I couldn’t find any mainstream media service which covered this and with all the furor over the world’s economic breakdown, I almost missed it. (Refer to the end of the post for some of the limited media coverage and background information.)
Here are some quotes from these references:
Never before had a U.S. unified command focused specifically on homeland defense. It had been a mission shared by several commands, none of which had ultimate authority or responsibility. – DoD
But this new mission marks the first time an active unit [3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, who spent 35 of the last 60 months in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle] has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities. – Army Times.
They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control …. – Army Times (Remember the arrest of Amy Goodman and other Democracy now personnel at the Republican National Convention?)
USNORTHCOM’s AOR includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles. It also includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida. The defense of Hawaii and our territories and possessions in the Pacific is the responsibility of U.S. Pacific Command. The defense of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is the responsibility of U.S. Southern Command. The commander of USNORTHCOM is responsible for theater security cooperation with Canada and Mexico. – US Northern Command
USNORTHCOM’s civil support mission includes domestic disaster relief operations that occur during fires, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. Support also includes counter-drug operations and managing the consequences of a terrorist event employing a weapon of mass destruction. The command provides assistance to a Lead Agency when tasked by DoD. Per the Posse Comitatus Act, military forces can provide civil support, but cannot become directly involved in law enforcement. – US Northern Command
This last statement is not as comforting as it may sound. Over the last two years, there have been changes made to the laws concerning use of our military against us.
On October 18, 2006, Major Dandy of Daily Kos detailed how GWB gutted Posses Comitatus and Insurrection Act. “The provision ‘mak[es] it easier for the President to declare martial law, stripping state governors of part of their authority over state National Guard units in domestic emergencies.’ … So now the President can send troops from Tennessee to quash what he deems a threat to civil order in Oregon, even if the governors of Tennessee and Oregon both object.”
This alarming change was also summarized last September by Paul J. Watson at InforWars.com
Section 1385 of the Posse Comitatus Act states, “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”
Under HR 5122 – John Warner Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Bush on October 17, 2006, the law was changed to state, “The President may employ the armed forces to restore public order in any State of the United States the [unitary] President determines hinders the execution of laws or deprives people of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.”
This doesn’t sound like something we the people need. This puts too much power in the unitary executive. Then we the people changed the situation – a little. We voted for new leadership in our Legislature with the 2006 election and turned it over to the Democrats.
Guess what they did? They passed a new law to put the original language back into the Insurrection Act. This law, HR 4986: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, undid section 1706 of the John Warner Defense Authorization Act, which, according to Wikipedia, “allowed the President to declare a public emergency and station the military anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities.”
So, that fixes that, right? A good law wipes out a bad law – not really.
Don’t forget about GWB’s infamous, excessive and pro-unitary-executive signing statements. Here is what he added to his approval of HR 4986 and its attempt to reduce his unitary powers:
Today, I have signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. …
Provisions of the Act, including sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.
In other words, Congress may have put the Insurrection Act back the way it was, but GWB chose to ignore their work to put checks and balances back into our laws.
Can you say police state? Do you think there could be something worse than the current financial crisis that is distracting us from other issues like this one? I do.
Will we be surprised if there is another crisis that would give GWB an opportunity to do what he wants – declare marshall law, suspend the election and deploy the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team to keep us under control?
Redeploying the 3rd Infantry’s 1st Brigade Combat Team changes their mission in two ways: The reduced lethality of their weapons and the citizens they can use these weapons against – us.
Amy Goodman on September 22, 2008