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U.S. Troops to be Deployed at Home

The End of Posse Comitatus: U.S. Troops to be Deployed at Home

Marching to Shibboleth

Guest Blogged by Jill C. of Brilliant at Breakfast

Sometimes a Firesign Theatre reference is necessary just to get through the day.

Funny how the black helicopter crowd (which is sure to crawl back out from the rocks under which they've been hiding during the entire time George W. Bush has eviscerated the Constitution), never mind the "less government" pseudo-libertarian crowd, is utterly silent about this:

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.

Funny how civilian authorities in New York weren't overwhelmed during the catastrophe that precipitated moves like this. Authorities in New Orleans were overwhelmed, but I can't imagine that this plan is designed to eliminate Blackwater goons from filling a law enforcement role in another attack the way they were sent to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. In fact, I can imagine a disaster response in which people die because civilian and military authorities are playing "Mine's Bigger" over who exactly is running things.

Isn't the National Guard designed to help out during disasters? Perhaps if George W. Bush hadn't decimated the Guard by sending it to combat in Iraq --- a role the Guard was never designed to play --- this would all be moot. This domestic troop deployment looks at best to be part of the Bush Administration's last-minute plans to leave its fascist mark on this country in perpetuity before leaving. At worst it's a sign that the current Administration may have no intention of leaving at all.

(cross-posted at Brilliant at Breakfast.)

ENDS

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