In the second part of his study of the US "Deep State," Peter Dale Scott revisits the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the Watergate and Iran-Contra affairs. By exploiting these events, the military-industrial complex gradually seized power in a country which is now under a permanent state of emergency. According to this Canadian historian, the first demand of a movement like Occupy Wall Street should be the repeal of the Patriot Act, which legitimizes the resolution of political crisis in the United States through military means.
The first part can be accessed here
- The signing of the Patriot Act by George W. Bush in 2001. 10 years later, the emergency law is still in effect, extended by an Autopen signature while Obama was traveling abroad. In particular, this text allows the U.S government to detain without limit and without charge anyone suspected of terrorist activities.
Increases in Repressive Power After Deep Events
All of the deep events discussed above have contributed to the cumulative increase of Washington’s repressive powers. It is clear for example that the Warren Commission used the JFK assassination to increase CIA surveillance of Americans. As I wrote in Deep Politics, this was the result of the Warren Commission’s controversial recommendations that the Secret Service’s domestic surveillance responsibilities be increased (WR 25-26). Somewhat illogically, the Warren Report concluded both that Oswald acted alone (WR 22) [. . .] and also that the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, should coordinate more closely the surveillance of organized groups (WR 463). In particular, it recommended that the Secret Service acquire a computerized data bank compatible with that already developed by the CIA. 
This pattern would repeat itself four years later with the assassination of Robert Kennedy. In the twenty-four hours between Bobby’s shooting and his death, Congress hurriedly passed a statute - drafted well in advance (like the Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964 and the Patriot Act of 2001) - that still further augmented the secret powers given to the Secret Service in the name of protecting presidential candidates. 
This was not a trivial or benign change: from this swiftly considered act, passed under Johnson, flowed some of the worst excesses of the Nixon presidency. 
The change also contributed to the chaos and violence at the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968. Army intelligence surveillance agents, seconded to the Secret Service, were present both inside and outside the convention hall. Some of them equipped the so-called “Legion of Justice thugs whom the Chicago Red Squad turned loose on local anti-war groups.” 
In this way the extra secret powers conferred after the RFK assassination contributed to the disastrous turmoil in Chicago that effectively destroyed the old Democratic Party representing the labor unions: The three Democratic presidents elected since then have all been significantly more conservative.
Turning to Watergate and Iran-Contra, both of these events were on one level setbacks to the repressive powers exercised by Richard Nixon and the Reagan White House, not expansions of them. On the surface level this is true: both events resulted in legislative reforms that would appear to contradict my thesis of expanding repression.
We need to distinguish here, however, between the two years of the Watergate crisis, and the initial Watergate break-in. The Watergate crisis saw a president forced into resignation by a number of forces, involving both liberals and conservatives. But the key figures in the initial Watergate break-in itself – Hunt, McCord, G. Gordon Liddy, and their Cuban allies — were all far to the right of Nixon and Kissinger. And the end result of their machinations was not finalized until the so-called Halloween Massacre in 1975, when Kissinger was ousted as National Security Adviser and Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller was notified he would be dropped from the 1976 Republican ticket. This major shake-up was engineered by two other right-wingers: Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney in the Gerald Ford White House. 
That day in 1975 saw the permanent defeat of the so-called Rockefeller or liberal faction within the Republican Party. It was replaced by the conservative Goldwater-Casey faction that would soon capture the nomination and the presidency for Ronald Reagan.  This little-noticed palace coup, along with other related intrigues in the mid-1970s, helped achieve the conversion of America from a welfare capitalist economy, with gradual reductions in income and wealth disparity, into a financialized plutonomy where these trends were reversed. 
Again in Iran-Contra we see a deeper accumulation of repressive power under the surface of liberal reforms. At the time not only the press but even academics like myself celebrated the termination of aid to the Nicaraguan Contras, and the victory there of the Contadora peace process. Not generally noticed at the time was the fact that, while Oliver North was removed from his role in the Doomsday Project, that project’s plans for surveillance, detention, and the militarization of the United States continued to grow after his departure. 
Also not noticed was the fact that the US Congress, while curtailing aid to one small drug-financed CIA proxy army, was simultaneously increasing US support to a much larger coalition of drug-financed proxy armies in Afghanistan.  While Iran-Contra exposed the $32 million which Saudi Arabia, at the urging of CIA Director William Casey, had supplied to the Contras, not a word was whispered about the $500 million or more that the Saudis, again at the urging of Casey, had supplied in the same period to the Afghan mujahedin.  In this sense the drama of Iran-Contra in Congress can be thought of as a misdirection play, directing public attention away from America’s much more intensive engagement in Afghanistan – a covert policy that has since evolved into America’s longest war.
