Americans live under a militarized police force. SWAT teams are forever poised to descend on their homes at the drop of a hat. Is it possible that the military will soon be stepping in to do some policing of its own?
The Posse Comitatus Act was supposed to restrict America’s military from acting as a domestic police force, but then none of the limits on power put in place by the Constitution and other legislation have ever stuck, now have they?
Via Drudge comes this ABC report of an especially energetic military drill in a HOUSTON neighborhood. If you hear helicopters or hear gunfire near your homes, don’t worry, assures the reporter.
“The training is designed to ensure that military personnel are able to operate in urban areas and to focus on preparations for overseas deployment. It also serves as a mandatory training certification requirement.”
Dig a little and you’ll find a Republican or two behind earlier efforts to undermine Posse Comitatus.
On Sept. 26, President Bush urged Congress to consider revising federal laws so that the U.S. military could seize control immediately in the aftermath of a natural disaster, noting that “it may require change of law. The law the president seems to be referring to is the Posse Comitatus Act, the longstanding federal statute that restricts the government’s ability to use the U.S. military as a police force. Sen. John Warner, R.-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, also has signaled his desire to change the law.”
As CATO’s Gene Healy has written , “The Posse Comitatus Act is no barrier to federal troops providing logistical support during natural disasters. Nor does it prohibit the president from using the Army to restore order in extraordinary circumstances — even over the objection of a state governor.”
What it 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.