ity move­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Many of the pro­ce­dures writ­ten down on paper were either ignored or thrown out the win­dow. As a result, con­ti­nu­ity had a sec­ond com­ing, bil­lions spent by the new Depart­ment of Home­land and the oth­er nation­al secu­ri­ty agen­cies to ensure that the Wash­ing­ton lead­er­ship could com­mu­ni­cate and move, a whole new sys­tem estab­lished to be ready if a ter­ror­ist attack came with­out warn­ing. Bunkers, many shut­tered at the end of the Cold War, were reopened and expand­ed. Befit­ting the pan­ic at the time, and the atom­ic lega­cy, the most extra­or­di­nary plan­ning sce­nario posit­ed a ter­ror­ist attack that would involve an impro­vised nuclear or radi­o­log­i­cal dis­per­sal device in a major Amer­i­can city.

The ter­ror­ist attack sce­nario dom­i­nat­ed until 2006, when the dis­as­trous gov­ern­ment response to Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na in New Orleans shift­ed fed­er­al gov­ern­ment pre­pared­ness to for­mal­ly adopt an “all-haz­ards” sys­tem. Civ­il agen­cies, the 50 states and local com­mu­ni­ties – par­tic­u­lar­ly large cities – all began to syn­chro­nize emer­gency pre­pared­ness with com­mon pro­to­cols. U.S. North­ern Com­mand was cre­at­ed to har­ness mil­i­tary assis­tance in domes­tic dis­as­ters, it’s three over­ar­ch­ing con­tin­gency plans the prod­uct now of 15 years of tri­al and error.

3. The mil­i­tary’s con­tin­gency plans have been par­tial­ly acti­vat­ed:

“Exclu­sive: U.S. Mil­i­tary Acti­vates Its Nev­er-Before-Used Fed­er­al Response to Com­bat Coro­n­avirus Out­break” by William M. Arkin; Newsweek; 2/27/2020. [11]

While being hit with coro­n­avirus at rates equiv­a­lent to the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion, the U.S. mil­i­tary has acti­vat­ed its “defense sup­port of civ­il author­i­ties” appa­ra­tus, estab­lish­ing liaisons in all 50 states, acti­vat­ing units and com­mand posts, and mov­ing forces to pro­vide med­ical, trans­porta­tion, logis­tics, and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sup­port in New York and Wash­ing­ton states.

Lt. Gen. Lau­ra Richard­son, the com­mand of Army North (ARNORTH), has request­ed and received approval for the deploy­ment of ground units in response to the now declared nation­al emer­gency. The moves begin to imple­ment two exist­ing con­tin­gency plans—CONPLAN 3400 for “home­land defense” and CONPLAN 3500 for “defense sup­port of civ­il authorities”—as well as numer­ous new orders specif­i­cal­ly relat­ing to coro­n­avirus. Four­teen states have also appoint­ed “dual-sta­tus com­man­ders,” pres­i­den­tial­ly-approved Nation­al Guard offi­cers who serve in both state and fed­er­al chains of com­mand, with anoth­er 20 states to fol­low.

The Pen­ta­gon announced that the first dual-sta­tus com­man­ders had been appoint­ed in Cal­i­for­nia, Col­orado, Mass­a­chu­setts, Mary­land, New York, Okla­homa, South Car­oli­na and Wash­ing­ton.
“The role of the dual-sta­tus com­man­der is that he works for two dif­fer­ent prin­ci­pals through two dif­fer­ent chains of com­mand,” says Army Maj. Gen. Giselle Wilz, head of the Nation­al Guard Bureau’s strate­gic plans and pol­i­cy direc­torate. The dual-sta­tus com­man­ders will report to Gen. Richard­son as well as to the gov­er­nors of each state.

That is, except for Hawaii. That dual-sta­tus com­man­der reports to U.S. Army Pacif­ic (USARPAC) – an orga­ni­za­tion of U.S. Indo-Pacif­ic Com­mand that is respon­si­ble for Hawaii and the Pacif­ic ter­ri­to­ries.

The fed­er­al mil­i­tary response, nev­er before acti­vat­ed on a nation­wide scale, is a patch­work of com­plex orga­ni­za­tion­al schemes. While Gen. Richard­son is the com­man­der of the Joint Forces Land Com­po­nent Com­mand of U.S. North­ern Com­mand for all fed­er­al (and dual-sta­tus) ground troops in the con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States and Alas­ka, USARPAC is in charge in the Pacif­ic, report­ing to NORTHCOM just as Gen. Richard­son does. As “mar­itime” assets, the two hos­pi­tal ships—the USNS Com­fort and the USNS Mer­cy, now in Los Ange­les and New York—are also under a sep­a­rate com­mand, the Navy’s Fleet Forces Com­mand, which also serves as Naval Forces North (NAVNORTH) and the Joint Forces Mar­itime Com­po­nent Com­man­der for North Amer­i­ca. And still anoth­er com­mand, Marine Forces North (MARFORNORTH) oper­ates side-by-side with ARNORTH, in charge of Marine Corps troops.
In total, Army North has deployed approx­i­mate­ly 1,100 active duty ser­vice­mem­bers assigned to spe­cif­ic units, and they start­ed mov­ing to New York and Wash­ing­ton states imme­di­ate­ly after they were assigned. The active duty units deployed include:

  1. Joint Task Force-Civ­il Sup­port Head­quar­ters, Fort Eustis, Vir­ginia
  1. 3rd Expe­di­tionary Sus­tain­ment Com­mand, Fort Bragg, North Car­oli­na
  2. 4th Sus­tain­ment Brigade, 4th Infantry Divi­sion, Fort Car­son, Col­orado
  3. 63rd Expe­di­tionary Sig­nal Bat­tal­ion, Fort Stew­art, Geor­gia

Joint Task Force-Civ­il Sup­port was estab­lished in 1999 as the domes­tic response author­i­ty in case involv­ing weapons of mass destruction—chemical, bio­log­i­cal, radi­o­log­i­cal and nuclear (CBRN). Accord­ing to its web­site, “when direct­ed, JTF-CS will deploy to an inci­dent site, estab­lish com­mand and con­trol of Depart­ment of Defense forces, and pro­vide mil­i­tary assis­tance and sup­port to civ­il author­i­ties by sav­ing lives, pre­vent­ing fur­ther injury and pro­vid­ing tem­po­rary crit­i­cal sup­port to enable com­mu­ni­ty recov­ery.”

But its sec­ondary mis­sion is what the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment calls “all-haz­ards” response. “Although pri­mar­i­ly charged with a CBRN response mis­sion,” the Joint Task Force says, it “could be direct­ed to respond to a nat­ur­al or man-made dis­as­ter if asked to do so by U.S. North­ern Com­mand.“
On March 28th, Gen. Richard­son also announced that four U.S. Army Reserve units would be called to active duty to sup­port the fed­er­al response:

  1. Task Force 76 Head­quar­ters, formed by the 76th Oper­a­tional Response Com­mand, Salt Lake City, Utah
  1. 377th The­ater Sus­tain­ment Com­mand Head­quar­ters, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  2. 4th Expe­di­tionary Sus­tain­ment Com­mand Head­quar­ters, San Anto­nio, Texas.
  3. 505th Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence Brigade Head­quar­ters, San Anto­nio, Texas.

To align with the ten FEMA regions respon­si­ble for emer­gency man­age­ment, Army North has also acti­vat­ed its ten Defense Coor­di­nat­ing Offices, senior Colonels who are embed­ded with each region­al com­mand cen­ter. These are a spe­cial­ized plan­ning cells that serve as mil­i­tary liaisons to coor­di­nate fed­er­al assis­tance. Anoth­er 100 Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness Liai­son Offi­cers are also now active, aug­ment­ing the Defense Coor­di­na­tion cells.

