On the thirteenth day of May in 2013, in almost complete secrecy, the Department of Defense added a new set of regulations that allow the military to be deployed domestically to defend property.
Since 1898, the US military has been forbidden by the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.Section 1385 “PCA“) from intervening domestically because of the obvious threat to democracy. In pertinent part, the PCA states:
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
The PCA protects dissident groups from being targeted by the US military and removes the military from domestic law enforcement.
This week, new Department of Defense regulations, while paying lip service to the PCA, would allow a military commander, of unspecified rank, to use the military domestically against US citizens, even in the case of merely protecting property.
The regulations state in extremely buried but pertinent part:
Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances because:
1) Such activities are necessary to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order;
As the comments to the regulations point out, and as casual examination reveals, there are numerous problems with the language in this sweeping set of regulations.
“Extraordinary emergency circumstances” are not defined.
Why would the President be unable to provide authorization to send troops into our own country?
Which military commanders have this authority? All of them? Down to Sergeant?
Who decides whether “...duly constituted local authorities...” (local law enforcement) are unable to handle a situation?
What does “large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” mean?
“Wanton destruction of property” could include a single rock thrown through a single window.
I know it is hard to stay interested in something like DOD regulations…the language is pretty cryptic. However, this is a massive change in the way the US has, for over 100 years, viewed the military and law enforcement.
This mission creep by our military, of course, has its roots in the “war on terror”. Concern has been expressed in the past. As Amy Goodman, (one of my heroes) reported on October 7, 2008:
“The Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Team is back from Iraq, now training for domestic operations under the control of US Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command. The unit will serve as an on-call federal response for large-scale emergencies and disasters. It’s being called the Consequence Management Response Force, CCMRF, or “sea-smurf” for short. It’s the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to USNORTHCOM, which was itself formed in October 2002 to “provide command and control of Department of Defense homeland defense efforts.”
The unit was not placed here only for emergencies and disasters.
Read here what the Army itself said the brigade was to be used for in their September 15, 2008 official homepage :
“U.S. Army North is the Army component of U.S. Northern Command,” said Vogler, “and we’re charged with coordinating the federal military response in the land domain for domestic operations or disasters, to include CBRNE.” [my emphasis]
The National Governors’ Association, composed of all 50 governors, expressed serious concerns about this. Oddly enough, the letter that was drafted by them is not easily found online now. If you can find it, please post the link in the “reply” section for this article.
In a 2009 New York Times Op Ed warning against the dangers of this unprecedented and dangerous expansion of the police state, they expressed the following hope:
After the lack of respect for posse comitatus at the highest ranks of the previous administration, the Obama White House and Congress must ensure that the lines between military and law enforcement have been restored, clearly, and that they are respected.
Well, we saw how that turned out.
The ACLU discussed it of course.
Incoming Subliminal Message…jointheACLUjointheACLUjointheACLU
Why is the Department of Defense unilaterally granting itself this power?
What is on the horizon now that might compel the use of our own military against us?
Why in the last 200 + years, up to the “war on terror” has this power, the power to order federal troops to be deployed domestically, to be used potentially against citizens, been unnecessary and even unconstitutional?
Could it be that our planners expect riots here, like we see in Spain, Greece, France… as economic inequality escalates, as it will continue to do on our current trajectory?
Could it be that our planners expect civil unrest as desperate people have the last rungs of support ripped from their hands as they try to climb out of this man-made, pirate-rewarding economic hell hole?
Austerity is a weapon.
Could it be that climate change is expected to produce civil unrest?
Could it be the fact that we have lost millions of jobs that are…never…coming…back is guaranteed to end up in civil unrest?
Who knows, but the military has seized the power, and we have read NOTHING about this in the major media. I have emailed my Senators and Representative to demand hearings. I suggest you do the same. This sea-change in the relationship between citizens and our military needs explaining and public debate.