Bringing the War Home

by Ron Ridenhour with Arthur Lubow
From New Times, 28 November 1975, Vol.5, No.11, pp. 18, 20-24.
The Pentagon is training police and guardsmen to help the army crush any revolt in the streets of America. It's part of a detailed secret plan that could end up crushing our liberties.

BACKGROUND NOTE FROM PIR: New Times magazine was founded and published out of New York from 1973-1979 by George A. Hirsch, a Princeton-Harvard man who got his start in journalism at Time-Life International. Hirsch also published New York magazine and The Runner.

New Times held its own during that brief window of serious journalism in America between Watergate and the Reagan years. At this time there were several Congressional committees investigating CIA misdeeds, revelations of political spying against 1960s activists by the police, military, and FBI, the final collapse of our Vietnam adventure, and a new JFK assassination investigation. All this was standard fare in the glossy pages of the biweekly New Times.

Ron Ridenhour died of an apparent heart attack on May 10, 1998 at the age of 52. A Vietnam draftee who in 1969 first disclosed the My Lai massacre of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. soldiers, Ron grew up in Phoenix, but in recent years lived in Louisiana. In 1988 he won a Polk Award for journalism for an investigation of a New Orleans tax scandal.

Santa Luisa is burning. The power stations have been bombed. The local armories are in flames and the ammunition stocks have been destroyed. The riots began a day ago, after a policeman shot an antiwar demonstrator, and now thousands of people are milling in the streets, blocking off traffic, breaking plate glass windows, ambushing police cars. Sirens scream in the night as revolving red beacons spasmodically illuminate the glass-strewn streets. It looks like war in Santa Luisa, and the small college town is not unique: Riots are pulsating up and down California, spreading through several of the large Eastern and Midwestern states. Years of antiwar rhetoric reverberate in an ominous new note. The war has come home.

For it is a war: There is another side. As soon as the demonstrator is shot, before the first hint of public reaction, police forces have begun whirring up. They have checked their computerized lists of local radical troublemakers. They have telephoned to make sure that National Guard and Military Police forces are standing by. When the violence ignites they are ready -- detaining local radicals, mobilizing searchlight-equipped observation helicopters, coordinating U.S. Army troops with the National Guard, rolling armored tanks through the city, evacuating civilians. In four days, they have blitzed through the town, shredded the radical movement, established a curfew and imposed martial rule. After four days of war, Santa Luisa is quiet.

Close observers of the antiwar movement will be surprised that they have never heard of the Santa Luisa riots. But that's not surprising at all: There never were any riots in Santa Luisa. In fact, there never was a Santa Luisa. It is just a nightmare -- a fictional creation of the Pentagon, the Justice Department and local police departments. It is their imaginative scenario of the revolution they thought would blossom from the race riots and antiwar protests of the late Sixties and early Seventies. As fiction, it would be merely an historical curiosity, except for one thing -- it was the spawning ground of another nightmare, this one fact, not fiction. The Santa Luisa scenario is a game plan used by an elaborate and insidious structure that has developed over the last seven years, an intermeshing of Army, National Guard and local police forces, led by the most right-wing public officials and military men, designed to decimate leftist dissent but capable of crushing anything.

Four years ago Senator Sam Ervin's Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights revealed that Military Intelligence had established an intricate surveillance system covering hundreds of thousands of American citizens. Committee staff members had seen a master plan -- Garden Plot -- that gave an eagle-eye view of the Army - National Guard - police strategy. But they weren't eagles, and the plan was too general to seem alarming. "We could never find any kind of unifying purpose behind it all," Britt Snider, who was then the subcommittee's main man on military intelligence, told a reporter four months ago. "It looked like an aimless kind of thing." The subcommittee issued a report condemning the Pentagon's monitoring of the "peaceful activities of non-violent citizens" whose only offense was "to stand on their hind legs and exercise the rights they thought the Constitution guaranteed." The subcommittee had seen the tail of the monster and they proclaimed it monstrous.

