5 August 2000. Thanks to Frank Morales.
An edited version of this article currently appears in CovertAction
Quarterly, #69 Spring/Summer 2000.
U.S. MILITARY CIVIL DISTURBANCE PLANNING:
THE WAR AT HOME
By Frank Morales
Under the heading of "civil disturbance planning", the U.S. military is training
troops and police to suppress democratic opposition in America. The master
plan, Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, is code-named,
"Operation Garden Plot". Originated in 1968, the "operational plan" has been
updated over the last three decades, most recently in 1991, and was activated
during the Los Angeles "riots" of 1992, and more than likely during the recent
anti-WTO "Battle in Seattle."
Current U.S. military preparations for suppressing domestic civil disturbance,
including the training of National Guard troops and police, are actually
part of a long history of American "internal security" measures dating back
to the first American Revolution. Generally, these measures have sought to
thwart the aims of social justice movements, embodying the concept that within
the civilian body politic lurks an enemy that one day the military might
have to fight, or at least be ordered to fight.
Equipped with flexible "military operations in urban terrain" and "operations
other than war" doctrine, lethal and "less-than-lethal" high-tech weaponry,
US "armed forces" and "elite" militarized police units are being trained
to eradicate "disorder", "disturbance" and "civil disobedience" in America.
Further, it may very well be that police/military "civil disturbance" planning
is the animating force and the overarching logic behind the incredible nationwide
growth of police paramilitary units, a growth which coincidentally mirrors
rising levels of police violence directed at the American people, particularly
"non-white" poor and working people.
Military spokespeople, "judge advocates" (lawyers) and their congressional
supporters aggressively take the position that legal obstacles to military
involvement in domestic law enforcement civil disturbance operations, such
as the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, have been nullified. Legislated "exceptions"
and private commercialization of various aspects of U.S. military-law enforcement
efforts have supposedly removed their activities from the legal reach of
the "public domain". Possibly illegal, ostensible "training" scenarios like
the recent "Operation Urban Warrior" no-notice "urban terrain" war games,
which took place in dozens of American cities, are thinly disguised "civil
disturbance suppression" exercises. In addition, President Clinton recently
appointed a "domestic military czar", a sort of national chief of police.
You can bet that he is well versed in Garden Plot requirements involved in
Ominously, many assume that the training of military and police forces to
suppress "outlawed" behavior of citizens, along with the creation of extensive
and sophisticated "emergency" social response networks set to spring into
action in the event of "civil unrest", is prudent and acceptable in a democracy.
And yet, does not this assumption beg the question as to what civil unrest
is? One could argue for example, that civil disturbance is nothing less than
democracy in action, a message to the powers-that-be that the people want
change. In this instance "disturbing behavior" may actually be the exercising
of ones' right to resist oppression. Unfortunately, the American
corporate/military directorship, which has the power to enforce its' definition
of "disorder", sees democracy as a threat and permanent counter-revolution
as a "national security" requirement.
The elite military/corporate sponsors of Garden Plot have their reasons for
civil disturbance contingency planning. Lets' call it the paranoia of the
thief. Their rationale is simple: self-preservation. Fostering severe and
targeted "austerity", massive inequality and unbridled greed, while shifting
more and more billions to the generals and the rich, the de-regulated "entities
of force" and their interlocking corporate directors know quite well what
their policies are engendering, namely, a growing resistance. Consequently,
they are systematically organizing to protect their interests, their profits,
and their criminal conspiracies. To this end, they are rapidly consolidating
an infrastructure of repression designed to "suppress rebellion" against
their "authority". Or more conveniently put, to suppress "rebellion against
the authority of the United States." And so, as the Pentagon Incorporated
increases its imperialist violence around the world, the chickens have indeed
come home to roost here in America in the form of a national security doctrine
obsessed with domestic "insurgency" and the need to pre-emptively neutralize
it. Its' code-name: "Garden Plot".
Recently, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon "acknowledged that the Air
Force wrongfully started and financed a highly classified, still-secret project,
known as a black program without informing Congress last year." The costs
and nature of these projects "are the most classified secrets in the
Pentagon."(1) Could it be that the current United States Air Force Civil
Disturbance Plan 55-2 Garden Plot is one such program financed from this
secret budget? We have a right to know. And following Seattle, we have the
need to know.
As this and numerous other documents reveal, U.S. military training in civil
disturbance "suppression", which targets the American public, is in full
operation today. The formulation of legitimizing doctrine, the training in
the "tactics and techniques" of "civil disturbance suppression", and the
use of "abusable", "non-lethal" weaponry, are ongoing, financed by tax dollars.