In announc­ing the acti­va­tion and move­ment of forces, Army North was care­ful to spec­i­fy that none of the units “will ... direct­ly par­tic­i­pate in civil­ian law enforce­ment activ­i­ties.”

Sim­i­lar­ly, Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the Nation­al Guard Bureau and a mem­ber of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “I’m hear­ing unfound­ed rumors about Nation­al Guard troops sup­port­ing a nation­wide quar­an­tine. Let me be clear: There has been no such dis­cus­sion.”

Because of so many rumors fly­ing in social media, the Pen­ta­gon estab­lished a “rumor con­trol” web­site to beat down sto­ries of mil­i­tary-imposed quar­an­tines and even mar­tial law. And it said it was going to lim­it details of both the spe­cif­ic num­bers of coro­n­avirus cas­es and oper­a­tional details.

“Unit lev­el readi­ness data for key mil­i­tary forces is infor­ma­tion that is clas­si­fied as a risk to oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty and could jeop­ar­dize oper­a­tions and/or deter­rence,” Alyssa Farah, the Pen­tagon’s press sec­re­tary, told Mil­i­tary Times. “If at some point in the future, a com­man­der believes that the coro­n­avirus could affect the readi­ness of our strate­gic deter­rent or strate­gic response forces we would under­stand­ably pro­tect that infor­ma­tion from pub­lic release and falling into the hands of our adversaries―as we expect they would do the same.”

As of March 31, the Defense Depart­ment report­ed 1204 con­firmed active cas­es of coro­n­avirus through­out its com­mu­ni­ty: 673 ser­vice­mem­bers, 247 civil­ians work­ing for the mil­i­tary, 212 fam­i­ly mem­bers and 72 con­trac­tors. . . .

4. Trump float­ed the idea of a fed­er­al­ly enforced quar­an­tine of the New York metro area, along with New Jer­sey and parts of Con­necti­cut. A fed­er­al­ly enforced quar­an­tine. It appeared Trump was propos­ing using the mil­i­tary to ensure no one leaves New York City, some­thing that would require sus­pend­ing the Posse Comi­ta­tus Act. That was what he tweet­ed about ear­li­er on Sat­ur­day and lat­er talked about dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on the White House lawn and reit­er­at­ed that it was under con­sid­er­ing dur­ing a speech on the Naval hos­pi­tal ship the USNS Com­fort. Trump decid­ed to make a big point to the pub­lic on a mil­i­tary ship that he was con­sid­er­ing send­ing in the mil­i­tary to quar­an­tine the tri-state area. 

Declar­ing on Sat­ur­day that he decid­ed a quar­an­tine wasn’t nec­es­sary,  Trump issued a “severe trav­el advi­so­ry” instead. The idea is now out there. Fed­er­al­ly quar­an­ti­ning large cities with the mil­i­tary is now going to be one of things Trump is con­sid­er­ing in order to seem like a ‘strong wartime leader’. Going ‘to war’ against New York City’s spread of the Chi­nese virus. That’s now part of his ‘being a wartime pres­i­dent’ the­atri­cal reper­toire.

The push for enforce­ably quar­an­ti­ning large (pre­dom­i­nant­ly Demo­c­rat-con­trolled) metro areas has­n’t been lim­it­ed to Trump. It was appar­ent­ly Florida’s Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Ron DeSan­tis who put the idea of a fed­er­al quar­an­tine for New York City in Trump’s head. DeSan­tis – who is now infa­mous for decid­ing to allow Florida’s beach­es to remain open as Spring Break partiers filled Florida’s beach­es before scat­ter­ing back across the world [34] – has appar­ent­ly decid­ed to make New York City res­i­dents the main vil­lain as his state becomes the new nation­al ‘hot spot’ for COVID-19 cas­es. So when Trump pushed this idea, he was implic­it­ly run­ning polit­i­cal cov­er or DeSan­tis as Flori­da becomes a glob­al COVID-19 infec­tion vec­tor [35].

Per­ceived polit­i­cal neces­si­ty to deflect polit­i­cal out­rage over the COVID-19 out­breaks in ‘Red states’ may man­i­fest in every state to some extent–will we see a nation­wide GOP call for quar­an­ti­ning New York and Cal­i­for­nia? Per­haps the Amer­i­can far right can use this as an excuse to use the mil­i­tary to turn US cities into giant pris­ons and act like they’re defend­ing against a for­eign invad­er. All of the ‘Patri­ot’ per­son­al­i­ties that dom­i­nate mod­ern right-wing Amer­i­can dis­course like Alex Jones and Tuck­er Carl­son can explain to their grow­ing audi­ences why sus­pend­ing Posse Comi­ta­tus is required to defend against the New World Order’s viral inva­sion and this isn’t at all like the mar­tial law sce­nar­ios they’ve spent decades warn­ing their audi­ences against. ‘Blame it on New York (and/or Cal­i­for­nia) and the Chi­nese virus’ can become the ral­ly­ing cry of GOP offi­cials for the rest of the elec­tion sea­son. The high­er the num­ber of COVID-19 cas­es in ‘Red state’ Amer­i­ca, the greater the calls for call­ing in the army to quar­an­tine New York and even­tu­al­ly Cal­i­for­nia. It’s like some sort of alter­na­tive Serpent’s Walk Nazi dream sce­nario play­ing out. So when Trump float­ed this idea it wasn’t just the ran­dom mus­ings of an addled mind. It was the strate­gic mus­ings of an addled mind that warns of many more mus­ings about fed­er­al quar­an­tines of large cities because a fas­cist dream sce­nario is tak­ing shape [12].

“Trump revers­es ear­li­er call for quar­an­tine on New York res­i­dents” by Grace Segers; CBS News; 03/28/2020 [12]

Hours after Pres­i­dent Trump said he was con­sid­er­ing an “enforce­able” quar­an­tine [12] of all res­i­dents who leave the New York metro area, includ­ing pos­si­bly parts of New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut, Mr. Trump tweet­ed that a “quar­an­tine will not be nec­es­sary.” Mr. Trump tweet­ed that he has asked the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion and state gov­er­nors to cre­ate a “trav­el advi­so­ry.”

Ear­li­er Sat­ur­day, Mr. Trump said that he is con­sid­er­ing declar­ing an “enforce­able” quar­an­tine affect­ing some res­i­dents of the New York met­ro­pol­i­tan area, pos­si­bly includ­ing New Jer­sey and Con­necti­cut. He called the region a “hot spot” of the coro­n­avirus out­break [13] sweep­ing the coun­try.

“I am giv­ing con­sid­er­a­tion to a QUARANTINE of devel­op­ing ‘hot spots’, New York, New Jer­sey, and Con­necti­cut. A deci­sion will be made, one way or anoth­er, short­ly,” Mr. Trump tweet­ed [36] Sat­ur­day after­noon.

Speak­ing to reporters on the White House South Lawn, Mr. Trump told reporters that he had spo­ken to Flori­da Gov­er­nor Ron DeSan­tis about the pan­dem­ic. Mr. Trump said DeSan­tis, a Repub­li­can, told the pres­i­dent that he want­ed to stop the flow of New York­ers who may be infect­ed with the new COVID-19 virus into the state.

“We’d like to see New York quar­an­tined because it’s a hotspot — New York, New Jer­sey, maybe one or two oth­er places, cer­tain parts of Con­necti­cut quar­an­tined. I’m think­ing about that right now,” Mr. Trump said. “We might not have to do it but there’s a pos­si­bil­i­ty that some­time today we’ll do a quar­an­tine — short-term two weeks for New York, prob­a­bly New Jer­sey and parts of Con­necti­cut.”

