IMF warns of economic riots

Ariz. police say they are prepared as War College warns military must prep for unrest

[] A new report by the U.S. Army War College
talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used
should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests
against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks.

“Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the
defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend
basic domestic order and human security,” said the War College report.

The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order
are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action
within the U.S.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn
warned Wednesday of economy-related riots and unrest in various global
markets if the financial crisis is not addressed and lower-income
households are hurt by credit constraints and rising unemployment.

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman,
D-Calif., both said U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought up a
worst-case scenario as he pushed for the Wall Street bailout in
September. Paulson, former Goldman Sachs CEO, said that might even
require a declaration of martial law, the two noted.

State and local police in Arizona say they have broad plans to deal
with social unrest, including trouble resulting from economic distress.
The security and police agencies declined to give specifics, but said
they would employ existing and generalized emergency responses to civil
unrest that arises for any reason.

“The Phoenix Police Department is not expecting any civil unrest at
this time, but we always train to prepare for any civil unrest issue.
We have a Tactical Response Unit that trains continually and has
deployed on many occasions for any potential civil unrest issue,” said
Phoenix Police spokesman Andy Hill.

“We have well established plans in place for such civil unrest,” said Scottsdale Police spokesman Mark Clark.

Clark, Hill and other local police officials said the region did
plenty of planning and emergency management training for the Super Bowl
in February in Glendale.

“We’re prepared,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Deputy Chief Dave
Trombi citing his office’s past dealings with immigration marches and
major events.

Super Bowl security efforts included personnel and resources from
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. military’s Northern
Command, which coordinated with Arizona officials. The Northern Command
was created after 9/11 to have troops and Defense Department resources
ready to respond to security problems, terrorism and natural disasters.

Northern Command spokesman Michael Kucharek and Arizona Army
National Guard Major. Paul Aguirre said they are not aware of any new
planning for domestic situations related to the economy.

Nick Dranias, director of constitutional government at the
libertarian Goldwater Institute, said a declaration of marital law
would be an extraordinary event and give military control over civilian
authorities and institutions. Dranias said the Posse Comitatus Act
restricts the U.S. military’s role in domestic law enforcement. But he
points to a 1994 U.S. Defense Department Directive (DODD 3025) he says
allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic
situations to save lives, prevent suffering or mitigate great property

Dranias said such an emergency declaration could worsen the economic
situation and doubts extreme measures will been taken. “I don’t think
it’s likely. But it’s not impossible,” he said.

The economy is in recession. Consumer spending is down, foreclosures
are up and a host of businesses are laying off workers and struggling
with tight credit and the troubled housing and financial markets. The
U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and U.S. Treasury Department have pumped more
than $8.5 trillion into the economy via equity purchases of bank
stocks, liquidity infusions, Wall Street and bank bailouts and taxpayer
rebates. U.S. automakers are seeking more than $14 billion in federal
loans with fears they could fall into bankruptcy without a bailout. The
U.S. housing and subprime lending-induced recession also has hit
economies in Europe, Japan and China.

Gov. Janet Napolitano’s office declined comment on emergency
planning and possible civil unrest. Napolitano is president-elect
Barack Obama’s pick for secretary of Homeland Security, an agency that
oversees airport security, disaster response, border security, customs
and anti-terrorism efforts.

As governor, Napolitano sent National Guard troops to Palo Verde
Nuclear Generating Station in 2003 in response to terrorism threats.

Glendale Police spokesman Jim Toomey said the West Valley suburb
developed new emergency plans with the approach of Y2K computer
changeovers leading up to the year 2000 and police have updated those
plans several times including after 9/11. Toomey said strategies to
deal with public unrest usually involve deploying personnel and
equipment to deal with specific incidents while still providing usual