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According to the Army Times (dated Tuesday, September 30, 2008), "Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT [Brigade Combat Team] will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks."
The article continued by saying, "But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.
"After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one."
The Times column also reported that the Army brigade "may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control . . ." It seems that the Army's new domestic duties also include "traffic control" as well as subduing "unruly or dangerous individuals."
The brigade will be known for the next year as a Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced "sea-smurf").
I am assuming that the planners and promoters of this newfound function for the Army brigade envision the Army assisting local first responders in dealing with natural emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and the like. Good intentions notwithstanding, to assign domestic police duties to the U.S. military is extremely disturbing.
To understand my concern for this new "homeland Army brigade," it is important that we rehearse the principles of liberty as they relate to standing armies.
One of America's most sacred principles has always been that the U.S. military was never to be used for domestic law enforcement. The fear of standing armies ran very deep in the hearts and minds of America's founders. The tyranny and misery inflicted upon the colonies by British troops weighed heavily upon those who drafted our Constitution and Bill of Rights. In their minds, the American people would never again be subjected to the heavy weight of army boots. Furthermore, they insisted that America would have a civilian--not military--government.
And after the fiasco of the abuse of federal troops in the South following the War Between the States, the doctrine of Posse Comitatus was enacted into law. The Wikipedia online encyclopedia says this about Posse Comitatus:
"The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services ... from exercising nominally state law enforcement police or peace officer powers that maintain 'law and order' on non-federal property. . . .
"The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. . . .
"The Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act substantially limit the powers of the federal government to use the military for law enforcement."
The Posse Comitatus Act was passed in 1878 and was universally accepted as being a very just--and extremely important--law of the land.
But in 2006, President George W. Bush pushed a Republican-controlled Congress to pass the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, which included a section titled "Use of the Armed Forces in major public emergencies." This section provided that "The President may employ the armed forces to restore public order in any State of the United States the President determines...." In effect, this bill obliterated Posse Comitatus.
When the Democrat-controlled Congress passed the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, however, the restrictions of Posse Comitatus were restored. But when President Bush signed the Act into law, he attached a signing statement (Executive Order) indicating that the Executive Branch did not feel bound by the changes enacted by the repeal. Translated: President Bush wiped out Posse Comitatus by Executive Order.
Now, just a few months after expunging Posse Comitatus, President Bush has authorized an Army brigade to be assigned the new role of dealing exclusively with domestic law enforcement and related duties. This evokes serious questions.
Who will give the order to send U.S. troops against American civilians, and under what circumstances? What will the rules of engagement be? How will "unruly" and "dangerous" be defined? How will soldiers be asked to deal with "crowd" or "traffic" control? And perhaps the biggest question is, Once we begin to go down this road, where will it lead?
For several years, the federal government has been accumulating to itself more and more authority that was historically understood to reside within the states and local communities. More and more, our police departments have taken on the image and tactics of the armed forces. And to a greater and greater degree, the rights and liberties of the American people are being sacrificed on the altar of "national security." It seems to me that to now ascribe law enforcement duties to the U.S. Army only serves to augment the argument that America is fast approaching police state status.
If Hurricane Katrina is the template that our federal government is using as a model for future events, Heaven help us! Do readers remember how National Guard troops were used to confiscate the personal firearms of isolated and vulnerable civilians shortly after that hurricane devastated the New Orleans area? Do you remember how representatives of the federal government were calling upon pastors and ministers to act as spokesmen for gun confiscation? Is this what the new Army brigade is preparing for? And do President Bush and his military planners envision an even broader role for military troops on American soil?
Add to the above rumors of thousands of plastic caskets--along with thousands of portable prison cells--being shipped and stored across the country, and one is left to ask, Exactly what is it that our federal government is planning?
I think there is an even bigger question, What exactly will members of our armed forces do if and when they are commanded to seize Americans' firearms, arrest them at gun point, or even fire upon them? How many soldiers and Marines love liberty and constitutional government enough to resist such orders, should they be given? And how many officers would resist issuing such orders?
Remember, it is the job of the armed forces to kill people and blow up things, not to do police work. Then again, Presidential administrations from both major parties have been using the U.S. military as U.N. "peacekeepers" for decades now. So, was all of this preparation for what is yet to take place in the United States?
God forbid that any of the above should actually take place in our beloved land, but I believe it would be naïve to not see that the actions and attitudes of the federal government over the past several years do nothing to assuage such fears.
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© Chuck Baldwin