According to the Pentagon, "US forces deployed to assist federal and local
authorities during times if civil disturbance will follow use-of-force policy
found in Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan-Garden Plot." (Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Standing Rules of Engagement, Appendix A, 1 October
ORIGINS OF OPERATION GARDEN PLOT:
THE KERNER COMMISSION
"Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave."
Rochester, New York is the former home of Frederick Douglass's, North
Star newspaper. In 1964, it erupted in one of the first large-scale urban
outbursts of the decade. Precipitated by white police violence against the
black community, the July uprising lasted several days, subsiding only after
the arrival of 1500 National Guardsmen. In "the fall of 1964, the FBI, at
the direction of President Johnson, began to make riot control training available
to local police departments, and by mid-1967 such training assistance had
been extended to more than 70,000 officials and civilians."(2)
On July 29, 1967, President Johnson issued Executive Order 11365, establishing
the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. It is more commonly
known as the Kerner Commission, named for it s chair, former Major General,
and then Governor of Illinois, Otto Kerner. The creation of the commission
came hot on the heels of the violence in Detroit, a conflict which left 43
dead, several hundred wounded and over 5,000 people homeless. Johnson sent
troubleshooter Cyrus Vance, later Secretary of Defense, as his personal observer
to Detroit. The commission issued its final report, completed in less than
a year, on March 1, 1968.
Although the Kerner Commission has over the years become associated with
a somewhat benign, if not benevolent character, codifying the obvious, "we
live in two increasingly separate America s" etc., the fact is that the
commission itself was but one manifestation of a massive military/police
counter-insurgency effort directed against US citizens, hatched in an era
of emergent post-Vietnam "syndrome" coupled with elite fears of domestic
insurrection.While the movement chanted for peace and revolution, rebellious,
angry and destructive urban uprisings were occurring with alarming frequency,
usually the result of the usual spark, police brutality, white on black crime.
The so-called urban riots of 1967-1968 were the zenith, during this period,
of social and class conflict. "More than 160 disorders occurred in some 128
American cities in the first nine months of 1967."(3)
The executive order establishing the commission called for an investigation
of "the origins of the recent major civil disorders and the influence, if
any, of organizations or individuals dedicated to the incitement or encouragement
of violence."(4) The work of the commission was funded from President Johnson
s "Emergency Fund." The executive order sought recommendations in three
general areas: "short term measures to prevent riots, better measures to
contain riots once they begin, and long term measures to eliminate riots
in the future."(5) Their two immediate aims were "to control and repress
black rioters using almost any available means", (6) and to assure white
America that everything was in hand. Commission members included Charles
B. Thorton, Chairman and CEO, Litton Industries, member of the Defense Industry
Advisory Council to the DoD and the National Security Industrial Association,
John L. Atwood, President and CEO, North American Rockwell Corporation
("Commission Advisor on Private Enterprise"), and Herbert Jenkins, Atlanta
Chief of Police and President of the International Association of Chiefs
During the early stages of staff recruitment, commission Deputy Executive
Director Victor H. Palmieri "described the process as a war strategy"(7)
and so he might given the overwhelming presence within the commission and
its consultants of military and police officials. One quarter of over 200
consultants listed were big-city police chiefs, like Daryl F. Gates, former
chief LAPD. Numerous police organizations, including the heavily funded Law
Enforcement Assistance Administration (financiers of SWAT), guided the commission
s deliberations. No less than 30 police departments were represented on or
before the commission by their chiefs or deputy chiefs.
A key player within the commission, "consultant" Anthony Downs, stated at
the time that, "it would be far cheaper to repress future large-scale urban
violence through police and military action than to pay for effective programs
against remaining poverty." (8) As for the military, twelve generals,
representing various branches of the armed services appeared before the
commission or served as contractors. The commission s "Director of
Investigations", Milan C. Miskovsky, was "on leave as assistant general counsel
of the treasury, and formerly connected to the Central Intelligence
The Kerner Commission s "study" of "civil disorder" lead directly to
(civilian) recommendations regarding the role of the military in domestic
affairs. The report dutifully "commends the Army for the advanced status
of its training." Further, it states that "the Department of the Army should
participate fully in efforts to develop nonlethal weapons and personal protective
equipment appropriate for use in civil disorders." In addition, "the Army
should investigate the possibility of utilizing psychological techniques
to ventilate hostility and lessen tension in riot control, and incorporate
feasible techniques in training the Army and National Guard units."
