Daily Archives: December 27, 2008

China’s ‘Stone Babies’—Victims of the Melamine Scandal

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Little Tianxin is a victim of the contaminated baby formula milk powder. (Photo provided by Ma Hongbin, baby’s father)

Epoch Times | Dec 26, 2008

By Li Xi

Since China’s contaminated infant formula milk powder scandal was exposed in September, more than 240,000 babies have been diagnosed with kidney problems due to drinking the milk powder.

Parents accuse the authorities for its corrupt food safety inspection system and its failure to do justice and provide proper compensation. Having been denied all official channels of petitioning, the parents started to unite their forces in an effort to initiate a class-action lawsuit against the baby formula manufacturing companies. They call their alliance the “Home of Stone Babies (HSB),” referring to the babies who developed kidney stones after drinking the contaminated milk powder.

On the HSB website, parents posted many pictures of their sick babies and told their tragic stories. Listed here are three examples.

Case 1. Yang Xin, Hangzhou City

Born on November 15, 2007, Yang Xin was fed with Sanlu formula milk powder since he was one month old. In early May 2008 he developed a fever and had frequent bursts of crying. On May 26 he was diagnosed with urethral infection, and diagnosed with kidney stones on September 16. Doctors said the baby needed surgery, but the baby’s immune system was too weak for surgery at this time.

Case 2. Zhang Jiani, Fujian Province

Born on November 11, 2007, Zhang Jiani started to drink Sanlu formula when she was only a couple of weeks old. On June 17, 2008, she was diagnosed with kidney stones, hydronephrosis and high blood pressure, and her life was in danger. Doctors surgically removed the stones from her left ureter. Little Jiani then stayed in a Shanghai hospital from June 24 to August 25 for further treatment, but now both of her kidneys are still filled with stones. The medical treatment has cost her family about 80,000 yuan (approximately US$ 10,000).

Case 3. Ma Tianxin, Guangdong Province

Born on August 24, 2007, Ma Tianxin first received the Sanlu formula at three months old. In September she had dropsy and difficulty urinating. Then she was admitted to a hospital where she was diagnosed with kidney stones. A handful of the stones were removed from Tianxin during surgery. She has been in poor heath since, with frequent lung inflammations. Later she was found to have developed new stones her ureter.

While the babies suffer physical pains, their parents are tortured by sadness and indignation. The authorities have done nothing to help the victims, the parents said.

“At one time the government promised to waive all fees for babies suffering from kidney stones due to tainted formula,” said Yang Yong, father of Yang Xin. “But they broke their promise. Now nobody responds to me when I visit the Provincial Department of Public Health.”

Like many other families, the Zhang Jiani’s family has been overwhelmed by medical bills. They are seeking governmental assistance to deal with the financial burden, but in vain. “The government only cares about the manufacturers, milk farmers or workers in the Sanlu Group,” said Zhang Ping, Jiani’s father, while he looked sadly at his little daughter lying helplessly in a hospital bed. “Nobody cares about us—the 240,000 victims and their families. Until today the government has not given us a clear answer as for how they intend to handle this.” He said some families he knew have to give up medical treatment for the baby because they could no longer afford it.

Tianin’s father Ma Hongbin said what concerned him more than the hospital bills was the future health of the babies. “But the government has never showed any concerns over this, and has never promised any assistance for these babies,” Ma said.

Chinese authorities published a list of 22 problematic milk powder manufacturers, but some parents revealed that brands not on the black list also caused kidney stones in their babies. Milk powder manufacturers are said to threaten internal inspectors who issue unqualified certificates for their own products.

Zhao Lianhai, father of a “stone baby” and spokesperson of HSB, said the actual number of victims is far higher than the 240,000 that Chinese official media reported. “The authorities are doing what they did with SARS breakout,” Zhao said. “Covering up the truths will put the entire world in danger.”

Melamine, the contaminant found in the tainted the baby formula, is a toxic chemical normally used to make plastics.

