OMINOUS LEGISLATION PASSES CONGRESS WITH LITTLE PROTEST
November 4, 2006
By James P. Tucker Jr.
Alittle-noted provision of the recently passed Defense Authorization Act allows President Bush to send in the military to police any trouble spot in this country regardless of the wishes of state governors.
On Oct. 17, President Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007.
The act grants the military the authority to seek from Congress $462.8 billion. In addition, Senate and House conferees added another $70 billion in supplemental defense spending bringing the overall total of the act to an unprecedented $532.8 billion. The supplemental funding provides billions of dollars to help “reset” Army and Marine Corps equipment, which is wearing out faster than planned because of the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq.
A highly controversial and little-known aspect of the act “contains a widely opposed provision to allow the president more control over the National Guard [by adopting] changes to the Insurrection Act, which will make it easier for this or any future president to use the military to restore order without the consent of the nation’s governors,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Ver.) said.
Americans “certainly do not need to make it easier for presidents to declare martial law,” Leahy said. “Invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy. One can easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the orders.”
The act “subverts solid, long-standing Posse Comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the president to declare martial law,” Leahy said. This had been “slipped in as a rider with little study” while “other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on these proposals.”
There is good reason, Leahy said, “for the constructive friction in existing law when it comes to martial law declarations. Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy. We fail our Constitution, neglecting the rights of the states, when we make it easier for the president to declare martial law and trample on local and state sovereignty.”
The law allows the president to “employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any state or possession of the United States, that the president determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the state or possession are incapable of maintaining public order to suppress in any state, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy.”
“Or other condition” is a critical line in the new law, skeptics say. The president can send the National Guard into any community for any—even frivolous—reasons, they argue.
SPECIAL OPERATIONS PREPARED FOR DOMESTIC MISSIONS
Jun 21, 2007
William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security
The U.S. Northern Command, the military command responsible for "homeland defense," has asked the Pentagon if it can establish its own special operations command for domestic missions. The request, reported in the Washington Examiner, would establish a permanent sub-command for responses to incidents of domestic terrorism as well as other occasions where special operators may be necessary on American soil.
The establishment of a domestic special operations mission, and the preparation of contingency plans to employ commandos in the United States, would upend decades of tradition. Military actions within the United States are the responsibility of state militias (the National Guard), and federal law enforcement is a function of the FBI.
Employing special operations for domestic missions sounds very ominous, and NORTHCOM's request earlier this year should receive the closest possible Pentagon and congressional scrutiny. There's only one problem: NORTHCOM is already doing what it has requested permission to do.
When NORTHCOM was established after 9/11 to be the military counterpart to the Department of Homeland Security, within its headquarters staff it established a Compartmented Planning and Operations Cell (CPOC) responsible for planning and directing a set of "compartmented" and "sensitive" operations on U.S., Canadian and Mexican soil. In other words, these are the very special operations that NORTHCOM is now formally asking the Pentagon to beef up into a public and acknowledged sub-command.
NORTHCOM's compartmented and sensitive operations fall under the Joint Chiefs of Staff "Focal Point" program, a separate communications and planning network used to hide special operations undertaken by the Joint Special Operations Command, headquartered in North Carolina, and by CIA and other domestic compartmented activities.
Since 2003, the CPOC has had a small core of permanent members drawn from the operations, intelligence and planning directorates. In an emergency, the staff can be expanded. According to NORTHCOM documents, CPOC is involved in planning for a number of domestic missions, including:
-- Non-conventional assisted recovery
-- Integrated survey programs
-- Information operations/"special technical operations"
-- "Special activities"
What are all of these programs? CPOC's basic missions include responding to incidents of weapons of mass destruction, support for continuity of government, protection of the president, response to domestic terrorism and insurrection and (presumably) domestic intelligence collection. ("Special activities" is a euphemism for covert operations.)
A number of operations plans have been associated with these domestic operations:
-- CONPLAN 0300 is the basic contingency plan for combating domestic terrorism (and may have been folded into newer such plans now under the control of U.S. Special Operations Command).
-- "Power Geyser" is the contingency plan for incidents of weapons of mass destruction in the Washington area. This includes both recovery of a stolen nuclear weapon or disabling of an improvised weapon or dirty bomb.
-- USNORTHCOM Antiterrorism Operations Order 05-01 deals with domestic counterterrorism and domestic intelligence against groups intent on attacking military interests.
With all this going on, for NORTHCOM to ask permission now seems beside the point. Still, it's always better to ask. Isn't it?
LOCAL TROOPS TO DEPLOY TO NATION'S CAPITOL
WESH Channel 2
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Members of the 1st Battalion 265 Air Defense Artillery have mobilized and are on a plane headed first to Ft. Bliss, then for federal active duty in the capital region.
The troops will be deployed for a year. The 265th is part of Operation Noble Eagle. They are ordered by the president to the nation's capital, where they will operate high-tech weapons systems against any potential air threat.
Though the solders are staying in the states, they are on serious business. Staff Sgt. James Todd said duty at home is just as important as the mission overseas.
FYI: Operation Noble Eagle
Operation Noble Eagle is the U.S. military operational designator to the military's efforts in the War on Terrorism that were carried out on US soil. The operation began September 14, 2001, in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, and continues to the time of this writing. Operation Noble Eagle comprises, among other things, air interceptor patrols over and around cities and the mobilization of thousands of National Guard and Reserve troops to perform security missions on military installations, airports and other potential targets such as bridges. This operation also marks the first combat mission of the F-22 Raptor.
Conducted under the Garden Plot contingency plan.
Operation Garden Plot is a general U.S. Army and National Guard plan to respond to major domestic civil disturbances within the United States. The plan was developed in response to the civil disorders of the 1960s and is now under the control of the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM). It provides Federal military and law enforcement assistance to local governments during times of major civil disturbances.
Garden Plot was last activated (as Noble Eagle) to provide military assistance to civil authorities following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Under Homeland Security restructuring, it has been suggested that similar models be followed.
"Oversight of these homeland security missions should be provided by the National Guard Bureau based on the long-standing Garden Plot model in which National Guard units are trained and equipped to support civil authorities in crowd control and civil disturbance missions." Testimony of Major General Richard C. Alexander, ANGUS (Ret.), Executive Director, National Guard Association of the United States, Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing on Homeland Defense, April 11, 2002