PostHeaderIcon Standing Army

This cannot stand! George Bush needs to be impeached immediately. He can’t or won’t deploy our military on our borders, but he thinks it is OK to deploy 20,000 of them in our midst?:

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.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department’s role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.

The Pentagon’s plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces to be ready for emergency response by September 2011. The first 4,700-person unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade based at Fort Stewart, Ga., was available as of Oct. 1, said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of the U.S. Northern Command.
(Bold emphasis mine)

Domestic catastrophe? This is a domestic catastrophe! Has Bush ever read the Declaration of Independence? How about the Constitution? The Posse Comitatus Act? What the hell are they thinking in Washington? Dare we ask?

What color will their uniforms be? Brown Shirts? Perhaps shiny new SS insignia? This is America for Pete’s sake! The CinC has no business whatever quartering armed Federal troops among us, and we cannot permit it. If we don’t scream loud and long now, I suspect that Obama will perpetuate this travesty with relish. For the love of Liberty, please wake up America! ◄Dave►

5 Responses to “Standing Army”

  • orrinjohnson says:

    As I understand it, it’s a reserve force with a small core active duty component, designed specifically to respond to a WMD attack which is likely to come from a foreign attacker. They will help train local first responders, something which they wouldn’t (and economically couldn’t) otherwise create their own training program for. I’d sooner impeach a president for NOT preparing for an al Qaeda WMD attack (because it WILL happen) than for taking reasonable and necessary steps to prevent or at least respond to it.

    They aren’t making arrests. They aren’t conducting criminal investigations. To the extent they would provide a security presence, it would be in the context of the immediate aftermath of a (most likely) foreign assault on our territory.

    This is CLEARLY a more Constitutionally legitimate exercise of military power than the Iraq war – and I don’t have any legal problem whatsoever with that action.

    It doesn’t violate existing federal law unless the forces are involved in “search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity”, or are otherwise engaged in “executing the law.” And even then, posse comitatus (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1385) allows such action, so long as it is authorized specifically by Congress. But this is a military defense capacity.

    This is far less of a threat to liberty than the ability of a Governor to call up the National Guard to provide additional security during civil unrest. However, an insufficient disaster/attack response preparation is most definitely a threat to the even more fundamental right to life.

    There may be problems with this from a policy standpoint as more details emerge, but with the information available, from a historical, legal, Constitutional perspective, the concerns here are unfounded.

  • ◄Dave► says:

    Good to see you over here, Orrin. Thanks.

    Whatever the pretext, the temptation to use them for crowd control in any civil unrest during the coming depression would be irresistible. I have personally gotten rather twitchy over this issue since the “Waco” affair in ’93. I see no need for training our own Federal troops for “urban warfare” within the U.S.A. I do not trust the Federal Government, and reckon that civil unrest is a State issue, not a Federal one.

    This is far less of a threat to liberty than the ability of a Governor to call up the National Guard to provide additional security during civil unrest.

    You will have to explain this, because I don’t see it. I reckon local citizens would have much more influence toward deterring a Governor’s heavy-handedness, than a President’s. Local Guardsmen would also be less willing to fire on their neighbors, or as resented for their presence, than Federal troops from across the country.

    If local authorities need CBR training, send them to a central training location; don’t bring the troops out here… it is too risky… and totally unnecessary… and therefore suspicious… See my Gun Collecting essay. ◄Dave►

  • orrinjohnson says:

    When was the last time federal active duty military troops fired on US civilians on US soil during a civil unrest action? (While equipment was borrowed from the military, no military personnel were involved in the Waco fiasco.) I can’t think of anything off the top of my head post-Reconstruction.

    And when was the last time a “local Guardsman” did it? 1970 in Kent, OH. Besides, since the proposal this thread sparked will be composed primarily of reservists, you have the same “local” benefit of the soldiers involved policing their own community under the auspices of their parent unit.

    And while these units may be primarily designed to combat WMD type attacks, look at the attacks in Mumbai. A rapid response military force trained generally in an urban combat role and specifically in the tactics those Jihadists used would be an incredibly effective and life-saving national defense force against armed foreign invaders. The alternative is to militarize local police forces, which carries its OWN dangers, not to mention the cost of such a thing.