The subcommittee's problem was that although they had a copy of the Garden Plot master plan, they lacked any of the more detailed subplans. An investigation sponsored by New Times has now uncovered one of those subplans -- code name Cable Splicer, covering California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona, under the command of the Sixth Army. It is a plan that outlines extraordinary military procedures to stamp out unrest in this country. Developed in a series of California meetings from 1968 to 1972, Cable Splicer is a war plan that has adapted for domestic use procedures used by the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Although many facts still remain hazy behind Pentagon smoke screens, Cable Splicer, laid out in six loose-leaf binders holding several thousand pages of documents, reveals the shape of the monster that the Ervin committee was tracking down.

The story begins a decade ago. In 1965 Watts exploded in riots and, across the Pacific, Marines landed in South Vietnam. It was the opening of a long season of racial unrest and political turmoil. Four major ghettos suffered riots that year, leaving 36 dead and more than a thousand injured. The next year was checkered with 21 major riots and civil disorders fueled by racial issues, economic grievances and the Vietnam war. Seven times the National Guard was called in to restore order. In 1967 there were 83 incidents, 25 of which required the Guard. A third of the 83 were marked by sniping, over half of the 83 by looting.

The turning point was Detroit. The Detroit riots of 1967 were the most destructive civil disturbances of the decade. Forty-three died, several hundred were wounded and over 5,000 were left homeless. President Johnson sent trouble-shooter Cyrus Vance -- later the American representative to the Paris Peace Talks -- as his personal observer to Detroit. After the riot, Johnson appointed a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. A week later, Harold K. Johnson, Chief of Staff of the Army, set up another task force to study "every aspect of the Army's role in civil disturbances." The Army task force assisted the Kerner Commission. It also issued its own report in early 1968. Acting on the report's recommendations, the Pentagon took a five-pronged approach to solving the civil disturbance problem:

The Army task force's transformation into the Directorate occurred during the massive rioting that broke out in black ghettos of 19 cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968. The Directorate's headquarters was in the Pentagon's basement, known as "the domestic war room." Surrounded by acetate map overlays, a fulltime staff of 180, including around-the-clock "watch teams," used teletype machines, telephones and radios to keep in constant communication with every state National Guard headquarters and all major military installations in the continental United States. Seven Army infantry brigades totaling 21,000 troops were available for riot duty. And a huge, sophisticated computer center kept track of all public outbursts of political dissent, thereby furnishing the first of the Army task force's prescribed remedies: intelligence.

Senator Ervin's Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights discovered the computer in 1971, a full year after beginning its admirable investigation of the massive domestic operations of Military Intelligence. "At no time," its staff report states, "during the first year of the Subcommittee's investigation did either the

The conservative congressman thumbed through the Cable Splicer documents: "Well, I'll be damned! This is what I call subversive."

Army or the Department of Defense admit that a computer on civilian political activity existed within the Pentagon's domestic war room." The subcommittee discovered computerized files on 18,000 of the celebrated and the obscure, on people such as Senator George McGovern and former Massachusetts Gov. Francis Sargent down to ordinary citizens who had, sometimes unknowingly, become "associated with known militant groups."

How does the Pentagon define "militant groups"? Documents from their war games sessions provide some idea. At the Cable Splicer III After Action Conference, held in California in May 1970, Los Angeles Police Department Captain Don Miller observed that militant groups are easy to identify since they "are normally organized according to political beliefs and/or ethnic backgrounds." Generalizations are accurate, noted Lynn "Buck" Compton, the Los Angeles prosecutor of Sirhan Sirhan, because there's "really very little difference between the Sirhans, the [Jerry] Rubins, the [Bobby] Seales, the [Abbie] Hoffmans, and the people of that stripe in that all resort to physical violence to achieve political goals." In a "revolutionary criminology" lecture listing activities that "require police action," Los Angeles Police Department Inspector John A. McAllister mentioned "loud, boisterous or obscene" behavior on beaches, "love-in type gatherings in parks where in large numbers they freak out," disruptions of "legitimate activities by gangs of noisy and sometimes violent dissidents," peace marches, rock festivals (where "violence is commonplace and sex is unrestrained") and "campus disruptions -- which in fact are nothing more than mini-revolutions." The guests at the Cable Splicer conference listened and learned.

