The Last President
This 1980 novel was exceptionally prescient in foreseeing the capitalist cabal's establishment of a military dictatorship in America through passage of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The novel dramatizes an American President committing the criminal act of establishing a military dictatorship in the United States. The story depicts what happens when tyranny becomes a way of life in America, when the democratic process is totally subverted. Men loyal to the President are placed in the top posts in all branches of the government and the military. Anyone who suspects or questions what is happening is killed or intimidated into silence.
| The message of the book is so important at this critical time in our nation's history that it ought to be required reading for all citizens, especially military officers attending war colleges.|
In the course of the novel, the American President makes a critical speech to the nation from the oval office.
"Good evening, my fellow Americans. I have much to talk to you about tonight. Some of my news is good and--I would not try to fool you--some is bad. . . .
"I have not spoken to you, the people, since I, in my capacity of Commander in Chief, ordered our Air Force to bomb the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.
"Now let me make one thing perfectly clear: I took this drastic step only after repeated and continuous violations of the peace accords by the leaders of North Vietnam, and after many diplomatic attempts to get them to honor those accords. But those enemies of the United States, both abroad and at home, must know as clearly, as our friends must know, that we will honor our commitments and that we will protect our friends.
"And let me say that the Hanoi government can stop these raids anytime they want to. They know our representative in Paris will talk to them at any time of the day or night. But until they make some effort to show good faith, we cannot abandon our allies in the South. I would not be able to sleep at nights if I knew that my name would be coupled to such an action. . . ."
"Which brings me to the final thing that I would like to talk to you about, and certainly the most serious.
"Although most of you out there, most citizens of this great country, support your government and your President in this important decision, there are those dissenters who do not. Individuals, many of them, unfortunately, young, and groups who have chosen to take the law into their own hands. Who have decided that the decision-making power in this country should rest not in the Executive Branch, but in the mob; not in the halls of Congress, but in the streets of Berkeley; not in the chamber of the Supreme Court, but in the barrel of a gun.
"And we cannot allow this.
"These groups, aided in many cases by money and training from abroad, are undermining the freedoms--the traditional freedoms--of this country. And they must be stopped. "
The scene cut away from the President and to a montage of shots of rioting on the Berkeley campus, of rioting and looting in downtown Chicago, of thousands of students milling around the White House in a peace demonstration.
Then the TV audience was shown empty streets in the aftermath of the riots: burned-out and gutted buildings, looted stores, close-up shots of the wounded and the dead.
Over all of this played an artistically created sound track of police sirens, explosions, gunshots, screams, moans, and an undercurrent of intense police radio chatter which blended into emergency-room professionalism. The film ran for two minutes and was designed to shock. Then it cut back to the President.
"What you have just seen, my friends, is newsreel footage of what has been going on in America over the past few weeks. The very fabric of our society is threatened by these acts of vandalism, of mob violence, of moral outrage. This has gone beyond dissent, my fellow Americans. This mob action, directed by forces from outside these United States, tears at the very vitals of everything we hold sacred.
. . .
"What we see here has a name. A name that the framers of our Constitution were well aware of when they drew up that great document. As great a threat to this country as any external enemy is the threat of internal sedition.
"When I became the Chief Executive of this great land I swore a mighty oath--an oath to protect this country, and its Constitution, from any enemies, both external and domestic. And I mean to do that. I will not be the first President to turn away from this great trust.
"Therefore, in my capacity as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, I have ordered the following steps be taken:
"Now some of you, who have not been near these centers of violence and disturbance during the past few weeks, may feel that these measures are excessive, that these dissenters can be handled by ordinary police measures. But it is my judgment that the time has come to take sterner measures to protect the decent, law-abiding majority of this country from fear, from crime, and from unreasoned acts of violence.
- "First: All those who have been actively disrupting the legal and legitimate activities of their fellow citizens, or who conduct such disruption in the future, are to be arrested and confined, subject to trial for sedition or--if their actions warrant--treason, under the authority of the Emergency Powers Act.
