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"Domestic Militarization: A Disaster in the Making"

Due to an extremely rare space anomaly, the Cato Institute and I agree on something for once:
Having already wrecked a legendary American city, Hurricane Katrina may now be invoked to undermine a fundamental principle of American law;.that principle, enshrined in the Posse Comitatus Act, is that when it comes to domestic policing, the military should be a last resort, not a first responder...

[...Bush's speech, John Warner, "very archaic law",...]

...What [Posse Comitatus] does is set a high bar for the use of federal troops in a policing role. That reflects America's traditional distrust of using standing armies to enforce order at home, a distrust that's well-justified.

There are very good reasons to resist any push toward domestic militarization. As one federal court has explained, "military personnel must be trained to operate under circumstances where the protection of constitutional freedoms cannot receive the consideration needed in order to assure their preservation. The Posse Comitatus statute is intended to meet that danger." Army Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, commander of the federal troops helping out in New Orleans, seemed to recognize that danger when he ordered his soldiers to keep their guns pointed down: "This isn't Iraq," he growled...

...The Katrina tragedy ought to be an occasion for rethinking a number of federal policies, including our promiscuous use of the Guard abroad. Instead, Washington seems poised to embrace further centralization and militarization at home. That has the makings of a policy disaster that would dwarf Hurricane Katrina.
For my highly similar take, see DC, media pushing greater military control for "safety" reasons.

On a side note, it's highly unusual that I, Cato, and TalkLeft all posted similar things on the same day. I didn't see theirs before I wrote mine, and I'd imagine the same is true for them as well.

Politics · Tue, 09/27/2005 - 05:39 · Importance: 1

Wed, 09/28/2005 - 05:36
perroazul del norte

In the age of of PeeCee and Multiculturalism what remains of US national identity will be located in the military. How else to define the USA when virtually everything in US history pre-1965 is off-limits because of the embarrassing hegemony of the evil white male? Like those guys who held out at the Alamo: they were oppressive redneck slaveholders weren't they? And I think that everyone has noticed that MLK has become a far more honored nad celebrated figure than any of the Founders(I think all of them collectively). Stay tuned for more flag-waving and low-IQ national chauvinism.

Tue, 09/27/2005 - 14:35
Jamie Jamison

The screwed up thing is that we have the National Guard, which has the resources for disaster relief (lots of trucks, Chinook helicopters, etc) and which can be activated by state governors in Iraq and the regular Army on our streets. Of course this administration likes to screw things up, witness the fact that the man who is a heartbeat away from the presidency has a pacemaker.

While the National Guard is part of the Army/Air Force they're less likely to be a tool for tyranny since they live in the areas that they do disaster relief in. It's harder to screw people over when you have to live next to them.

Tue, 09/27/2005 - 11:54
lindata

The constitution does not even authorize a standing Army. The founding Father's would not be behind this one for sure.

Tue, 09/27/2005 - 10:50
John Gillnitz

I agree that having the military acting as the police is a bad idea. Still, there are some instances where the military is the only organization with the resources available to respond to some large scale problems. No city has a Chinook hanging around to drop massive sand bags, for example.

What is even more unsettling is the use of mercenary outfits like Blackwater doing domestic police work.