We should expand our consciousness of Iran-Contra to think of it as Iran-Afghan-Contra. And if we do, we must acknowledge that in this complex and misunderstood deep event the CIA in Afghanistan exercised again the paramilitary capacity that Stansfield Turner had tried to terminate when he was CIA Director under Jimmy Carter. This was a victory in short for the faction of men like Richard Blee, the protector of al-Mihdhar as well as the advocate in 2000 for enhanced CIA paramilitary activity in Afghanistan. 
Personnel Overlaps Between the Successive Deep Events
I will never forget the New York Times front-page story on June 18, 1972, the day after the Watergate break-in. There were photographs of the Watergate burglars, including one of Frank Sturgis alias Fiorini, whom I had already written about two years earlier in my unpublished book manuscript, “The Dallas Conspiracy” about the JFK assassination.
Sturgis was no nonentity: a former contract employee of the CIA, he was also well connected to the mob-linked former casino owners in Havana.  My early writings on the Kennedy case focused on the connections between Frank Sturgis and an anti-Castro Cuban training camp near New Orleans in which Oswald had shown an interest; also in Sturgis’ involvement in false “phase-one” stories portraying Oswald as part of a Communist Cuban conspiracy. 
In spreading these “phase-one” stories in 1963, Sturgis was joined by a number of Cubans who were part of the CIA-supported army in Central America of Manuel Artime. Artime’s base in Costa Rica was closed down in 1965, allegedly because of its involvement in drug trafficking.  In the 1980s some of these Cuban exiles later became involved in drug-financed support activities for the Contras. 
The political mentor of Artime’s MRR movement was future Watergate plotter Howard Hunt; and Artime in 1972 would pay for the bail of the Cuban Watergate burglars. The drug money-launderer Ramón Milián Rodríguez has claimed to have delivered $200,000 in cash from Artime to pay off some of the Cuban Watergate burglars; later, in support of the Contras, he managed two Costa Rican seafood companies, Frigoríficos and Ocean Hunter, that laundered drug money. 
It is alleged that Hunt and McCord had both been involved with Artime’s invasion plans in 1963.  It was I believe no accident that the organization of Hunt’s protégé Artime became enmired in drug trafficking. Hunt, I have argued elsewhere, had been handling a U.S. drug connection since his 1950 post in Mexico City as OPC (Office of Policy Coordination) chief. 
But McCord not only had a past in the anti-Castro activities of 1963, he was also part of the nation’s emergency planning network that would later figure so prominently in the background of Iran-Contra and 9/11. McCord was a member of a small Air Force Reserve unit in Washington attached to the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP); assigned “to draw up lists of radicals and to develop contingency plans for censorship of the news media and U.S. mail in time of war.”  His unit was part of the Wartime Information Security Program (WISP), which had responsibility for activating “contingency plans for imposing censorship on the press, the mails and all telecommunications (including government communications) [and] preventive detention of civilian ‘security risks,’ who would be placed in military ‘camps.’”  In other words, these were the plans that became known in the 1980s as the Doomsday Project, the Continuity of Government planning on which Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld worked together for twenty years before 9/11.
A Common Denominator for Structural Deep Events: Project Doomsday and COG
McCord’s participation in an emergency planning system dealing with telecommunications suggests a common denominator in the backgrounds of almost all the deep events we are considering. Oliver North, the Reagan-Bush OEP point man on Iran-Contra planning, was also involved in such planning; and he had access to the nation’s top secret Doomsday communications network. North’s network, known as Flashboard, "excluded other bureaucrats with opposing viewpoints…[and] had its own special worldwide antiterrorist computer network, … by which members could communicate exclusively with each other and their collaborators abroad." 
Flashboard was used by North and his superiors for extremely sensitive operations which had to be concealed from other dubious or hostile parts of the Washington bureaucracy. These operations included the illegal shipments of arms to Iran, but also other activities, some still not known, perhaps even against Olof Palme’s Sweden.  Flashboard, America’s emergency network in the 1980s, was the name in 1984-86 of the full-fledged Continuity of Government (COG) emergency network which was secretly planned for twenty years, at a cost of billions, by a team including Cheney and Rumsfeld. On 9/11 the same network was activated anew by the two men who had planned it for so many years. 
But this Doomsday planning can be traced back to 1963, when Jack Crichton, head of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit of Dallas, was part of it in his capacity as chief of intelligence for Dallas Civil Defense, which worked out of an underground Emergency Operating Center. As Russ Baker reports, “Because it was intended for ‘continuity of government’ operations during an attack, [the Center] was fully equipped with communications equipment.”  A speech given at the dedication of the Center in 1961 supplies further details:
"This Emergency Operating Center [in Dallas] is part of the National Plan to link Federal, State and local government agencies in a communications network from which rescue operations can be directed in time of local or National emergency. It is a vital part of the National, State, and local Operational Survival Plan". 