- "Second: Six of the internal confinement camps set up around the country under executive order by previous administrations are to be activated, so that such persons as are confined will not put a sudden burden upon the jails or prisons of any locality, and so that the individual's civil rights can be maintained until his trial.
- "Third: Two hundred special federal marshals are going to be sworn in immediately to expedite the arrest and confinement of these individuals.
- "Fourth: The foreign governments who have aided and abetted internal sedition in the United States either directly or indirectly are hereby put on notice that such activity will no longer be tolerated.
"I put all of those young people who think the way to dissent is to destroy, on notice; from now on, acts of internal sedition will not be tolerated.
"This country must be kept safe for its citizens to walk the public streets in safety and honor.
"I thank you."
The young man from the presidential Office of Emergency Preparedness stood quietly at the lectern and looked out at the assembled officers of Fort Ord. His face showed a studied vacancy behind the dark glasses as Brigadier General Ames, the post commandant, introduced him and then sat down. . . .
"Good afternoon," the young man said, taking off his dark wire-rims and placing them carefully on the lectern in front of him. "What I have to say to you this afternoon is top secret, and is to be treated as such." He paused to clear his throat. "As General Ames told you, I speak directly for your Commander in Chief, the President of the United States. . . ."
"At oh-one-hundred hours this morning the President's order initiating Garden Plot will be effectuated. This will formally initiate a limited application of martial law. Immediately, Army personnel-mostly military police--from five locations around the country will join
"What I tell you now must not leave this room until the orders are implemented. I hold each and every one of you separately and individually responsible for seeing that complete secrecy is maintained. . . ."
"As of oh-one-hundred hours tomorrow morning, Operation Garden Plot will be brought into effect. . . .
"As you know . . . since the President's speech of June twenty-second, implementing the detention of terrorists and rioters, only about four hundred persons have been arrested and detained nationwide. This despite the continued, even the increased incidence of destructive rioting and acts of terrorism throughout the country.
Meanwhile the administration has been biding its time, allowing the shrieking protests of the East Coast liberal press to die down, and preparing to act. The carefully planned implementation of Garden Plot is the first phase of that action.
"As some of you will know, Garden Plot is the Pentagon's standing contingency plan--formulated under President Lyndon Johnson's nineteen sixty-seven order-to suppress civil disorder in time of internal crisis." Clever, Ames thought, innocence by association.
federal marshals in rounding up some two thousand terrorists and dissidents and bringing them to the internal confinement camps which have been made ready to receive them.
Fortunately in this novel, an Army General by the name of Ames is one of those almost totally extinct military men: someone who remembers that his military oath is to uphold the U.S. Constitution and protect the people of the United States. General Ames doesn't believe the Army should be involved with arresting civilians and he objects to the obvious flouting of the chain of command in the President's implementation of the plan. General Ames believes the order should have come through the Pentagon, not from the President's Office of Emergency Preparedness.
"Fort Ord, as you have probably guessed, is one of the five military bases, and you officers will be participating in this action.
"Now I should stress that the names on the lists you will be given are all suspected or known dissidents or terrorists. The civil rights of those who are rounded up will be observed. They are not to be manhandled or mistreated in any way--unless, of course, they attempt to resist arrest or otherwise threaten or endanger the arresting troops. . . .
"A direct link . . . has been set up between your message center here and the Situation Room in the White House. As the operation continues you will be reporting directly to the Situation Room, and any changes or amendments to your orders will come directly from the President himself. . . .
"This is our chance to clean up America," he said. "To make it safe for democracy, for our children, and for our posterity. I know you won't let your President down. Thank you."
But Ames is a brigadier general at a California post who has been given a direct order from the President and doesn't have much time to consider it.
General Ames believes that Garden Plot will be as big a surprise to Army Chief of Staff Tank MacGregor as it would be to the dissenters who were scheduled to be rousted out of bed in the wee hours of the morning. So
Ames sends a message to the Army Chief of Staff.
Eleven o'clock the next morning Tank MacGregor, in answer to a presidential summons, appeared at the side gate to the White House and was immediately escorted to the West Wing. The President awaited him in the Oval Office, pacing the floor in front of his desk in short, furious steps. As MacGregor entered, the President retreated behind his desk and sat down, lacing his fingers together and breathing deeply.