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Thai King appoints new prime minister by royal decree

THAILAND-POLITICS

Abhisit Vejjajiva listens to King Bhumibol’s royal decree appointing him prime minister. Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images

Reuters | Dec 17, 2008

BANGKOK – THAILAND’S widely revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Wednesday signed a royal decree officially appointing Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as the nation’s 27th prime minister.

Mr Abhisit, 44, was nominated premier in an emergency parliament session on Monday, two weeks after a court dissolved the ruling party loyal to ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra and after six months of political turmoil.

State-run television showed footage of the 81-year-old constitutional monarch signing the decree and handing it to the speaker of the house, Chai Chidchob.

The document will first go to parliament to be logged, before being ferried to the Democrat Party headquarters, where the parliament secretary will read the royal command to Abhisit.

Security was tight at the party headquarters, following violent protests outside parliament on Monday by supporters of the old government.

About 300 policemen including anti-riot officers stood guard, while a bomb disposal team with two sniffer dogs checked the compound.

British-born Mr Abhisit will later address the nation to outline his policies, with expectations high after months of protests against the previous government that peaked with the occupation of Bangkok’s airport late last month.

The sieges only ended after a court on Dec 2 dissolved the Thaksin-linked People Power Party and removed then-premier Somchai Wongsawat from office.

Mr Abhisit has said he will name his new cabinet later on Wednesday or on Thursday. – AFP

Melamine and the Global Implications of Food Contamination

Although the onset of illness, as in the current epidemic, may be insidious and unanticipated in the very young, it is far more likely to result in a catastrophic outcome.

New England Journal of Medicine | Dec 25, 2008

By Julie R. Ingelfinger, M.D.

Food contamination, whether accidental or intentional, has been a sad, recurrent theme throughout recorded history, going back some 8000 years and described in the Old Testament. However, a new dimension has been added in this new millennium: globalization and international agribusiness allow problems with the food supply to spread around the planet all too quickly. The most recent, and still evolving, example is the epidemic of melamine poisoning stemming from tainted infant formula in China. More than 294,000 children in China have reportedly been affected by adulterated formula. Over 50,000 were hospitalized, and at least 6 died. Some are said to remain in the hospital. There are also reports that children in other parts of Asia — such as Taiwan, Singapore, and Vietnam — were also affected. Those who became ill had ingested melamine-contaminated powdered infant formula; some 22 brands were implicated. In the wake of this stunning discovery, the contaminated formula was taken off the market, but the story of melamine contamination is far from over.

In addition to its catastrophic health effects, the contamination has had major economic effects, with the United States and other countries banning the importation of milk and other food products from China. Recent news reports note that China has asked the United States to lift its ban on milk products and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened an office in Beijing (and will open others in Shanghai and Guangzhou and in other countries) that will examine food exports destined for the United States.

Now melamine is being discovered in other foods, which are turning up worldwide. Melamine (1,3,5-triazine–2,4,6-triamine, or C3H6N6) (see diagram), a chemical developed in the 1830s, has had varied and widespread legitimate uses. China is not the only country producing melamine; millions of kilograms are synthesized annually in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world. The compound is a component in many plastics, adhesives, glues, laminated products such as plywood, cement, cleansers, fire-retardant paint, and more. But melamine does not always remain where it is placed. For example, melamine in plasticware may be leached from the product by acid and thus can migrate into food, though — at least as measured — not in amounts considered toxic. Fortunately, melamine-containing plasticware becomes discolored or fractures, so it is used less often than it once was. A greater concern is that melamine is frequently added to crop fertilizer, from which it is absorbed into the soil and then, most likely, into crops themselves, though any uptake has been largely unmeasured. Thus, there is melamine in many products throughout the world, and we do not know what problems it may cause in the future.

But why would one intentionally add a nonnutritious substance such as melamine to food? Nitrogen content has long been used as a surrogate for assessing the protein content of foods, and melamine contains a substantial amount of nitrogen — 66% by mass. Before the current melamine disaster, the marked dilution of infant formula in China had resulted in marasmus in some infants,1 which led to government directives to increase the protein content of such preparations or risk severe penalties. Thus, it is possible that the adulteration was conceived in response to a well-intentioned government directive. The fact that melamine could increase the apparent protein content and, furthermore, make the product look milky may have been irresistible to those who would adulterate.