Cable Splicer I was conducted in California in May 1968, barely a month after the Army task group became the Directorate. Held at the California National Guard's training academy at the San Luis Obispo Camp, the conference was attended by 307 law enforcement and military officials from all over the state. It was designed as a workshop seminar on civil disturbance control and as a prelude to Cable Splicer II.

Cable Splicer II was a bigger affair. It began on February 10, 1969, with the Governor's Orientation Conference, the kickoff for a series of joint military-police training sessions across the state of California. Before an audience of 500 -- including generals from the Pentagon, the Sixth Army and the National Guard, dozens of lesser officers, police chiefs and sheriffs from as far east as Washington, D.C., California state legislators, a dozen Military Intelligence officers and executives from telephone, utility and defense-contract companies -- Governor Ronald Reagan took the microphone. It was a week after he had promised to keep California's universities open at the point of a bayonet, if necessary. "You know," he began, "there are people in the state who, if they could see this gathering right now and my presence here, would decide that their worst fears and convictions had been realized -- I was planning a military takeover."

The Cable Splicer II war games, which were played a month later, would only have reinforced those fears and convictions. The games were organized around 23 existing political jurisdictions, usually at the city, county or regional level, across California. On the scheduled morning, the controllers, players, monitors and observers gathered in the emergency operations center," usually the radio room of the county sheriff or of the largest participating police department. In some cases, a National Guard armory was used. Among the participants were senior National Guard officers and their Army advisers, senior police and sheriff's officers and telephone and utility company executives. The soldiers always wore civilian clothing and took all precautions to disguise the military's cooperation with the police.

By the time the participants gathered in the emergency operations center, anywhere from six weeks to six months of preparation had already been invested in the game. Initial orders had been transmitted from the Army command to the state National Guard headquarters, where, with the help of Army advisers, the scenarios were drafted. On every level, in every way, military men worked closely with police officers. In California the Guard prepared two special intelligence documents, titled "Special Intelligence Summary" and "Organizations and Personalities." Although their content is unknown, apparently they supply intelligence data on California citizens and political organizations. Asked if that were true, Lt. Col. Frank Salcedo, public information officer for the California Guard and a Cable Splicer planner since 1969, answered rhetorically: "Well, how else could you do it?" Copies of both documents were sent to Cable Splicer planners to help them create realistic skirmishes. On their end, local policemen prepared their own special intelligence summaries featuring the "best described dissident activity" for their community, targeting either racial, student or labor unrest. Finally, over 1,200 preplanned intelligence reports on supposedly imaginary events, people and organizations, carefully pasted to IBM cards, were provided to help generate the make-believe war.

With everything ready, it's time to begin. The clock reads 0800 hours. The players listen to a special intelligence summary, learning the background of the civil disturbance that has led up to the current "emergency." At that point, the "controllers" -- usually the senior National Guard officers and their Army advisers -- begin play, feeding the IBM-card preplanned intelligence reports of dissident activity to the players. Seated at rows of desks dotted with telephones, facing a "situation map" of their community, the players respond to the unfolding scenario. They are the thin blue line standing between order and anarchy.