Mr. Trump also said “I’ll speak to the gov­er­nor about it lat­er.”

New York Gov­er­nor Andrew Cuo­mo said a few hours lat­er on CNN that he had not spo­ken to Mr. Trump about a quar­an­tine, but said it would be a “pre­pos­ter­ous idea.”

“I don’t believe that any fed­er­al admin­is­tra­tion could be seri­ous about phys­i­cal lock­downs of states or parts of states across this coun­try,” Cuo­mo said. “I don’t believe it’s legal. I think it would be eco­nom­ic chaos. I don’t think the Amer­i­can peo­ple would stand for it and I think it makes absolute­ly no sense and I don’t believe any pro­fes­sion­al would sup­port it.”

Mr. Trump reit­er­at­ed in his remarks before the send off of the USNS Com­fort [14] that he was con­sid­er­ing a quar­an­tine of the area. The Com­fort is a naval hos­pi­tal boat which is car­ry­ing over 1,000 beds and 1,200 med­ical per­son­nel to New York City.

“I am now con­sid­er­ing, and will make a deci­sion very quick­ly, very short­ly, a quar­an­tine, because it’s such a hot area,” Mr. Trump said. “We’ll be announc­ing that one way or anoth­er fair­ly soon.”

Mr. Trump also said that the quar­an­tine would not affect truck dri­vers pass­ing through the region, or trade in any­way.

The chief of the Nation­al Guard, Gen­er­al Joseph Lengel, has said there is no con­sid­er­a­tion being giv­en to using the mil­i­tary to enforce a quar­an­tine. How­ev­er, he has also said that the Nation­al Guard troops called up by state gov­er­nors can be used to sup­port law enforce­ment oper­a­tions — but they are under con­trol of the gov­er­nor.

Using active duty troops to enforce a quar­an­tine would require the pres­i­dent to sus­pend the Posse Comi­ta­tus Act, which for­bids the use of the armed ser­vices for law enforce­ment.

Cuo­mo [37], a Demo­c­rat, told reporters [38] short­ly after Mr. Trump’s first remarks on it that he had not spo­ken to the pres­i­dent about quar­an­ti­ning the metro region. Cuo­mo also said he didn’t know what an enforce­able quar­an­tine means, but “I don’t even like the sound of it.”

“I don’t even know what that means. I don’t know how that could be legal­ly enforce­able. And from a med­ical point of view, I don’t know what you’d be accom­plish­ing,” Cuo­mo said.

The gov­er­nor added that there were no geo­graph­i­cal con­straints when the state required peo­ple in the city of New Rochelle to stay home.

“So we nev­er set any geo­graph­ic con­straints, right? Manda­to­ry quar­an­tine is a scary con­cept, because it sounds like you’re say­ing to peo­ple can’t leave this dis­trict. We nev­er did that,” Cuo­mo said.

Cuo­mo said that he spoke with Mr. Trump Sat­ur­day morn­ing about four tem­po­rary hos­pi­tal sites in New York City. Cuo­mo said there have been 728 deaths in New York, an increase of over 200 from the pre­vi­ous day. There are over 50,000 cas­es of coro­n­avirus in New York alone, with New Jer­sey fol­low­ing with 8,825 cas­es.

Gov­er­nor Phil Mur­phy of New Jer­sey also said he had not received any infor­ma­tion from the admin­is­tra­tion about a poten­tial quar­an­tine.

In a state­ment, Con­necti­cut Gov­er­nor Ned Lam­ont indi­cat­ed that he did not believe a fed­er­al­ly man­dat­ed quar­an­tine would be nec­es­sary.

“Regard­ing the President’s con­sid­er­a­tion of a quar­an­tine of New York, as well as parts of Con­necti­cut and New Jer­sey, our state has already called on res­i­dents to stay at home. Fur­ther, if inter­state trav­el is absolute­ly nec­es­sary, our state has direct­ed trav­el­ers to self-quar­an­tine to pre­vent against fur­ther trans­mis­sion of the virus,” Lam­ont said.

Mean­while, DeSan­tis announced Sat­ur­day check­points along major inter­states, such as I‑95 and I‑10, to check for dri­vers for New York and New Orleans.

5. Trump has plen­ty of com­pa­ny: ” . . . . In Hun­gary, a new law has grant­ed Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban the pow­er to side­step Par­lia­ment and sus­pend exist­ing laws. Mr. Orban, who declared a state of emer­gency this month, now has the sole pow­er to end the emer­gency. Par­lia­ment, where two-thirds of the seats are con­trolled by his par­ty, approved the leg­is­la­tion on Mon­day. . . .‘The draft law is alarm­ing,’ said Daniel Kar­sai, a lawyer in Budapest who said the new leg­is­la­tion had cre­at­ed ‘a big fear’ among Hun­gar­i­ans that ‘the Orban admin­is­tra­tion will be a real dic­ta­tor­ship.’ . . .”

Orban’s Hun­gary has been joined by, among oth­ers, the long-stand­ing British democ­ra­cy: ” . . . . some of the pro­vi­sions . . . . will give the gov­ern­ment unchecked con­trol. The leg­is­la­tion gives sweep­ing pow­ers to bor­der agents and the police, which could lead to indef­i­nite deten­tion and rein­force ‘hos­tile envi­ron­ment’ poli­cies against immi­grants, crit­ics said. ‘Each clause could have had months of debate, and instead it’s all being debat­ed in a few days,’ said Adam Wag­n­er, a lawyer who advis­es a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on human rights. . . . ‘These are eye-water­ing pow­ers that would have not been real­ly imag­in­able in peace­time in this coun­try before,’ said Silkie Car­lo, the direc­tor of Big Broth­er Watch, a rights group. She called the mea­sures ‘dra­con­ian.’ . . . .”

“For Auto­crats and Oth­ers, Coro­n­avirus Is a Chance to Grab Even More Pow­er” by Selam Gebrikadan; The New York Times; 3/30/2020. [15]

In Hun­gary, the prime min­is­ter can now rule by decree. In Britain, min­is­ters have what a crit­ic called “eye-water­ing” pow­er to detain peo­ple and close bor­ders. Israel’s prime min­is­ter has shut down courts and begun an intru­sive sur­veil­lance of cit­i­zens [39]. Chile has sent the mil­i­tary to pub­lic squares [40] once occu­pied by pro­test­ers. Bolivia has post­poned elec­tions.

As the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic brings the world to a jud­der­ing halt [41] and anx­ious cit­i­zens demand action, lead­ers across the globe are invok­ing exec­u­tive pow­ers and seiz­ing vir­tu­al­ly dic­ta­to­r­i­al author­i­ty with scant resis­tance.

Gov­ern­ments and rights groups agree that these extra­or­di­nary times call for extra­or­di­nary mea­sures. States need new pow­ers to shut their bor­ders, enforce quar­an­tines and track infect­ed peo­ple. Many of these actions are pro­tect­ed under inter­na­tion­al rules, con­sti­tu­tion­al lawyers say.

But crit­ics say some gov­ern­ments are using the pub­lic health cri­sis as cov­er to seize new pow­ers that have lit­tle to do with the out­break, with few safe­guards to ensure that their new author­i­ty will not be abused.

The laws are tak­ing swift hold across a broad range of polit­i­cal sys­tems — in author­i­tar­i­an states like Jor­dan, fal­ter­ing democ­ra­cies like Hun­gary, and tra­di­tion­al democ­ra­cies like Britain. And there are few sun­set pro­vi­sions to ensure that the pow­ers will be rescind­ed once the threat pass­es.

