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Bush's Terrible Idea:

President Bush and Senator John Warner (R-Vir.) are pushing to create additional loopholes in the Posse Comitatus Act, the law that prohibits use of the military in domestic law enforcement. The drug enforcement loopholes created in the 1980s have already led to the deaths of innocent Americans. A "disaster" loophole could be even more dangerous. The fact that local, state, and federal governments bungled some of the initial response to Hurricane Katrina is not a good reason to destroy the principle of separation of the military from civil law enforcement--a principle at least as important to civil liberties as the separation of church and state.

Gene Healy of the Cato Institute is the leading spokesman for the pro-liberty side on the Posee Comitatus issue. A chapter I wrote in a Cato book a few years ago provides some historical background, and details the terrible results of the drug war loophole in the Posse Comitatus Act. You can also watch a RealVideo/Audio of a 2002 Cato Institute panel on the PCA, in which Rep. Bob Barr, Stephen Halbrook, Paul Schott Stevens, and I discuss proposals to weaken or eliminate the PCA.

Jim Rhoads (mail):
During the height of the Katrina situation, I commented on a VC post that those who were complaining that "The Bush Administration" didn't take over the LANG or send in federal troops sooner should consider proposing an amendment to the the PCA, since it interposed barriers to taking such action without a specific Gubernatorial request.

Looks like the push for such action is not coming from the complainers, but from the subject of the complaints. I think this should be discussed in Congress, because it is an important political issue.
9.28.2005 2:00pm
Nobody Special:
I'm disappointed that they're only pushing for more loopholes- the entire act should be repealed, enabling U.S. military forces to assist with riot control, border policing, and a host of other law enforcement actions where the additional manpower and firepower would be quite useful.
9.28.2005 2:11pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
I saw the headline and thought you were referring to:

1. The Iraq War; or
2. Teaching Creationism in Schools; or
3. Passing a law for one person; or
4. Amending the constitution because gays are gross; or
5. Today is a fine day to play a guitar while NO is drowning; or
6. Destroying Social Security . . . or . . .

Your idea works though too.
9.28.2005 3:39pm
William Spieler (mail) (www):
If a government agent shoots you, it doesn't matter if it's a city cop or the feds, you're just as dead.

Anyway, our local police are militarized enough that I don't see how much it matters.
9.28.2005 4:33pm
TomH (mail):
It is a trend toward finding State and Local governments to be superfluous. Of course the great and good (<- tounge in cheek here) Federal Government, which can do no wrong, (Again with the tounge) must control every level of administration in this country.
9.28.2005 5:46pm
darkdirk:
dont understand how much it matters?
Its called seperation of powers.
It's known as state rights.
Also what is the military's responsibility?
Besides protecting the ruled from the rulers - Posse Comitatus is about the right tools for the job. You don't send a bulldozer in to mow your grass, even if lawnmowers are becoming more and more industrial.
9.28.2005 5:47pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
There would be less call for this if it were not for the fact that the military seems to be the only port in a storm, so to speak.
The sillyvilian organizations can't get out of their own way and are consistently run by morons--unless it's by retired military types.
If the non-military side could function well enough to make this unnecessary, the question wouldn't arise.
The increasing distance between the military competence and the rest of society is not only worrisome by itself, it can lead to things like modifying PCA.
9.28.2005 10:16pm
markm (mail):
As an Air Force member for 9 years, I can assure you that the reports of military competence are greatly exaggerated. On the other hand, military organizations of any worth do not fall apart in an emergency - if a hurricane could cause the organization to disintegrate or suffer from leadership paralysis, it certainly wouldn't be capable of responding to a well-executed attack.

I do not think this should imply that the military should be a main or necessary component of disaster response. They just might be off on the other side of the world doing their real job. It merely means that some organizational principles should be learned from the military, as well as recruiting leaders that have proven their ability to function in a crisis, whether retired military or others.
9.30.2005 6:33pm