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New Orleans becomes a war zone- A dress rehearsal for martial law?

The disaster that struck New Orleans and the southern Gulf Coast has given rise to the largest military mobilization in modern history on US soil. Nearly 65,000 US military personnel are now deployed in disaster area, transforming the devastated port city into a war zone.

Squads of combat-equipped troops toting assault rifles and columns of humvees with gunners at the ready crisscross its flooded streets. Soldiers with bayonets mounted have begun house-to-house canvassing of the city to enforce the complete removal of its civilian population.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the disastrous delay in providing aid to the city's beleaguered citizens was in large part a matter of waiting until this massive military force was ready to deploy.

With New Orleans under de facto martial law, its Mayor Ray Nagin issued an order Tuesday for the forced evacuation of its remaining residents, estimated at anywhere between a few thousand and tens of thousands. New Orleans police officials indicated that they were prepared to forcibly drag people from their homes.

US military spokesmen initially said that they would support the operation, but claimed that uniformed soldiers would not participate directly in these evictions. But Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Inge, deputy commander of US Northern Command, told Pentagon reporters Wednesday that national guard units, which are formally under state control, could be used to compel people to leave.

Nagin's proclamation asserted that the presence of civilians in the city would "impede" and "distract" from the recovery operation. Some officials have cited a potential public health disaster resulting from the city's inundation by waters polluted by toxic chemicals and decaying corpses.

Whatever the validity of these motives, the proposed forced evacuation will constitute the most massive military operation mounted against the people of an American city since the Civil War.

While the US military deployment includes medical teams, search-and-rescue helicopters and other forms of relief, the largest troop contingents have been deployed as a military occupation force, to protect private property and suppress civil disturbances.

The Pentagon has issued continuous press releases touting how many millions of meals, gallons of water and pounds of ice it has delivered to the city in the last few days. These reports, however, beg the question of why such supplies were not made available during the first four days after the hurricane hit, when impoverished residents of the city were literally dying in the streets.

With the bulk of the population having left the city, the greatest supply operations now will involve not the relief of hurricane victims but logistical support for the tens of thousands of troops themselves.

The Bush administration's defenders have made demonstrably false claims that no one could have expected a disaster on this scale, while attempting to shift blame onto state and local officials. The deadly delay in the relief effort has been attributed by the administration's opponents to the government's criminal incompetence and seeming indifference to the plight of New Orleans' largely poor and black population.

While no doubt incompetence and indifference played a major role, there is also strong evidence that aid was deliberately withheld by the White House and the Pentagon as part of a strategy for asserting unfettered military control over the city.

Both hurricane victims and public officials have given multiple accounts of US authorities actively turning back aid and blocking rescue attempts in the days that followed the breaching of the city's levees.

Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, for example, broke down in tears Sunday during an appearance on the NBC television program "Meet the Press," declaring, "It's not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area."

He cited repeated actions by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) that involved the deliberate sabotage of relief efforts. He reported that FEMA turned back trailer truckloads of water sent by Wal-Mart, claiming the city didn't need them. He also said that the Coast Guard's offer of fuel urgently needed to power generators was countermanded by FEMA.

Finally, he said that just a day earlier FEMA agents had come in and "cut all of our emergency communication lines" without any warning. The local sheriff, he added, had the lines reconnected and then posted armed guards to see that they were not cut again.

This last, and most sinister, example is in keeping with the Pentagon's "information war" doctrine, which demands the complete control of communications in an area targeted for invasion and occupation.

Denise Bottcher, press secretary for Governor Blanco, also charged that FEMA deliberately blocked offers of aid from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and others.

And a spokesman for Sen. Mary Landrieu (Democrat, Louisiana), told the media that FEMA held up aid from both public and private agencies, withholding approval for the US Forest Service to use water tanker aircraft to put out fires and delaying the arrival of Amtrak trains to evacuate people from the city. Offers by private companies to provide communications equipment were also held up by the agency. There were also reports that the Red Cross was prevented from going into the city and that FEMA refused to allow the unloading of food, water and medical supplies brought by ships into New Orleans harbor.