“We could have a par­al­lel epi­dem­ic of author­i­tar­i­an and repres­sive mea­sures fol­low­ing close if not on the heels of a health epi­dem­ic,” said Fion­nu­ala Ni Aolain, the Unit­ed Nations Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on coun­tert­er­ror­ism and human rights.

As the new laws broad­en state sur­veil­lance, allow gov­ern­ments to detain peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly and infringe on free­doms of assem­bly and expres­sion, they could also shape civic life, pol­i­tics and economies for decades to come.

The pan­dem­ic is already redefin­ing norms. Inva­sive sur­veil­lance sys­tems in South Korea and Sin­ga­pore, which would have invit­ed cen­sure under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, have been praised  [42]for slow­ing infec­tions. Gov­ern­ments that ini­tial­ly crit­i­cized Chi­na for putting mil­lions of its cit­i­zens under lock­down have since fol­lowed suit.

Israel’s prime min­is­ter, Ben­jamin Netanyahu, has autho­rized his country’s inter­nal secu­ri­ty agency to track cit­i­zens using a secret trove of cell­phone data devel­oped for coun­tert­er­ror­ism. By trac­ing people’s move­ments, the gov­ern­ment can pun­ish those who defy iso­la­tion orders with up to six months in prison.

And by order­ing the clos­ing of the nation’s courts [43], Mr. Netanyahu delayed his sched­uled appear­ance to face cor­rup­tion charges.

In some parts of the world, new emer­gency laws have revived old fears of mar­tial law. The Philip­pine Con­gress passed leg­is­la­tion [44] last week that gave Pres­i­dent Rodri­go Duterte emer­gency pow­ers and $5.4 bil­lion to deal with the pan­dem­ic. Law­mak­ers watered down an ear­li­er draft law that would have allowed the pres­i­dent to take over pri­vate busi­ness­es.

“This lim­it­less grant of emer­gency pow­ers is tan­ta­mount to autoc­ra­cy,” a Philip­pine rights group, the Con­cerned Lawyers for Civ­il Lib­er­ties, said in a state­ment. The lawyers not­ed that Mr. Duterte had once com­pared the country’s Con­sti­tu­tion to a “scrap of toi­let paper.”

Some states are using the pan­dem­ic to crack down on dis­sent. In Jor­dan, after an emer­gency “defense law” gave wide lat­i­tude to his office, Prime Min­is­ter Omar Raz­zaz said his gov­ern­ment would “deal firm­ly” with any­one who spreads “rumors, fab­ri­ca­tions and false news that sows pan­ic.”

Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thai­land has assumed the author­i­ty to impose cur­fews and cen­sor the news media. Jour­nal­ists there have been sued and intim­i­dat­ed for crit­i­ciz­ing the government’s response to the out­break.

While the virus itself may have cooled pro­test­ers’ will to crowd pub­lic squares, Chile’s dec­la­ra­tion of a “state of cat­a­stro­phe” and the military’s pres­ence on city streets has mut­ed rag­ing dis­sent that rocked the nation for months [45].

The pan­dem­ic has also dis­rupt­ed planned elec­tions. This month, Bolivia sus­pend­ed a much antic­i­pat­ed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that had been sched­uled for ear­ly May. A dis­put­ed elec­tion last year set off vio­lent protests and forced Pres­i­dent Evo Morales to resign [46].

The inter­im pres­i­dent, who promised to serve only as a care­tak­er, has since con­sol­i­dat­ed pow­er and announced her plan to run for an elect­ed term. The country’s elec­tion tri­bunal said on Thurs­day [47] that it would hold the elec­tions some­time between June and Sep­tem­ber.

In the Unit­ed States, the Jus­tice Depart­ment asked Con­gress for sweep­ing new pow­ers, includ­ing a plan to elim­i­nate legal pro­tec­tions for asy­lum seek­ers and detain peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly with­out tri­al [9]. After Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats [48] balked, the depart­ment scaled back and sub­mit­ted a more mod­est pro­pos­al.

Rights groups say gov­ern­ments may con­tin­ue to absorb more pow­er while their cit­i­zens are dis­tract­ed. They wor­ry that peo­ple may not rec­og­nize the rights they have ced­ed until it is too late to reclaim them.

Some emer­gency bills were waved through so quick­ly that law­mak­ers and rights groups had no time to read them, let alone debate their neces­si­ty. Rights advo­cates have also ques­tioned the speed with which states have draft­ed lengthy leg­is­la­tion.

Cer­tain gov­ern­ments have a set of desired pow­ers “ready to go” in case of emer­gency or cri­sis, said Ms. Aolain, the Unit­ed Nations spe­cial rap­por­teur. They draft laws in advance and wait “for the oppor­tu­ni­ty of the cri­sis to be pre­sent­ed,” she said.

It is far from clear what will become of the emer­gency laws when the cri­sis pass­es. In the past, laws enact­ed in a rush, like the Patri­ot Act that fol­lowed the Sept. 11 attacks, have out­lived the crises they were meant to address.

Over time, emer­gency decrees per­me­ate legal struc­tures and become nor­mal­ized, said Dou­glas Rutzen, the pres­i­dent of the Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter for Not-for-Prof­it Law in Wash­ing­ton, which is track­ing new leg­is­la­tion [49] and decrees dur­ing the pan­dem­ic.

“It’s real­ly easy to con­struct emer­gency pow­ers,” Mr. Rutzen said. “It’s real­ly dif­fi­cult to decon­struct them.”

The pan­dem­ic may be a boon to gov­ern­ments with an auto­crat­ic bent.

“A Real Dic­ta­tor­ship”

In Hun­gary, a new law has grant­ed Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban the pow­er to side­step Par­lia­ment and sus­pend exist­ing laws. Mr. Orban, who declared a state of emer­gency this month, now has the sole pow­er to end the emer­gency. Par­lia­ment, where two-thirds of the seats are con­trolled by his par­ty, approved the leg­is­la­tion on Mon­day.

Crit­ics say the new leg­is­la­tion could allow Mr. Orban’s gov­ern­ment to fur­ther erode demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions and per­se­cute jour­nal­ists and mem­bers of the oppo­si­tion. The law will per­ma­nent­ly amend two arti­cles of the crim­i­nal code that will fur­ther lim­it free­dom of expres­sion and penal­ize peo­ple for breach­ing quar­an­tine orders. It will also sus­pend all elec­tions and ref­er­en­dums.

Under one mea­sure, any­one who dis­sem­i­nates infor­ma­tion that could hin­der the government’s response to the epi­dem­ic could face up to five years in prison. The leg­is­la­tion gives broad lat­i­tude to the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor to deter­mine what counts as dis­tort­ed or false infor­ma­tion.

“The draft law is alarm­ing,” said Daniel Kar­sai, a lawyer in Budapest who said the new leg­is­la­tion had cre­at­ed “a big fear” among Hun­gar­i­ans that “the Orban admin­is­tra­tion will be a real dic­ta­tor­ship.”

“There is not enough trust in the gov­ern­ment in this respect,” he said.

Oth­ers point­ed to the government’s track record of pro­long­ing emer­gency leg­is­la­tion long after a cri­sis. One such decree, issued at the height of Europe’s migra­tion cri­sis five years ago, is still in effect.

“Eye-Water­ing Pow­ers”

Robust democ­ra­cies are also using the pan­dem­ic to expand their pow­er.

Britain has a long his­to­ry of democ­ra­cy and well-estab­lished demo­c­ra­t­ic cus­toms. Nev­er­the­less, a coro­n­avirus bill that was rushed through Par­lia­ment at a break­neck pace affords gov­ern­ment min­istries the pow­er to detain and iso­late peo­ple indef­i­nite­ly, ban pub­lic gath­er­ings includ­ing protests, and shut down ports and air­ports, all with lit­tle over­sight.

