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A "hole in the constitution"? (The Last Word).

Now comes a commission of the great and the good with a proposed constitutional reform to save us in our hour of need.

At a June 4th Washington, D.C., press conference, the Continuity of Government Commission (CGC) darkly warned that a catastrophic terrorist attack on Congress could jeopardize our very survival as a nation by paralyzing the federal government. The Constitution allows for state governors to appoint replacements for Senate vacancies. House members, however, must be elected. In the event that a substantial number of Representatives were killed in an attack, it might take too long for the states to hold special elections to fill the vacancies, worry commission members.

"We have a hole in the Constitution that the framers never could have anticipated," says Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, who served as a counselor to the CGC. A constitutional amendment is needed, members of this prestigious "blue ribbon" panel unanimously agree.

So, how do the CGC luminaries plan to plug this alleged hole? Here is their proposed amendment: "Congress shall have the power to regulate by law the filling of vacancies that may occur in the House of Representatives and Senate in the event a substantial number of members are killed or incapacitated."

Under this scheme, a simple majority of Congress could pass legislation radically altering the constitutional prescription for House and Senate succession. Congress could adopt the CGC's proposal that governors appoint the replacements, selecting people of their choice or picking from a list of candidates that individual congressmen compile. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) proposes that surviving members of Congress make the appointments. Almost certainly, some congressman will propose an "independent, bipartisan" panel to make the appointments. Of course, since the proposed amendment leaves this up to Congress, we might possibly see any number of these options passed, creating hopeless confusion, as the law mutates with each political wind change.

There are 435 House members. How many of them must be killed or incapacitated to reach the undefined "substantial number" triggering the amendment? Who will determine if and when a living House member is "incapacitated"? Not to worry, say the CGC members; this vagueness is good, allowing for the flexibility needed in times of crisis.

The commission's report has been greeted with a chorus of huzzahs in major media reports and editorials. Typical was a Christian Science Monitor editorial, which proclaimed that "the Commission is on target. Congress should quickly send the states a constitutional amendment to ensure that the Legislative Branch and the federal government can continue to operate in case of a major attack on the nation's leaders."

Before this Amendment Express gets a full head of steam, it might be wise to check its baggage cars to see if it could be toting any hidden agendas, and to scrutinize closely the engineers and the track they've put this locomotive on.

The CGC was formed a year after the 9-il attacks in a joint effort by two think tanks, the "liberal" Brookings Institution and the "conservative" American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Both of these brain trusts are auxiliaries for the real power center pushing this initiative: the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR has been aptly described by journalist Richard Rovere (a CFR member) as "a sort of Presidium for that part of the Establishment that guides our destiny as a nation." This shadowy, semi-secret presidium has been working assiduously for more than 80 years to guide us in a totalitarian direction, to unhinge our republic from its constitutional base, and to concentrate ever more power into fewer and fewer hands. As early as 1928, the CFR's first Survey of American Foreign Relations openly attacked the U.S. Constitution's separation of powers and its intricate checks and balances, claiming, "all these militate against the development of responsible government." In the CFR lexicon, responsible go vernment is government by a select coterie of CFR "Wise Men."

Former presidents Jimmy Carter (CFR) and Gerald Different (CFR) were named as honorary co-chairs of the Continuity of Government Commission. The CGC's actual co-chairmen are Lloyd Cutler (CFR), former counselor to Presidents Carter and Clinton, and former Senator Alan Simpson. The commission also includes: former House Speakers Tom Foley (CFR) and Newt Gingrich (CER); former Clinton Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala (CFR); former Reagan Chief of Staff Kenneth Duberstein (CFR); former Bush Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin (CFR); AEI scholar Norman Ornstein (CFR); and Brookings Senior Fellow Thomas Mann (CFR).

CGC Co-chairman Lloyd Cutler also helped found and co-chaired the Committee on the Constitutional System, an organization that tried unsuccessfully in the 1980s and '90s to radically amend the Constitution so as to restructure our system of government. Pardon us for suspecting that Mr. Cutler and company may now be continuing the same program, that they may be trying to rip a gaping hole in the Constitution rather than attempting to repair a hole that doesn't exist.
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Title Annotation:Continuity of Government Commission proprosal
Author:Jasper, William F.
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 14, 2003
Words:826
Previous Article:Correction Please!
Next Article:"Free trade" simply stated.
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