Posse Comitatus: That Didn’t Take Long!

It was only a little over a year ago that I wrote about the Posse Comitatus The Act forbids the use of the military of the United States as a posse comitatus (an armed body of men at the disposal of the King for the purposes of keeping the peace) or for law enforcement purposes, with the exception of the National Guard. Coupled with the Insurrection Act of 1807, we have a set of laws that govern the President of the United States of America’s ability to deploy troops within the United States to put down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion.

I wrote then

What the Posse Comitatus Act did was set a high bar in the use of the military in a policing role. Lower level officers were routinely punished for over stepping their bounds. Americans have distrusted an army that could be used against them. Now it appears that very little excuse is needed to deploy the military. Even Congress, whose job is oversight and upholding the Constitution must be notified as soon as practicable and renewed every 14 days. That doesn’t seem good enough to me.

Now the Washington Post reports

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

We could sure use a professional force in the case of a Mumbai incident in this country many might be asking. Or we could encourage all citizens to wear a gun.

I think our government would prefer an internal armed force subject to orders from a President and I’m sure all sorts of excuses could be used to activate such a force. That’s just the nature of government.

4 Responses to “Posse Comitatus: That Didn’t Take Long!”

  1. An interesting cautionary thought, one that deserves more than a cursory nod. If a person with a moderate amount of mistrust toward a corrupt government were to thing on this, all kinds of conspiracy theories could come out. Can you say Totalitarian?

  2. Bush is opening a door that should remain closed – and Obama has clearly demonstrated his view regarding the 2nd Amendment.

  3. Since this unprecedented power grab comes in the waning months of the Bush presidency, and is projected to be in full force in 2011, it will be interesting to see how Senator-cum-President Obama will react to it, once he has safely recited the oath of office.

    Will he order a stand-down of this policy, fulfilling his campaign promise to undo some of Bush’s abuses of the Constitution? Or will he find a convenient way to make it mesh with the “civilian security force” that he briefly proposed last July?

    Whatever happens, I don’t think the future looks bright for those of us who have the annoying habit of criticizing the governments.

  4. I have been listening to the book on tape, “Adams VS Jefferson”
    In 1794 we had the Whiskey Rebellion and then we move to 1798 and the Alien and Sedition Act has just been signed into law.
    Fenno’s Gazette writes, “He that is not for us, is against us.”
    It is “patriotism to write in favor of a government. Sedition to write against it.”

    Our freedoms have been challenged before.

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