That melamine and its congeners have toxic effects has been known for decades. These compounds are toxic to humans and animals, though the amount leading to adverse effects depends on the rate of exposure. The 2007 melamine adulteration of pet food resulted in many deaths of cats and dogs in the United States and elsewhere.2,3 This epidemic of illness in pets should have reinforced the understanding that melamine ingestion might be very harmful to humans. Moreover, the melamine congener hexamethylmelamine was tested as an anticancer medication in the 1960s, and again in the late 1990s for advanced ovarian cancer and other conditions.4 Side effects of this congener were mainly gastrointestinal, not renal, but the chemotherapeutic use of hexamethylmelamine and other melamine congeners has largely been abandoned.

How much melamine must food contain to pose a risk to humans? Given the lack of data, regulatory bodies such as the FDA and international agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) are trying hard to develop useful recommendations. An early December meeting of experts took place in Ottawa, Canada, sponsored by the WHO and Health Canada. The experts recommended considering melamine in food as having a baseline level, the level not resulting from adulteration or misuse, and an adulteration level, the level resulting from purposeful addition of melamine. Since there are insufficient data from humans, the WHO meeting recommended a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 0.2 milligrams per kilogram of body weight for melamine and 1.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight for cyanuric acid. The executive summary stated that the TDI is “applicable to the whole population, including infants.” However, exposure to both melamine and cyanuric acid may confer a higher risk, and there are unknowns about long-term renal and other risks. The current limit set by the FDA for melamine in food is 2.5 parts per million, calculated on the basis of ingestion by a person weighing 60 kg. The FDA initially stated that no melamine is permitted in infant formula but in late November changed that to 1 part per million being permitted.5 It is not clear how much melamine in other food would be “safe” for children, particularly young children, especially since they ingest far more food for their size than do adults, rendering the dose per kilogram of any toxin potentially higher. Furthermore, initial signs and symptoms may be subtle and nonspecific in very young children, who typically cannot describe how they feel. Thus, although the onset of illness, as in the current epidemic, may be insidious and unanticipated in the very young, it is far more likely to result in a catastrophic outcome.

The present epidemic illness resulted from melamine’s tendency to form stones and gravel in the urinary system. Young children exposed to the median level of the brand with the highest melamine content, according to the executive summary from the WHO meeting, received approximately 40 to 200 times the TDI. Stones can cause obstructive uropathy, and marked obstruction may cause acute renal failure. In the children who died, acute renal failure was discovered too late. The available data suggest that melamine stones are not fully radiopaque, often formed by melamine and its metabolite cyanuric acid (see figure), in complex with uric acid or in a matrix with protein, uric acid, and phosphate. Once the source of these unusual stones and the contamination of powdered formula were uncovered in the present epidemic, the care given to severely affected children became more effective. Many stones could be dissolved with hydration, alkalinization, or lithotripsy, and the renal failure, if present, could be managed with supportive care, including dialysis, if needed. However, many studies indicate that the long-term sequelae of acute renal failure in children, irrespective of its cause, are often serious and include hypertension, albuminuria, and chronic kidney disease. Whether children who had melamine-induced acute renal failure will have long-term consequences is unknown.

A further problem is that melamine food contamination is more pervasive than was originally thought. Since melamine is in animal feed in China, it has now been detected in eggs; it has also been found in wheat gluten and other foods. After the discovery of the melamine contamination of pet food, a detection method involving liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry became widely available and reliably identifies both cyanuric acid and melamine. A number of suspect foods from China tested by the FDA were found to contain melamine (see table), and more are being reported around the world each week. Furthermore, the FDA has found trace levels of melamine in several U.S. infant formulas and, as of the end of November, states that 1 part per million is permitted.

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The $1 Trillion Bill for Bush’s War on Terror

Bush’s projections of future defense spending “substantially understate” just how much money it will take to run Obama’s Pentagon, the CSBA says in its report.