MacGregor marched to the Presidents desk, came to a position of attention, saluted, then stood at ease. He wasn't going to let the President forget for one second who was the career soldier and who was the civilian-no matter what rank his political office gave him. Three rows of ribbons gleamed from the breast of General Tank MacGregor's dress-green jacket, topped by the ribbon for the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Three presidential advisers sat in leather-backed chairs at--for some reason--the far end of the long office. Sprawled across one chair, his long legs hooked over its low arms, was Uriah Vandermeer. Charles Ober was perched on the edge of another chair, his hands resting on the arms, elbows out, as though waiting for the order to stand. In a third chair, David Steward, the President's counsel, sat neatly, arms folded, back straight, head erect, staring straight ahead. The three of them were frozen in position, as though afraid to make any motion or sound that might distract the President's attention from the Army Chief of Staff standing in front of him.
"You sent for me, sir?" MacGregor said, calmly.
"You're goddamn right I sent for you," the President exploded. His face twitched as he tried to regain control of himself. His fingers unlaced and he made little chopping motions with his right hand that did not relate in any way to what he was saying. "General MacGregor," he said, his thin lips freezing in what might have been meant for a smile, "we seem to have been acting at cross purposes for the last few hours, you and I."
"Yes, sir," MacGregor said.
"You, ah, realize what I'm talking about then?"
"Why then, can you explain--is there any possible way in hell-would you please tell me what it is you think you've been doing?'
"Yes, sir," MacGregor said. "At oh-three-thirty hours this morning I sent a general order to every commandant of every Army base in the United States. That's Eastern Daylight Savings Time, sir, which would have made it, for example, zero-zero-thirty hours local time in California."
"Get on with it," the President said.
"Yes, sir. In my order I canceled Operation Garden Plot, and gave specific instructions that no orders emanating from the presidential Office of Emergency Preparedness, or through any other channel outside the normal chain of command, were to be obeyed, and that any such orders were to be immediately forwarded to my office."
"Yes, sir. I have a copy of the order here, if you'd like to examine--"
"No, thank you, General!" the President said, waving a teletype flimsy in his hand. "I have my own copy, thank you. I'm not totally without resources." He stared up through his heavy eyebrows at MacGregor. "You didn't think you could get away with this, did you?"
"That's a matter of interpretation, sir," MacGregor said.
Vandermeer sat up. 'How's that?' he said, sounding interested.
"It might seem to some of the interested parties in this, ah, misunderstanding," MacGregor said steadily, "that it was not the Pentagon that was trying to get away with anything, but the Executive Office of the President."
"Ah!" Vandermeer said, nodding his head judicially. "Good point."
"Are you trying to tell me," the President said, still making unrelated chopping gestures with his hands, "that there are more people involved in this conspiracy than yourself? That I have more disloyal high-ranking officers?"
"I will not have this, General MacGregor," the President said. "I will not tolerate disloyalty in any government official, whether he's in the Department of Agriculture or the United States Army."
"Is that all you're going to say, 'No, sir' and 'Yes, sir'?"
"Do you want me to comment, sir?"
"You're goddamn right I want you to comment. I want to know how the hell you found out about Garden Plot, and by what right you canceled a direct presidential order. Don't just stand there in your goddamn greens with your goddamn Medal of Honor and the goddamn knife-edge crease in your trousers and that goddamn smug, superior look on your face and smirk at me. Tell me what the goddamn bell you thought you were doing. And how many of your fellow goddamn West Point career boobs are in it with you. You know, you're not the only son of a bitch who was in the service. I was in the Navy during World War Two. On a destroyer escort. just like that son of a bitch Kennedy, but they made a movie about him. Expendable. I'd say the son of a bitch was expendable."
The President paused and looked up at MacGregor expectantly. MacGregor had no idea how to respond to the outburst, which had been mumbled in a low, almost expressionless monotone.
