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TBR News March 19, 2020

Mar 19 2020

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. March 19, 2020:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the
election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.

Commentary for March 19, 2020 : The coronavirus frenzy seems to have peaked in the press but there is always the military, ready and eager to Defend America from the Unwashed Ones. Most of the repression talk is theory at this point but there are those, fanatical Christian-types and far righters, who lust after it as a whore lust after respectability or a professional politician after votes. Here are the latest Gloom and Doom headlines and one will note that they are less lunatic than the ones posted yesterday.”

More scare propganda from Reuters
• ‘There are no funerals:’ Death in quarantine leaves nowhere to grieve
• Coronavirus upends livelihoods across Europe
• U.S. life insurers impose waiting periods to skirt coronavirus risk
• For U.S. small restaurants, coronavirus impact is swift and brutal
• Mexican migrant shelters brace for coronavirus
• From a trickle to a steady flow: Coronavirus caseload tests U.S. military
• Coronavirus conspiracies go viral on Whatsapp as crisis deepens
• Airline industry crisis deepens as coronavirus pain spreads
• Credit markets flash red as coronavirus hits corporate America
• Dutch confirmed coronavirus cases at 2,460: health authorities

and from The Guardian
• Spain death toll up to 767; EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tests positive
• Italian province struggles to bury its coronavirus dead
• France may refuse entry to Britons if no UK lockdown
• Russia reports first Covid-19 death
• New Zealand closes borders to foreigners from midnight Thursday
• Australia closes borders to non-residents and non-citizens
• Pandemic hits car industry
• Colombia has become the latest country to block the entrance of all non-citizens
• ‘This is a war’Cuomo warns coronavirus could overwhelm New York healthcare
• Suddenly I have no paycheck’: layoffs and cuts for workers rocked by coronaviru

and from the New York Times
• As Pandemic Spreads Swiftly, China Reports Zero New Local Infections
• White House Seeks $500 Billion in Checks for Taxpayers
• Britain, bracing for a surge, put 20,000 troops on standby. Follow our updates.
• More Turmoil on Wall Street as Jobless Claims Surge: Updates
• Stocks fell even as global governments took steps to offset the sharp decline gripping their economies.
• The coronavirus will overwhelm New York’s health care system, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
• Need a Coronavirus Test? Money and Fame May Help
• Limited testing has left many Americans without answers, yet the list of celebrity patients grows.
• Virus Ravages 7 Family Members, Killing 3
• A Promising Treatment for Coronavirus Fails

and the Washington Post
• As U.S. layoffs skyrocket, unemployment safety net is underprepared
• Billions in bailouts, checks for every American … but will that be enough?
• Will coronavirus kill off movie theaters?
• What to consider before canceling a flight because of coronavirus
• ‘If I get corona, I get corona’: Miami spring breakers say covid-19 hasn’t stopped them from partying
• This is everywhere you should be sanitizing in your hotel
• While coronavirus ravages Iran, U.S. sanctions squeeze it
• Hospital workers battling coronavirus turn to bandannas, sports goggles and homemade face shields amid shortages
• More lifesaving ventilators are available. Hospitals can’t afford them.
• Americans must relearn to sacrifice in the time of coronavirus

and, finally, from Deutsche Welle

• Coronavirus latest: Spanish deaths surge
• Merkel: Coronavirus is Germany’s greatest challenge since World War Two
• Coronavirus and basic rights: What is the German state allowed to do?
• Hands off! What can we touch during the coronavirus outbreak?
• What does the coronavirus do when it infects someone?
• Is Pakistan taking COVID-19 too lightly?
• Blood in the time of corona: Why donations are needed more than ever
• Coronavirus travel chaos as Latin America barricades itself
• Coronavirus latest: Spanish COVID-19 deaths surge
• Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said Italy’s lockdown must be extended

How about …..

