Posts tagged ‘Posse Comitatus Act’

November 28, 2011

Battlefield America

by Eric T. Phillips

Next week the Senate will be voting on a bill that would define the entire world–including the United States–as a “battlefield.”  Such a move would allow the U.S. Military to arrest American citizens in America without charge or trial, essentially repealing the venerable Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the Army from exercising law enforcement powers within the borders of the United States.

Such restrictions on the military’s domestic authority are essential to the survival of a free society; giving the military authority to enforce domestic law is to treat American itself as an occupied territory like Iraq or Afghanistan.

The provision, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain, is of course being promoted as a tool to fight terrorists. But given that the Department of Homeland Security has characterized such behavior as buying gold, owning guns, donating to obscure charities, supporting third parties, and using cash for any large transactions as “suspicious activities,” the new law would be wide open to abuse. This means that the federal government would be able to simply declare any American a domestic terrorist and throw him in a military prison where he would have absolutely no legal recourse.

Ten years after 9/11, the federal government is trying harder than ever to destroy what liberty is left in this country. And frighteningly, in this quest, they may succeed. But they’ll never succeed in providing the security they’re promising in return. For their power is in itself the greatest threat to the security of the American people.

UPDATE: Some people are arguing that there’s a protection clause for American citizens in the bill. Chris Anders of the ACLU responds:

Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1013 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.

But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

There you have it — indefinite military detention of American citizens without charge or trial. And the Senate is likely to vote on it Monday or Tuesday.

UPDATE 2: Battlefield America bill passes Senate.

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