Intro­duc­ing the bill in Par­lia­ment, the health sec­re­tary, Matt Han­cock, called it “a depar­ture from the way that we do things in peace­time.” He said the mea­sures would be “strict­ly tem­po­rary and pro­por­tion­ate to the threat that we face.”

But some of the pro­vi­sions — called Hen­ry VIII pow­ers, after the noto­ri­ous 16th-cen­tu­ry monarch — will give the gov­ern­ment unchecked con­trol. The leg­is­la­tion gives sweep­ing pow­ers to bor­der agents and the police, which could lead to indef­i­nite deten­tion and rein­force “hos­tile envi­ron­ment” poli­cies against immi­grants, crit­ics said.

“Each clause could have had months of debate, and instead it’s all being debat­ed in a few days,” said Adam Wag­n­er, a lawyer who advis­es a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee on human rights.

“Everybody’s been try­ing just to read it, let alone prop­er­ly cri­tique it,” he said of the leg­is­la­tion, which runs to 340 pages.

“These are eye-water­ing pow­ers that would have not been real­ly imag­in­able in peace­time in this coun­try before,” said Silkie Car­lo, the direc­tor of Big Broth­er Watch, a rights group. She called the mea­sures “dra­con­ian.”

Ms. Car­lo fears that Britain will “swing from cri­sis to cri­sis, health pan­ic to health pan­ic, and then find that we’ve lost.”

“We risk eas­i­ly find­ing our­selves in a per­pet­u­al state of emer­gency,” she said.

6. Naren­dra Modi of India has used the Covid-19 out­break to fur­ther his Hin­dut­va fas­cist agen­da: Media voic­es that were crit­i­cal of Mod­i’s han­dling of the Kash­mir cri­sis and recent police beat­ings and harass­ment of Mus­lims in Mum­bai and New Del­hi have been har­rassed and/or dri­ven into silence under cov­er of the coro­n­avirus out­break.

“Media Dis­sent Fades as Modi Tight­ens Grip” by Vin­du Goel and Jef­frey Get­tle­man;  [50]The New York Times; 4/3/2020. [50]

[51]

Span­ish Coro­n­avirus Sur­veil­lance Drone

7a. Pri­va­cy is being dra­mat­i­cal­ly cur­tailed under cov­er of com­bat­ting the virus: ” . . . . As Thomas Gaulkin of the Bul­letin of the Atom­ic Sci­en­tists not­ed [17] ear­li­er this month, many Amer­i­cans— often fierce in their objec­tions to per­ceived gov­ern­ment over­reach into their lives—might nor­mal­ly object to dystopi­an images of fly­ing robots polic­ing lock­downs. But these, of course, are not nor­mal times. ‘If drones do begin to hov­er over U.S. streets to help con­trol this pan­dem­ic,’ Gaulkin wrote, ‘it will be yet anoth­er vis­i­ble reminder that we’ve entered a pub­lic health Twi­light Zone where Amer­i­cans have no bet­ter option than to embrace what was once only imag­in­able, and nev­er real.’ . . . ” 

“Coro­n­avirus Sur­veil­lance Is Enter­ing Dystopi­an Ter­ri­to­ry” by Eric Lutz; Van­i­ty Fair; 4/9/2020. [16]

Ear­li­er this week, the Eliz­a­beth, New Jer­sey police depart­ment gave res­i­dents a look at one of the drones offi­cials there will use to help mon­i­tor res­i­dents and enforce social dis­tanc­ing mea­sures aimed at slow­ing the spread of the nov­el coro­n­avirus. “These drones will be around the City with an auto­mat­ed mes­sage from the May­or telling you to STOP gath­er­ing, dis­perse and go home,” the depart­ment said.

The city, which has seen close to 1,500 con­firmed COVID cas­es, is one of a grow­ing num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States that is either deploy­ing or con­sid­er­ing the use of unmanned drones to sup­port their shel­ter-in-place directives—a prac­tice that has been used, seem­ing­ly with suc­cess, in coun­tries like France [52] and Chi­na [53]. But on Wednes­day, the Eliz­a­beth police depart­ment was forced to clar­i­fy in a sec­ond video empha­siz­ing that the drones were only there to spread “an auto­mat­ed notice about keep­ing your social dis­tance.”

“We are just try­ing to save lives, not try­ing to be big broth­er,” the depart­ment said [54] on Face­book. “There is no record­ing and no pic­tures being tak­en, it is a tool of encour­age­ment to fol­low the rules.”

The episode under­scores the loom­ing ten­sions for fed­er­al and local gov­ern­ments between civ­il lib­er­ties and efforts to com­bat a dead­ly pan­dem­ic that has par­a­lyzed the coun­try. The U.S. gov­ern­ment was caught flat-foot­ed by the pub­lic health cri­sis, thanks to Don­ald Trump ignor­ing months of warn­ings and rely­ing on wish­ful think­ing rather than action. But with Amer­i­ca now the epi­cen­ter of the pan­dem­ic, the admin­is­tra­tion is try­ing to play catch-up, with Jared Kushner—the president’s unqual­i­fied son-in-law and senior advis­er—lead­ing [55] a coro­n­avirus response team that has float­ed a num­ber of poten­tial mea­sures, includ­ing a nation­al sur­veil­lance sys­tem to mon­i­tor out­breaks. That has raised pri­va­cy con­cerns, with crit­ics liken­ing it to the Patri­ot Act put into place fol­low­ing 9/11. “This is a gen­uine crisis—we have to work through it and do our best to pro­tect people’s health,” Jes­si­ca Rich, a for­mer direc­tor of the Fed­er­al Trade Commission’s con­sumer pro­tec­tion bureau, told [56] Politi­co. “But doing that doesn’t mean we have to destroy pri­va­cy.”

With­in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment itself, there has been a clum­sy acknowl­edge­ment that there are lim­its to what the U.S. can do in its efforts to con­tain the virus. “We are not an author­i­tar­i­an nation,” Sur­geon Gen­er­al Jerome Adams said [57] on Fox News last month, soon after the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion declared coro­n­avirus a pan­dem­ic. “So we have to be care­ful when we say, ‘Let’s do what Chi­na did, let’s do what South Korea did.’” (South Korea is a democ­ra­cy.) Still, actions by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to loosen data shar­ing rules around health­care and the nation­al coro­n­avirus sur­veil­lance pro­pos­al from Kushner’s team have raised con­cerns from pri­va­cy advocates—particularly giv­en the long­stand­ing fears about how the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has used sur­veil­lance and tech­nol­o­gy in its immi­gra­tion enforce­ment and oth­er con­tro­ver­sial poli­cies, along with the president’s ero­sion of demo­c­ra­t­ic norms.

“We dealt with sim­i­lar issues in 9/11,” Rich said. “One rea­son that the gov­ern­ment doesn’t have all of this data is there’s a lot of con­cern about big broth­er main­tain­ing large data­bas­es on every con­sumer on sen­si­tive issues like health, and for good rea­son.” Indeed, for crit­ics, the pri­va­cy ques­tions extend beyond the present moment when gov­ern­ments are grap­pling with the dead­ly pan­dem­ic — what hap­pens when this cri­sis pass­es? Is it pos­si­ble to get the tooth­paste back in the tube? “My biggest con­cern is that tech will emerge more pow­er­ful than it was,” Bur­cu Kil­ic, who leads a dig­i­tal right pro­gram at con­sumer advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion Pub­lic Cit­i­zen, told Politi­co. “When things get back to nor­mal, do you think they’ll want to reg­u­late them?”

