Election Day or Day After?

July 11, 2004 - The continuing replay of Cold War era continuity of government (COG) and contingency planning staged an uptick today with the announcement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the newly created Election Assistance Commission are seeking the advice of US Department of Justice on the possibility of granting emergency power to the commission in the event of a terrorist attack on or near Election Day. Emergency powers granted to the Election Assistance Commission, chaired by Bush appointee DeForest B. Soaries Jr., a former New Jersey Secretary of State and senior pastor in the Baptist church, could include the postponement of Election Day.

According to Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel spokeman Brian Roehrkasse, commision chairman Soaries wrote to DHS Secretary Tom Ridge and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice asking them to seek the necessary legislation from Congress.

Secretary Ridge's last week warned of new threats of terrorist attacks aimed at disrupting US national elections scheduled for November 2, 2004. His widely publicized comments did not disclose the specifics of the threats and did not warrant the raising of the controversial color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System which remains at the "Yellow" or "Elevated - Significant Risk of Terrorist Attacks" level.

Rep. Jane Harman, member of the House Intelligence Committee disputed Ridge's comments in an interview with CNN on Sunday, saying Ridge "sounded more like an interior decorator talking about what more we can do under the shade of yellow."

Beginning with the Eisenhower administration, the US government has extensively planned and rehearsed "continuity of government" operations in the event of nuclear war or similar national disaster. The history and status of COG plans remain among the most closely guarded secrets of any government. Recently CONELRAD published documents about Eisenhower's secret post-attack plans in the event of an atomic war with the Soviet Union (see The Eisenhower Ten: This Letter Will Constitute Your Authority).

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