THE ARMY AND CIVIL DISORDER
Under the heading, "Army Response To Civil Disorders", the commission report
states that "the commitment of federal troops to aid state and local forces
in controlling a disorder is an extraordinary act An Army staff task group
has recently examined and reviewed a wide range of topics relating to military
operations to control urban disorders: command and control, logistics, training,
planning, doctrine, personnel, public information, intelligence, and legal
aspects." The results of the Army brass s study was subsequently, "made known
to the National Guard and to top state and local civil and law enforcement
officers in order to stimulate review at the state and local level."(10)
The Army Task Force which assisted the Kerner Commission issued its own report
in early 1968. In it, the Pentagon took a multi-pronged approach to solving
the civil disturbance problem. "Expanding the suggestion of Cyrus Vance,
Military Intelligence working with the FBI, local, county and state police
forces undertook a massive domestic intelligence gathering operation the
Senior Officers Civil Disturbance Course was instituted at the Military Police
Academy in Georgia Security forces ranging from Army troops to local police
were trained to implement their contingency plans Contingency plans, called
planning packets, were prepared for every city in the country that had a
potential for student, minority or labor unrest."(11)
In addition, "the Army Task Force that had designed this program took on
a new name, the Directorate of Civil Disturbance Planning and Operations.
The Army Task Force transformation into the Directorate occurred during the
massive rioting that broke out in black ghettos of 19 cities after the
assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968."(12) At that time "seven
army infantry brigades, totaling 21,000 troops were available for riot duty.
And a hugh, sophisticated computer center kept track of all public outbursts
of political dissent, thereby furnishing the first of the Army Task Force
s prescribed remedies: intelligence."(13)
By June of 1968, the Directorate had become the Directorate of Military Support,
setting up shop in the basement of the Pentagon. "Better known as the domestic
war room, the Directorate had 150 officials to carry out around-the-clock
monitoring of civil disorders, as well as to oversee federal troop deployments
when necessary. At the cost of $2.7 million, this massive directorate also
developed policy advice for the secretary of the Army on all disturbances
and maintained intelligence packets on all major U.S. cities."(14)
Even though the full extent of US military intelligence activities during
this period is far from generally known, "by 1968, many Justice Department
personnel knew that the military was preparing to move in massively if needed
to quash urban riots, and some officials feared the development of a large
national military riot force. It was well known among top officials that
the Department of Defense was spending far more funds than the Justice Department
on civil disorder preparations indicative of the growing trend at the
federal level toward repression and control of the urban black rioters."(15)
By 1971, Senator Sam Ervin, later of Watergate reknown, had convened his
Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights which "revealed that Military Intelligence
had established an intricate surveillance system covering hundreds of thousands
of American citizens. Committee staff members had seen a master plan - Garden
Plot that gave an eagle eye view of the Army-National Guard-police strategy."(16)
"At first, the Garden Plot exercises focused primarily on racial conflict.
But beginning in 1970, the scenarios took a different twist. The joint teams,
made up of cops, soldiers and spies, began practicing battle with large groups
of protesters. California, under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, was among
the most enthusiastic participants in Garden Plot war games."(17)
As time went on, "Garden Plot evolved into a series of annual training exercises
based on contingency plans to undercut riots and demonstrations, ultimately
developed for every major city in the United States. Participants in the
exercises included key officials from all law enforcement agencies in the
nation, as well as the National Guard, the military, and representatives
of the intelligence community According to the plan, joint teams would react
to a variety of scenarios based on information gathered through political
espionage and informants. The object was to quell urban unrest "(18)
Unrest of a different sort took place on the evening of February
27th 1973. At that time, a group of Native Americans occupied
a trading post in the village of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation
in South Dakota. By the 2nd of March the takeover had "triggered
the army contingency plan for domestic disturbances. Emergency Plans White
now coded as Garden Plot brought the Army into South Dakota Three army colonels,
disguised as civilians, and reconnaissance planes assisted", while "the Justice
Department used the army to conduct intelligence for civilian law enforcement
around Wounded Knee."(19) Information on other instances in which Garden
Plot was "triggered" over the intervening years is presently locked in Pentagon
In essence, the contemporary roots of militarized efforts to suppress domestic
rebellion lie in the US Army s master plan, Department of Defense Civil
Disturbance Plan 55-2, Garden Plot. Since at least 1968, the military
has expended billions of dollars in this effort. The plan is operative right
now, most recently during and after the Los Angeles uprising of 1992. A view
into details of this plan is possible by way of an examination of United
States Air Force Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, Garden Plot which is the
"implementing" and "supporting plan for the Department of the Army (DA) Civil
Disturbance Plan - GARDEN PLOT dated 1 March 1984 (which) provides for the
employment of USAF forces in civil disturbances." It is specifically drawn
up "to support the Secretary of the Army, as DOD Executive Agent for civil
disturbance control operations (nicknamed GARDEN PLOT), with airlift and
logistical support, in assisting civil authorities in the restoration of
law and order through appropriate military commanders in the 50 States, District
of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and US possessions and territories,
or any political subdivision thereof." The plan "is effective for planning
on receipt and for execution on order."(20)
U.S. AIR FORCE 55-2 - GARDEN PLOT
"The long title of the plan is United States Air Force Civil Disturbance
Plan 55-2, Employment of USAF Forces in Civil Disturbances. The short title
of this document is USAF Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2. The nickname assigned
by Department of the Army is GARDEN PLOT." It's dated July 11, 1984.