Munic­i­pal­i­ties like Eliz­a­beth and Day­tona Beach, Flori­da that are mak­ing use of drones [58] to enforce social dis­tanc­ing are get­ting a taste of what nor­mal might look like, thanks to the pan­dem­ic. As Thomas Gaulkin of the Bul­letin of the Atom­ic Sci­en­tists not­ed [17] ear­li­er this month, many Amer­i­cans— often fierce in their objec­tions to per­ceived gov­ern­ment over­reach into their lives—might nor­mal­ly object to dystopi­an images of fly­ing robots polic­ing lock­downs. But these, of course, are not nor­mal times. “If drones do begin to hov­er over U.S. streets to help con­trol this pan­dem­ic,” Gaulkin wrote, “it will be yet anoth­er vis­i­ble reminder that we’ve entered a pub­lic health Twi­light Zone where Amer­i­cans have no bet­ter option than to embrace what was once only imag­in­able, and nev­er real.”

7b. The alpha preda­tor of the elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance land­scape is Peter Thiel’s Palan­tir [18]. They have land­ed two key gov­ern­ment con­tracts in con­nec­tion with the Covid-19 out­break: ” . . . . Palan­tir, the $20 bil­lion-val­ued Palo Alto tech com­pa­ny backed by Face­book-fun­der Peter Thiel, has been hand­ed a $17.3 mil­lion con­tract with one of the lead­ing health bod­ies lead­ing the charge against COVID-19. It’s the biggest con­tract hand­ed to a Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­ny to assist America’s COVID-19 response, accord­ing to Forbes’ review of pub­lic con­tracts, and comes as oth­er Cal­i­forn­ian giants like Apple and Google try to fig­ure out how best to help gov­ern­ments fight the dead­ly virus. . . . The mon­ey, from the fed­er­al government’s COVID-19 relief fund, is for Palan­tir Gotham licens­es, accord­ing to a con­tract record reviewed by Forbes. That tech­nol­o­gy is designed to draw in data from myr­i­ad sources and, regard­less of what form or size, turn the infor­ma­tion into a coher­ent whole. The ‘plat­form’ is cus­tomized for each client, so it meets with their mis­sion needs, accord­ing to Palan­tir. . . . Palan­tir Gotham is slight­ly dif­fer­ent to Foundry, a new­er prod­uct that’s aimed more at gen­er­al users rather than data sci­ence whizzes, with more automa­tion than Gotham. As Forbes pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed [19], Foundry is being used by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) to ingest infor­ma­tion from all man­ner of hos­pi­tals across Amer­i­ca to see where best to pro­vide more or less resource. . . . Palan­tir is now work­ing with at least 12 gov­ern­ments on their respons­es to coro­n­avirus, accord­ing to two sources with knowl­edge of its COVID-19 work. That includes the U.K.’s Nation­al Health Ser­vice, which is using Foundry for sim­i­lar pur­pos­es as the CDC. . . .”

“Palan­tir, The Peter Thiel-Backed $20 Bil­lion Big Data Crunch­er, Scores $17 Mil­lion Coro­n­avirus Emer­gency Relief Deal” by Thomas Brew­ster; Forbes; 04/11/2020 [18]

Palan­tir, the $20 bil­lion-val­ued Palo Alto tech com­pa­ny backed by Face­book-fun­der Peter Thiel, has been hand­ed a $17.3 mil­lion con­tract with one of the lead­ing health bod­ies lead­ing the charge against COVID-19.

It’s the biggest con­tract hand­ed to a Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­ny to assist America’s COVID-19 response, accord­ing to Forbes’ review of pub­lic con­tracts, and comes as oth­er Cal­i­forn­ian giants like Apple and Google try to fig­ure out how best to help gov­ern­ments fight the dead­ly virus.

The deal was signed on April 10 with a Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices (HHS) sub­sidiary agency, the Pro­gram Sup­port Cen­ter (PSC), which pro­vides “shared ser­vices across the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.”

The mon­ey, from the fed­er­al government’s COVID-19 relief fund, is for Palan­tir Gotham licens­es, accord­ing to a con­tract record reviewed by Forbes. That tech­nol­o­gy is designed to draw in data from myr­i­ad sources and, regard­less of what form or size, turn the infor­ma­tion into a coher­ent whole. The “plat­form” is cus­tomized for each client, so it meets with their mis­sion needs, accord­ing to Palan­tir.

Palan­tir Gotham is slight­ly dif­fer­ent to Foundry, a new­er prod­uct that’s aimed more at gen­er­al users rather than data sci­ence whizzes, with more automa­tion than Gotham. As Forbes pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed [19], Foundry is being used by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) to ingest infor­ma­tion from all man­ner of hos­pi­tals across Amer­i­ca to see where best to pro­vide more or less resource. That includes sup­plies of COVID-19 per­son­al pro­tec­tion equip­ment like masks and res­pi­ra­tors.

Forbes also revealed ear­li­er this week that the U.S. Coast Guard, a depart­ment with­in the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty (DHS), had con­tract­ed Palan­tir for $8 mil­lion [59] for its own COVID-19 response efforts. The tech com­pa­ny declined to talk about the nature of the work, whilst the Coast Guard hadn’t com­ment­ed at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

Palan­tir is now work­ing with at least 12 gov­ern­ments on their respons­es to coro­n­avirus, accord­ing to two sources with knowl­edge of its COVID-19 work. That includes the U.K.’s Nation­al Health Ser­vice, which is using Foundry for sim­i­lar pur­pos­es as the CDC.

Despite the osten­si­bly con­tro­ver­sy-free deal with the British health body, the recep­tion was some­what frosty. That was, in part, because of Palantir’s links to the U.S. mil­i­tary intel­li­gence com­plex; it was fund­ed by the CIA’s ven­ture cap­i­tal fund, In-Q-Tel, and was said to have helped find Osama bin Laden. The uneasi­ness from pri­va­cy bod­ies was also relat­ed to Palantir’s work with Immi­gra­tion Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE), which has drawn some crit­i­cism from human rights groups.

Call­ing Cal­i­for­nia For Coro­n­avirus Con­tracts

Out­side of Cal­i­for­nia, a hand­ful of tech com­pa­nies are sign­ing off COVID-19 relief con­tracts. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment sales arm of Dell, the Tex­an hard­ware and soft­ware busi­ness, signed off on a $35 mil­lion deal to pro­vide Vet­er­ans Affairs with Microsoft secu­ri­ty tech­nol­o­gy and ser­vices.

Oth­er Sil­i­con Val­ley giants like Apple, Google and Ora­cle have been offer­ing solu­tions to help ease the cri­sis. Ora­cle, as Forbes exclu­sive­ly report­ed [60], is work­ing on a giant data­base to track the impact of COVID-19 treat­ments on patients. On Fri­day, Apple and Google announced they were col­lab­o­rat­ing [61] on a project for a pro-pri­va­cy con­tact trac­ing app to help peo­ple know if they’ve been in the same area as some­one who’d con­tract­ed the virus.

But in terms of Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­nies, whom many were hop­ing would rapid­ly devel­op coro­n­avirus-fight­ing tech, it’s Palan­tir that’s lead­ing, in mon­ey terms at least.

7c. About the above-men­tioned Foundry:

“Palan­tir, The $20 Bil­lion, Peter Thiel-Backed Big Data Giant, Is Pro­vid­ing Coro­n­avirus Mon­i­tor­ing To The CDC” by Thomas Brew­ster; Forbes; 03/31/2020 [19]

In the last week, staff at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) start­ed log­ging into a new web app. It promis­es to help them watch where COVID-19 is spread­ing and checks how well equipped hos­pi­tals are to deal with the spike in cas­es of the fatal virus, accord­ing to two sources famil­iar with the work. Accord­ing to those sources, it was built by Palan­tir [62], a $20 bil­lion-val­ued big data com­pa­ny whose data har­vest­ing work for the U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment agency has pro­voked crit­i­cism from human rights groups.