The situation escalates. In Phase I of the scenario possessed by New Times, an arrest and shooting provoke crowd unrest and threats against public officials. Fourteen hours later (not real time: he riot unfolds like a time-phased movie of a chicken hatching) a major incident" occurs -- a police car is ambushed and an officer is wounded, a minority group member is killed and two others are injured. This is followed by "minority group charges [that] police planned [the] shooting incident" and "threats of retaliation." A day passes. Intelligence reports indicate "probable widespread activity momentarily." Apparently the reports are accurate, for Phase I ends with the arrival of a "chartered flight" carrying "70 persons" -- apparently radicals -- who are picked up at the airport by friends in 20 separate automobiles.

Phase II begins two hours later with the ambush of several police cars, the attempted assassination of the mayor, the bombing of local armories, the destruction of vehicles and ammunition stocks and the gathering of thousands of people in the streets. County and state police and police from other cities are called in. Previous intelligence reports have proved prophetic, but within the next few hours "two distinct and conflicting intelligence reports develop." The players decide that the first, which indicates "widespread support for general insurrection, is unreliable and invalid." They rely on the second one, which identifies "limited but violent activity planned and executed by a relatively few individuals with virtually no popular support. There are soon reports of "scattered incidents of guerrilla activity."

As Phase III opens, intelligence reports pouring into the Emergency Operations Center disclose more fire-bombings, attempted assassinations of public officials, hoarding of water in certain areas and sniping at fire trucks. The streets remain filled with thousands of people, and the National Guard is called to active duty. Intelligence notes that the "crowds [are] not violent yet and should be dispersed before becoming sympathetic to guerrillas." But the police and National Guard aren't quick enough. Reports soon come in of window-mashing and looting. The crowds are now violent, and as Phase III ends the Guard is unable to deal with the riots.

What happens next is unclear. The scenario possessed by New Times says only, "It is now 96 hours later," followed by these cryptic entries: "Situation well under control. No major incidents last 24 hours. Intelligence: remaining loose militants cannot get support for further violence."

How has order been restored? We can only guess. It is known that during this period the U.S Army is called in to bail out the National Guard. At their disposal, according to the game plan, there are heavy artillery, armor, chemical and psychological warfare teams and tactical air support. "Complete coverage day and night" is offered by observation helicopters coordinated with ground patrols. To impress the populace, armored vehicles and "saturation of areas with police and military patrols" are two recommended tactics, Cable Splicer players are instructed to "evacuate civilians to preclude their interference with operation and/or to insure their safety." They are also coached in techniques of emergency relief supply, temporary shelters "for civilians whose homes have been destroyed," collection of privately owned weapons and other techniques useful for the rule of war-torn provinces.

Do the police detain radical leaders, leaving only some "remaining loose militants"? How do they extract the militants from the thousands of less committed supporters? At last the Military Intelligence domestic surveillance program begins to make some sense. In the winter of 1967-8, as Garden Plot and subplans such as Cable Splicer were developed, Military Intelligence sent domestic operatives countrywide to organize political intelligence units, compiling data eventually stored in the Pentagon domestic war room computer. Was that information the basis for the "hypothetical" war games? In the exercise directive's "security guidance" paragraph is the following order: "Names of real militant or dissident organizations will not be used. For development of problem play, fictitious names will be used." Are the directors of this secret military project worried about slander lawsuits? Or are they simply notifying local forces not to draw on the police or military intelligence lists of "real militant or dissident organizations?"

There are other questions surrounding these mysterious 96 hours. How can such military sweeps be justified legally short of a declaration of martial law? Cable Splicer scenarios provide for "an orderly progression from state to federal control." Perhaps it is not accidental that "martial rule" is the first subject discussed in a special training course on "Legal Aspects of Managing Civil Disorders" that is taught at the California National Guard's training academy. An off-shoot of one of the five prongs in the Army task force's original report on civil disorder, this course for senior officers fits with Cable Splicer.