• As scientists have proven shoes carry coronavirus, Americans must go barefoot in public
• Army to shoot coronavirus protestors making public displays of anger
• A shocking case in Maine where hit-run victim falsely said to have died of coronavirus
• Hospitals in Texas throwing new coronavirus patients into heating furnace to protect others
• Giant bats seen in California park might carry deadly virus
• Iowa to brand foreheads of coronavirus patients to warn others to avoid
• Only one passenger to be allowed per bus in Chicago
• All public schools in Florida to be permanently closed and turned into shopping malls
• Florida school students forced to work in lead mines for twelve hour shifts
• Santa Claus will be permanently banned from entering American homes on Monday

The Table of Contents
Exclusive: Inside The Military’s Top Secret Plans If Coronavirus Cripples the Government
• Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown
• Minerva Project
• OPERATION NORTHWOODS

Exclusive: Inside The Military’s Top Secret Plans If Coronavirus Cripples the Government
March 18, 2020
by William M. Arkin
Newsweek
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 – 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 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.
Government at all levels now have extensive “continuity” programs to respond to man-made and natural disasters, a national response framework that has steadily grown and taken hold. This is the public world of emergency response, ranging from life-saving efforts to protect and restore critical infrastructure, to drills that practice the evacuation of key officials. It is a partnership created between federal government agencies and the States, carefully constructed to guard the rule of law.
In July 2016, Barack Obama signed the classified Presidential Policy Directive 40 on “National Continuity Policy,” establishing “essential functions” that government agencies were tasked to protect and retain. At the highest level were the National Essential Functions, those that posit “the continued functioning” of government under the Constitution. In order to preserve Constitutional rule, agencies were ordered to have not just a line of succession but also one of “devolution,” a duplicate chain of individuals secreted outside Washington available in a catastrophic emergency. Federal Continuity Directive 1, issued just days before Donald Trump became president, says that devolution has to establish “procedures to transfer statutory authority and responsibilities” to this secondary designated staff to sustain essential functions.
“Devolution may be temporary, or may endure for an extended period,” the directive states. And it further directs that the devolution staff be located at “a geographically dispersed location unaffected by the incident.” Except that in the case of coronavirus, there may be no such location. This places the plans for the extraordinary into completely uncharted territory, planners not just considering how devolution or martial law might work in a nationwide disaster but also how those earmarked to implement these very plans have to be sequestered and made ready, even while they are equally vulnerable.
NORTHCOM stresses in almost everything it produces for public consumption that it operates only in “support” of civil authorities, in response to state requests for assistance or with the consent of local authorities. Legally, the command says, the use of federal military forces in law enforcement can only take place if those forces are used to suppress “insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” A second test also has to be met, that such disturbances “hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State,” that is, that the public is deprived of its legal and constitutional protections. Local civil authorities must be “unable, fail, or refuse” to protect the civilian population for military forces to be called in, Pentagon directives make clear.
Since Hurricane Katrina in 2006, no emergency has triggered any state to even request federal military aid under these procedures. Part of the reason, the senior officer involved in planning says, is that local police forces have themselves become more capable, acquiring military-grade equipment and training. And part of the reason is that the governors have worked together to strengthen the National Guard, which can enforce domestic law when it is mustered under state control.
But to give a sense of how sensitive the employment of military forces on American soil is, when the New York National Guard arrived in New Rochelle last week, even though they were operating under the control of the governor, Mayor Noam Bramson still found it necessary to assure the public that no one in military uniform would have any “policing function.”
Local authorities around America are already expressing worries that they have insufficient equipment, particularly ventilators, to deal with a possible influx of coronavirus patients, the number of hospital beds fewer than the potential number of patients that could need them. And brawls have already broken out in stores where products are in short supply. The worst case is that shortages and violence spreads, that the federal military, isolated and kept healthy behind its own barricade, is called to take over.
Orders have already gone out that Secretary of Defense Esper and his deputy, David Norquist, remain physically separated, to guard against both of them becoming incapacitated. Other national security agencies are following suit, and the White House continuity specialists are readying evacuation should the virus sweep through the Executive Mansion.
The plans state that the government continues essential functions under all circumstances, even if that is with the devolved second string or under temporary military command. One of the “national essential functions”, according to Federal Continuity Directive 1 is that the government “provid[e] leadership visible to the Nation and the world … [while] maintaining the trust and confidence of the American people” The question is whether a faceless elite could ever provide that confidence, preserving government command but also adding to public panic. That could be a virus too.

Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown
Social science is being militarised to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and protest movements
A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term “warfighter-relevant insights” for senior officials and decision makers in “the defense policy community,” and to inform policy implemented by “combatant commands.”
The United States Joint Forces Command (USJFC), United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM, or informally just NORTHCOM) is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military. Created on 1 October 2002 in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, its mission is to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities. The support that USNORTHCOM provides to civil authorities is limited by the Posse Comitatus Act which limits the role of the U.S. military in civil law enforcement. However, in case of national emergencies, natural or man-made, its Air Forces Northern National Security Emergency Preparedness Directorate will take charge of the situation or event.
USNORTHCOM is composed of several standing Joint Task Forces (JTFs) previously assigned to United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM): Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, Joint Task Force-Civil Support, Joint Task Force Alaska, and Joint Task Force North. USNORTHCOM service components include U.S. Fifth Army/ARNORTH, First Air Force/AFNORTH, MARFORNORTH, and United States Fleet Forces Command.
Headquarters
OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
US ARMY NORTH
AND FORT SAM HOUSTON
Phone: (210) 221-1719
Fax: (210) 221-9560
USNORTHCOM headquarters has approximately 1,200 uniformed and civilian members, and few permanent forces. Forces from all branches of the U.S. military may be assigned to the Command as needed to complete its mission.
Commander, U.S. Northern Command is concurrently Commander of the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The two are co-located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. General Ralph Eberhart was the first CDRUSNORTHCOM.
Fifth U.S. Army, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, assumed the DSCA responsibility nationwide and be known as U.S. Army North, or ARNORTH, under U.S. Northern Command. First Army had also conducted Homeland Defense in support of national objectives as well as providing Department of Defense support of civilian authorities, such as relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
The Army’s transformation necessitated restructuring the roles and missions of First Army and Fifth Army to support reserve component modularity and the Army Force Generation process known as ARFORGEN. First U.S. Army’s training mission expanded 16 January 2006 to include training, readiness oversight and mobilization for US Army Reserve and National Guard units throughout the continental United States and two US territories. The transition of the expanded geographic mission began in mid-December 2005 with the transfer of authority between First Army and Fifth Army for the Western United States. Previously, First Army trained, mobilized and deployed U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard units in the eastern United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Fifth Army Prior to 2006
Command authority for the Army National Guard in peacetime belongs to the governor of each state and is exercised through the state Adjutant General to subordinate commanders. Prior to 2006 Fifth Army oversaw the training and monitored the mobilization readiness of Army National Guard units within its area of responsibility. Fifth Army had the additional missions of preparing to mobilize and deploy Reserve Component units, planning for the security and key assets protection of the central, western, and southwestern United States, and, on order, providing assistance to civilian authorities during peacetime crises.
Fifth Army provided training support to designated units in its 21-state area of responsibility west of the Mississippi River. Six Training Support Brigades (TSBs) and two Simulation Brigades (SIM) are located at Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Travis Air Force Base, California; Fort Lewis, Washington; Houston, Texas; and Camp Parks, California. Three Field Training Groups (FTGs), located at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Austin, Texas; and Los Alamitos, California, support the training of National Guard Divisions. The TSBs provide training support and, on order, deploy mobilized units through mobilization assistance teams. During disaster relief, the TSB Commander assumes the role of the Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO) for Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA) operations.
The Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Training (ODCST) synchronizes and schedules training assets belonging to Fifth Army — the Training Support Divisions (TSDs), Training Support Brigades (TSBs), and Field Training Groups (FTGs)–for training support. Additionally, TSDs are under the operational control of Fifth Army for training support. The DCST coordinates time and space requirements at various military facilities within Fifth Army’s AOR that support the scheduled training. The ODCST schedules and monitors annual assessments of RC readiness through the Training Assessment Model (TAM) for each unit. These evaluations are used to monitor readiness and to assist the units in preparation of their annual training plans. The ODCST performs the primary role of assisting, evaluating, and synchronizing training support for units with assets that are available either within the CONUSA or from the U.S. Army.
The Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations (ODCSOPS) has primary responsibility for mobilization. All of the hard work and effort expended attaining training and readiness standards would be of limited value if units were not able to mobilize and deploy. Fifth Army, through the DCSOPS, directs mobilization and demobilization operations and approves mobilization plans for all State Area Commands (STARCs), Army Reserve Commands, Power Projection Platforms (PPPs), and Power Support Platforms (PSPs). Additionally, Fifth Army assumes operational control of the PPPs, PSPs, and exercises command and control of mobilized units from mobilization at their home station to closure at the PPP/PSP.
• Special Troops Battalion
• 7th Infantry Division (Light)
• 75th Division (TS) Training and Support)
• 91st Division (TS) In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to relocate the 91st Div (TSD) to Fort Hunter Liggett, CA. This recommendation would improve operational effectiveness by putting the Training Division at the major training site in their regions (Fort Hunter-Ligget).
• 5th Armored Brigade
• 21st Support Brigade
• 120th Infantry Brigade
• 166th Aviation Brigade
• 191st Infantry Brigade
• 479th Field Artillery Brigade
• 35th Field Training Group
Ft Leavenworth KS
• 40th Field Training Group
Los Alamitos CA
• 49th Field Training Group
Camp Mabry TX