Time | Dec 26, 2008

By Mark Thompson

The news that President Bush’s war on terrorism soon will have cost the U.S. taxpayers $1 trillion — and counting — is unlikely to spread much Christmas cheer in these tough economic times. A trio of recent reports — none by the Bush Administration — suggests that sometime early in the Obama presidency, spending on the wars started since 9/11 will pass the trillion-dollar mark. Even after adjusting for inflation, that’s four times more than America spent fighting World War I, and more than 10 times the cost of 1991’s Persian Gulf War (90% of which was paid for by U.S. allies). The war on terrorism looks set to surpass the costs the Korean and Vietnam wars combined, topped only by World War II’s price tag of $3.5 trillion.

The cost of sending a single soldier to fight for a year in Afghanistan or Iraq is about $775,000 — three times more than in other recent wars, says a new report from the private but authoritative Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). A large chunk of the increase is a result of the Administration’s cramming new military hardware into the emergency budget bills it has been using to pay for the wars.

These costs, of course, pale alongside the price paid by the nearly 5,000 U.S. troops who have lost their lives in the conflicts — not to mention the wounded — and the families of all the casualties. And President Bush insists that their sacrifice and the expenditure on the wars have helped prevent a repeat of 9/11. “We could not afford to wait for the terrorists to attack again,” he said last week at the Army War College. “So we launched a global campaign to take the fight to the terrorists abroad, to dismantle their networks, to dry up their financing and find their leaders and bring them to justice.”

But many Americans may suffer a moment of sticker shock from the conclusions of the CSBA report and similar assessments from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) and Congressional Research Service (CRS), which make clear that the nearly $1 trillion already spent is only a down payment on the war’s long-term costs. The trillion-dollare figure does not, for example, include long-term health care for veterans, thousands of whom have suffered crippling wounds, or the interest payments on the money borrowed by the Federal Government to fund the war. The bottom lines of the three assessments vary: the CSBA study says $904 billion has been spent so far, while the GAO says the Pentagon alone has spent $808 billion through last September. The CRS study says the wars have cost $864 billion, but CRS didn’t factor inflation into its calculations.

Sifting through Pentagon data, the CSBA study breaks down the total costs of the war on terrorism as $687 billion for Iraq, $184 billion for Afghanistan and $33 billion for homeland security. By 2018, depending on how many U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan and Iraq, the total cost is projected to likely be between $1.3 trillion and $1.7 trillion. On the safe assumption that the wars are being waged with borrowed money, interest payments raise the cost by an additional $600 billion through 2018.

Shortly before the Iraq war began, White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey earned a rebuke from within the Administration when he said the war could cost as much as $200 billion. “It’s not knowable what a war or conflict like that would cost,” Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld said. “You don’t know if it’s going to last two days or two weeks or two months. It certainly isn’t going to last two years.”

According to the CSBA study, the Administration has fudged the war’s true costs in two ways. Borrowing money to fund the wars is one way of conducting them on the cheap, at least in the short term. But just as pernicious has been the Administration’s novel way of budgeting for them. Previous wars were funded through the annual appropriations process, with emergency spending — which gets far less congressional scrutiny — used only for the initial stages of a conflict. But the Bush Administration relied on such supplemental appropriations to fund the wars until 2008, seven years after invading Afghanistan and five years after storming Iraq.

“For these wars, we have relied on supplemental appropriations for far longer than in the case of past conflicts,” says Steven Kosiak of the CSBA, one of Washington’s top defense-budget analysts. “Likewise, we have relied on borrowing to cover more of these costs than we have in earlier wars — which will likely increase the ultimate price we have to pay.” That refusal to spell out the full cost can lead to unwise spending increases elsewhere in the federal budget or unwarranted tax cuts. “A sound budgeting process forces policymakers to recognize the true costs of their policy choices,” Kosiak adds. “Not only did we not raise taxes, we cut taxes and significantly expanded spending.”

The bottom line: Bush’s projections of future defense spending “substantially understate” just how much money it will take to run Obama’s Pentagon, the CSBA says in its report. Luckily, Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to hang around to try to iron out the problem.