Charles Ober spoke up from his seat at the far end of the Oval Office. "Let me ask you a few specific questions, if I may, General MacGregor," he said. "Make sure we're all talking about the same thing."
The President glanced back and forth between Ober and MacGregor as though weighing the two of them on some mental balance beam, and then nodded. "Yes," he said, "good."
MacGregor turned a quarter turn, so he could face Ober without turning his back on the President. "Go ahead," he said.
"Please sit down, General," Ober said.
MacGregor folded himself into a green-leather chair by the side of the President's massive desk. "Right," he said. "What are your questions?"
The President leaned forward across the desk, his head shaking slightly from side to side. "I could fire you," he said. "You know I could fire you. For insubordination. I could probably have you court-martialed, when it comes to that." He looked up. "Isn't that right, David, couldn't I have him court-martialed?"
"Yes, sir, Mr. President," the President's counsel said quietly from his chair. "You could certainly do that, sir."
"So don't you think that I'm without authority in this matter," the President said. "I am the Commander in Chief."
"A couple of questions, General MacGregor," Ober said. "I don't want you to in any way think of this as an inquisitorial proceedings You can understand that the President feels that you have exceeded your authority and abused his trust in you. But you're not a schoolchild and we're not here to reprimand you. I'm sure you had a good reason or thought you had a good reason, for your actions. We'd like to know what that reason was. As you see, there's no stenographer present and no recording equipment being used. This is a private discussion, and will go no further."
"I understand that," MacGregor said. For all their outward calm, Ober's tapping foot and Vandermeer's eyes, darting from speaker to speaker behind his glasses, betrayed their inner turmoil. The President and his men were more nervous and upset about this confrontation than he was. They have entered unknown territory, he thought. There is unfamiliar handwriting on the wall and they want me to interpret it. MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. They are weighed in the balance and found wanting. He thought he knew what the problem was: They didn't know whether they were facing a private action by a stubborn Chief of Staff or a full-fledged revolt of the generals. They had attempted to use the military for what was essentially a civilian action by circumventing the chain of command, and the attempt had blown up in their faces.
Now they couldn't afford to get tough with him--give him a direct order to commence Garden Plot, or just fire him outright--until they had probed the extent of the damage. And he was just the man to keep them guessing. It would certainly cost him his job, but he had been reconciled to that since he sent last night's order. He didn't think they'd dare try to pull his stars and, what the bell, he was ready to retire anyway, and spend the rest of his life stomping around the country as Tank MacGregor the legend. Spend his time speaking before any group that would listen. Reminding them that in order to stay free--and keep this great country free--they'd better keep one eye on the military and both eyes on the politicians.
"Our first question is, how did you find out that Garden Plot had been activated?" Ober asked.
You're kidding! MacGregor thought. Aloud he said, "I received five separate messages."
"Five?" Vandermeer sat forward. "Five?"
"Yes, sir. I think you'll find it a common feeling among career officers that, ah, that the General Staff should have a good idea of everything that's going on in the Army."
"The second question," Vandermeer said, taking over the questioning, "is on what basis did you decide to countermand Garden Plot?"
"It was my decision," MacGregor said firmly. "Whatever advice I received from others, I made the decision and I alone am responsible for its consequences." That should keep them guessing.
"Vandermeer looked at Ober and shook his head slightly. Then he turned back to MacGregor. "Yes," he said, "but why? You must have had powerful reasons, strong enough to override, ah, personal considerations."
"MacGregor smiled. "What you mean is, I knew I was laying my job on the line, so why did I do it? Is that right?"
"Something like that," Vandermeer said.
"I am the President," the President said.
"We did not anticipate an action like this on your part," Vandermeer said. "Or, quite frankly, that it would be so effective. As far as we can tell, not one of our designated units has moved against its targets."
"I'll tell you why I did it," MacGregor said. "Operation Garden Plot, carried out at this time in this way, would have politicized the Army. Using the military against a defined group of civilians--American citizens--who were not at the time actively engaged in rioting or guerrilla warfare, whatever their intentions might be for the future, would be bringing the Army into activities that every commander since George Washington has done his best to keep it out of.