The Senior Officers Civil Disturbance Course (SEADOC) was established at the Military Police Academy at Fort Gordon, Georgia (recently transferred to Fort McClellan, Alabama), to train high military and civil officers. Using identical language, the After Action reports for both Cable Splicer II and the later Cable Splicer III call for the creation of another school, offering a "long range training program" to provide "exchange of law enforcement officers and military officers" with the goal of establishing "a nucleus of officers (both law enforcement and military) at every level of government who were conversant with the doctrine, tactics, of each other." Their prayer was answered by the creation in May 1971 of the California Specialized Training Institute.

The Civil Emergency Management Course Manual at the San Luis Obispo school is a virtual handbook for the counterrevolution. Examining the motives behind "revolutionary activity," the manual author finds the causes legitimate, the frustration often well-justified, the "revolutionaries" basically sincere. That is exactly why the threat is so dangerous. The manual and the course describe how that threat should be met. The methods? Press manipulation, computerized radical spotting, logistical support from other agencies, martial rule. Three days of preparation lead up to a day-long game, Cable Splicer-style, based on a hypothetical riot in the mythical town of Santa Luisa. After seven hours of war, there is a critique and another work session. A last day is highlighted by discussions of "reduced lethality weapons" and student movement infiltrators.

Between September 1971 and May 1975, 4,063 officials of the National Guard, the Army, local police forces, fire services, city government, courts, legislatures, utilities, prisons and private corporations attended this course in San Luis Obispo. They are the "nucleus of officers ... at every level of government" called for in the Cable Splicer II and the Cable Splicer III After Action reports. They came from nearly every state west of the Mississippi and some east. Other officials, mostly from the East, take a very similar course given by SEADOC in Fort Gordon. And the teaching continues. Last September was the beginning of a new academic year in San Luis Obispo, the start of the first of 17 one-week Civil Emergency Management courses.

The San Luis Obispo school teaches soldiers as well as commanders. The most well-known alumni of this and similar programs are the law officers who systematically slaughtered the Symbionese Liberation Army cohorts of Patricia Hearst. That televised massacre occurred only six months after the November 1973 graduation of the first 40 students at the San Luis Obispo special weapons and tactics (SWAT) program. SWAT teams are the Green Berets of the ghettos. "If you know about LURP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol teams, the 'regular' Army version of the Green Berets]," says Commandant Louis O. Giuffrida, "then you know what SWAT is, adapted of course to domestic needs in an urban setting." Like LURP teams, SWAT teams consist of five men, including a sniper, a shotgun man, an automatic weapons man, a scout and a team leader. One California police official, begging anonymity, called them "the outlaws of the police." They are urban guerrillas. At San Luis Obispo, the name SWAT, with its unpleasant connotations, has been replaced by the more antiseptic SERT (Special Emergency Reaction Teams). SERT officers are the triggermen, the enforcers, for their higher-level colleagues who study at the same academy. They are taught not only how to act on the streets but how to defend their actions in a courtroom. For instance, SERT trainees are read two examples of testimony by a police officer who has choked a prisoner. The first explanation makes the act defensible, the other leaves the officer culpable.

It is not publicly known how many SWAT men have been trained since the various Garden Plot subplans created a pressing need for them. Over 1,400, including campus and utility company security police, have been instructed at the San Luis Obispo academy since November 1973. Another 15 or more classes of at least 50 students each are scheduled for the current academic year. In addition, the FBI has coached officers from at least 450 police departments across the country. In Los Angeles County alone, criminal justice authorities plan to train 10,000 police in a variation of SWAT (Disturbance and Riot Training) by 1977.

The Pentagon and California State officials all deny any connection between SEADOC in Fort Gordon, Georgia, and the San Luis Obispo academy. The facts contradict them. At the Cable Splicer III After Action conference, talking not to the hostile press but to a sympathetic audience, Col. Anthony L. Palumbo promised that the forthcoming California academy at San Luis Obispo would "duplicate" Fort Gordon's SEADOC facility. That was in late spring 1970. A year later, the staff of the California Specialized Training Institute at San Luis Obispo had assembled under Commandant Louis O. Giuffrida, a 30-year Army veteran who retired as a full colonel in the Military Police Academy at Fort Gordon to take his new job. Robert L. Wyngard, a SEADOC instructor, accompanied Giuffrida to San Luis Obispo as the director of instruction. No wonder the courses at the two academies are so similar. Another explanation for the similarity is their shared source of funding: The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration bankrolled SEADOC's expansion in May 1971 and planted a $425,000 seed in San Luis Obispo.