South America moves toward military integration

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UNASUR approves creation of S. American defense, health councils

Xinhua | Dec 17, 2008

SAUIPE COAST, Brazil, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) — The extraordinary summit of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) approved Tuesday the creation of South American councils of defense and health.

The creation of the South American Council of Defense was initiated by Brazil to integrate the armed forces of the region.

Unasur members have approved the initiation in closed-door meetings in Sauipe Coast, a beach resort in northeast Brazil, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told a press conference.

“The council aims to have a common vision of the region’s defense based on mutual trust and the emphasis is on cooperation, training and equipment issues,” Amorim said.

Regarding the creation of the South American Council of Health, Amorim said that it was proposed and ratified in a recent meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

The aim of the health council is to promote common sanitary policies for all the countries of South America, Amorim said.

UNASUR is composed of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The Fed’s Two Trillion Dollar Scam Makes Madoff Look Like A Piker

Information Liberation | Dec 26, 2008

by Vincent Gioia

As American taxpayers bear the burden of bankrolling multiple financial scams now and into the foreseeable future, the Federal Reserve has refused to disclose the names of recipients or details of assets put up as collateral on two trillion dollars of “emergency” loans given to address the “financial emergency” rushed through congress. The Federal Reserve Bank responded to Bloomberg by saying it’s allowed to withhold internal memos as well as other information requested by Bloomberg.

This display of arrogance of power is unprecedented. The government wants taxpayers to take its word for how it’s spending an enormous amount of money. How gullible does the Federal Reserve think the American people are; the answer, very gullible or they wouldn’t have gotten away with the scam.

What started as $700 billion has grown to $2 trillion. Total Federal Reserve lending exceeded $2 trillion for the first time November 6. It rose by 138 percent, or $1.23 trillion, in the 12 weeks since September 14, when central bank governors relaxed collateral standards to accept securities that weren’t rated AAA. House Financial Services Committee Representative David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, said Americans had “been bamboozled.” Congress may have been bamboozled but it is the American taxpayer who is left holding the bag because of congressional incompetence.

Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would provide transparency in the $700 billion bailout of the banking system; they also said the money would be used to buy up “toxic mortgages” but the rules changed immediately after Congress gave Bernanke total discretion to distribute the billions of dollars. So now all that Americans can do is complain. Americans have short memories so it is doubtful voters will remember this fiasco in the 2010 congressional elections.

The chances are that the so-called asset-back securities and other paper tied to leveraged buyouts are consumer debt and who knows what other kinds of garbage lies on the banks balance sheets. Yet the Federal Reserve still wants to protect the identities of the banks that are essentially continuing to thrive and expand by buying other banks with American taxpayers’ money. That’s outrageous.

“Notwithstanding calls for enhanced transparency, the Board must protect against the substantial, multiple harms that might result from disclosure,” Jennifer J. Johnson, the secretary for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, said in a letter e-mailed to Bloomberg News. “In its considered judgment and in view of current circumstances, it would be a dangerous step to release this otherwise confidential information,” she wrote.

Oh really? Maybe the people who provide the cash should get to be the judge of that. And in any case, who, exactly, will be endangered?

Dangerous – for whom? And what is the danger? You mean some fat cats might lose their jobs or their homes? Or some bankers might have to pay more dues for their country clubs?

Congress has put two trillion dollars, about 1/20 of world GDP, under the control of one man, with no checks and no accountability, and we don’t know where the money went, or to whom. What we do know is that there has been no visible improvement of the financial problems all this money was supposed to correct. What we can assume is that it’s going to the very same people who caused the problem; they will be the ones benefiting. Does this sound like Constitutional government to you? To me, it sounds like a financial dictatorship.

You think Madoff’s $50 billion fraud was something? He’s a piker compared to these guys.

The Federal Reserve responded to Bloomberg’s law suit by saying that there is a trade-secret exemption in the Freedom of Information Act that could be expanded to include potential harm to any of the central bank’s customers. But Bruce Johnson, a lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Seattle, said that expansion is not contained in the freedom-of- information law.

