Who's Attacking the Constitution? Citing the Threat of Terrorism, a Cabal of Influential Saboteurs Is Proposing Assorted Amendments That Would Destroy Our Constitutional Checks and Balances

Article excerpt

The Continuity of Government Commission (COG) has burst onto the scene with great fanfare. Virtually unknown a year ago, its reports and press conferences now command headlines and the rapt attention of major news networks. In record time, it has launched a movement to amend the U.S. Constitution, ostensibly to correct the document's shortcomings relative to the Age of Terrorism.

It helps, of course, that the commission boasts an impressive lineup. Its honorary co-chairs are former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Its co-chairs are former White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler and former Senator Alan Simpson. Other prominent COG members include former House Speakers Tom Foley and Newt Gingrich, Clinton Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, Reagan Chief of Staff Kenneth Duberstein, Clinton adviser and confidant Strobe Talbott, Bush Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin, Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, and NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.

The commission wields considerable clout that it is using to force-feed the American public what it claims are urgently needed remedies for the plague of terrorism. A close look at the COG proposals and the individuals and organizations behind them, however, shows that there is more cause to fear the offered cure than the potential illness. In short, the individuals leading the COG initiative and the groups backing the effort have been involved in a decades-long subversive campaign to overturn the Constitution. They are publicly on record in favor of striking down the Constitution's checks and balances and its separation of powers. Many of them have openly advocated transforming our republic into a parliamentary system similar to that of various European governments. Over the past two decades they have pushed hard for a constitutional convention (con-con) for the purpose of restructuring our government based on the parliamentary model, which would be more conducive to centralized control than our present constitutional system. Now, in this current "crisis," they are attempting to achieve piecemeal what they have failed to accomplish by their abortive con-con effort. Several pieces of legislation and several constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress to advance the COG agenda.

Subversive Pedigree

The pedigree of the Continuity of Government Commission leads back to similar groups launched in the 1980s to help effect the radical con-con revision of the Constitution. Chief among these was the Committee on the Constitutional System (CCS). A key individual in the efforts then and now is consummate Washington insider Lloyd N. Cutler, White House counselor to Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and senior partner in the high-powered Washington, D.C., law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering. In 2002, Cutler launched the COG, which he co-chairs along with Alan Simpson, former Republican Senator of Wyoming. Twenty years earlier, in 1982, Cutler helped launch the CCS, which he co-chaired with former Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon and Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan).

Like COG, membership in CCS comprised a glittering array of former senators and congressmen, members of the Cabinet and White House staff, journalists, lawyers, scholars, and business and financial leaders.

Cutler helped pave the way to the formation of the CCS with an essay, entitled "To Form a Government," that appeared in the Fall 1980 issue of Foreign Affairs, the flagship journal of the Council on Foreign Relations. "In parliamentary terms," Cutler's article argued, "one might say that under the U.S. Constitution it is not now feasible to 'form a Government.' The separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, whatever its merits in 1793, has become a structure that almost guarantees stalemate today."

Making it very clear that he favored changing our political system to a parliamentary form that joined the legislative and executive powers, Cutler advocated empowering the president "to dissolve Congress and call for new congressional elections. …