Minerva Project

Launched in 2008 – the year of the global banking crisis – the DoD ‘Minerva Research Initiative’ partners with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”
Among the projects awarded for the period 2014-2017 is a Cornell University-led study managed by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research which aims to develop an empirical model “of the dynamics of social movement mobilization and contagions.” The project will determine “the critical mass (tipping point)” of social contagions by studying their “digital traces” in the cases of “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”
Twitter posts and conversations will be examined “to identify individuals mobilized in a social contagion and when they become mobilized.”
Another project awarded this year to the University of Washington “seeks to uncover the conditions under which political movements aimed at large-scale political and economic change originate,” along with their “characteristics and consequences.” The project, managed by the US Army Research Office, focuses on “large-scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants in enduring activity,” and will cover 58 countries in total.
Last year, the DoD’s Minerva Initiative funded a project to determine ‘Who Does Not Become a Terrorist, and Why?’ which, however, conflates peaceful activists with “supporters of political violence” who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on “armed militancy” themselves. The project explicitly sets out to study non-violent activists:
“In every context we find many individuals who share the demographic, family, cultural, and/or socioeconomic background of those who decided to engage in terrorism, and yet refrained themselves from taking up armed militancy, even though they were sympathetic to the end goals of armed groups. The field of terrorism studies has not, until recently, attempted to look at this control group. This project is not about terrorists, but about supporters of political violence.”
The project’s 14 case studies each “involve extensive interviews with ten or more activists and militants in parties and NGOs who, though sympathetic to radical causes, have chosen a path of non-violence.”
I contacted the project’s principal investigator, Prof Maria Rasmussen of the US Naval Postgraduate School, asking why non-violent activists working for NGOs should be equated to supporters of political violence – and which “parties and NGOs” were being investigated – but received no response.
Similarly, Minerva program staff refused to answer a series of similar questions I put to them, including asking how “radical causes” promoted by peaceful NGOs constituted a potential national security threat of interest to the DoD.