The plan opens with some basic "assumptions", namely that "civil disturbances
requiring intervention with military forces may occur simultaneously in any
of the 50 States, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, US
possessions and territories." And like the current situation in Vieques,
Puerto Rico, "civil disturbances will normally develop over a period of time."
In the event it evolves into a confrontational situation, under Garden Plot,
it is a "presidential executive order" that "will authorize and direct the
Secretary of Defense to use the Armed Forces of the United States to restore
law and order."
According to the Air Force plan, the military will attempt "to suppress rebellion
whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations,
or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States,
make it impractical to enforce the laws of the United States in any state
or territory by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings (10 USC 332)".
Applying its own version of equal protection under the law, the military
can intervene "when insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combinations,
or conspiracies in a state so hinder or obstruct the execution of the laws
as to deprive individuals of their Constitutional rights, privileges, and
immunities or when the insurrection impedes the due course of justice, and
only when the constituted authorities of the state are unable, fail or refuse
to protect that right, privilege, immunity, or to give that protection (10
USC 333)." In other words, the Army makes an offer of "protection" that the
citizenry can t refuse.
T.Alden Williams, in a sympathetic 1969 treatment of the Army in civil
disturbances, put it this way: "Where officials have not shown determination,
or have invited violence by predicting it, violence has developed. Hence,
it follows that with few exceptions, serious riots are evidence of police
failure and that, implicitly, it is at the point of police failure that states
and their cities redeem their national constitutional guarantees and the
Regular Army may be asked to intervene."(21) Some redemption.
According to the Air Force plan's "Classification Guidance", the roughly
200 page document "is UNCLASSIFIED and does not come within the scope of
direction governing the protection of information affecting national security.
Although it is UNCLASSIFIED, it is FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY as directed by
AFR 12-30. This plan contains information that is of internal use to DOD
and, through disclosure, would tend to allow persons to violate the law or
hinder enforcement of the law." Consequently, the plan s "operations
orders and operating procedures must be designed to provide the highest degree
of security possible." Therefore "the entire staff should identify known
or suspected opposition awareness of previous operations and operations plans",
while "procedures should be designed to eliminate the suspect sources to
the degree possible." And "in the event of organized opposition some sort
of advisory intelligence gathering capability should be assumed."
The Air Force document warns, under the heading of "Open Literature Threat",
presaging current military discourse on "info-war", that "any
information/document, though seemingly unclassified, which reveals information
concerning this Plan is a threat to OPSEC (operational security)" This is
especially true given the nature of the "Human Intelligence (HUMINT) Threat."
Recognizing that, "prior to and during sustained military operations in Support
of the Plan, the potential HUMINT threat could be considerable", the plan
recommends that "every effort should be made to reduce vulnerability to this
threat by adhering to OPSEC procedures and safeguarding Essential Elements
of Friendly Information (EEFI)."
Under "Operations to be Conducted: Deployment", the Air Force plan states
that "a civil disturbance condition (CIDCON) system which has been established
to provide an orderly and timely increase in preparedness for designated
forces to deploy for civil disturbances control operations, will be on an
as required basis for USAF resources for such operations as aerial resupply,
aerial reconnaisance, airborn psychological operations, command and control
communications systems, aeromedical evacuation, helicopter and weather support."
