Saturday, September 17, 2005


Reassessing the Posse Comitatus act

I posted this over at Right Thinking, and The Glorified Jailer thought it would be a good idea to link it here as well. I agree.

This looks like a
bad idea to me.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said, “I believe the time has come that we reflect on the Posse Comitatus Act.” He advocated giving the president and the secretary of defense “correct standby authorities” to manage disasters.

Presidents have long been reluctant to deploy U.S. troops domestically, leery of the image of federal troops patrolling in their own country or of embarrassing state and local officials.

The active-duty elements that Bush did send to Louisiana and Mississippi included some Army and Marine Corps helicopters and their crews, plus Navy ships. The main federal ground forces, led by troops of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., arrived late Saturday, five days after Katrina struck.

They helped with evacuations and performed search-and-rescue missions in flooded portions of New Orleans but did not join in law enforcement operations.

The federal troops were led by Lt. Gen. Russel Honore. The governors commanded their National Guard soldiers, sent from dozens of states.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is reviewing a wide range of possible changes in the way the military could be used in domestic emergencies, spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said Friday. He said these included possible changes in the relationship between federal and state military authorities.

The Posse Comitatus act works fine, and there’s absolutely no need for federal troops to be deployed on national soil. At all. That’s what the National Guard is for, and God willing, one lesson we learn from Hurricane Katrina is that the National Guard is ready to deploy on a moments notice.

When we had the (second edition) of riots here in Los Angeles County, every law enforcement agency in their respective city held down the fort. The National Guard and
California State Military Reserve assisted the LA County Sheriffs in street detail in areas such as Compton and Watts and assigned a unit outside of the Hall of Justice jail, but outside of that, our local agencies --- some of whom had only 25 - 50 officers --- held back thousands of people who were rioting, looting, burning down buildings, and making Los Angeles look like Fallujah. The last riot caused Los Angeles to reassess the need for emergency preparedness, resulting in an entire command post and sets of special officers to run it (I blogged about it on my site, which you can read about at this link).

If politicians weren’t so worried about pulling the trigger on calling for assistance by the National Guard, then the issue of amending the restrictions set forth by the Posse Comitatus Act wouldn’t even be worthy of discussion.

You know who has federal troops patrolling the streets? Communist China, and the former USSR. Personally, I think we have way too many people who would love to be local, state, or Federal law enforcement officers, and even more who would enjoy some weekend stints as National Guard troops. Issuing orders to Federal troops at the drop of a hat is completely unnecessary, given the fact that we have a cadre of agencies and state troops who can do the job.

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