OPERATION NORTHWOODS
March 19, 2020
by Lt. Col Harold R. Krieg USA ret
In the early 1960s, America’s top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.
Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities.
The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba’s then new leader, communist Fidel Castro.
America’s top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,” and, “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”
The plans had the written approval of all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and were presented to President Kennedy’s defense secretary, Robert McNamara, in March 1962. But they apparently were rejected by the civilian leadership and have gone undisclosed for nearly 40 years.
Gunning for War
The Joint Chiefs even proposed using the potential death of astronaut John Glenn during the first attempt to put an American into orbit as a false pretext for war with Cuba, the documents show.
Should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, they wrote, “the objective is to provide irrevocable proof … that the fault lies with the Communists et all Cuba [sic].”
The plans were motivated by an intense desire among senior military leaders to depose Castro, who seized power in 1959 to become the first communist leader in the Western Hemisphere — only 90 miles from U.S. shores.
The earlier CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles had been a disastrous failure, in which the military was not allowed to provide firepower.The military leaders now wanted a shot at it.
Reflecting this, the U.S. plan called for establishing prolonged military — not democratic — control over the island nation after the invasion.
‘Over the Edge’
The Joint Chiefs at the time were headed by Eisenhower appointee Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, who, with the signed plans in hand made a pitch to McNamara on March 13, 1962, recommending Operation Northwoods be run by the military.
Whether the Joint Chiefs’ plans were rejected by McNamara in the meeting is not clear. But three days later, President Kennedy told Lemnitzer directly there was virtually no possibility of ever using overt force to take Cuba, Bamford reports. Within months, Lemnitzer would be denied another term as chairman and transferred to another job.
The secret plans came at a time when there was distrust in the military leadership about their civilian leadership, with leaders in the Kennedy administration viewed as too liberal, insufficiently experienced and soft on communism. At the same time, however, there real were concerns in American society about their military overstepping its bounds.
There were reports U.S. military leaders had encouraged their subordinates to vote conservative during the election.
And at least two popular books were published focusing on a right-wing military leadership pushing the limits against government policy of the day. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee published its own report on right-wing extremism in the military, warning a “considerable danger” in the “education and propaganda activities of military personnel” had been uncovered. The committee even called for an examination of any ties between Lemnitzer and right-wing groups. But Congress didn’t get wind of Northwoods,
Even after Lemnitzer was gone, the Joint Chiefs continued to plan “pretext” operations at least through 1963.
One idea was to create a war between Cuba and another Latin American country so that the United States could intervene. Another was to pay someone in the Castro government to attack U.S. forces at the Guantanamo naval base — an act, which would have amounted to treason. And another was to fly low level U-2 flights over Cuba, with the intention of having one shot down as a pretext for a war.
After 40 Years
Ironically, the documents came to light in part because of the 1992 Oliver Stone film JFK, which examined the possibility of a conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kennedy.
As public interest in the assassination swelled after JFK’s release, Congress passed a law designed to increase the public’s access to government records related to the assassination.
Afraid of a congressional investigation, Lemnitzer had ordered all Joint Chiefs documents related to the Bay of Pigs destroyed, says Bamford. But somehow, these remained.
For those military officers who were sitting on the fence, the Kennedy administration’s botched Bay of Pigs invasion was the last straw. “The Bay of Pigs fiasco broke the dike,” said one report at the time. “President Kennedy was pilloried by the super patriots as a ‘no-win’ chief . . . The Far Right became a fount of proposals born of frustration and put forward in the name of anti-Communism. . . Active-duty commanders played host to anti-Communist seminars on their bases and attended or addressed Right-wing meetings elsewhere.”
Although no one in Congress could have known it at the time, Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs had quietly slipped over the edge.
According to secret and long-hidden documents, the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of antiCommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.
Code named Operation Northwoods, the plan, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war.
The idea may actually have originated with President Eisenhower in the last days of his administration. With the Cold War hotter than ever and the recent U-2 scandal fresh in the public’s memory, the old general wanted to go out with a win. He wanted desperately to invade Cuba in the weeks leading up to Kennedy’s inauguration; indeed, on January 3 he told Lemnitzer and other aides in his Cabinet Room that he would move against Castro before the inauguration if only the Cubans gave him a really good excuse. Then, with time growing short, Eisenhower floated an idea. If Castro failed to provide that excuse, perhaps, he said, the United States “could think of manufacturing something that would be generally acceptable.” What he was suggesting was a pretext a bombing, an attack, an act of sabotage carried out secretly against the United States by the United States. Its purpose would be to justify the launching of a war. It was a dangerous suggestion by a desperate president.