Thumbing through the pages of Cable Splicer last summer, Congressman Clair Burgener (R-Calif.) shakes his head in disbelief. Burgener is a staunch conservative who attended Governor Reagan's Cable Splicer II kickoff conference over six years earlier. He has never heard of Cable Splicer. "I've read Seven Days in May and all those scare books, and...." He hesitates, searching for words. "And they're scary!" He never knew that the brief public relations luncheon he barely remembers was connected to a series of military-police war games. "If this was going on in this spirit," he says, "they were certainly pulling the wool over the eyes of the invited guests." He reads for half an hour and then leans back in his chair. "Well, I'll be damned!" he exclaims. "This is what I call subversive."

In the office of the Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, chaired by Senator John Tunney since Ervin's retirement last year, chief counsel Doug Lee devotes over four hours to the three big loose-leaf binders. First he chuckles occasionally, and then his chuckles turn to giggles of amazement. "Incredible," he mutters again and again. "Unbelievable." Giggle. "These guys are crazy!" Giggle. "We're the enemy! This is civil war they're talking about here. Half the country has been designated as the enemy." And in another Senate office, Britt Snider, who worked for Ervin on Military Intelligence and is now with Senator Frank Church's Select Committee on Intelligence, thumbs through the papers and observes, "If there ever was a model for a takeover, this is it."

It is hardly remarkable that government officials developed methods of dealing with the disorders that rocked the nation for almost a decade. What is shocking is the secrecy of the program, the deliberate and continuing cover-up, the disregard of the careful restraints on the military that are fundamental to democratic society, and the rabidly reactionary quality of the organization's leader. "We are in a revolution," California Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles O'Brien told his Cable Splicer III audience in May 1970. "Here in this room today," chipped in prosecutor Buck Compton, "we have at least a nucleus of people who should be able to, in some measure, contribute to the counter-revolution." In his opening address, Glenn C. Ames, Commanding General of the California National Guard, told the throng, "The avowed mission of these anarchists and revolutionaries is to bring America to its knees, to destroy our present system of government, to defeat 'the establishment' at every turn, and to replace this with absolutely nothing but irresponsibility, a drug culture, and permissiveness." The "one thing" everyone in the room had in common, declared John A. McAllister of the L.A. police, to the crowd of military officers, policemen, civilian officials and business executives, "is that we recognize that the nation is involved in a revolution."

Documents for Cable Splicer continue only through the sixth and apparently final session on December 16, 1972, and Cable Splicer covers only four Western states. But Brig. Gen. J. L. Jelinek, senior Army officer in the Pentagon's National Guard Bureau, said last July that he knows of "no state that didn't have some form of this [civil disturbance control] exercise within the last year" under different code names. Although the Army claims to have de-emphasized the program recently, there is strong evidence that they have merely decentralized it. Every National Guard headquarters now has an Emergency Operations Center, says Colonel Zane Kortum, recently retired deputy director of the Pentagon Directorate. Each EOC boasts a full-time staff using multiple lines of communication to the Pentagon's domestic war room, with access to the computerized intelligence systems. The Army told Senator Ervin that it destroyed those records, but now, apparently contradicting Einstein's law of the conservation of matter, these intelligence files have recently been discovered in the Pentagon's cavernous underground computer facilities at Mount Weather, W.Va.

