Mike Weisman on Mon, 14 Dec 1998 19:48:50 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Future headlines December 28

December 28 WASHINGTON, DC--

US President William Jefferson Clinton arrived early today in Brussels,
where he is at this time meeting with the NATO security chiefs to discuss
international intervention in the coup in the United States. According to
administration officials, the President, accompanied by Secretary of State
Madeline Albright, has asked the NATO allies to intervene in the coup and
restore democracy to the United States government. 

"The United States Government has never been threatening like this before.
Not by the Nazis, not by the British in 1812, not by the Civil War.  The
Government cannot say, at this time, that a democratic government exists
in the US,"  said a statement issued by the President. 

After the House of Representatives voted along party lines to issue a
charge of impeachment against the President, it became clear that the US
Senate would either dismiss the charges or acquit the President.
Unwillingly to give up their power in the Congress, conservative elements
of the Republican, including reportedly Speaker of the House Newt
Gingrich, declared the President and Vice President unfit for office, and
assumed control of the government. 

At approximately (:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, element of military units
commanded by officers loyal to Speaker Gingrich began to occupy government
offices around the Capitol, including the telephone, television, and
police buildings. These officers had apparently earlier been in contact
with the Speaker, expressing their disapproval of the President. They have
sent out a call for other units to join them. 

Defense Secretary William Cohen reports that the majority of military
commanders remain loyal to the President. Secretary Cohen, on behalf of
the President, has ordered elements of the 1st Division to occupy the
bridges over the Potomac, effectively cutting off the District of Columbia
from Virginia and Maryland. All residents of the District are asked to
remain indoors, and the Secretary has militarized the Metropolitan Police
and declared the District a military zone. 

French President Lionel Jospin was the first allied leader to speak in
support of the President. He stated that the European allies would "not
stand by and let the American experiment come to a close this way. We were
there in 1779, and we are with you again." European leaders have expressed
solidarity with the President, viewing the actions of Congress as
amounting to a coup d'etat by a disgruntled Republican minority unhappy
over the November election results. Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that
his government would support the President "in word and deed." 

The NATO military chiefs authorized troops to assist the government troops
in retaking the Capitol and restoring order. National Airport in
Washington, DC has been militarized and closed to commercial traffic.
According to reports from the city, large planes presumably carrying
troops and equipment, and bearing the marking of France, the U.K., Italy,
Spain, and Canada have been landing for some hours, although no foriegn
troops are yet reported deployed in the city. 

In statement issued by the European Union and the United Nations, the
actions of the coup plotters have been deplored. "The actions of the
Congress are nothing more than a coup d'etat dressed up in legal language,
and taken without the authority of the people of the United States. We
simply cannot sit by and allow democratic government in the United States
to disappear. The entire world deplores the actions of the Congress and
Speaker Gingrich. It is time to act before an even more dangerous
situation develops." said Secretary General Khofi Anan, speaking after a
meeting the Security Council in New York. 

At all military installations still under the control of the government,
forces have been put on alert. Military troops have also been deployed
through the South and Mountain states to occupy the property around bases
and missile sites, for fear that right wing sympathizers of the Speaker
would attempt to steal weapons or interfere with the strategic military
weapons. All naval vessels in port have taken up position off shore,
however, two ships commanded by Gingrich supporters remain in port at
Newport News, Virginia. It is not known whether these vessels are armed
with nuclear weapons. 

Sources in the Defense Department stated on deep background that the fear
of such an attempted takeover by mutinous troops had existed for some
time. Government officials thought the likelihood was low, and did not
take preventive steps before they were caught off guard when troops under
the command of the Speaker took up positions in bunkers around the

Speaker Gingrich took command of the Capitol at 7:00 PM, by ordering the
floor of the House cleared. Troops entered the building and began
occupying offices. Uncooperative members of Congress were arrested and
taken to holding areas in the basement of the building, according to some
staff members that were able to escape the building. There were no reports
of gunfire in the Capitol. 

The President will address the United States by short-wave radio, AM and
FM, Television, and web simulcast at 12 midnight, European Central
Standard Time. The content of the address is expected to be a dramatic
assertion of control over the government, and a declaration that arrest
warrants have been issued for Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, and other members
of Congress. The President is also expected to remind Americans that there
democracy is increasingly fragile, and to suggest steps for individuals to
takes over the coming days. The national media companies, which are head
quartered in New York, have indicated their support for the government and
are expected to play the President's message without problem. 
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