- Sometime during the year, the highly secretive "Power Geyser" program is enacted. "Power Geyser" is a program that was originally conceived of as extraordinary protection for the president in time of emergency, and will be radically extended and strengthened after September 11, 2001. The program mandates the deployment of up to 13,000 Special Forces commando units on American soil, and allows for these Special Forces troops, brother soldiers to the Delta Force soldiers and others under the Joint Special Operations Command, to take action against US citizens if ordered, in direct violation of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. The Power Geyser commandos will be deployed, but as of this writing not actively engaged, during the Olympics and during presidential party conventions and inaugurations. Former Army intelligence analyst William Arkin will reveal the existence of the command in his 2005 book, Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs and Operation in the 9/11 World. After 9/11, the Power Geyser program will be extended to battle terrorist attacks on US soil. The existence of the program will be confirmed by Defense Department and Bush administration officials.
- The Posse Comitatus Act provides that "Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse Comitatus [Latin for 'power of the county'] or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined...or imprisoned not more than two years, or both." The PCA generally prohibits federal military personnel from interdicting vehicles, vessels and aircraft; conducting surveillance, searches, pursuit and seizures; or making arrests on behalf of civilian law enforcement authorities. The PCA applies to all of the federal uniformed services by statute or DOD policy. It does not apply to the US Coast Guard. According to the PCA, explicit constitutional or statutory authority must be invoked before federal military forces can be utilized in domestic law enforcement, but the list of exceptions is vast: an extremely broadly defined Insurrection Act, missions in protection of the president, foreign VIPs, and in continuity of government, protection of public lands, execution of quarantine and certain health laws, removal of persons unlawfully on Indian lands, actions taken in support of the neutrality laws, execution of certain civil rights warrants, and actions in support of certain customs laws. The PCA does not restrict presidential power to direct actions that might otherwise be prohibited, including the protection of military personnel, equipment, assets, and bases, and use of the military under special authorities in situations in response to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction or nuclear materials. Moreso, actions taken "under the inherent right of the US Government, a sovereign national entity under the US Constitution, to ensure the preservation of public order and to carry out governmental operations within its territorial limits, or otherwise in accordance with applicable law, by force, if necessary" are not restricted. So there is no conflict between PCA and the ability of the government to deploy the military in emergency situations. The administration, though, seems hellbent on overturning or restricting the Act for its own reasons, using Katrina as merely an excuse.
- "I am not comfortable with suspending local laws and state laws and allowing American military people to come into any community, arrest people and seize property, unless there is a very good reason," says Republican senator Lindsey Graham. "The Posse Comitatus Act goes back to the 1880's in our history, and it's a prohibition against the federal military coming in and taking over a local community or a state and becoming law enforcement officers," he added. Graham says we might have to look at the laws to make sure the military "can provide assistance" when needed, "But we should not allow the federal government, willy-nilly, to take over state and local functions in terms of law enforcement." Reporter William Arkin, an expert on national security, writes, "Even before Katrina, contingency planners at the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the military's new homeland security command in Colorado Springs, were given marching orders by Rumsfeld to plan for the worst possible contingency domestically. The resulting plan, currently in draft and called CONPLAN 2002...is predicated on a scenario in which the Defense Department would have to take 'the lead' from the Department of Homeland Security, civil agencies, and the States, that is, to act without civil authority. I think we call that martial law." (New York Times/Infowars, Guardian)
- A US intelligence plan to assassinate Osama bin Laden is aborted. The plan involves a strike against bin Laden at Tarnak Farms in Afghanistan, a site considered by some intelligence officials to be bin Laden's base in Afghanistan. The commander of Delta Force, whose soldiers would help carry out the strike, is uncomfortable with the plans as drawn up; intelligence officials, who, along with National Security Director Sandy Berger, believe the intelligence from Afghan rebels that underpin the plan is likely specious, report to Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI director Louis Freeh that the plan only has about a "30% chance of success," and counterterrorism director Richard Clarke dismissed the plan as "half-as*ed." The plan relies on a notoriously unreliable group of Afghan tribal fighters to carry out the operation. After seeing what he calls a "dress rehearsal" of the plan, CIA director George Tenet personally aborts the plan; Clinton is never asked to give his approval. (Associated Content)
- The FBI learns of plans by an unnamed terrorist group to steal a plane or helicopter and use it for terrorist attacks. It is believed that the aircraft was likely to be used in an attack outside of America, probably on an embassy or against a visiting US delegation. (CCR)
Halliburton deals extensively with Iraq, in violation of US law
