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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


November 21, 2003

Gen. Tommy Franks: Terrorist WMD Attack Would Mean Military Rule in US

Gen. Franks Doubts Constitution Will Survive WMD Attack (11/21/03 -

Gen. Tommy Franks, the CENTCOM commander in charge of the Iraq invasion who retired in July, says that if terrorists attacked the US with biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons and there were heavy casualties, the Constitution would be discarded in favor of military rule. Franks made his comments in an extensive interview published in the Nov.-Dec. 2003 issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine.

Franks told the interviewer that if such an attack occured, "the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we've seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy."

Franks then offered "in a practical sense" what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of a WMD attack.

"It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world -- it may be in the United States of America -- that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important."

As put it, Franks "is the first high-ranking official to openly speculate that the Constitution could be scrapped in favor of a military dictatorship." In the past, President Bush has called Franks a "down-to-earth, no-nonsense guy."

But was Franks merely speculating?

From June 2000 until his retirement in July 2003, Gen. Franks was commander-in-chief of US Central Command (CENTCOM), one of the DOD's nine unified commands, overseeing US security interests in the 25 countries of the Middle East, Central and Southwest Asia, and Northeast Africa. He commanded the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. (CENTCOM normally operates out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL.)

Gen. Franks may or may not have been privvy to details of Bush Administration contingency planning for a massive WMD terrorist attack. But there is no question that he had intimate and personal access to those who were making such plans, and it seems reasonable to infer that Franks may have gleaned a general sense of their thinking.

Additionally, given Gen. Franks' position, the fact that his (then) command included the logical likely point of origination of a WMD attack (the middle east), and given that such an attack would inevitably mean a massive retaliatory strike by the US, it is emminently logical to deduce that Franks would have been asked to contribute his thoughts on such an eventuality. Issues of chain of command would inevitably have been raised, particularly if it was anticipated that the chain of command might be suddenly altered dramatically.

In any case, it hardly seems likely that Gen. Franks was simply whistling in the dark.

It is also known that similar plans have been created in the not-so-distant past. In the early 1980s, the Reagan Administration created a top-secret plan to suspend the Constitution and use the military to detain some 400,000 American citizens in large camps in the event of a "national emergency," such as national rebellion in the event of US invasion of Nicaragua or a massive terrorist attack. The plan has become popularly known as "Rex84", after one of several war game exercises actually carried out to practice such an event. (Another exercise was ominously dubbed "Operation Night Train.")

The plan was crafted between 1982 and 1984 by Lt. Col. Oliver North in collaboration with senior FEMA officials. It included a set of ready-to-go Executive Orders and other documents to be held by the National Security Council. In the event, the President would sign the prepared documents, instantly making them law. The plan was first revealed in a July 1987 article in the Miami Herald, which had obtained crucial memos discussing it. During North's testimony before the Iran-Contra hearings, Rep. Jack Brooks attempted to question North about the plan. He was immediately silenced by the committee's chairman, Sen. Daniel Inouye.

FEMA has since been absorbed by the Dept. of Homeland Security. It is not known what became of the "Rex84" documents.

[Read the source...]

Related Links:

  • Inside the Shadow Government - companion site for the recent book by Harry Helms, detailing secretive "continuity of government" plans and powers.

  • "Reagan Aides and the 'Secret' Government" (scroll down) - archived text of the 1987 Miami Herald article revealing the existence of the "Rex84" contingency plan to suspend the US Constitution. See in particular the section headed "National Crisis Plan."


Some real great stuff you got here. Ever think about adding some Council on Foreign Relations articles? They are a pretty shifty bunch, they have a lot of power, too. Pretty soon there is going to be a military government in America, we're already being desencatized to Porn, Gays, Vulgarity, and so on. If the next prez is a Dem. we can kiss the already fleeting bit of morality we have left goodbye. Absolute RIGHT and WRONG are just about gone, there is HUGE "Gray Area" where there once was black and white. Only opinions exist on controversial issues, I've noticed this in the University I attend, this "Gray Area" is slowing turning towards a Communist RED. I fear for my generation and the ones after mine, we're constantly being taught in groups and getting graded on how we work in those groups, individualism is soon to be a "nice idea" and GroupThink will be accepted as the new "norm". Godspeed and stay alert!

Very good articles, keep up the good work.

Posted by: Mirek at December 11, 2003 03:18 PM

Mirek -- thank you for the compliments on the site. As for the CFR, there's no explicit plan to post articles about it, but there's also no plan *not* to. Anyway, I think this country and the entire world has much more to fear from the bundists at People for a New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute (for example) than the CFR.

But I find it ironic and contradictory that you decry the vanishing of individualism and express alarm that "GroupThink will be accepted as the new 'norm'," and yet advocate what you describe as an "[a]bsolute RIGHT and WRONG" when it comes to homosexuality, morality, and so on.

In other words, you advocate the very sort of unquestioning GroupThink that you say alarms you.

Posted by: Editor at December 15, 2003 11:43 AM

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