Off topic for a moment. Do you know what NSPD 51? It appears to establish a framework for a temporary, extra-constitutional government in the event of a national catastrophe.

It was released on the White House website without comment in May. As usual, the mainstream press ignored it.

Some version of this plan has previously existed -This is the first one made public.

It seems curiously sloppily drafted for such a critical documet that gives a pathway for the presidency to assert control of the country. It appears that this plan can be triggered at the sole discretion of the President and there is no timeframe for return to standard constitutional order.

Of course a document and plan should exist for continuity planning, but shouldn't this be something vetted by congress and the judiciary as opposed to a presidential directive? Instead, the executive branch is denying access to the classified annexes of this document, even to congressmen on the homeland security committee with classified authorization.

Original Press Release at White House.

Wikipedia has some more background:

(b) "Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;

(e) "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

Enduring Constitutional Government sounds positively Orweillian. .

(6) The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator. The National Continuity Coordinator, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), without exercising directive authority, shall coordinate the development and implementation of continuity policy for executive departments and agencies. The Continuity Policy Coordination Committee (CPCC), chaired by a Senior Director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, shall be the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination.

Posted on December 2, 2007 and filed under Global Economy.