Haunting National Security Post
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Hello! It's the middle of the night, and apparently this is the time in which I decide to write haunting posts about homeland security.
Tonight's post is inspired by something on The Rachel Maddow Show, where she noted that in off-the-record interviews with people after the Trump inauguration, that government people said the worst-case scenario in the Trump Administration could be the politicization of the US Department of Justice.
^^ We're seeing that now. It's happening. The beginning of it, anyway.
Now, that being said, I've got worst-case scenarios that would blow that all to hell.
You don't want to ask for worst-case scenarios from a homeland security and disaster management professional.
I am really, really good at worst-case scenarios. I usually don't share the worst of them because they scare the living daylights out of people. Hell, I've written some medium-bad scenarios and they got classified. That wasn't even my most-worst stuff. I did some pretty-bad scenario stuff when I was whistleblowing, with a corresponding vulnerability analysis. I have treated it as if it was classified.
I think some of the people in my life have been a bit surprised to watch me take a very deep dive into politics in the last year or so.
They wouldn't be so surprised if they could see the worst-case scenarios I've got in my head. It's these worst-case scenarios that drive my political work. We have some freaking incredible risk on the horizon. We need to do a hell of a lot more than we already are to mitigate it. And we can.
To do a full treatise on what could go wrong in the US government under the Trump Administration would take more time than the administration has left in office. Hopefully.
So tonight I'm going to talk about one thing. Just one. It's pretty big.
Continuity of government, and continuity of operations programs. The acronym for these things within government is COOP/COG.
COG is about continuation of constitutional United States government. There are mechanisms are measures that have been identified within each department and agency to ensure such continuity. COG includes but is not limited to the Order of Succession; for the presidency, and for certain other positions. Each branch of government takes specific actions to ensure continuity of government.
COOP is about critical operations of the US government. For example, maintaining critical operations centers, or operations for life and safety such as occur within the US Coast Guard or federal land management agencies that have public safety issues. Another critical operation could be regular reporting of economic indicators such assets like oil, etc. that affect markets. Delivery of mail is critical for the types of checks that move through the mail - for lives, health, and commerce.
There is approximately a ton of stuff on the internet about these subject areas. No need for me to behave like a Google here. Seek and ye shall find. Beware of conspiracy theory absurdity. There's some reliable type stuff out there on these subjects. A surprising amount.
So here's what gets me.
It's something I've worried about since before the morally bankrupt human in the form of Mr. Trump was elected to the most powerful office in the world.
That worry is: these systems protect and ensure the continuity of the United States government at its core. These systems are separate from the checks and balances of the three government branches, which we know to be failing already.
COOP/COG is primarily administered by the executive branch.
Most COG activity is highly classified. Some COOP activity is classified, or protected as sensitive information.
The US president and all very high-level political appointees such as members of the cabinet, even in an acting capacity, are exposed to these highly classified security mechanisms.
We have the most corrupt Administration in US history.
And they know our deepest, darkest secrets. Our biggest vulnerabilities. Where our secret sites are. What our capabilities are. Who's at which places.
When it comes to staving off or hiding critical assets from such overt corruption and self-serving intent, the Intelligence Community and the US Military have bigger shields for protecting sensitive information, budget, and sites. For holding the line. They are behemoths.
COOP and COG: not so much.
As a former federal government official, I am sworn to protect the United States government's secrets for the rest of my life.
I don't trust any of these corrupt, self-serving emerging oligarchs in the cabinet and the administration to do the same. They have shown an inclination instead to route government assets, contracts, and money back to themselves, or to their friends. We have no reason to believe that they would not try to leverage the most sensitive, core things about continuity of government to their own ends. I don't know how. I can't legally theorize out loud, either.
What I know is that the US president happily passed along classified information to a Russian Ambassador within his first few months in office.
Heaven have mercy... but what has that man passed on since? To who?
How much have his kids passed on... to their buddies, or for favors? ANY of this information would be an absolute boon to any one or all of the US' enemies. All of which Trump has a soft spot for.
We'll Need To Find Ways Forward
Hopefully you don't read this at night while you're trying to go to sleep.
We have a lot of work to do. We can make some shift happen. I think we can hold the line.
We're working on a civic engagement framework to help counter this emerging tyranny and to help stabilize the republic and so on. Plus, the work builds resilience, and can help get us ready to act on climate change at the same time.
There's work to be done. It's harder to counter all of this chaos if we're frozen in place. Those stealing and seizing money and power are banking on us staying frozen.
So let's get some shift moving.
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