    I live in Reno, NV. While Reno itself may not be all that likely a target, the Bay Area certainly is, and we’re just a hop, skip, and a jump down wind and would clearly be impacted should that occur. But neither the City of Reno nor Washoe County could afford to send people to the amount of training they’d realistically need – a two week TAD stint every couple of years isn’t going to do any appreciable good if disaster ACTUALLY strikes (but will waste plenty of money), and maintaining a sufficiently sized and trained local force would be cost prohibitive. I’d rather not waste the local dollars on ineffective training when having the military form the core of the response teams is both more efficient and legally fully within the bounds of the Constitutional mandate of the federal government.

    There may be problems with these types of things that confirm some of your suspicions. But legally? As Justice Scalia says, “It so happens that everything that is stupid is not unconstitutional.”

  • ◄Dave► says:

    I realize that the Feds claimed that FBI agents were operating the tanks at WACO, but I saw reporting and video at the time that persuaded me otherwise. Military personnel were climbing out of the tanks after the fire in BDUs with unit patches and insignia on them.

    I might be less nervous if the Feds were taking seriously how such a WMD device might even get here. Until they put troops on our borders, and inspect every truck and ship that arrives, I won’t believe they are serious. Deploying our troops instead, to prepare for managing the panic of our citizens after the event, doesn’t strike me as what the Feds should be doing with their limited resources.

    Thousands of Americans are being killed every year by the effects of the Mexican invasion without use of WMDs. Federal troops on our southern border could stop that invasion cold. It is a dereliction of duty that the President has refused to do so.

    Have you ever been to Mexico? I have lived there. I don’t ever again wish to live in a country where unsmiling young men stand on street corners in uniform with an assault weapon watching every move anyone makes.

    Have you ever been involved in “civil unrest?” I am an ex-cop who is a veteran of the Berkley riots of the early ’70s, and my department was on the other side of the Bay. Mutual aid agreements get the necessary manpower to a hot spot pretty quickly. I have no problem with calling out the Guard if necessary, but not Federal troops.

    Have you ever been present when civilization comes unglued? It is held together with an exceedingly fine thread, and it does not take a grievance to sever it. The moment people think there will be no consequences for their actions, they revert to animals. I happened to get stuck on the streets of Waikiki one night in ’84 when the electricity went off to the whole island of Oahu. Within two minutes, the kids went berserk. They started running around kicking over newspaper stands, etc., and beer bottles started flying out of the high-rise condo windows. It was astounding and sobering… and instructive.

    Have you ever experienced the effect of mass panic? I was still on Oahu in ’86 when a tsunami warning created one. People fleeing the coastline, including all those who should have just stayed in the tall buildings above the first floor downtown, created a massive traffic jam that took many hours to clear. Had there actually been a tsunami, thousands would have drowned in their cars hopelessly gridlocked on the highways. I managed to get to my yacht and put out to sea away from danger; but even after the all-clear and I had returned to my slip, it was hours before the traffic had cleared enough for me to go home.

    My point is, that if there is a such a WMD attack, there will be mass panic anywhere near and/or downwind, and damn little any authority will be able to do in time to prevent it, or save anyone from the effects. I fear anyone in any uniform who tried to stop the stampede would suffer the same fate as the security guard at the WalMart store last weekend. No, these troops are planned to deal with the aftermath of the panic, nothing preventative. They are thinking of Katrina, and the specter of local law enforcement officers abandoning their duty to take care of their own families. Again, the Guard can be called in to do this sort of mop-up duty. We don’t need Federal troops standing by. The upside potential does not outweigh the downside risk to our Liberty.

    I love the Scalia quote! ◄Dave►

  • orrinjohnson says:

    Eh. It’s not that I don’t understand your concerns. It’s that I don’t think this is the road to it. I’m generally pretty wary of “slippery slope” arguments.

    During Katrina, the only stabilizing force WAS army troops when the locals (who by your arguments would be MORE likely to stand firm to protect their community). But then, that has a lot to do with the previous 20 years of allowing the local force to be so corrupt. The point is that historically, expecialy recently so, nothing supports the argument that NG troops are more restrained or better equipped to deal correctly with such a circumstance than federal Army troops.

    Besides, I think people will act differently in the aftermath of an attack here. See the reaction of New Yorkers on 9-11, as well as the New York blackout that happened later. Your depiction of Hawaii doesn’t surprise me. I was stationed there 15 years later, and it’s still of culture of childhood.

    Here’s hoping Obama won’t gut our ability to gather intel and prevent this type of thing in the first place, and all this remains academic.

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