"It's an unacceptable precedent to use the Army against American civilians, either to round them up for arrest or to guard them in concentration camps."
"Internment camps," Ober corrected.
"Whatever. It's not my job to comment on police policies within the United States, whatever I may think of them. But it is my job, as I see it, to prevent the use of the military for such functions."
"Even to the point of disobeying your Commander in Chief?" Ober asked.
"Yes, sir. That precedent was established at Nuremberg in nineteen forty-six."
"Well," Vandermeer said. "You've clearly given the matter a lot of thought."
"That's right," MacGregor said.
"Vandermeer stood up and stretched, then shook his head as though clearing it. "Here are the options as I see them, sir," he said to the President. "We could fire General MacGregor here for disobeying a presidential order."
"I could court-martial him," the President said. He turned to stare at MacGregor. "I could court-martial you."
"That's certainly an option," Vandenneer said.
"What else?" Ober asked Vandermeer. "What other options?" There was a slight artificial quality to the question, and MacGregor realized that he was seeing how the President's top two advisers manipulated the President.
"We could ask General MacGregor under what conditions he'll permit his Commander in Chief to continue carrying out his function as Chief Executive Officer of this country."
"Nicely loaded, MacGregor thought, admiringly.
"Ober nodded. "Compromise is the art of good government," he said. "Of course he will have to resign."
MacGregor was not used to being discussed in the third person and he found it disconcerting. "I'm prepared to resign," he said. "Are you prepared to give me your assurance that the Army will be kept out of the concentration-camp business?"
"Internment camps," Ober said.
"You will resign for reasons of health?" Vandermeer asked.
"I'll retire," MacGregor said. "I've been in the Army long enough."
"I think we should accept that, sir," Vandermeer told the President.
"The President leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. When he opened them again his whole face had changed; the nervous tic gone, the anger lines disappeared. His lips creased into a genuine smile and his eyes lit up as though he were seeing MacGregor for the first time. "We made a mistake in judgment," he told MacGregor. "You won't hold that against us, will you?"
"No, sir," MacGregor said.
"You know," the President said, his voice firm and clear with no trace of the petulant anger in it, "all the men who have sat behind this desk have had great plans. There's not one of them--I"m sure of it--who didn't have a vision of what this country could become under his leadership.
"And we've all made mistakes and gone perhaps too far in pursuit of his goal or that goal or the other goal, but even the mediocre presidents have, on balance, helped this country more than they've hurt it. And the great presidents, the few truly great presidents, have brought this country through trying crises and made it richer, stronger, and greater than it was before."
"That's so, sir," Ober said.
"You know," the President told MacGregor, "General Eisenhower once said that he would rather have won the Congressional Medal of Honor than have been President of the United States. Out of respect for that, and out of respect for your fine--your outstanding--career as a soldier."
"He stood up. By reflex the other four men in the room stood with him.
"Good-bye, General MacGregor," the President said, extending his hand. "I'm glad we've had this little talk." He shook hands, three quick up-and-down motions, bending from the elbow. "I shall regret losing you, but your wish to retire shall certainly be honored. I'll make the announcement at my next press conference."
"Good-bye, sir," MacGregor said.
"I will speak to Congress about awarding you your fifth star upon retirement. You'll be one of America's few living five-star generals. Sweeten the pot."
"Yes, sir," MacGregor said. "Thank you, sir." He saluted and left the room.
"Son of a bitch!" the President said as the door closed. "I didn't dare fire him, the son of a bitch is too popular. Think he'll keep his mouth closed?"
"It's a good bet," Ober said, crossing the room.
"What"s the game plan?" the President asked. "We've had a foul called on us, lost a few yards, but it's still our ball."
"Vandermeer dropped into the chair that MacGregor had just vacated. "We run it through the line," he said. "Right down the middle."
"The President nodded. "Sounds good," he said. "Call the play."
"We"ll have to hire about a hundred more federal marshals," Vandermeer said.
"Recruit them from police forces, give them six weeks" quick training, then use them as a strike force. Another few hundred--call them deputy marshals--to start manning the camps until we can bring them up to strength."