With the CDC project, it’s avoid­ing any such con­tro­ver­sy, part­ly because it isn’t ingest­ing per­son­al­ly-iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion, said the sources, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty due to the sen­si­tiv­i­ties of the gov­ern­ment con­tract. Instead, the sources said the tech, based on its big data gath­er­ing and analy­sis tech­nol­o­gy called Palan­tir Foundry, takes in a range of anonymized data from U.S. hos­pi­tals and health­care agen­cies, includ­ing lab test results, emer­gency depart­ment sta­tus­es, bed capac­i­ty and ven­ti­la­tor sup­ply. Palan­tir is also devel­op­ing mod­els for the out­break of the virus to help CDC pre­dict where resources are required, they added.

“In the U.S. we are con­tin­u­ing to work close­ly with our part­ners at HHS, includ­ing CDC, and across the gov­ern­ment agen­cies to ensure they have the most com­pre­hen­sive, accu­rate and time­ly view of infor­ma­tion as the COVID-19 response effort evolves,” a Palan­tir spokesper­son said.

The CDC hadn’t respond­ed to a request for com­ment at the time of pub­li­ca­tion.

Such tech would give the CDC a clear under­stand­ing of what’s hap­pen­ing in any giv­en U.S. geog­ra­phy, whether at state, coun­ty or city lev­el, at a sin­gle moment in time. The infor­ma­tion would help the CDC decide where to allo­cate resources, such as masks and ven­ti­la­tors, one source said. That could prove vital giv­en the rush to meet a per­va­sive and urgent need for ven­ti­la­tors [63], in par­tic­u­lar.

Palan­tir is one of sev­er­al tech com­pa­nies, includ­ing Google and Ora­cle [60], flex­ing their prowess in data gath­er­ing and analy­sis in efforts to stem the coro­n­avirus. Some ideas, such as using loca­tions from mobile phones to track move­ments of peo­ple [64], have prompt­ed con­cerns that once the cri­sis ebbs, increased sur­veil­lance will be hard to unwind. Palantir’s tool does not use any per­son­al­ly-iden­ti­fi­able data at this point, but could do in the future, said one of the sources.

Sim­i­lar to Palantir’s U.K. work

The app, which CDC staff start­ed to use in the last few days, is host­ed by Ama­zon Web Ser­vices as part of a part­ner­ship for the CDC project, one of the sources said. Palan­tir has long used the cloud giant for back-end infra­struc­ture.

The U.S. data gath­er­ing app looks a lot like a project revealed in the U.K. last week, where reports indi­cat­ed Palan­tir was also pro­vid­ing its Foundry plat­form, along­side Ama­zon Web Ser­vices and Microsoft, to assist the Nation­al Health Ser­vice (NHS) in the coro­n­avirus cri­sis.

Palantir’s Foundry will help the NHS deter­mine cur­rent occu­pan­cy lev­els at hos­pi­tals, down to the num­ber and type of beds, as well as the capac­i­ty of acci­dent and emer­gency, depart­ments and wait­ing times, wrote [65] the U.K. gov­ern­ment late last week. The tool is also gath­er­ing details of the lengths of stay for coro­n­avirus patients, the U.K. project coor­di­na­tors said.

“Palan­tir is a data proces­sor, not a data con­troller, and can­not pass on or use the data for any wider pur­pose with­out the per­mis­sion of NHS Eng­land,” it added.

The response to Palantir’s involve­ment in the U.K. has been cau­tious in light of its pre­vi­ous sur­veil­lance work, notably its pro­duc­tion of tools that helped ICE tar­get undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants in Amer­i­ca. It has close ties to U.S. intel­li­gence and law enforce­ment agen­cies, includ­ing the CIA, an investor via the agency’s In-Q-Tel ven­ture fund, and was cred­it­ed with help­ing find Osama Bin Laden before his killing. The com­pa­ny was found­ed by a social the­o­ry Ph.D. Alex Karp, a long-time asso­ciate of Palan­tir investor Peter Thiel [66], the bil­lion­aire ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist who was also an ear­ly backer of Face­book.

It’s unclear just how much Palan­tir will make from the work. Accord­ing to pub­lic records, the most recent con­tract signed by Palan­tir with the CDC was in ear­ly Feb­ru­ary for $675,000 for unspec­i­fied hard­ware and soft­ware license renewals. Palan­tir also signed a con­tract for just $28,000 with the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion late last month for use of the Palan­tir Gotham tool, which is typ­i­cal­ly used to help gov­ern­ment agen­cies find crim­i­nals or crim­i­nal groups with­in mass­es of data. . . .

8. Exem­pli­fy­ing the mul­ti-dimen­sion­al chess sce­nario in con­nec­tion with the “bio-psy-op” is the GOP’s plan to use the Covid-19 out­break to scape­goat Chi­na and tar the Democ­rats and Joe Biden with the same brush.

Of par­tic­u­lar note in this regard is the Steve Bannon‑J. Kyle Bass-Tom­my Hicks, Jr. tri­umvi­rate dis­cussed in–among oth­er pro­grams–FTR #‘s 1111 and 1112. [20]

At the epi­cen­ter of the anti-Chi­na effort, Ban­non is net­worked with Bass, who is asym­met­ri­cal­ly invest­ed with regard to the Hong Kong and Chi­nese economies. Hicks, in turn, is a co-investor with Bass, co-chair­man of the RNC, and one of the prime movers of the inter­a­gency gov­ern­men­tal net­works involved in the anti-Chi­na desta­bi­liza­tion oper­a­tion.

This net­worked rela­tion­ship affords investors like Bass and Hicks the ulti­mate posi­tion from which to prof­it from “insid­er” infor­ma­tion. 

The syn­the­sis of covert oper­a­tions and elec­toral pol­i­tics reminds us of the 1952 elec­tion, in which Arthur Bliss Lane occu­pied a key posi­tion in the Cru­sade For Free­dom, as well as the GOP. (We dis­cussed this in AFA #37 [21], and uti­lized infor­ma­tion from, among oth­er sources, Blow­back [22] by Christo­pher Simp­son.

“G.O.P. Aim­ing To Make Chi­na The Scape­goat” by Jonathan Mar­tin and Mag­gie Haber­man; The New York Times; 4/19/2020; pp. A1-A6 [West­ern Edi­tion] [67]

The strat­e­gy could not be clear­er: From the Repub­li­can law­mak­ers blan­ket­ing Fox News to new ads [68] from Pres­i­dent Trump’s super PAC to the bit­ing crit­i­cism on Don­ald Trump Jr.’s Twit­ter feed [69], the G.O.P. is attempt­ing to divert atten­tion from the administration’s heav­i­ly crit­i­cized response to the coro­n­avirus by pin­ning the blame on Chi­na.

With the death toll from the pan­dem­ic already sur­pass­ing 34,000 Amer­i­cans [70] and unem­ploy­ment soar­ing to lev­els not seen since the Great Depres­sion, Repub­li­cans increas­ing­ly believe that ele­vat­ing Chi­na as an arch­en­e­my cul­pa­ble for the spread of the virus, and har­ness­ing America’s grow­ing ani­mos­i­ty toward Bei­jing, may be the best way to sal­vage a dif­fi­cult elec­tion.

Repub­li­can sen­a­tors locked in dif­fi­cult races are prepar­ing com­mer­cials con­demn­ing Chi­na. Con­ser­v­a­tives with future pres­i­den­tial ambi­tions of their own, like Sen­a­tors Tom Cot­ton and Josh Haw­ley, are com­pet­ing to see who can talk tougher toward the coun­try where the virus first emerged. Par­ty offi­cials are pub­licly and pri­vate­ly bran­dish­ing polling data in hopes Mr. Trump will con­front Bei­jing.