Although no such war took place, the idea was not lost on General Lemnitzer But he and his colleagues were frustrated by Kennedy’s failure to authorize their plan, and angry that Castro had not provided an excuse to invade.
The final straw may have come during a White House meeting on February 26, 1962. Concerned that General Lansdale’s various covert action plans under Operation Mongoose were simply becoming more outrageous and going nowhere, Robert Kennedy told him to drop all anti-Castro efforts. Instead, Lansdale was ordered to concentrate for the next three months strictly on gathering intelligence about Cuba. It was a humiliating defeat for Lansdale, a man more accustomed to praise than to scorn.
As the Kennedy brothers appeared to suddenly “go soft” on Castro, Lemnitzer could see his opportunity to invade Cuba quickly slipping away. The attempts to provoke the Cuban public to revolt seemed dead and Castro, unfortunately, appeared to have no inclination to launch any attacks against Americans or their property Lemnitzer and the other Chiefs knew there was only one option left that would ensure their war. They would have to trick the American public and world opinion into hating Cuba so much that they would not only go along, but would insist that he and his generals launch their war against Castro. “World opinion, and the United Nations forum,” said a secret JCS document, “should be favorably affected by developing the international image of the Cuban government as rash and irresponsible, and as an alarming and unpredictable threat to the peace of the Western Hemisphere.”
Operation Northwoods called for a war in which many patriotic Americans and innocent Cubans would die senseless deaths, all to satisfy the egos of twisted generals back in Washington, safe in their taxpayer financed homes and limousines.
One idea seriously considered involved the launch of John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth. On February 20,1962, Glenn was to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on his historic journey. The flight was to carry the banner of America’s virtues of truth, freedom, and democracy into orbit high over the planet. But Lemnitzer and his Chiefs had a different idea. They proposed to Lansdale that, should the rocket explode and kill Glenn, “the objective is to provide irrevocable proof that . . . the fault lies with the Communists et al Cuba [sic.]”
This would be accomplished, Lemnitzer continued, “by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans.” Thus, as NASA prepared to send the first American into space, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were preparing to use John Glenn’s possible death as a pretext to launch a war.
Glenn lifted into history without mishap, leaving Lemnitzer and the Chiefs to begin devising new plots which they suggested be carried out “within the time frame of the next few months.”
Among the actions recommended was “a series of well coordinated incidents to take place in and around” the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This included dressing “friendly” Cubans in Cuban military uniforms and then have them “start riots near the main gate of the base. Others would pretend to be saboteurs inside the base. Ammunition would be blown up, fires started, aircraft sabotaged, mortars fired at the base with damage to installations.”
The suggested operations grew progressively more outrageous. Another called for an action similar to the infamous incident in February 1898 when an explosion aboard the battleship Maine in Havana harbor killed 266 U.S. sailors. Although the exact cause of the explosion remained undetermined, it sparked the Spanish-American War with Cuba. Incited by the deadly blast, more than one million men volunteered for duty. Lemnitzer and his generals came up with a similar plan. “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba,” they proposed; “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”
There seemed no limit to their fanaticism: “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,” they wrote. “The terror campaign could be pointed at Cuban refugees seeking haven in the United States.
We could sink a boatload of Cubans en route to Florida (real or simulated). . . . We could foster attempts on lives of Cuban refugees in the United States even to the extent of wounding in instances to be widely publicized.”
Bombings were proposed, false arrests, hijackings:
*”Exploding a few plastic bombs in carefully chosen spots, the arrest of Cuban agents and the release of prepared documents substantiating Cuban involvement also would be helpful in projecting the idea of an irresponsible government.”
*”Advantage can be taken of the sensitivity of the Dominican [Republic] Air Force to intrusions within their national air space. ‘Cuban’ B-26 or C-46 type aircraft could make cane burning raids at night. Soviet Bloc incendiaries could be found. This could be coupled with ‘Cuban’ messages to the Communist underground in the Dominican Republic and ‘Cuban’ shipments of arms which would be found, or intercepted, on the beach. Use of MiG type aircraft by U.S. pilots could provide additional provocation.”
*”Hijacking attempts against civil air and surface craft could appear to continue as harassing measures condoned by the Government of Cuba.”
Among the most elaborate schemes was to “create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner en route from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday or any grouping of persons with a common interest to support chartering a non-scheduled flight.”
Lemnitzer and the Joint Chiefs worked out a complex deception:
An aircraft at Elgin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CJA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone [a remotely controlled unmanned aircraft]. Take off times of the drone aircraft and the actual aircraft will be scheduled to allow a rendezvous south of Florida.
