War On Terror

Repealing Posse Comitatus?

As part of the changes to the federal government as a part of the proposed Department of Homeland Security, there have been proposals to
allow the military to conduct domestic police operations
. Such use of the military was banned in 1878 under the Posse Comitatus Act, due to federal soldiers misusing their power during Reconstruction.

My arguments against this aren’t about civil liberties, however, even though that’s most definitely a major concern. The fact is, the military’s job is to protect us from outside adversaries, not get bogged down in domestic police work. Look at the problems we had in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, and Afghanistan. Soldiers are not policemen. Their job is to fight enemy military forces, and they do a damn good job of that. Asking them to play cop is like asking a mortician to do open-heart surgery. It’s just not their job.

A better idea is to equip our police forces better, and allow the INS to have a small paramilitary border patrol force with less restrictive rules of engagement. A small group of military advisors along the border who are not bound by some of the more stringent rules of the Posse Comitatus Act might be acceptable, but not the widescale plan to repeal the Act that was proposed.

The fact is, this proposal was DOA. Tom Ridge should have talked with the Defense Department, who are against the idea, before he floated it. If this is the model for interagency communication under the Homeland Security system then I fail to see the improvement.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has some more great insight and links on why this is just a bad idea.

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