Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Will President Obama nix the US Army's new domestic mission?

I'd write a post breaking the news that the Pentagon (read SecDef Gates of both the current and soon-to-be administrations) is looking more an more seriously at employing American soldiers under Federal control in domestic law enforcement, peace-keeping, and disaster-relief rolls, like my friends at Anti-war.com or Delawareliberal, except....

That I first posted on the issue almost exactly three months ago, and followed it up several days ago.

The steady erosion of posse comitatus restrictions on national military forces has been under way since the 1980s, primarily through the vehicles of thewar on drugs and the war on brown people without papers.

It's a done deal. The 3rd Infantry Division is not only being assigned the duty under Northcom, it's being expanded into the Army's largest division (at 25,000 troops with five brigades) to handle the task.

So the question to ask now is, "What is President Obama going to do about it?"

Does he support the use of Federally controlled military force in a domestic setting, or does he support constitutional limitations on the use of the military?

A lot of campaign rhetoric and a lot of credibility is--or should be--riding here. I've seen the famous editorial cartoon of Barack sitting in the Oval Office taping the US Constitution back together.

So here's a place to start.

President Barack Obama could issue an Executive Order during the first week of his Presidency that forbids the use of Federal military forces in situations of domestic unrest that fall short of the Constitutional definition of insurrection.

There are plenty of military forces available, trained for disaster relief and useful for local security operations, in the National Guard. There are only two drawbacks, from the imperial perspective, about relying on them.

1) They'd have to be home to be used.

2) They fall under the statutory authority of the Governor, not the Feds, and most of the soldiers are citizens of the states wherein they might be employed. Both of these items are a great check on the tendency of the Federal government to misuse such forces internally.

Anybody care to bet that President Obama will choose to accept a strict constitutional limit on the domestic use of military force?

I've got some mortgage money here that says otherwise.

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