The apparent aim of this organized obstructionist behavior by the agency that is supposedly charged with coordinating relief was to block any significant aid until the military could intervene in the city with overwhelming force.

This came on Friday, with military commanders treating New Orleans as a combat operation. This was the term used by Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard's Joint Task Force, in an interview with the Army Times.

"This place is going to look like Little Somalia," said General Jones. "We're going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control." The newspaper clearly got the message, referring in its report to troops coming in to "fight the insurgency in the city."

There were numerous reports from New Orleans residents of being treated as if they were indeed "insurgents," with police and troops sealing off the city to prevent attempts to leave.

Over 1,000 National Guard troops and police were sent in Friday to seize control of the New Orleans Convention Center, one of the areas where evacuees had been left to die. Military officials referred to the operation as a "clear and hold" mission, using the phraseology employed by the Pentagon to describe its attacks on towns in Iraq where there is substantial resistance to the US occupation.

Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, bragged of having "stormed the convention center," while acknowledging to Pentagon reporters, "We waited until we had enough force in place to do an overwhelming force."

Asked specifically by a reporter if the buildup of this force was reason why it took until Friday before the National Guard came in with any significant aid, Blum responded, "That is not only fair, it is accurate. You've concisely stated exactly what was needed, and I told you why. We took the time to build the right force."

Also on Friday, Bush administration officials sent Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco a legal document demanding that she sign over control of the state's National Guard as well as state and local police units. The memo sought their federalization under the Insurrection Act, a statute that allows the president to take control of state militias under conditions in which state governments themselves are unable to "suppress rebellion."

Blanco rejected this demand, no doubt seeing it as an admission of failure by her own administration.

For Bush, the assumption of full military control was a matter of political importance. Under the Insurrection Act, the US president is required to issue a public order for those in "rebellion" to cease and disperse. There is little doubt that had he gained the acquiescence of the Louisiana governor, he would have taken to the airwaves as the "commander-in-chief," in an attempt to dispel the wave of outrage sweeping the country over the government's response to the disaster.

As early as Wednesday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan was telling the press that "martial law has now been declared in Mississippi and Louisiana," an indication of the administration's intentions but not the legal reality in either state.

Blocked from achieving total military control, Bush dispatched Lt. Gen. Russell Honore from the US Northern Command to develop a parallel command structure overseeing active duty troops.

The media has lionized Honore, portraying him as the "John Wayne" of New Orleans—with the city's residents presumably assuming the role of Indians. The general thrust of such commentary is that the military is the only institution that can "get the job done."

That the civilian agency which was created to deal with such disasters—FEMA—has been gutted, with an unemployed former horse show organizer, Michael Brown, placed at its head, has everything to do with such perceptions.

The most adamant proponent of the thesis that the military must take charge is the Wall Street Journal, whose editorial board enjoys the closest political relations with the Bush White House. In a Tuesday editorial titled "Bush and Katrina," the Journal commented: "The New Orleans mess improved only after the Pentagon got involved. Though the military is normally barred from domestic law enforcement by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, Defense officials have been doing a lot of creative thinking about what they can do and what the public now expects post-September 11."

Washington's response to the disaster in New Orleans is hardly a manifestation of "creative thinking," much less "what the public now expects."

In reality the US ruling elite and both major parties have used September 11 as the pretext for implementing far-reaching attacks on democratic rights and breaching legal barriers—such as Posse Comitatus—against the use of military force against the American people.

Just last month, the Washington Post published an article revealing that US military's Northern Command had developed a series of "war plans" for the military "to take charge" in domestic crises. (See: "Pentagon devising scenarios for martial law in US".)

While apparently these plans involved a response to supposed terrorist attacks, including the detonation of a nuclear device in a major American city, the catastrophe that struck New Orleans provided ideal conditions for testing the plans out.

