U.S. MILITARY CIVIL DISTURBANCE PLANNING:
THE WAR AT HOME
Under the heading of “civil disturbance planning”, the U.S. military is training troops and police to suppress democratic opposition in America. The master plan, Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, is code-named, “Operation Garden Plot”. Originated in 1968, the “operational plan” has been updated over the last three decades, most recently in 1991, and was activated during the Los Angeles “riots” of 1992, and more than likely during the recent anti-WTO “Battle in Seattle.”
Current U.S. military preparations for suppressing domestic civil disturbance, including the training of National Guard troops and police, are actually part of a long history of American “internal security” measures dating back to the first American Revolution. Generally, these measures have sought to thwart the aims of social justice movements, embodying the concept that within the civilian body politic lurks an enemy that one day the military might have to fight, or at least be ordered to fight.
Equipped with flexible “military operations in urban terrain” and “operations other than war” doctrine, lethal and “less-than-lethal” high-tech weaponry, US “armed forces” and “elite” militarized police units are being trained to eradicate “disorder”, “disturbance” and “civil disobedience” in America. Further, it may very well be that police/military “civil disturbance” planning is the animating force and the overarching logic behind the incredible nationwide growth of police paramilitary units, a growth which coincidentally mirrors rising levels of police violence directed at the American people, particularly “non-white” poor and working people.
Military spokespeople, “judge advocates” (lawyers) and their congressional supporters aggressively take the position that legal obstacles to military involvement in domestic law enforcement civil disturbance operations, such as the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, have been nullified. Legislated “exceptions” and private commercialization of various aspects of U.S. military-law enforcement efforts have supposedly removed their activities from the legal reach of the “public domain”. Possibly illegal, ostensible “training” scenarios like the recent “Operation Urban Warrior” no-notice “urban terrain” war games, which took place in dozens of American cities, are thinly disguised “civil disturbance suppression” exercises. In addition, President Clinton recently appointed a “domestic military czar”, a sort of national chief of police. You can bet that he is well versed in Garden Plot requirements involved in “homeland defense”.
Ominously, many assume that the training of military and police forces to suppress “outlawed” behavior of citizens, along with the creation of extensive and sophisticated “emergency” social response networks set to spring into action in the event of “civil unrest”, is prudent and acceptable in a democracy. And yet, does not this assumption beg the question as to what civil unrest is? One could argue for example, that civil disturbance is nothing less than democracy in action, a message to the powers-that-be that the people want change. In this instance “disturbing behavior” may actually be the exercising of ones’ right to resist oppression. Unfortunately, the American corporate/military directorship, which has the power to enforce its’ definition of “disorder”, sees democracy as a threat and permanent counter-revolution as a “national security” requirement.
The elite military/corporate sponsors of Garden Plot have their reasons for civil disturbance contingency planning. Lets’ call it the paranoia of the thief. Their rationale is simple: self-preservation. Fostering severe and targeted “austerity”, massive inequality and unbridled greed, while shifting more and more billions to the generals and the rich, the de-regulated “entities of force” and their interlocking corporate directors know quite well what their policies are engendering, namely, a growing resistance. Consequently, they are systematically organizing to protect their interests, their profits, and their criminal conspiracies. To this end, they are rapidly consolidating an infrastructure of repression designed to “suppress rebellion” against their “authority”. Or more conveniently put, to suppress “rebellion against the authority of the United States.” And so, as the Pentagon Incorporated increases its imperialist violence around the world, the chickens have indeed come home to roost here in America in the form of a national security doctrine obsessed with domestic “insurgency” and the need to pre-emptively neutralize it. Its’ code-name: “Garden Plot”.
Recently, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon “acknowledged that the Air Force wrongfully started and financed a highly classified, still-secret project, known as a black program without informing Congress last year.” The costs and nature of these projects “are the most classified secrets in the Pentagon.”(1) Could it be that the current United States Air Force Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2 Garden Plot is one such program financed from this secret budget? We have a right to know. And following Seattle, we have the need to know.
As this and numerous other documents reveal, U.S. military training in civil disturbance “suppression”, which targets the American public, is in full operation today. The formulation of legitimizing doctrine, the training in the “tactics and techniques” of “civil disturbance suppression”, and the use of “abusable”, “non-lethal” weaponry, are ongoing, financed by tax dollars. According to the Pentagon, “US forces deployed to assist federal and local authorities during times if civil disturbance will follow use-of-force policy found in Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan-Garden Plot.” (Joint Chiefs of Staff, Standing Rules of Engagement, Appendix A, 1 October 1994.)
ORIGINS OF OPERATION GARDEN PLOT:
THE KERNER COMMISSION
“Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.”
Rochester, New York is the former home of Frederick Douglass’s, North Star newspaper. In 1964, it erupted in one of the first large-scale urban outbursts of the decade. Precipitated by white police violence against the black community, the July uprising lasted several days, subsiding only after the arrival of 1500 National Guardsmen. In “the fall of 1964, the FBI, at the direction of President Johnson, began to make riot control training available to local police departments, and by mid-1967 such training assistance had been extended to more than 70,000 officials and civilians.”(2) …