- Halliburton, whose CEO is Dick Cheney, oversees almost $24 million in contracts for sale of oil equipment to Iraq. Halliburton subverts the economic sanctions and US law by using two subsidiary companies to perform the transactions. Halliburton began doing business with questionable countries in 1984 (including Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Nigeria, all countries either known to sponsor terrorism or blacklisted by the US for human rights violations), and continues to the present day. (Boston Herald, US/Iraq Relations Timeline)
- Canadian intelligence operatives capture one of the Khobar Towers bombers and extradite him to America. In 1999, Clinton's close friend Vernon Jordan intervenes before the suspect can complete his testimony about his involvement in Al-Qaeda, and the bomber is allowed to return to Saudi Arabia. Observers cite this as an example of Clinton's attempt to both battle terrorism and placate the Saudis. Currently the bomber is locked away, incommunicado, in Saudi custody. (Greg Palast)
- Congress creates a commission to investigate US intelligence reports concerning ballistic missile threats and names former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld its chairman. One of the nine members of the commission is Paul Wolfowitz, who had worked with Rumsfeld on the Dole campaign and on Plan B, a missile commission that studied Soviet Power in the 1970s, when Rumsfeld was secretary of defense. The Rumsfeld Commission's report, released in July 1998, finds that the risk of a missile attack against the US is greater than the intelligence agencies had reported. The report claims that some countries will be able to "inflict major destruction" on the US within five years of deciding to do so. It goes on to name three countries in particular -- Iran, Iraq and North Korea -- as the countries most dangerous to U.S. safety because they appear to be developing nuclear weapons. As reported elsewhere on this site, the Rumsfeld Commission is later proven to have used questionable, massaged, and sometimes invented information to bolster its claims, and uniformly exaggerates the threat posed by all three countries. (PBS)
- During the year, Paul Wolfowitz (see above item) also writes in reference to the 1991 Gulf War and the refusal to overthrow Saddam Hussein, "A new regime would have been the United States's responsibility. Conceivably, this could have led the United States into a more or less permanent occupation of a country that could not govern itself, but where the rule of a foreign occupier would be increasingly resented." Wolfowitz will completely reverse this position when he designs the occupation of Iraq in 2003. (John Calabrese/Al Franken)
- During the year, Texas governor George W. Bush proposes a controversial school reform bill whose centerpiece is a hefty cut in property taxes, to be offset by a $3 billion hike in sales and business taxes, a proposal opposed by many conservatives. Bush's proposal is not supported by Texas Democrats, who suspect the real beneficiaries of the reform plan will be giant corporations such as Enron and other oil companies. Their suspicions are confirmed when Bush ally Paul Sadler, a state representative, finds that the Bush reform plan is virtually identical to a plan proposed by conservative Washington lobbyist Charles Walker, one of the architects of the Reagan tax reforms of the 1980s. Walker runs a think tank and anti-tax policy group whose members include Shell Oil, Exxon, Browning-Ferris, and Enron -- the same companies who would benefit from the Bush plan. The Bush tax committee that "made recommendations" to the governor includes an Enron executive recommended by Enron CEO Kenneth Lay. Walker had visited Bush at the governor's office in August 1995 and given Bush a model for reforming Texas's tax structure in a direction that would dramatically shift the tax burden away from Texas corporations and onto the citizenry. Walker and his colleagues were close allies of Bush handler Karl Rove, who by this point is in virtual command of the Texas GOP. Sadler oversees the shelving of the Bush plan and proposes a tax reform package of his own, one eventually embraced by Bush. "[I]t was clear to Sadler that Bush was very much committed to improving public education in Texas," writes Moore and Slater. "He was remarkably open to other ideas for financing schools and altering the tax system -- ideas he apparently never considered or were never presented." Sadler recalls, "I have absolutely no question in his ability to make the right decision is he's presented the facts from all sides. I have watched him do it. Where I found he gets off track is if he only has one voice in the room. There's what's always bothered me. ...To me, it makes it more important to make sure the counselors around him come from different voices." As Bush's term wears on, and Rove moves ever forward on readying Bush for a 2000 presidential voice, it becomes increasingly clear to Sadler and other Republicans that Bush is relying more and more on that one voice, the voice of Karl Rove. "When I'm asked about his management style, I say look to the dominant personality. Look to the person he trusts the most, and that's the person he'll ultimately go to," says Sadler. "And I've watched as they have drawn the circle up there, closer and closer and tighter. And I know who's in the middle of it, and it bothers me a lot." (James Moore and Wayne Slater)
- Early 1997: After 20 months of investigation, a House committee on Gulf War syndrome finds that the Defense Department has "mismanaged" its investigation of the ailments, and recommends that research should be turned over to a less biased agency. (US/Iraq Relations Timeline)
- Early 1997: OIC associate Stephen Bates drafts a report to Congress recommending that it impeach Bill Clinton for lying under oath in the Tucker/McDougal trial over his testimony that he never met David Hale to discuss the now-infamous $300,000 loan from Madison Guaranty, and that he never received any loan from Madison. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr decides not to send the recommendation, realizing that any charges against Clinton would rely solely on the testimony of David Hale and Jim McDougal, two recalcitrant and known liars. Any such attempt to use Hale and McDougal to go after Clinton would rebound harshly onto the OIC and Starr himself. (Joe Conason and Gene Lyons)