Furthermore, Trade secrets? A trade secret is something like the formula for Coca Cola. A trade secret is an unpatented business or technical process the release of which would harm the competitive position of the holder. I can’t imagine what sort of “trade secrets” might apply to the acquisition of bad debt from poorly managed financial institutions.

The Federal Reserve Bank is a “private” organization, and is NOT a U.S. government agency or entity. Remember how Congress approved about $700 billion but did not require oversight to actually give the money out? This is what happens when you have a for-profit institution that has absolutely ZERO congressional oversight or transparency requirements. And yet people still think the Federal Reserve Bank is a good idea.

The Democrats are in charge and Democrat representative Barney Frank is Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. In an interview November 6, Barney Frank said “The Fed’s disclosure is sufficient and the risk the central bank is taking on is appropriate in the current economic climate.” Barney Frank said he has discussed the program with Timothy F. Geithner, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “I talk to Geithner and he was pretty sure that they’re OK. If the risk is that the Fed takes a little bit of a haircut, well that’s regrettable.” – “Such losses would be acceptable if the program helps revive the economy.”

Barney Frank said the Fed shouldn’t reveal the assets it holds or how it values them because of the “delicacy with respect to pricing.” He said such disclosure would “give people clues to what your pricing is and what they might be able to sell us and what your estimates are.” He wouldn’t say why he thought that information would be problematic.

This is who we have “protecting the public interest.”

People seem to forget that those who run the United States government are nothing more than stewards and representatives for the American people. When the President and Congress spend money causing astronomical massive debt they ignore that it is not their personal debt but the collective debt of the American people which is now well over 12 TRILLION DOLLARS and counting.

The so called representatives of the American people in our government just gave out 2 trillion dollars to bailout failing and inefficient private corporations and yet are refusing to specify to the American taxpayers exactly WHO they gave all of our money to in these bailouts; Americans should not stand for it.

Vincent Gioia is a retired patent attorney living in Palm Desert, California

U.S. Military Preparing for Domestic Disturbances

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The Army College report states: “DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States.”

Newsmax | Dec 23, 2008

By: Jim Meyers

A new report from the U.S. Army War College discusses the use of American troops to quell civil unrest brought about by a worsening economic crisis.

The report from the War College’s Strategic Studies Institute warns that the U.S. military must prepare for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States” that could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.”

Entitled “Known Unknowns: Unconventional ‘Strategic Shocks’ in Defense Strategy Development,” the report was produced by Nathan Freier, a recently retired Army lieutenant colonel who is a professor at the college — the Army’s main training institute for prospective senior officers.

He writes: “To the extent events like this involve organized violence against local, state, and national authorities and exceed the capacity of the former two to restore public order and protect vulnerable populations, DoD [Department of Defense] would be required to fill the gap.”

Freier continues: “Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order … An American government and defense establishment lulled into complacency by a long-secure domestic order would be forced to rapidly divest some or most external security commitments in order to address rapidly expanding human insecurity at home.”

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned last week of riots and unrest in global markets if the ongoing financial crisis is not addressed and lower-income households are beset with credit constraints and rising unemployment, the Phoenix Business Journal reported.

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Rep. Brad Sherman of California disclosed that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson discussed a worst-case scenario as he pushed the Wall Street bailout in September, and said that scenario might even require a declaration of martial law.

The Army College report states: “DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States.

“Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance.”

He concludes this section of the report by observing: “DoD is already challenged by stabilization abroad. Imagine the challenges associated with doing so on a massive scale at home.”

As Newsmax reported earlier, the Defense Department has made plans to deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011 to help state and local officials respond to emergencies.

The 130-year-old Posse Comitatus Act restricts the military’s role in domestic law enforcement. But a 1994 Defense Department Directive allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic situations to save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property damage, according to the Business Journal.

And Gen. Tommy Franks, who led the U.S. military operations to liberate Iraq, said in a 2003 interview that if the U.S. is attacked with a weapon of mass destruction, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.

Related

Known Unknowns: Unconventional “Strategic Shocks” in Defense Strategy Development