The Cable Splicer III conference met just three weeks after National Guard troops shot and killed students at Kent State and Jackson State. A year later, other law enforcement officials staged mass sweeping arrests at the Mayday demonstrations in Washington, arrests that have recently been declared illegal. How are these and scores of other police actions related to Garden Plot and subplans like Cable Splicer? Congressional investigators are looking into it. Another unanswered question is the extent of White House involvement.

Bob Brower, a staff assistant to Congressman Ron Dellums, believes that some acts contemplated under Garden Plot scenarios may be violations of the law. The program's greatest danger, Brower says. is that it creates "a mechanism that could easily be used to abridge civilian, or at least democratic, control of the government."

The generals and their cohorts talk a great deal about constitutionality, but their version of the Constitution does not seem to include the Bill of Rights. At the Cable Splicer II conference, Chief Deputy Attorney General Charles O'Brien attacks the First Amendment repeatedly, arguing at one point that if the Constitution prevents the police from gathering political intelligence, then the Constitution goes too far. Deputy Attorney General Buck Compton declares that "free speech, civil rights, rights to assembly" have all become "cliches." "Dissidents and revolutionaries," he points out, "go beyond ... honest dissent, honest and proper use of the right of free speech."

The concept of "dishonest dissent is crucial to Cable Splicer and Garden Plot. This is a revolution, and anything goes. A civil disturbance anywhere in this state," says O'Brien, "is an attack on the state itself." Anyone who attacks the state, even verbally, becomes a revolutionary and an enemy, by definition. Speakers at Cable Splicer III condemned university administrators who demur at giving the police free rein on the campuses; parents of "would-be revolutionaries" who support their children; and legislators who investigate police actions. But their real venom is reserved for the demonstrators. These "guerrillas" are enemies of society," "vandals, visigoths, and huns of the twentieth century," "modern day barbarians," "Brown Shirts," "kooks and "VC." They are the enemy, and they will be destroyed. The streets may be quiet these days, but the Pentagon will not be caught napping. In communities across the country, a new generation of enforcers waits for the revolution that they have been taught to recognize and trained to crush.

[ Sidebar: ]

The question of secrecy

Cable Splicer was conducted in secrecy, and even today the Pentagon cover-up continues.

There was no attempt to hide the war games, according to Col. Anthony L. Palumbo, deputy controller of Cable Splicers II and III. But his statement is flatly contradicted by another participant, Lt. Col. Frank Salcedo. Asked last June if he regretted any aspect of the exercises, Salcedo said, "Yes, the secrecy." He confirmed that the entire operation had been conducted under wraps.

The documents support Salcedo. The official plan forbids all advance publicity, and warns that if either the war games or the governor's pep rallies are discovered, the two are not to be connected. And if that defense line is breached, there's another line to fall back on: The role of the Sixth Army is to be concealed. Throughout the sessions, military participants are to dress in civvies "to prevent adverse publicity or misleading psychological effects." No cable splicer is to arrive at a local police department in a military vehicle. Finally, all participating troops are warned not to talk about their classified orders. As one former game~player recalled, some papers were "read and eat." "Strict document and information control" was urged at "all levels," particularly in regard to the "realistic problem areas and technical information contained in the scenario."

So last week Col. Palumbo denied everything. (Palumbo, formerly chief of Police/Community Relations for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration in Washington, returned this month to his job with the Guard after a six-month tour with the Army's Forces Command Center as an "action type" whose primary responsibility was implementing Garden Plot contingency plans.) He denied any connection between Cable Splicer and Garden Plot, between the governor's orientation conference and the war games, between the Army and Cable Splicer -- although he conceded that the Army donated some money ($95 million of the California National Guard's $100 million budget last year) and that Cable Splicer was run as a National Guard training exercise.

The cover-up continues.

Authors' ID from New Times:

Ron Ridenhour, the Tempe, Arizona, correspondent of New Times, spent several months gathering information for this article. The Fund for Investigative Journalism supported some of his research. Arthur Lubow is a free lance writer living in New York.

NameBase book reviews