Monday, December 1, 2008

When Bringing The Troops Home Has A Different Meaning

Some people may view this as good news..
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.
Sorry guys, but the US military really has no business in civil affairs. We have a National Guard and a civilian police force and countless others that should do the job if we need to have one done. If the National Guard and the first responders cannot handle what the Pentagon is somehow predicting in terms of terror attacks or civil emergencies, then they need further training and funding... we don't need the US military going house to house or searching civilians or patrolling streets with M-16's. Apparently they are training to do just that. That to me is a concern.

It is interesting to me that terrorism is tearing our country away from our founding principles. We as a country are being goaded into giving up our freedom and liberty for some imagined sense of "security". We seem to be wasting our "blood and treasure" on counter-terrorism measures which are actually eroding our liberties and bankrupting us in the process. Truly we have seen the human and monetary costs associated with various state-initiated endeavors "to protect us" to continue to grow. The more frightened we all become and the more frightened our leaders suggest we should be, the more we are choosing to move away from our Constitutional Rights. That in and of itself is pretty frightening. Governments over the millennia have always taken advantage of the ability to seize more power when strife and fear are created.

Are there evil people in the world... sure ... Mumbai just proved that. Are there threats... sure there are... just as there are Pirates in Somali waters. My point is that we cannot allow fear to overtake us and cloud our thinking. We cannot allow ourselves as a nation to trample the very freedoms so many people fought and died for, all in the name of "security". If anything, our citizenry should be taught how to take care of themselves in a "domestic catastrophe". Hurricane Katrina should have taught us that.

Posse Comitatus is a very important law. Posse comitatus is a U.S. law that prohibits the use of federal troops from conducting law enforcement duties on domestic soil unless approved by Congress. There was a specific and thoughtful reason as to why it was established.

I don't think the U.S. Military should be used to "keep the peace" or diffuse protests or direct their efforts against U.S. dissident groups. I don't believe the U.S. Military should be involved in control of civil unrest. The U.S. Military is meant to protect us, not silence us.

Bring them home - yeah - but not to make U.S. civilians their next concern.

(H/T Bob C.)