According to the September 8 Army Times, the Army will deploy its first ever full-time combat unit within the borders of the United States, starting October 1. While troops have previously been mobilized within the US, as they were to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, employing combat troops in any extended capacity to serve as domestic law enforcement is in open violation of the Posse Comitatus Act as it has been historically interpreted from its passage in 1878 until its dismantling under the Bush Administration.
Still, there has not been a full-scale deployment of troops within the borders of the United States since the end of the Reconstruction. This 130-year restriction on the use of military for civilian policing will end on October 1, 2008. As noted in the Army Times article:
The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle, helping restore essential services and escorting supply convoys.
Now they’re training for the same mission — with a twist — at home.
Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT 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 does not state the reason for the deployment, the reason for the date (Oct 1) or length (1 year) of the deployment, nor the reason that this particular brigade was selected. It does state, however, that another unit will replace the 1st BCT after it finishes its deployment, and that the "dwell time mission" is expected to become a permanent one:
"Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission. How the [Defense Department] chooses to source that and whether or not they continue to assign them to NorthCom, that could change in the future," said Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of NorthCom future operations. "Now, the plan is to assign a force every year."
While the "dwell time mission" will be trained for certain peace time tasks (a la Katrina clean-up), it is clear from the article that a number of their duties will include tasks traditionally assigned to state and local law enforcement - a clear violation of Posse Comitatus. The article makes multiple references to "Homeland Security" type scenarios like response to terrorist attacks, weapons of mass destruction, etc. But there are also numerous references to "crowd control" type duties, and one officer describes training to use tasers.
The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.
The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.
To my knowledge, there has been NO coverage of this in any traditional media. Nor has there been any justification for what looks like the action of a rogue President teetering on the verge of enforcing Martial Law. I encourage everyone to write their elected representatives to ask for an accounting.
I realize that there are "bigger" stories filling the news cycle, but I feel this is worth discussing. Perhaps I am being paranoid (feel free to tell me so in comments), but isn't there something wrong when we start using our military as a force for policing our own citizenry?
Edit: This diary seems like it could be useful for some background.
Edit #2: I searched for diaries on this before posting, but evidently didn't use the right terms. Since posting, I did find this and this. I'm not going to delete my diary because I think the comments are worthy, but I did edit tags on the previous diaries and on mine to bring them all in line so that future posts will (hopefully) be easier to link up, search, etc.