The Air Force does have some experience in this area. "In response to the
US invasion of Cambodia, student unrest broke out. Under Operation Garden
Plot, from 30 April through May 4, 1970, 9th Air Force airlift
units transported civil disturbance control forces from Ft. Bragg to various
locations throughout the eastern US."(22) In fact, two years earlier, "Air
Force Reserve C-119 and C-124 units participated in Garden Plot operations
set up to quell domestic strife that followed the assassination of Martin
Although the section on "Counterintelligence Targets and Requirements" is
"omitted", the plan does specify its targets, namely, those "disruptive elements,
extremists or dissidents perpetrating civil disorder." A "civil disturbance"
is defined as a "riot, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions
or assemblages, or other disorders prejudicial to public law and order. The
term civil disturbance includes all domestic conditions requiring the use
of federal armed forces pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 15, Title 10,
United States Code." Conditions precipitating Garden Plot activation are
"those that threaten to reach or have reached such proportions that civil
authorities cannot or will not maintain public order." As for legal authority,
"the Constitution of the United States and numerous statutes provide the
President with the authority to commit Federal military forces within the
United States DOD Directive 3025.12 provides guidance in committing Federal
The "application of forces should be in the following order: local and state
police, Army and (in support role) Air National Guard under State control,
Federal civil law enforcement officials, federal military forces to include
Army and (in support role) Air National Guard." According to the plan, "State
Adjutants General prepare civil disturbance plans for the employment of National
Guard units under state control." Specifically, "as a general rule for planning
purposes, the minimum forces to be supported in any single objective area
is 5,000. The maximum to be supported is 12,000 for any objective area other
than Washington, DC and 18,000 for Washington, DC." The "objective areas"
are "those specified by the Presidential Proclamation and Executive Order
in which the Secretary of Defense has been directed to restore law and order",
and as "further defined by the Letter of Instruction issued to Task Force
Commanders by the Chief of Staff, US Army."
In order to avoid the unseemly implications of "martial law", "requirements
for the commitment of Federal military forces will not result in the declaration
of a National Emergency". In this regard, the "Public Affairs Objectives"
include the development of "procedures for the public release of appropriate
information regarding civil disturbance control operations." Media and other
queries "concerning employment of control forces may be locally answered
by an interim statement that the: Department of Defense policy is not to
comment on plans concerning the possible employment of military units and
resources to carry out assigned missions."
Concerning "Force Requirements", the plan states that, "US Army and Marine
Corps units designated for civil disturbance operations will be trained,
equipped and maintained in readiness for rapid deployment, (with) ten brigades,
prepared for rapid deployment anywhere in CONUS. A Quick Reaction Force (QRF)
will be considered to be on a 24 hour alert status and capable of attaining
a CIDCON 4 status in 12 hours " Upon receipt of orders, "the Task Force
Commander assumes operational control of the military ground forces assigned
for employment in the objective area", including "specials operations assets."
In case the soldiers are unfamiliar with "urban terrain", the "Defense Mapping
Agency Topographic Center provides map services in support of civil disturbance
planning and operations."
The "Summary of the Counterintelligence and Security Situation" states that
"spontaneous civil disturbances which involve large numbers of persons and/or
which continue for a considerable period of time, may exceed the capacity
of local civil law enforcement agencies to suppress. Although this type of
activity can arise without warning as a result of sudden, unanticipated popular
unrest (past riots in such cities as Miami, Detroit and Los Angeles serve
as examples) it may also result from more prolonged dissidence." USAF Garden
Plot advises that "if military forces are called upon to restore order, they
must expect to have only limited information available regarding the
perpetrators, their motives, capabilities, and intentions. On the other hand,
such events which occur as part of a prolonged series of dissident acts will
usually permit the advance collection of that type of information "
The United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), "provides
training programs and doctrine for civil disturbance operations to military
services." The US Army Force Command (FORSCOM), "organizes, trains, and maintains
in readiness Army forces for civil disturbance operations", while the Director
of Military Support (DOMS), "conducts, on a no-notice basis, exercises which
direct headquarters of uniformed services, appropriate CONUS command, and
other DOD components, having GARDEN PLOT responsibilities to assume a simulated
increased preparedness for specified forces." In addition, the DOMS, "maintains
an around-the-clock civil disturbance command center to monitor incipient
and on-going disturbances."
The document, the United States Air Force s "implementing plan" for the US
Army s Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, Garden Plot, goes on to detail every
aspect of military "suppression" of "rebellion against the authority of the
United States", including who pays, who bills and how to secure "loans" to
cover the costs "attributable to GARDEN PLOT." Ominously, under "Resources
Employed Without Presidential Directive", the document states that when the
"immediate employment of military resources is required in cases of sudden
and unexpected civil disturbances or other emergencies endangering life or
federal property, or disrupting the normal processes of Government, expenses
incurred will be financed as a mission responsibility of the DOD component
employing the military resources."
