Paving The Road To Hell
The Posse Comitatus Act was signed into law at the end of reconstruction in order to end the practice of using the military for domestic law enforcement (especially the supervision of elections) in the former confederate states. Why then, would we do away with it now? Call me crazy, but I don’t think this administration does anything without a sinister motive. I challenge any of you to come up with a benign reason for making significant changes to The Insurrection Act and effectively doing away with posse comitatus at this particular point in our history. I’m not being facetious, I’d actually love for someone to give me a reasonable explanation that will keep my head from spontaneously exploding! And don’t even bother with the “war on terra” angle, the Posse Comitatus Act was not hindering the military (unfortunately) from providing support to Homeland Security.
The only statement I could find from any of our representatives in Congress decrying the changes to the Insurrection Act and the doing away with posse comitatus was from Senator Patrick Leahy:
Not only does this Conference Report unfortunately drop the Empowerment amendment entirely, it adopts some incredible changes to the Insurrection Act, which would give the President more authority to declare martial law. Let me repeat: The National Guard Empowerment Act, which is designed to make it more likely for the National Guard to remain in State control, is dropped from this conference report in favor of provisions making it easier to usurp the Governors control and making it more likely that the President will take control of the Guard and the active military operating in the States.
The changes to the Insurrection Act will allow the President to use the military, including the National Guard, to carry out law enforcement activities without the consent of a governor. When the Insurrection Act is invoked posse comitatus does not apply. Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy, and it is for that reason that the Insurrection Act has only been invoked on three — three — in recent history. The implications of changing the Act are enormous, but this change was just slipped in the defense bill as a rider with little study. Other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals.
Not only did Bush gleefully sign this bill into law, he of course added a signing statement that deems all provisions that require accountability to Congress, “advisory in nature.” In other words, he will do what he damn well pleases and maybe let Congress in on it, after the fact. Now, we’ve gone over this before, Bush isn’t Hitler, but he is using the very same legislative maneuvers to guarantee himself absolute power, and power is a finite resource. When one person grabs more than his fair share, it comes at the expense of someone (or everyone) else. So let’s go through this again.
We no longer have the right to privacy in our homes and papers and the Bush government spying on Americans is okay. We have an overly broad definition of what an “enemy combatant” is and the term can even be applied to American citizens. We have repealed habeas corpus so if we are deemed an “enemy combatant” we have no legal means to challenge the validity of the charges against us. And let us not forget that torture is a perfectly acceptable activity while we are unjustly incarcerated. Now, we have cleared the way for our own military to be used against us. Who in the hell can still recognize America in all of this?
Michael Hirsh asks in Newsweek this week if America has lost her luck. I don’t know about luck, but we have certainly lost our mind if we are going to sit back quietly and watch as our entire history is flushed down the toilet by a man who can’t even understand the subtle nuances of a joke, let alone the delicate balance our forefathers took great pains to strike in our constitution. Are there really any citizens left in this country that would rather choose obedience to this lackluster man posing as a leader over loyalty to this (once) great country of ours?! Instead of waiting around for lady luck to grace us with a visit, I think it’s time we made some of our own.