Northern Command: Arrangements for improving military integration and rule

(29 January 2003) – DAILY MEETINGS run by Air Force General Ralph E. Eberhart now include 14 federal agencies “that otherwise rarely answer directly to the Pentagon,” The New York Times reports. General Eberhart is commander of the military’s recently established Northern Command or NorthCom, a combat command responsible for military activity inside the US, and in Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Puerto Rico. The 14 agencies have permanent representatives to NorthCom. They include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the State Department, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to The Times, they “meet to debate how the Pentagon should respond if terrorists strike again in the United States.”

The report continues:

“For now, officials say, the daily discussion is speculative: imagining and preparing for whatever terrorists might unleash within American borders.

“But there is every expectation back in Washington and certainly here, in the headquarters of the Northern Command (Eterson Air Force Base in Colorado), that if terrorists strike again inside the United States, General Eberhart and his deputies will find themselves directing a large part of the federal government’s response.

“In a large-scale terrorist attack, especially if there is any threat of the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons that could overwhelm the ability of state and local governments to respond, the Northern Command would probably take charge of the scene, directing the response from a command post bored deep in a mountain a few miles from this installation in Colorado Springs.”

General Eberhart himself was quoted as saying, “I guess you could conjure up a situation where it was so bad that no one else had the capability to be in charge. We could be in charge at that point.” Listing threats he said NorthCom is preparing for in a recent interview, the General said, “By air or ship or truck or suicide bomber. Medical scenarios: smallpox, you name the disease that we might get involved in in terms of quarantine.”

Asked about the legal restrictions on the domestic use of the military, Eberhart said he is sensitive to such concerns, and would only carry out such actions at the express direction of the White House and Pentagon.

However, according to the American constitution and rule of law, executive authority does not make military rule in the US either constitutional or legal.

NorthCom began operations in October 2002. According to news sources, it has already commanded the deployment of RC-7 Army reconnaissance planes in the D.C. area during the sniper attacks last fall. It also commanded naval forces off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where President George W. Bush attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in October. It will command the new US-Canadian agreement allowing US troops into Canada and Canadian troops for use inside the US.

Source: TML Daily, January 29, 2003 – No. 21

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