"How long?" the President asked.
"Say two months."
"Go with that.""
In the novel, the result is that anyone branded a dissident or a terrorist is taken to one of eight internment camps. A total of 20,000 American citizens become political prisoners.
General MacGregor is asked to give the closing speech to the graduating class at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"But now off my hobby horse and on to cheerier topics. . . ."
"Someday, probably, one of you will stand up here, facing some future West Point graduating class, and you will give them the benefit of your thirty years' experience distilled down into half an hour, much as I am expected to give you. If the statistics hold in the future as they have in the past, when one among you faces this not-yet-born class of apple-cheeked second lieutenants, half of you will have died violent deaths. Most of you still living will have long since retired and gone into some field where you can keep regular hours and have a home that stays put for more than two years at a time.
"The service will turn some of you into drunks, some of you into drug addicts, some of you into martinets who abuse the power of your rank, some of you into toadies, some of you into politicians, and some few of you into soldiers.
"It is to these last few that I address my remarks.
"I want to tell you what none of your instructors or professors have told you in the four years you've been here, what none of your brother officers or commandants or DA civilians or congressional committees or reserve or retired officer groups or secretaries of the Army, or of defense, or presidents of the United States, will tell you during the twenty-plus years you spend on active duty. I want to tell you what you're doing here. And I want you to remember it all the days you wear the uniform of the United States Army.
"You are here with that stripe around your sleeve and those little gold bars on your shoulders to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
"Oh, that," you say, leaning back in those uncomfortable chairs, "I"ve heard that before. That's nothing new."
"But now let me tell you what these words mean. They mean that outside of the chain of command, as the final arbiter of every order that is issued to you and of your every official act, is a two-hundred-year-old piece of parchment. And every time you receive or give an order, or contemplate a course of action, you have to ask yourself, 'Is there anything in the Constitution that would affect what I am going to do?'"
"You cannot be relieved of this responsibility by any commanding officer. Indeed, it may happen that the desires--or even the direct orders--of your commanding officer may come into conflict with what you believe the Constitution tells you to do. You may be court-martialed and dismissed in disgrace, or even imprisoned, by your brother officers, who honestly believe that they are right and you are wrong. And it is easier to stand up to the fire of the enemy than to the scorn of your brother officers.
"But these are times when your belief in and adherence to the principles of that great experiment known as the Constitution of the United States may be tried early and often. Hopefully, these times shall pass, and peace and accord shall again prevail in this great nation of ours--but only if honorable men like yourselves see to it, at whatever the cost, that it does.
The criminal American President continues and a Special to The New York Times reads:
"WASHINGTON, Oct. 4-In a televised press conference today the President announced that he has sent to Congress an executive order announcing the suspension of the upcoming presidential elections and asking for a vote of confidence from both houses for this action.
. . .
"Both political parties must have time to bind their wounds and bury their dead," the President said, referring to the atomic missile that was fired on the Senate last Thursday, claiming the lives of Vice-President Arthur Arnold and Senator Kevin Ryan, the presidential nominees of the two major parties.
"New nominating conventions must be held and new candidates picked. But before this happens, the reign of terror must be ended. Terror will never rule this country," the President vowed.
"Among victims positively identified, in addition to Senator Ryan and Vice-President Arnold, is Katherine Vandermeer, 21 year-old daughter of the President's domestic policy chief, who was working as a public-relations aide to Senator Jensen. The death toll now stands at 213."
The novel ends as the President and his accomplices work to get all the states to pass the repeal of the Twenty-second Amendment to allow him to remain in the office of the President for more than two terms. The dictatorship has begun.
We must make sure that military dictatorship is stamped out in America, no matter how much the cabal and its Obama administration would like to continue its trampling of constitutional rights. We must make sure that torture, false imprisonment, and abrogation of American citizens' right to a fair trial are not allowed to continue under the cabal. And we must remember that as American citizens we are responsible for what goes on in this country--that we can be held liable if we allow a fascist regime such as Nazi Germany to be foisted on our nation.