Department of Defense Directive 3025.12, Military Assistance for Civil
Disturbances (MACDIS) became effective on February 4, 1994 when signed by
then Defense Secretary William Perry. It states that, "the President is
authorized by the Constitution and laws of the United States to suppress
insurrections, rebellions, and domestic violence under various conditions
and circumstances. Planning and preparedness by the Federal Government and
the Department of Defense for civil disturbances are important, do to the
potential severity of the consequences of such events for the Nation and
the population." Further, "the Secretary of the Army, as DoD Executive Agent,
shall provide guidance to the other DoD Components, through DoD 3025.12-R,
the DoD Civil Disturbance Plan (GARDEN PLOT), or both, in accordance with
DoDD 3025.12 makes it clear that "MACDIS operations are unprogrammed emergency
requirements for the Department of Defense", and that in order to "ensure
essential control and sound management of all military forces employed in
MACDIS operations, centralized direction from the DoD Executive Agent (the
Army) shall guide planning by the DoD component." Thus, "MACDIS missions
shall be decentralized through the DoD Planning Agents or other Joint Task
Force Commanders only when specifically directed by the DoD Executive Agent."
According to the directive, the "Army and Air National Guard forces have
primary responsibility for providing military assistance to state and local
governments in civil disturbances." Accordingly, "the Army National Guard
State Area Commands (STARCs) shall plan for contingency use of non-Federalized
National Guard forces for civil disturbance operations." The directive further
outlines policy, guidelines, and legal justification for "military assistance
for civil disturbances", including policy regarding domestic law enforcement,
designating the Army as "the principle point of contact between the Department
of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) for planning and executing
The militarization of domestic "law enforcement" is founded, in part, upon
Department of Defense Directive 5525.5, DoD Cooperation with Civilian
Law Enforcement Officials, dated January 15, 1986, five years after
Congressional "drug warriors" passed the Military Cooperation with Civilian
Law Enforcement Agencies Act. Referencing the 1971 version of DODD 3025.12
(above), the directive states that, "it is DoD policy to cooperate with civilian
law enforcement officials to the extent practical consistent with the needs
of national security and military preparedness." In addition, "the Military
Departments and Defense Agencies may provide training to Federal, State,
and local civilian law enforcement officials."
Apparently, military Judge Advocates (lawyers) have no problem with the 1878
Posse Comitatus Act, (18 U.S.C.1385) which states that: "Whoever, except
in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution
or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force
as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined not
more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years or both." Nor
is there much concern shown for "the historic tradition of limiting direct
military involvement in civilian law enforcement activities." For even though
the Act is cited within the directive as "the primary restriction on military
participation in civilian law enforcement activities", it is rendered null
and void in deference to "actions that are taken for the primary purpose
of furthering a military or foreign affairs function." In fact, "under guidance
established by the Secretaries of the Military Departments and the Directors
of the Defense Agencies concerned, the planning and execution of compatible
military training and operations may take into account the needs of civilian
law enforcement officials for information when the collection of the information
is an incidental aspect of training performed for a military purpose." (25)
ARMY FIELD MANUAL
United States Army Field Manual 19-15, Civil Disturbances, dated November
1985, is designed to provide hands-on "guidance for the commander and his
staff in preparing for and providing assistance to civil authorities in civil
disturbance control operations." The Army manual opens by noting that, "the
DA Civil Disturbance Plan, known as Garden Plot, provides guidance to all
DOD components in planning civil disturbance missions." Its' thirteen chapters
cover, in depth, every aspect of military "tasks and techniques employed
to control civil disturbances and neutralize special threats." Subjects include
the nature of civil disturbances, participants ("the crowd"), federal
intervention, information planning ("intelligence"), control force operations,
crowd control operations, threat analysis ("criminal activists"), about which
"law enforcement sources can provide useful information", riot control agents,
extreme force options, apprehension, detention, and training.
According to the Army manual, "civil disturbances in any form are prejudicial
to public law and order." They "arise from acts of civil disobedience", and
"occur most often when participants in mass acts of civil disobedience become
antagonistic toward authority, and authorities must struggle to wrest the
initiative from an unruly crowd." They are caused by "political grievances"
and "urban economic conflicts", or maybe even by "agents of foreign nations",
but mostly, "urban conflicts and community unrest arise from highly emotional
social and economic issues." And in a statement that resonates with the
"benign neglect" of some years ago, the manual points out that disturbances
may arise because "economically deprived inner-city residents may perceive
themselves treated unjustly or ignored by the people in power."
Utilizing Garden Plot language, the manual states that "the president can
employ armed federal troops to suppress insurrection, domestic violence,
unlawful assemblies, and conspiracy if such acts deprive the people of their
constitutional rights and a state s civil authorities cannot or will not
provide adequate protection." Never mind the Congress or Constitution, "federal
intervention in civil disturbances begins with the issuance of a presidential
proclamation to the citizens engaged in the disturbance." In other words,
the President reads "the riot act" and "a control force" is sent in to "isolate
the disturbance area." The goal is to "isolate the people creating the
disturbance from those who have not yet become actively involved."