Mr. Trump’s own cam­paign aides have endorsed the strat­e­gy, releas­ing an attack ad [71] last week depict­ing Joseph R. Biden Jr., the pre­sump­tive Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee, as soft on Chi­na. The ad relied heav­i­ly on images of peo­ple of Asian descent, includ­ing for­mer Gov. Gary Locke of Wash­ing­ton, who is Chi­nese-Amer­i­can, and it was wide­ly viewed as fan­ning the flames of xeno­pho­bia [72]. . . .

. . . . The strat­e­gy includes efforts to lever­age the U.S.-China rela­tion­ship against Mr. Biden, who Repub­li­cans believe is vul­ner­a­ble because of his com­ments [73] last year play­ing down the geopo­lit­i­cal chal­lenge posed by Chi­na and what Repub­li­cans claim was high-pay­ing work that his son, Hunter, has done there. (A lawyer for the younger Mr. Biden said he was uncom­pen­sat­ed for his work.)

Mr. Biden, for his part, has crit­i­cized Mr. Trump’s warm words for Chi­na. On Fri­day, his cam­paign released a video [74] assail­ing the pres­i­dent for not press­ing Mr. Xi to let the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion into his coun­try and for being “more wor­ried about pro­tect­ing his trade deal with Chi­na than he was about the virus.”

On a con­fer­ence call with reporters, Antony J. Blinken, a senior Biden advis­er, not­ed that in Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary “the pres­i­dent praised Chi­na and Pres­i­dent Xi more than 15 times.” He attrib­uted the flat­tery to the administration’s not want­i­ng to “risk that Chi­na pull back on imple­ment­ing” the ini­tial trade agree­ment the two coun­tries signed in Jan­u­ary. [75] . . .

. . . . The president’s hopes for secur­ing a major trade agree­ment with Chi­na have been rein­forced by a coterie of his advis­ers, includ­ing Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin,who have often pre­vailed in inter­nal bat­tles over White House hard-lin­ers.

But with the coro­n­avirus death toll grow­ing and the econ­o­my at a stand­still, polls show that Amer­i­cans have nev­er viewed Chi­na more neg­a­tive­ly [76].

In a recent 17-state sur­vey con­duct­ed by Mr. Trump’s cam­paign, 77 per­cent of vot­ers agreed that Chi­na cov­ered up the extent of the coro­n­avirus out­break, and 79 per­cent of vot­ers indi­cat­ed they did not think Chi­na had been truth­ful about the extent of infec­tions and deaths, accord­ing to a Repub­li­can briefed on the poll. . . .

. . . . “At this moment in time a trade deal is not the right top­ic of dis­cus­sion,” said Sen­a­tor Steve Daines, Repub­li­can of Mon­tana, who said the pan­dem­ic had high­light­ed the country’s reliance on Chi­na in the same painful fash­ion that the oil cri­sis of the 1970s revealed how it was at the mer­cy of the Mid­dle East. “This has exposed our depen­den­cy on Chi­na for P.P.E. and for crit­i­cal drugs.”

Mr. Haw­ley, a first-term Mis­souri sen­a­tor has also denounced Chi­na, call­ing for a Unit­ed States-led inter­na­tion­al com­mis­sion to deter­mine the ori­gin of the virus and demand­ing that Amer­i­can vic­tims be allowed to sue the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

“This is the 9/11 of this gen­er­a­tion,” said Mr. Haw­ley, adding that he hopes Mr. Trump “keeps the pres­sure high.”

He said Repub­li­cans should make the issue cen­tral this fall and demon­strate “how are we going to come out of this stronger by actu­al­ly stand­ing up to the Chi­nese.”

Few Repub­li­cans have been more out­spo­ken than Mr. Cot­ton, an Arkansan who was warn­ing about the virus at the start of the year when few law­mak­ers were pay­ing atten­tion, and has been urg­ing Sen­ate can­di­dates to make Chi­na a cen­ter­piece of their cam­paigns.

“Chi­na unleashed this pan­dem­ic on the world and they should pay the price,” Mr. Cot­ton said. “Con­gress and the pres­i­dent should work togeth­er to hold Chi­na account­able.” . . .

9. Exem­plary, as well, of the bio-psy-op as syn­the­sis of covert oper­a­tion and polit­i­cal cru­sad­ing is the GOP’s cyn­i­cal manip­u­la­tion of emer­gency appro­pri­a­tions to achieve their long­stand­ing objec­tive of crip­pling state and local gov­ern­ments, as well as dri­ving the Postal Ser­vice into bank­rupt­cy. Pri­va­tiz­ing postal ser­vice has been a right-wing/­GOP objec­tive for a long time. ” . . . . Every­one, and I mean every­one, knows what is real­ly hap­pen­ing: McConnell is try­ing to get more mon­ey for busi­ness­es while con­tin­u­ing to short­change state and local gov­ern­ments. After all, “starve the beast” — forc­ing gov­ern­ments to cut ser­vices by depriv­ing them of resources — has been Repub­li­can strat­e­gy for decades. This is just more of the same. . . . Oh, and Trump per­son­al­ly [23] has ruled out aid for the Postal Ser­vice. . . .”

“Starve the Beast, Feed The Depres­sion” by Paul Krug­man; The New York Times; 4/17/2020; p. A27 [West­ern Edi­tion]. [77]

. . . . Right now the econ­o­my is in the equiv­a­lent of a med­ical­ly induced coma, with whole sec­tors shut down to lim­it social con­tact and hence slow the spread of the coro­n­avirus. We can’t bring the econ­o­my out of this coma until, at min­i­mum, we have sharply reduced the rate of new infec­tions and dra­mat­i­cal­ly increased test­ing so that we can quick­ly respond to any new out­breaks. . . .

. . . . Since we’re nowhere close to that point — in par­tic­u­lar, test­ing is still far behind [78] what’s need­ed — we’re months away from a safe end of the lock­down. This is caus­ing severe hard­ship for work­ers, busi­ness­es, hos­pi­tals and — last but not least — state and local gov­ern­ments, which unlike the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment must bal­ance their bud­gets. . . .

. . . . What pol­i­cy can and should do is mit­i­gate that hard­ship. And the last relief pack­age did, in fact, do a lot of the right things. But it didn’t do enough of them. . . .

. . . . It’s true that Sen­ate Repub­li­cans are try­ing to push through an extra $250 bil­lion [79] in small-busi­ness lend­ing — and Democ­rats are will­ing to go along. But the Democ­rats also insist that the pack­age include sub­stan­tial aid for hos­pi­tals and for state and local gov­ern­ments. And Mitch McConnell, the Sen­ate major­i­ty leader, is refus­ing to include this aid.

McConnell claims that he would be will­ing to con­sid­er addi­tion­al mea­sures in lat­er leg­is­la­tion. But let’s get real. There is absolute­ly no rea­son not to include the mon­ey now.

Every­one, and I mean every­one, knows what is real­ly hap­pen­ing: McConnell is try­ing to get more mon­ey for busi­ness­es while con­tin­u­ing to short­change state and local gov­ern­ments. After all, “starve the beast” — forc­ing gov­ern­ments to cut ser­vices by depriv­ing them of resources — has been Repub­li­can strat­e­gy for decades. This is just more of the same.

This real­i­ty leaves Democ­rats with no choice except to stand firm while they still have lever­age. Bear in mind that McConnell could have the mon­ey he wants tomor­row if he were will­ing to meet them halfway. So far, how­ev­er, he isn’t. Oh, and Trump per­son­al­ly [23] has ruled out aid for the Postal Ser­vice.