SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 112
December 9, 2005

LARGER MILITARY ROLE IN DISASTER RESPONSE DRAWS FLAK

The idea that the U.S. military should take a greater role in responding to disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, as proposed by President Bush and others, has elicited strong opposition among state leaders and national guard officials, one of whom suggested that it amounted to "domestic regime change."

Critics were exercised by a recent statement from Adm. Timothy Keating of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) who recommended that the Department of Defense be given "complete authority" for response to disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

"Although usually couched in terms of 'support for governors', the NORTHCOM proposals would bring about a fundamental change in the emergency governance of states impacted by large scale disasters," complained Major General Timothy Lowenberg of the Washington state National Guard.

"Some might liken this to a policy of domestic regime change," he wrote in an October 31 email message to National Guard colleagues.

A copy of the email message from Maj. Gen. Lowenberg, a portion of which was quoted by the Associated Press on November 4, was obtained by Secrecy News and is available here:

The growing domestic role of the U.S. military is prompting anxiety in other quarters as well, as described in "Warriors, rescuers, spooks" by Terje Langeland, Colorado Springs Independent, December 8:


CONFERENCE REPORT ON THE USA PATRIOT ACT

House and Senate conferees reached agreement on legislation to extend and reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, but the conference agreement immediately drew opposition from Democratic members, who were excluded from key negotiations over the bill, and others.

A copy of the conference report, which appeared in the Congressional Record, may be found here:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who said he would seek further modifications of the bill, explained his view of its defects here:


HABEAS CORPUS AND GUANTANAMO DETAINEES (CRS)

The impact of controversial legislation sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to deprive suspected enemy combatants of habeas corpus rights in favor of a more limited appeal mechanism is examined in a new report from the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News.

See "Guantanamo Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court," December 7, 2005:

A dozen retired federal judges this week urged Congress to reject the Graham measure, which is co-sponsored by Senators Levin and Kyl.

"In cases of executive detention, district court review of habeas petition is central to fulfilling the Great Writ's historic purpose: to ensure that individuals are not unlawfully detained," they wrote, in a December 7 letter coordinated by the Brennan Center at NYU Law School. See:

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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