According to FM 19-15, the Army can gather intelligence on civilians if their
"activities can be linked directly to a distinct threat of a civil disturbance
that may involve federal forces." This is especially important, given that
"during civil disturbances many people engage in unlawful behavior." Therefore,
"when at all possible, civil law enforcement agents are integrated with the
military control force team making apprehensions", and "if police are not
available, military personnel may search people incident to an apprehension."
Useful measures for "isolating an area include barriers, patrols, pass and
ID systems, and control of public utilities." Also, "imposing a curfew is
a highly effective control measure in many civil disturbances." Army "saturation
patrols", "integrated with civil police patrols", blanket the area, creating
"the psychological impression of the control force being everywhere at once."
The Army field manual points out that when "control forces" resort to "forceful
measures" they can turn to a host of weaponry, including "the M234, which
is a nondeadly force measure, to the machine gun, which is the most deadly
force measure." The manual states that "machine guns, 7.62 millimeter and
below, may accompany units on civil disturbance missions." In addition, the
"control forces" can utilize the M234 launcher, which is "a riot control
weapon" mounted on an M16 rifle which "fires a projectile that causes pain
on impact." In addition, "the riot shotgun is an extremely versatile weapon.
Its appearance and capability have a strong psychological effect on rioters."
The concept of martial rule, as distinct from martial law, is not written,
and therefore is an eminently more workable arrangement for "law enforcement
forces". That s because, as FM 19-15 points out, "martial rule is based on
public necessity. Public necessity in this sense means public safety." According
to the manual, U.S. state authorities "may take such action within their
own jurisdictions." And yet, "whether or not martial rule has been proclaimed,
commanders must weigh each proposed action against the threat to public order
and safety. If the need for martial rule arises, the military commander at
the scene must so inform the Army Chief of Staff and await instructions.
If martial rule is imposed, the civilian population must be informed of the
restrictions and rules of conduct that the military can enforce." Realizing
the power of free speech, the manual suggests that "during a civil disturbance,
it may be advisable to prevent people from assembling. Civil law can make
it unlawful for people to meet to plan an act of violence, rioting, or civil
disturbance. Prohibitions on assembly may forbid gatherings at any place
and time." And don t forget, "making hostile or inflammatory speeches advocating
the overthrow of the lawful government and threats against public officials,
if it endangered public safety, could violate such law."
During civil disturbance operations, "authorities must be prepared to
detain large numbers of people", forcing them into existing, though expanded
"detention facilities." Cautioning that "if there are more detainees than
civil detention facilities can handle, civil authorities may ask the control
forces to set up and operate temporary facilities." Pending the approval
of the Army Chief of Staff, the military can detain and jail citizens en
masse. "The temporary facilities are set up on the nearest military installation
or on suitable property under federal control." These "temporary facilities"
are "supervised and controlled by MP officers and NCOs trained and experienced
in Army correctional operations. Guards and support personnel under direct
supervision and control of MP officers and NCOs need not be trained or
experienced in Army correctional operations. But they must be specifically
instructed and closely supervised in the proper use of force."
According to the Army, the detention facilities are situated near to the
"disturbance area", but far enough away "not to be endangered by riotous
acts." Given the large numbers of potential detainees, the logistics (holding,
searching, processing areas) of such an undertaking, new construction of
such facilities "may be needed to provide the segregation for ensuring effective
control and administration." It must be designed and "organized for a smooth
flow of traffic", while a medical "treatment area" would be utilized as a
"separate holding area for injured detainees." After a "detainee is logged
in and searched", "a file is initiated", and a "case number" identifies the
prisoner. In addition, "facility personnel also may use hospital ID tags.
Using indelible ink, they write the case number and attach the tag to the
detainees wrist. Different colors may be used to identify different offender
classifications " Finally, if and when it should occur, "release procedures
must be coordinated with civil authorities and appropriate legal counsel."
If the "detainee" should produce a writ of habeas corpus issued by a state
court, thereby demanding ones day in court, the Army will "respectfully reply
that the prisoner is being held by authority of the United States."