From the rendezvous point the passenger-carrying aircraft will descend to minimum altitude and go directly into an auxiliary field at Elgin AFB where arrangements will have been made to evacuate the passengers and return the aircraft to its original status. The drone aircraft meanwhile will continue to fly the filed flight plan. When over Cuba the drone will be transmitting on the international distress frequency a “May Day” message stating he is under attack by Cuban MiG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by destruction of the aircraft, which will be triggered by radio signal. This will allow ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization radio stations in the Western Hemisphere to tell the U.S. what has happened to the aircraft instead of the U.S. trying to “sell” the incident.
Finally, there was a plan to “make it appear that Communist Cuban MiGs have destroyed a USAF aircraft over international waters in an unprovoked attack.” It was a particularly believable operation given the decade of shoot downs that had just taken place.
In the final sentence of his letter to Secretary McNamara recommending the operations, Lemnitzer made a grab for even more power asking that the Joint Chiefs be placed in charge of carrying out Operation Northwoods and the invasion. “It is recommended,” he wrote, “that this responsibility for both oven and covert military operations be assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
At 2:30 on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 13, 1962, Lemnitzer went over last-minute details of Operation Northwoods with his covert action chief, Brigadier General William H. Craig, and signed the document. He then went to a “special meeting” in McNamara’s office. An hour later he met with Kennedy’s military representative, General Maxwell Taylor. What happened during those meetings is unknown. But three days later, President Kennedy told Lemnitzer that there was virtually no possibility that the U.S. would ever use overt military force in Cuba.
Undeterred, Lemnitzer and the Chiefs persisted, virtually to the point of demanding that they be given authority to invade and take over Cuba. About a month after submitting Operation Northwoods, they met the “tank,” as the JCS conference room was called, and agreed on the wording of a tough memorandum to McNamara. “The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the Cuban problem must be solved in the near future,” they wrote. “Further, they see no prospect of early success in overthrowing the present communist regime either as a result of internal uprising or external political, economic or psychological pressures. Accordingly they believe that military intervention by the United States will be required to overthrow the present communist regime.”
Lemnitzer was virtually rabid in his hatred of Communism in general and Castro in particular “The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the United States can undertake military intervention in Cuba without risk of general war” he continued. “They also believe that the intervention can be accomplished rapidly enough to minimize communist opportunities for solicitation of UN action.” However; what Lemnitzer was suggesting was not freeing the Cuban people, who were largely in support of Castro, but imprisoning them in a U.S. military-controlled police state. “Forces would assure rapid essential military control of Cuba,” he wrote. “Continued police action would be required.”
Concluding, Lemnitzer did not mince words: “[T]he Joint Chiefs of Staff recommend that a national policy of early military intervention in Cuba be adopted by the United States. They also recommend that such intervention be undertaken as soon as possible and preferably before the release of National Guard and Reserve forces presently on active duty.”
By then McNamara had virtually no confidence in his military chief and was rejecting nearly every proposal the general sent to him. The rejections became so routine, said one of Lemnitzer’s former staff officers, that the staffer told the general that the situation was putting the military in an “embarrassing rut.” But Lemnitzer replied, “I am the senior military office–it’s my job to state what I believe and it’s his [McNamara’s] job to approve or disapprove.” “McNamara’s arrogance was astonishing,” said Lemnitzer’s aide, who knew nothing of Operation Northwoods. “He gave General Lemnitzer very short shrift and treated him like a schoolboy. The general almost stood at attention when he came into the room. Everything was ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, sir.’
Within months, Lemnitzer was denied a second term as JCS chairman and transferred to Europe as chief of NATO. Years later President Gerald Ford appointed Lemnitzer, a darling of the Republican right, to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Lemnitzer’s Cuba chief, Brigadier General Craig, was also transferred. Promoted to major general, he spent three years as chief of the Army Security Agency, NSA’s military arm.
Because of the secrecy and illegality of Operation Northwoods, all details remained hidden for forty years. Lemnitzer may have thought that all copies of the relevant documents had been destroyed; he was not one to leave compromising material lying around. Following the Bay of Pigs debacle, for example, he ordered Brigadier General David W Gray, Craig’s predecessor as chief of the Cuba project within the JCS, to destroy all his notes concerning Joint Chiefs actions and discussions during that period. Gray’s meticulous notes were the only detailed official records of what happened within the JCS during that time. According to Gray, Lemnitzer feared a congressional investigation and therefore wanted any incriminating evidence destroyed.