The growing reliance on the military, however, is a response neither to terrorist threats or natural catastrophes. On the international arena, the US ruling elite has turned toward the use of military aggression and the seizure of strategic assets and territories as a means of offsetting the relative decline of American capitalism's position in the world economy.

At home, the turn toward martial law is a manifestation of growing fears within America's fabulously wealthy financial oligarchy that conditions of social polarization and steady decline in the living standards of the vast majority of working people have created a social powder keg.

The deliberate denial of food, water and means of escape to tens of thousands of suffering New Orleanians in order to prepare a massive military exercise is a crime. It is moreover a warning that the deepening of the social crisis in America raises the threat of military repression and dictatorship.
YES 08.Sep.2005 14:31

TheTroll

read "katrina's silver linning" in the post above this one.

exercises 08.Sep.2005 19:22

Tim

military exercises were used on 9/11 to allow the aircraft to be ignored by ATC.

PART ONE OF THE SHRUB THAT ATE THE U.S. AND NEW ORLEANS AND WHY 08.Sep.2005 23:55

Madame Karnak

Dear Everybody,

What is going on is pretty simple and it's been around for a long time. Yes, there is martial law, but originally it was for the purpose of stealing all of New Orleans for a bunch of rich white shits like President Dubly-inept who evidently could screw up his own wet dream, let alone his Daddy's plan. See since Big Daddy and his Wife, Babs the Baleful, were in the White House serving cocktail wienies to dignitaries (true story) on paper plates, they have wanted to install themselves and their genetically-blighted offspring as the permanent potentates (or in this case---impotentates) of the United States. When they met Cheney and Rum-filled and Co, well those boys wanted a cut of the action, so the plan grew.

First, they were going to take over all the drug routes in South America and use those to import cocaine in the U.S., first as they told President Senile [Reagan] to fund the contras, but eventually it became their bank for all their little projects. The real goal was for Bush and his highly genetically-challenged inbred offspring of the house of PERCY to make the potloads of money that their royal blood entitled them to, even if their brains could not cash those checks.

Well, Bush friends (not being quite so short on DNA strands that they had to use the second-hand stuff) quickly began to realize that if they helped out the Bushes, each friend could make a pot of money. Well, by this time, there were a lot of cars on that money train, so the Bushes expanded the scheme. They formed a committee of themselves and their buddies and decided to use the cocaine not just to make some money, but get serious money by preying on those that they despised anyway: poor blacks and whites.

Now they came by their hatred of both groups quite honestly. Their grandaddies on both sides and a horrible Uncle that profited from the Nazis all hated blacks, poor whites and well, anybody that wasn't like them--which lets face it, how many traitorous in-bred former English lords who were tossed out of Britain for trying to kill their king are there?--not too damn many. They could tolerate toady friends who went to Yale or Harvard or who had truly gifted criminal imaginations, but pretty much everybody else they hated--including uppity women that did not "get" that their role was to have and semi-rear vast families for the family's outreach program. None of them trusted women with educations, because they weren't natural breeders.

So, first, the Bushes and their trusty extended family of slime-crime got their friends into a position to influence policy at HUD and then Fannie Mae and the other vehicles intended to provide poorer people with a chance at upward mobility. First, they gave them loans from Fannie Mae and HUD. Then they got them hooked on drugs (and they were SOOOO happy when Crack turned out to be SO ADDICTIVE SO FAST). Then, when the poor people had become incapable of functioning without crack, the houses were repossessed, sold again (with those lovely down payments) and the cycle repeated.

Over time, these skuzz ballz accelerrated the game by reducing wages, sending jobs out of the country and making the houses turn over faster. Once an area was all burned out, then they bought it up cheap, loaned themselves development money from the government, redeveloped it and started allllllll over.

The real estate-drug thing was okay to build up the monies for the kids, but Bush Sr. had been to the Arab countries and he knew that they had the sort of unliminted power and super-Bling that he REALLY wanted without the nuisance of running for office (he hated to lose), so he got rid of this itsy-bitsy inconvenient little law (passed during the Depression when his family was writing Chapter One of how to BANKRUPT THE COUNTRY AND GET RICH AT THE SAME TIME... that law said that politicians could not accept money from foreign governments. Well, you know that law had to go, because Papa Bush needed to have a way to bring back the money that he was going to get or make with Arab oil (and other things).

