Today, somewhere in the DC metropolitan area, the military is conducting
a highly classified Granite Shadow "demonstration."
Granite Shadow is yet another new Top Secret and compartmented operation
related to the military’s extra-legal powers regarding weapons of mass
destruction. It allows for emergency military operations in the United States
without civilian supervision or control.
A spokesman at the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR)
confirmed the existence of Granite Shadow to me yesterday, but all he would
say is that Granite Shadow is the unclassified name for a classified plan.
That classified plan, I believe, after extensive research and after making
a couple of assumptions, is CONPLAN 0400, formally titled Counter-Proliferation
of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 0400 is a long-standing
contingency plan of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) that serves
as the umbrella for military efforts to counter the spread of weapons of mass
destruction. It has extensively been updated and revised since 9/11.
The CJCS plan lays out national policy and priorities for dealing with WMD
threats in peacetime and crisis -- from far away offensive strikes and special
operations against foreign WMD infrastructure and capabilities, to missile defenses
and "consequence management" at home if offensive efforts fail.
All of the military planning incorporates the technical capabilities of the
intelligence agencies and non-military organizations such as the national laboratories
of the Department of Energy. And finally, CONPLAN 0400 directs regional combatant
commanders to customize counter-proliferation plans for each of their own areas
When that "area of operations" is the United States, things become
That's where Granite Shadow comes in. U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the
military's new homeland security command, is preparing its draft version of
CONPLAN 0400 for military operations in the United States, and the resulting
Granite Shadow plan has been classified above Top Secret by adding a Special
Category (SPECAT) compartment restricting access.
The sensitivities, according to military sources, include deployment of "special
mission units" (the so-called Delta Force, SEAL teams, Rangers, and other
special units of Joint Special Operations Command) in Washington, DC and other
domestic hot spots. NORTHCOM has worked closely with U.S. Special Operations
Command (SOCOM), as well as the secret branches of non-military agencies and
departments to enforce "unity of command" over any post 9/11 efforts.
Further, Granite Shadow posits domestic military operations, including intelligence
collection and surveillance, unique rules of engagement regarding the use of
lethal force, the use of experimental non-lethal weapons, and federal and military
control of incident locations that are highly controversial and might border
on the illegal.
Granite Shadow is the twin to Power Geyser, a program I first revealed to The
New York Times in January. The JFHQ spokesman confirms that Granite Shadow and
Power Geyser are two different unclassified names for two different classified
In the case of Power Geyser, the classified plan is CJCS CONPLAN 0300, whose
entire title is classified. According the military documents, the unclassified
title is "Counter-Terrorism Special Operations Support to Civil Agencies
in the event of a domestic incident." It is another Top Secret/SPECAT plan
directing the same special mission units to provide weapons of mass destruction
recovery and "render safe" in either a terrorist incident or in the
case of a stolen (or lost) nuclear weapon. Render safe refers to the ability
of explosive ordnance disposal experts to isolate and disarm any type of biological,
chemical, nuclear or radiological weapon.
The obvious question is why there is a need for two plans. My guess is that
Power Geyser and CONPLAN 0300 refers to operations in support of a civil agency
"lead" (most likely the Attorney General for a WMD attack) while Granite
Shadow and CONPLAN 0400 lays out contingencies where the military is in the
lead. I'll wait to be corrected by someone in the know.
Both plans seem to live behind a veil of extraordinary secrecy because military
forces operating under them have already been given a series of ''special authorities''
by the President and the secretary of defense. These special authorities include,
presumably, military roles in civilian law enforcement and abrogation of State's
powers in a declared or perceived emergency.
In January, when The New York Times reported on the Power Geyser name from
my Code Names website, the Pentagon argued that "It would be irresponsible
… to comment on any classified program that may or may not exist."
I can't see how the Defense Department can continue this line of argument post-Katrina.
We see the human cost of a system of contingency planning done in complete secret,
with a lack of any debate as to what should be the federal government's priorities,
emphasis, and rules.
As the Granite Shadow commandos and their federal brethren go through their
paces today, some inside the system will lament that I have "compromised"
their work. But the very fact that nothing in my writing damages the Granite
Shadow effort should demonstrate that we can have a discussion of contingency
planning priorities in the United States, and debate extraordinary special authorities
granted to those in uniform, without compromising the details of the plans themselves.
There's still time. The full-scale exercise of Granite Shadow's capabilities
and procedures doesn’t start until April 2006.
A note to readers: Today begins a weekly feature of Early Warning, namely code
name of the week. This will endeavor to discuss some secret program of the government,
sometimes with an argument that the secrecy is excessive, sometime with far
more questions than answers.