With the evidence destroyed, Lemnitzer felt free to lie to Congress. When asked, during secret hearings before a Senate committee, if he knew of any Pentagon plans for a direct invasion of Cuba he said he did not. Yet detailed JCS invasion plans had been drawn up even before Kennedy was inaugurated. And additional plans had been developed since. The consummate planner and man of details also became evasive, suddenly encountering great difficulty in recalling key aspects of the operation, as if he had been out of the country during the period. It was a sorry spectacle. Senator Gore called for Lemnitzer to be fired. “We need a shake up of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” he said. “We direly need a new chairman, as well as new members.” No one had any idea of Operation Northwoods.
Because so many documents were destroyed, it is difficult to determine how many senior officials were aware of Operation Northwoods. As has been described, the document was signed and fully approved by Lemnitzer and the rest of the Joint Chiefs and addressed to the Secretary of Defense for his signature. Whether it went beyond McNamara to the president and the attorney general is not known.
Even after Lemnitzer lost his job, the Joint Chiefs kept planning “pretext” operations at least into 1963. Among their proposals was a deliberately create a war between Cuba and any of a number of .n American neighbors. This would give the United States military an excuse to come in on the side of Cuba’s adversary and get rid of “A contrived ‘Cuban’ attack on an OAS [Organization of Americas] member could be set up,” said one proposal, “and the attacked state could be urged to ‘take measures of self-defense and request ice from the U.S. and OAS; the U.S. could almost certainly obtain necessary two-thirds support among OAS members for collective action against Cuba.”
Among the nations they suggested that the United States secretly were Jamaica and Trinidad-Tobago. Both were members of the Commonwealth; thus, by secretly attacking them and then blaming Cuba, the United States could lure England into the war Castro. The report noted, “Any of the contrived situations de above are inherently, extremely risky in our democratic system in which security can be maintained, after the fact, with very great difficulty. If the decision should be made to set up a contrived situation it be one in which participation by U.S. personnel is limited only to the most highly trusted covert personnel. This suggests the infeasibility of the use of military units for any aspect of the contrived situation.”
The report even suggested secretly paying someone in the Castro government to attack the United States: “The only area remaining for ration then would be to bribe one of Castro’s subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on [the U.S. naval base at] Guantanamo.” The act suggested–bribing a foreign nation to launch a violent attack American military installation–was treason.
In May 1963, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze sent a the White House proposing “a possible scenario whereby an attack on a United States reconnaissance aircraft could be exploited toward the end of effecting the removal of the Castro regime.” In the event Cuba attacked a U-2, the plan proposed sending in additional American pilots, this time on dangerous, unnecessary low-level reconnaissance missions with the expectation that they would also be shot down, thus provoking a war “[T]he U.S. could undertake various measures designed to stimulate the Cubans to provoke a new incident,” said the plan. Nitze, however, did not volunteer to be one of the pilots.
One idea involved sending fighters across the island on “harassing reconnaissance” and “show-off” missions “flaunting our freedom of action, hoping to stir the Cuban military to action.” “Thus,” said the plan, “depending above all on whether the Cubans were or could be made to be trigger-happy, the development of the initial downing of a reconnaissance plane could lead at best to the elimination of Castro, perhaps to the removal of Soviet troops and the installation of ground inspection in Cuba, or at the least to our demonstration of firmness on reconnaissance.” About a month later, a low-level flight was made across Cuba, but unfortunately for the Pentagon, instead of bullets it produced only a protest.
Lemnitzer was a dangerous-perhaps even unbalanced-right-wing extremist in an extraordinarily sensitive position during a critical period. But Operation Northwoods also had the support of every single member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and even senior Pentagon official Paul Nitze argued in favor of provoking a phony war with Cuba. The fact that the most senior members of all the services and the Pentagon could be so out of touch with reality and the meaning of democracy would be hidden for four decades.
In retrospect, the documents offer new insight into the thinking of the military’s star-studded leadership. Although they never succeeded in launching America into a phony war with Cuba, they may have done so with Vietnam. More than 50,000 Americans and more than 2 million Vietnamese were eventually killed in that war.
It has long been suspected that the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident-the spark that led to America’s long war in Vietnam-was largely staged or provoked by U.S. officials in order to build up congressional and public support for American involvement. Over the years, serious questions have been raised about the alleged attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats on two American destroyers in the Gulf But defenders of the Pentagon have always denied such charges, arguing that senior officials would never engage in such deceit.
Now, however, in light of the Operation Northwoods documents, it at deceiving the public and trumping up wars for Americans to fight and die in was standard, approved policy at the highest levels of the Pentagon. In fact, the Gulf of Tonkin seems right out of the Operation Northwoods playbook: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba . . . casualty lists in U.S. newspapers cause a helpful wave of indignation.” One need only replace “Guantanamo Bay” with “Tonkin Gulf,” and “Cuba” with “North Vietnam” and the Gulf of Tonkin incident may or may not have been stage-managed, but the senior Pentagon leadership at the time was clearly capable of such deceit

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