Monday, February 09, 2004

Time is good for what ails you. And, if what ails you is that nagging thought ping-ponging in your head since 9/11 as to what was up with that shell game that our fine Administration was playing shortly after that September morning, you'll be able to smack that ball of confusion clear through your left ear, thanks to Atlantic Monthly. Whew! (A breath and a break from the keyboard after the opening sentence.)
In The Atlantic issue of March 2004, James Mann takes you back to the Reagan Era and traces the origins of the "Where's the leader? Where's the leader?" game we witnessed the week after the planes crashed into the Towers. Seems, Mr. Ollie North, he of the Iran Contra "Don't ask. Don't Tell" foreign policy debacle was put in charge of the leadership succession plan that was being concocted in the Reagan White House, based on the fears of an imminent Soviet Nuclear attack. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfield were also invited to that planning party.
Now, I can't explain how the LEGAL layout, i.e. the Congress approved leader succession plan, works in detail, although I do remember that the VP followed the President in case of the latter's death. The house speaker followed the VP and the most senior senator in the Senate followed the house speaker. I did know that the Secretary of Agriculture certainly wasn't anywhere close to the top of that succession list. I figured as Ag Sec, he/she would not have been involved that heavily with the important issues of the day.
Well, seems I was way off on that one. Per the thinking of Mr.'s North, Cheney, & Rumsfield, the Ag Sec. would do in a pinch as presidential material since he/she would only be a mouthpiece for Mr.'s North, Cheney, & Rumsfield. In the case of a Soviet Nuclear attack, Congress would not be reconvened and certainly would not be consulted. We could have had Ollie running our country. These plans were dropped shortly after Clinton took office. Things had changed; it did not look as if we would be getting nuked by the Soviets any time soon. Guess how fast they were resurrected when Clinton left office? Since Cheney and Rumsfield were back in office, along with a plethora of Reagan Admin office holders and hanger-on's, why not bring back the same bag of secret plans?
So, the question to be posed is which is the egg and which is the chicken? Did the succession plans that would override the LEGAL procedures come into the Bush administration policy first? Or, did the plans for the invasion of Iraq (and Iran) precede them? Take your pick. Either one smells of oil to me.

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