Posse comitatus: Do you think you’re safe?
Despite the Patriot Act, and Patriot Act II that has been sneaking into legislation in pieces, or even the threat of martial law in the event of another terrorist attack, the average American still believes he is protected by the Posse Comitatus law of 1878. The law that prohibits using the Army, Navy, Air Force, Navy, Marines, or even another state’s National Guard against citizens of the United States.
Unfortunately, during the Clinton administration US Code Title 42, Chapter 21, Subchapter I, Section 1989 “United States magistrate judges; appointment of persons to execute warrants” was revised to read as follows:
“Said magistrate judges are empowered, within their respective counties, to appoint, in writing, under their hands, one or more suitable persons, from time to time, who shall execute all such warrants or other process as the magistrate judges may issue in the lawful performance of their duties, and the persons so appointed shall have authority to summon and call to their aid the bystanders or posse comitatus of the proper county, or such portion of the land or naval forces of the United States, or of the militia, as may be necessary to the performance of the duty with which they are charged; and such warrants shall run and be executed anywhere in the State or Territory within which they are issued.” (Full Code)
Notice that the use of the words “” in this context make it sound like something from a Wild West movie where the sheriff rounds up bystanders to ride off after the bad guys.
Why should militarism representing itself as world police with a presence in almost 70 percent of the sovereign nations of the planet not also feel that it can be used to maintain order in its own homeland? Does martial law occur overnight? Or does it creep up on us over time?
In 1957, President Eisenhower ordered the National Guard into Little Rock, Arkansas to forcibly integrate Central High School. In 1970, it was the governor of Ohio, James Rhodes, who sent the State’s National Guard to Kent State, it was not Congress or President Nixon.
In 1993, tanks, helicopters, and troops were sent to the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas in an “advisory” capacity to assist the FBI that had taken over from the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco (BATF) that had been trying to serve a warrant on David Koresh and needed an increase in its pending budget. The troops came from Fort Hood that was under the command of General Wesley Clarke at the time and the compound was only 13 miles from the Crawford ranch of George W. Bush.
Later, when G. W. Bush was governor, it was reported that more than one hundred counties of Texas had troops from Fort Hood assisting local Sheriffs or civilian law enforcement in the “war on drugs.” And when the military’s Special Ops or Delta forces were carrying out nighttime exercises in Texas cities over the complaints of citizens Governor Bush’s response was “what the military does is none of my business.” Don’t you wish that were still true?
These are things most Americans would like to forget or repress while pretending that everything is still hunky-dory in the “land of the free,” but on top of recent events at home and abroad this belief is becoming more and more difficult to maintain.
For instance, while things like the Gallup polls have always been suspect in the research world because of the built-in bias inevitable with paid panels, average Americans are today too often afraid to give the “wrong” answer because they think their names might be added to some sort of list or they might otherwise be branded as unpatriotic or worse.
Soldiers are not diplomats, nor are they peace officers. Soldiers are trained to kill, capture, or otherwise defeat the enemy. To expect something different from them is not only unfair, it’s ridiculous.
The real question, therefore, is whether soldiers can realistically be expected to be peace officers, not only in other countries, but even in our own.
In 1997, David B. Kopel and Paul M. Blackman published definitive research on this subject under the title “Can Soldiers Be Peace Officers?” and should be required reading for all American citizens.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”