Crichton, in other words, was also part of what became known in the 1980s as the Doomsday Project, like James McCord, Oliver North, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney after him. But in 1988 its aim was significantly enlarged: no longer to prepare for an atomic attack, but now to plan for the effective suspension of the American constitution in the face of any emergency.  This change in 1988 allowed COG to be implemented in 2001. By this time the Doomsday Project had developed into what the Washington Post called “a shadow government that evolved based on long-standing ‘continuity of operations plans.’” 
It is clear that the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP, known from 1961-1968 as the Office of Emergency Planning) supplies a common denominator for key personnel in virtually all of the structural events discussed here. This is a long way from establishing that the OEP itself (in addition to the individuals discussed here) was involved in generating any of these events. But I believe that the alternative communications network housed first in the OEP (later part of Project 908) played a significant role in at least three of them: the JFK assassination, Iran-Contra, and 9/11.
This is easiest to show in the case of 9/11, where it is conceded that the Continuity of Government (COG) plans of the Doomsday Project were implemented by Cheney on 9/11, apparently before the last of the four hijacked planes had crashed.  The 9/11 Commission could not locate records of the key decisions taken by Cheney on that day, suggesting that they may have taken place on the “secure phone “ in the tunnel leading to the presidential bunker – with such a high classification that the 9/11 Commission was never supplied the phone records.  Presumably this was a COG phone.
It is not clear whether the “secure phone” in the White House tunnel belonged to the Secret Service or (as one might expect) was part of the secure network of the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). If the latter, we’d have a striking link between 9/11 and the JFK assassination. The WHCA boasts on its Web site that the agency was “a key player in documenting the assassination of President Kennedy.”  However it is not clear for whom this documentation was conducted, for the WHCA logs and transcripts were in fact withheld from the Warren Commission. 
The Secret Service had installed a WHCA portable radio in the lead car of the presidential motorcade.  This in turn was in contact by police radio with the pilot car ahead of it, carrying DPD Deputy Chief Lumpkin of the 488th Army Intelligence Reserve unit.  Records of the WHCA communications from the motorcade never reached the Warren Commission, the House Committee on Assassinations, or the Assassination Records Review Board.  Thus we cannot tell if they would explain some of the anomalies on the two channels of the Dallas Police Department. They might for example have thrown light upon the unsourced call on the Dallas Police tapes for a suspect who had exactly the false height and weight recorded for Oswald in his FBI and CIA files. 
Today in 2011 we are still living under the State of Emergency proclaimed after 9/11 by President Bush. At least some COG provisions are still in effect, and were even augmented by Bush through Presidential Directive 51 of May 2007. Commenting on PD-51, the Washington Post reported at that time:
"After the 2001 attacks, Bush assigned about 100 senior civilian managers [including Cheney] to rotate secretly to [COG] locations outside of Washington for weeks or months at a time to ensure the nation’s survival, a shadow government that evolved based on long-standing “continuity of operations plans.” 
Presumably this “shadow government” finalized such long-standing COG projects as warrantless surveillance, in part through the Patriot Act, whose controversial provisions were already being implemented by Cheney and others well before the Bill reached Congress on October 12.  Other COG projects implemented included the militarization of domestic surveillance under NORTHCOM, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Project Endgame—a ten-year plan to expand detention camps at a cost of $400 million in fiscal year 2007 alone. 
I have, therefore, a recommendation for the Occupy movement, rightfully incensed as it is with the plutonomic excesses of Wall Street over the last three decades. It is to call for an end to the state of emergency, which has been in force since 2001, under which since 2008 a U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team has been stationed permanently in the United States, in part to be ready “to help with civil unrest and crowd control.” 
Democracy-lovers must work to prevent the political crisis now developing in America from being resolved by military intervention.
Let me say in conclusion that for a half century American politics have been constrained and deformed by the unresolved matter of the Kennedy assassination. According to a memo of November 25 1963, from Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach, it was important then to persuade the public that “Oswald was the assassin,” and that “he did not have confederates.”  Obviously this priority became even more important after these questionable propositions were endorsed by the Warren Report, the U.S. establishment, and the mainstream press. It has remained an embarrassing priority ever since for all succeeding administrations, including the present one. There is for example an official in Obama’s State Department (Todd Leventhal), whose official job, until recently, included defense of the lone nut theory against so-called “conspiracy theorists.” 
If Oswald was not a lone assassin, then it should not surprise us that there is continuity between those who falsified reports about Oswald in 1963, and those who distorted American politics in subsequent deep events beginning with Watergate. Since the deep event of 1963 the legitimacy of America’s political system has become vested in a lie — a lie which subsequent deep events have helped to protect.