Okay, so far so good. Next Bush Sr. had to get himself elected so that he could begin working the REAL plan which was to make himself and his demon spawn into IMPORTENTATES (a lot like a Potato but with less flavor and more arrogance). So, after kissing numerous and sundry butts and using Reagan to put his teensy-weensy little laws in place, Bush ran for Prez. Of course, he won because he made everyone else lose (don't ask--just think about it). He planned to stay for a second turn, but somebody caught him in the act transporting DRUGS into Arkansas and that somebody cut a deal with him. They would be in charge for a while in exchange for not telling anyone what they saw.

So, Bush cut the deal. While he was out of the spotlight, he spent his time undermining the judiciary across the country with "campaign" contributions in exchange for favorable rulings (as required) and a little taste of some future change from the every expanding pots. See, by this time, they had DIVERSIFIED from drugs to drug accessories like C-1 Transports and weapons to fight off pesky anti-drug people. Which was totally great, because now the COMPANY was making money shipping, selling, buying back real estate, selling weapons to the people who brought in the drugs, selling weapons to people that tried to keep the drugs out and anti-drug chemicals to sell to people who would kill the plantations of their competitors and then fertilizer to their competitors so that they could grown the new hybrid strains of "drug" plants faster. In other words, they got everybody coming and GOING. They also sold gasoline and oil to run the planes, trucks and equipment to process the drugs and ship them. It was a good life...except that when you run a crime empire, you can't let anyone know 'cause not only will you probably not become an IMPORTENTATE, but you won't get any respect. Daddy Bush was still pissed off about that WIMP thing and he wanted not just respect but FEAR.

So, he had to reinvent himself and his Demonspawn into new and more acceptable forms of electable future IMPORTENTATES. So, he and some of his devoted TOADY friends created A merchant bank that would be respectable and invest in all kinds of things that they were already doing except now, they would give the money to other people to do them, they would get profits but it would all be several steps removed and therefore more respectable.

So, they called this little company something like Carlyle after the Carlisle Military Academy or something like that. Of course, Daddy B did not want to look like he was so crass as to be doing what he was doing, so he called himself a "consultant" and that way Carlyle could pay him for setting up the deals with his buddies that he used to do for free. Only ASAP, carlyle would get a bunch of big contracts, it would go public and they would get that money and then keep on plowing dirty money into clean weapons and war stuff and launder it.

The story goes on and on...until it reaches New Orleans where the entire cycle was just about to start again, but they got impatient, because they have SO MANY friends who need POTS ful of MONEY to feel good, that they decided to use an acceleration method called NATURE.

There is more to the story, but I will get back to you on that. In the meantime, GO TO THE PETITION SITE AND WRITE AND SIGN A PETITION (AND PASS IT TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS) AND ASK FOR A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO BE APPOINTED FROM A LIST OF CANDIDATES SELECTED BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION WHOM BUSH'S SON (SON OF SHRUB) JUST GUTTED BY MOVING ALL THEIR CASES TO FEDERAL COURT.

I am sure that they will pick some superb attorney to look into WHY EXACTLY IT WAS THAT A COMPLETE IMBECILE NOT EVEN FIT TO MUCK OUT A BARN WAS PUT IN CHARGE OF DISASTERS...OH, I'M SORRY RECOVERING FROM DISASTERS. Was that a freudian slip?

Tune in next time when I explain just exactly how the king of potted plants got his oldest son, Rutabaga Jr., elected even though the Constitution doesn't actually allow vegetables to hold office.

Madame Karnak


FEMA'S real role 11.Sep.2005 00:09

marcos

fema's real mandate is to keep the federal government intact in case of nuclear war. disaster relief is a by-product of that mandate.