U.S. Should Consider Giving Military Arrest Powers, Ridge Says

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Sun Jul 21 12:27:16 MDT 2002

Note by Hunterbear:

"Fascist" isn't a term I use lightly, but it's obviously becoming an
increasingly appropriate label for the prevailing mind-set of the
black-suited, grim-faced, and increasingly paranoid characters in Bush's
"security" retinue. Theirs are  faces that could be lifted flat from the
photos of Joe McCarthy's committee, House Un-American Activities Committee,
and Senate Internal Security Subcommittee -- and the days and offices of J.
Edgar Hoover. Hell, as far as FBI is concerned, it's never -- however
covertly it's occasionally had to function at various points -- stopped its
primary mission focus:  anti-Left political witch-hunting.

At almost every juncture, most Democrats have caved in and supported these
increasingly authoritarian proposals. Who should be surprised at this?  Much
of the recent precedent-setting groundwork for the Patriot Act and its
virulently poisonous appendages came in Bill Clinton's 1996 so-called
Anti-Terrorism Act. That, BTW, launched full-scale United State Post Office
surveillance of citizens' mail -- as part of the continuing-right-along
plethora of Federal/state/local "lawmen" task forces.  This jungle of
venomously anti-civil libertarian poison ivy and belladonna and loco weed
came directly from joint Democratic and Republican initiatives -- long
before Election 2000.


U.S. Should Consider Giving Military Arrest Powers, Ridge Says
Bloomberg.com | 7/21/02 | Alex Canizares

Washington, July 21 (Bloomberg) -- The government should consider reversing
a more than a century of tradition and law to give the military authority to
make arrests and fire their weapons on U.S. soil in the event of a terrorist
attack, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said.

Fears that terrorists might attempt a nuclear, biological or chemical attack
on U.S. territory are prompting some lawmakers to support revisions to the
Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which restricts the use of the military in
civilian law enforcement.

``I think it is time to revisit it,'' Senator Joe Biden, a Delaware
Democrat, said on the ``Fox News Sunday'' program. That would ``allow for
military that has expertise with weapons of mass destruction to be called
in'' if such a plot was discovered.

Since terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization destroyed
the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon on Sept. 11, Congress has
given law enforcement agencies more latitude to conduct wiretapping and
other intelligence gathering to uncover terrorist plotting. President George
W. Bush has proposed the biggest government reorganization in 50 years to
put more than 100 offices and agencies into one department devoted to
homeland security.

The Bush administration already has taken step to investigate giving the
military a larger domestic security role, the New York Times reported today.
Air Force General Ralph Eberhart, who is in charge of U.S. defenses against
attack, had urged the review, the newspaper said.

Legal Review

Lawyers in the Departments of Justice and Defense are looking into the legal
questions that might be raised by greater involvement of military personnel,
the Times reported.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in May that the Pentagon would not
seek expanded law enforcement powers and some defense officials are wary of
making any changes, the Times said.

Congress revised the Posse Comitatus Act in 1981 to allow the military to
help the Coast Guard in drug interdiction efforts. Another change would
require congressional approval.

Ridge said officials haven't yet discussed giving the military powers to
arrest U.S. citizens, though such authority might be discussed once Bush's
homeland security department is created.

``Generally that goes against our instincts as a country to empower the
military with the ability to arrest,'' Ridge said on ``Late Edition'' on the
Cable News Network. ``But it may come up as a part of a discussion. It does
not mean that it will ever be used or that the discussion will conclude that
it even should be used.''

Unrealistic Limits

Biden said he may revive a proposal he sponsored with former Georgia Senator
Sam Nunn to revise the Reconstruction-era limits the Army, Navy, and later
the Air Force's law enforcement authorities. That plan was prompted by the
bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building by a domestic terrorist.

It is ``not very realistic'' to deny the military the ability, for example,
to shoot at suspected terrorists trying to deploy chemical, biological or
nuclear weapons on a passenger train, Biden said.

``Right now, when you call in the military, the military would not be
allowed to shoot-to-kill, if in fact they were approaching the weapon,''
Biden said.

Still, he said ``we shouldn't go overboard'' by giving the military too many
domestic powers.

Ridge said on Fox that the discussion should take place between the
Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Bush's proposed Homeland Security
Department, which has not yet been enacted by Congress.

``We need to be talking about military assets, in anticipation of a crisis
event,'' Ridge said. ``And clearly, if you're talking about using the
military, then you should have a discussion about Posse Comitatus.''

On another security issue, Ridge said the administration would accept
legislation approved by a special congressional committee last week to
extend by one year the Dec. 31, 2002 deadline requiring all bags to be
screened at airports.

``There is a question, depending on the particular airport, as to the
ability to install some of these massive machines between now and the end of
the year, and I think this probably gives the new agency a little more
flexibility.'' Ridge said.


Hunter Gray  [Hunterbear]
www.hunterbear.org (strawberry socialism)
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