Training under FM 19-15/Garden Plot must be "continuous" and must "develop
personnel who are able to perform distasteful and dangerous duties with
discipline and objectivity." Dangerous to the local citizenry given that
"every member of the control force must be trained to use his weapon and
special equipment (including) riot batons, riot control agent dispersers
and CS grenades, grenade launchers, shotguns, sniper rifles, cameras, portable
videotape recorders, portable public address systems, night illumination
devices, firefighting apparatus, grappling hooks, ladders, ropes, bulldozers,
Army aircraft, armored personnel carriers, and roadblock and barricade
materials." Sounding a lot like recent Urban Warrior war-games, the manual
makes note that although unit training must address "the sensitivity and
high visibility of civil disturbance operations", the "unit training must
be realistic." In this regard, "the unit commander should try to include
local government officials in field training exercises. The officials can
be either witnesses or participants. But care must be taken to prevent adverse
psychological effects on the local populace, especially if tension is
New York Times, "Pentagon Misused Millions in Funds, House Panel Says",
July 22, 1999, pg. A-1. See also, on the subject of "unacknowledged Special
Access Programs" wherein "the USAF's $7.4 billion budget for classified
procurement is more than a third of the service's total budget", Bill Sweetman,
"In search of the Pentagon's billion dollar hidden budgets - how the US
keeps its R&D spending under wraps", International Defense Review,
Jane's Defense Weekly, January 2000
James W. Button, Black Violence, The Political Impact of the 1960 s
Riots, Princeton University Press, 1078, pg. 116.
Button, pg.121. Also, see, Cyrus R.Vance, Final Report of Cyrus R.Vance,
Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Concerning the Detroit Riots,
July 23 Through August 2, 1967.
Michael Lipsky and David J. Olson, Commission Politics: The Processing
of Racial Crisis in America, Transaction Books, 1971, pg. 161. The Executive
Order is reprinted in US Riot Commission Report, Bantam Books, 1968,
Lipsky and Olson, pg. 163, citing pg. 198 of a transcription of Lyndon B.
Johnson, "Statement by the President", July 29, 1967.
Button, pg. 107.
Lipsky and Olson, pg. 165.
Anthony Downs, Opening Up the Suburbs: An Urban Strategy for America,
Yale University Press, 1973, pg. 176. Downs, a leading "housing expert",
believed that the key to effective urban based counter-insurgency was the
notion of "spatial deconcentration", or the "adequate outmigration of the
poor" from the cities. Downs wrote Chapters 16 and 17 of the Kerner Report
which deal with "housing". He is the leading exponent of "deliberate dispersal
policies" designed to "disperse the urban poor more effectively". The origins
of "homelessness" (state repression) lie here.
Lipsky and Olson, pg. 168.
Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, Washington,
DC, March 1, 1968, pgs. 279-281.
Ron Ridenhour and Arthur Lubow, "Bringing the War Home", New Times
Magazine, 1975, pg. 20.
Ridenhour and Lubow, pg. 20.
Ridenhour and Lubow, pg. 20.
Button, pg. 133.
Button, pg. 133.
Ridenhour and Lubow, pg. 18.
Donald Goldberg and Indy Badhwar, "Blueprint for Tyranny", Penthouse
Magazine, August 1985, pg.72.
Goldberg and Badhwar, pg.72.
Joan M. Jensen, Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980, Yale University
Press, 1991, pgs. 257-258. This excellent historical account actually does
what it says, tracing American "internal security measures" right back to
United States Air Force Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, Garden Plot, Headquarters,
United States Air Force, June 1, 1984. (roughly 200 pages, not paginated)
T. Alden Williams, "The Army in Civil Disturbance: A Profound Dilemma?",
pg. 161, in ed. Robin Higham, Bayonets in the Streets, University
of Kansas Press, 1969.
Federation of American Scientists, Military Analysis Network, "Garden
Plot", Nov. 1998.
US Air Force News Service, Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, "Air Force
50th Anniversary: April History", March 25, 1997, pg. 2. In
fact, Garden Plot may have been operative prior and during the assassination
of Martin Luther King Jr. William F. Pepper, attorney for the late James
Earl Ray, as well as the King family in their current attempts to get to
the bottom of the murder, claims (Orders To Kill, Carroll and Graf
Publishers, 1995, pg. 424) that the orders to kill King, which were delivered
to special forces operatives in Memphis were tied to Garden Plot. Pepper
states that the orders to kill King "appeared to come from the office of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff and were issued under the umbrella of the anti-black
terrorist operation Garden Plot which was a part of the overall U.S. Command
antiriot operation CINCSTRIKE which was activated with the outbreak of any
Department of Defense Directive 3025.12,
for Civil Disturbances (MACDIS), February 4, 1994. Note: DoDD 3025.12
is one quarter of 4 correlated directives that deal with civil disturbance.
The others include DoDD 3025.1,
Military Support to
Civil Authorities (Jan. 93), DoDD 3025.15,
for Civil Authorities (Feb.97), and DoDD 3025.1-M, Manual for
Civil Emergencies (June 94).
Department of Defense Directive 5525.5,
DoD Cooperation With
Civilian Law Enforcement Officials, January 15, 1986.
United States Army Field Manual 19-15, Civil Disturbances, Headquarters,
Department of the Army, Washington, DC, November 25, 1985.