I guess I ought to get some groceries

Red alert? Stay home, await word
Sunday, March 16, 2003
By TOM BALDWIN Gannett State Bureau TRENTON

If the nation escalates to "red alert," which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.

"This state is on top of it," said Sid Caspersen, New Jersey's director of the office of counter-terrorism.

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Caspersen, a former FBI agent, was briefing reporters, alongside Gov. James E. McGreevey, on Thursday, when for the first time he disclosed the realities of how a red alert would shut the state down.

A red alert would also tear away virtually all personal freedoms to move about and associate.

"Red means all noncritical functions cease," Caspersen said. "Noncritical would be almost all businesses, except health-related."

A red alert means there is a severe risk of terrorist attack, according to federal guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.

"The state will restrict transportation and access to critical locations," says the state's new brochure on dealing with terrorism.

"You must adhere to the restrictions announced by authorities and prepare to evacuate, if instructed. Stay alert for emergency messages."

Caspersen went further than the brochure. "The government agencies would run at a very low threshold," he said.

"The state police and the emergency management people would take control over the highways.

"You literally are staying home, is what happens, unless you are required to be out. No different than if you had a state of emergency with a snowstorm."

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22 Responses:

  1. rpkrajewski says:

    Boy, am I ever glad I have CABLE MODEM now !

  2. camwyn says:

    I'm torn. On the one hand, the cynical part of my mind is screaming about assumption of dictatorial powers based on a declaration of red alert that simply doesn't ever end.

    On the other hand, I find myself thinking of London basement lockdowns during the Blitz.

    I guess the question is, do I trust the government to ever take us off red alert status if they go there? And - I gotta be honest on this one - the fact that the government issuing this particular statement is the state government of New Jersey, rather than anything at a Federal level, means that it's a bit less likely to be a fascist ploy. New Jersey isn't exactly known for its world-dominating ambitions. We've got oil refineries and proximity to New York City and Philadelphia. That's about it in terms of strategic importance.

    • grahams says:

      Don't forget Picatinny Arsenal.

      • camwyn says:

        true. And probably the biggest natural reservoir of Lyme disease spirochetes on the Eastern seaboard, if the local screeching about deer ticks is to be believed.

      • kingfox says:

        Heh, yeah. Which I live right over the hill from, and drive past daily.

        • grahams says:

          I grew up in Hopatcong, so I know the area well....

          • kingfox says:

            So you might know <lj user="dougthekidd"> or <lj user="joehewitt">...

            • grahams says:

              As a matter of fact I went to high school with both of them, although they were a year or two behind me, I think....

              I don't remember if Doug was there, but I remember my senior year that Joe would join a big group of us in one particular teacher's classroom for some covert movie watching during that teacher's break period... I don't think any of us were TECHNICALLY supposed to be there.. :)

  3. greyhame says:

    ...you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home, the state's anti-terror czar says.


    No different than if you had a state of emergency with a snowstorm.

    In Jersey they shoot you for going outside in a snowstorm?

  4. cuuuuuuuuurfeeeeew!

    yeah. martial law rules. eagh. note to self, stock up cup o' noodles.

    • icis_machine says:

      did that this morning.

      i also got some spongebob squarepants mac n' cheese.

    • freiheit says:

      of course, I the US constitution doesn't have any provision for suspension of civil liberties like that...

      UK is where "martial law" actually exists. No such thing in the US.

      (IOW: I suspect that if they arrest you for walking on the sidewalk during a "red alert", you get to sue them.)

      As to your food supply: you just might want to stock up on means of eating without electricity... tortilla chips, sterno, something... Not relevant to the whole "red alert" thing, which is bullshit, but relevant to any real emergencies that might come up, like earthquakes.

      • all good points. probably the best thing that will come from all this hysteria, much like the "y2k bug," is preparedness.

      • You might want to research the term "clear and present danger", and not in reference to the film of the same name.

      • ivorjawa says:

        You might want to read up on the FEMA act.

      • joe714 says:

        We don't use the terms "Martial Law" in the Constitution or related documents, but we do have some expectation of emergency powers and suspension of civil rights in certain cases written in there, and I believe the Supreme Court would hold the intent of the framers was to allow a certain ammount of leeway for the authorities in extreme situations. I'm not sure a war half way around the globe would count though unless riots broke out. Certainly it's not much of a stretch to consider a massive terrorist attack on US soil an "Invasion" for the duration and the "public safety" requires people stay off the roads.

        US Constitution, Article I, Section 9, Clause 2:
        The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it

      • jwz says:

        My understanding of the War Powers Act is that it grants the President the ability to suspend the Constitution in times of war -- and times of "war" was later expanded to cover times of "national emergency." This is apparently the mechanism by which FDR took us off the gold standard and nationalized the banking system, in an attempt to fight the Great Depression.

        The "state of emergency" can only be ended by a presidential decree, and that has never happened: we've been in a "state of emergency" for decades. So technically, the president doesn't need congressional approval for anything, and technically (so they say), we don't have constitutional protections.

        "Technically." Even if true, the fact is that the courts seem to have been acknowleging the rule of the Constitution anyway, for the last 60+ years. ("De facto Constitution"?)

        I've seen arguments that that taking us off the gold standard amounted to an unconstitutional seizure, possible only because the War Power Act had given the gov't the ability to interpret anyone posessing gold as an Enemy of the State (or something along those lines.) And let's not forget that Lincoln went to war without bothering to consult Congress until afterward.

  5. jwz says:

    Oh, and can someone tell me when and where the protests are tonight? Because I don't want to get stuck in traffic on my way to or from Safeway.