Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008
The following is the spin of military spokespeople in response to questions about the deployment of the First Brigade on US soil for the first time in over 200 years.
The Army Times initially reported  that the First Brigade would handle domestic crowd control and subduing ‘unruly individuals’ and that they had ‘lethal and nonlethal technologies’ to do so. Then it issued a correction declaring that the ‘nonlethal’ package was not for domestic crowd control. Then after a hue and cry was raised by many citizens, Northern Command (NorthCom) offered a wholesale revision  of their mission – and the mainstream media is eating it up. Here is an excerpt from the articled linked to in the previous sentence:
Despite conspiracy theories that this could be a first step toward martial law in the U.S., there won’t be tanks on Main Street or active-duty troops putting down demonstrations. That is barred by federal law banning the military from being used on U.S. soil for domestic law enforcement.
Instead, the soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., have been training to back up civilian authorities in providing medical care and dealing with chemical, biological, high explosive or nuclear attack.
Not only does this entirely contradict the first Army Times reports, it also egregiously misrepresents to readers the status of US law in regards to this deployment. Yes, there are laws against military policing on US streets — they are part of both the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1879’s Posse Comitatus Act — but the Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gutted them.
Congress restored some limitations on the President’s ability to deploy troops to engage in military policing in 2008 — but President Bush issued a signing statement declaring he did not feel bound by those limitations. He also can direct these troops — and the National Guard, and Blackwater — to engage in military policing of civilian populations simply by verbally and unilaterally declaring a national emergency of whatever kind he wishes.
Unfortunately, the US Army spokespeople are parsing their words and misleading us. And, whatever the stated mission is today, the fact remains that military up the chain of command report to the Commander in Chief — not to Congress or to you and me, and not to the Governors as most of the National Guard do.
(Article continues below)
Why do I insist on raising an alarm about this deployment in spite of a great deal of opposition and criticism? (Though I am grateful, too, for a great deal of support.) I insist on raising an alarm because I am aware of world events and not just blinded by American recent history.
In Zimbabwe, a nominal democracy, President Mugabe sent troops to harass, arrest and even kill voters during a closely contested election. Mugabe’s challenger called off his own supporters, telling them they should not risk being killed just in order to vote.
In Sierra Leone, a nation I visited shortly after elections, during a fragile democratic voting process troops and militias were both deployed by the contesting political parties to intimidate, beat and arrest voters. In Azerbaijan, troops were sent to intimidate the opposition during the elections — and now there is no meaningful opposition. Don’t trust me — ask Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International. Troops are sent by leaders in power, even in weakening democracies, to intimidate voters, arrest and harass opposition leaders in tightly fought elections, all over the damn world.
And nothing, nothing, nothing prevents the First Brigade from being positioned around poll locations, intimidating or silencing or threatening or worse those who challenge their voting outcome or their having been purged from the rolls. This at a time when Prof. Mark Crispin Miller of NYU and Robert Kennedy  and many others are documenting MILLIONS of voters being systematically purged from rolls — overwhelmingly by Republican actions — and early voting is already showing machines flipping  selections from Democrat to Republican, and voters becoming upset.
I am having a surreal experience with the mainstream media, as well, as I try to raise questions. A source at The Philadelphia Inquirer says that nothing has appeared on the wires about the First Brigade — so they can’t cover it. A source at The New York Times says they are ‘looking into it’ — but no coverage yet. “The Today Show” asked  if I was a ‘fear-monger’ and ‘paranoid’ for raising alarms and reproduced NorthCom’s soundbite intact about the First Brigade being here to help with communities affected by weapons of mass destruction — but did no independent reporting of their own. I know from hearing from citizens across party lines that I am not the only American concerned about what information the Army may have about such threats to lead to this deployment now — the first time since the Indian Wars that troops have been sent onto US soil.
If you would like to see how average Americans are responding to the news about the deployment of the First Brigade, check out some of the posts from readers on a military-oriented Web site that posted  the recent Colorado Springs Gazette article on the subject:
‘Since 9/11 the Department of Homeland Security has spent billions to prepare civilian law enforcement, local fire departments and civilian agencies to deal with such [crises]. This smells of despicable mission creep for the Armed Forces. In the late 1980’s, I participated in several exercises focused on “counter insurgency” operations that specifically dealt with demonstrators and civil unrest. Backing up law enforcement officials is a end run around Posse Comitatus and this should be exposed for what it is, unconstitutional.’
‘Just why is a combat brigade being tasked for these scenarios and not Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Warfare commands? Medical Commands? Construction Battalions?
‘This seems much too similar to the use of troops to put down the Bonus March of WW I veterans in which Army Troops fired on and killed veterans in DC protesting the government’s failure to pay their promised [bonuses].’
‘This job can AND SHOULD be handled by National Guard troops (domestic issues).’
‘This smells…no, it stinks. Posse Comitatus is in place for very valid reasons. This looks like pre-positioning equipment in preparation for a fight.
‘The Defense Authorization Act of 2006 empowers the president to impose martial law in the event of a terrorist “incident,” if he or other federal officials perceive a shortfall of “public order,” or even in response to antiwar protests that get unruly as a result of government provocations.
‘The terms “incident” and “public order” are left wide open to interpretation under the Military Commissions Act…’
“Just why is a combat brigade being tasked for these scenarios and not Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Warfare commands? Medical Commands?
‘Back in the late seventies I was apart of a force that had a similar responsibility, except we were trained to handle “civil disturbance”, thank god we were never needed. This is not the first time something like this has happened, the only difference, we were Arty. Every Batt. had to train so many troops, from Inf. to Medical. I enjoyed it, we all did because for the time we were apart of it, we were exempt from all duty. To have the troops on stand-by is not a problem, to deploy the troops to take over civil responsibilities is…’
‘This is quite disturbing. 4000 troops may not be enough to impose martial law on an entire country, but they could do it to a moderately sized city.’
‘There is already a group to do this its called the National Guard Civil Support team. They are all over the country and are more trained than these rotating people will ever be.’
‘As a former member of the 10th Civil Service Detachment/Weapons of Mass Destruction, I do feel a bit insulted. The unit is a full time National Guard unit that was in place for two years before the 9/11 attacks. We were trained to do exactly what this article says this combat brigade is being trained to do. Is this another example of the services not talking to each other, or are these commanders really that ignorant of the world around them?’
‘Reorganize FEMA and keep the Combat Military out of the picture. Our Combat troops are for Combat. SeaBees are Construction Battalions that have the expertise for disaster related occurrences. They understand support missions and are the best in the world when it comes to Can-Do.
If the Combat Military has to become involved, it means Martial Law is a scribble away with the pen.
‘If we actually need this Brigade, take it away from the Combat Army and assign it to the SeaBees.’
‘Did anyone catch the articles in the Army Times in September about this. The first article on 8 Sept. mentioned the Oct 1 deployment was to be prepared for any civil unrest during the election. The Next article I read on line around 26 Sept Changed 3 times in one day. From explaining about the extensive training they have received in IRAQ, the new non lethal weapons for use against (American Citizens) for civil unrest to a final article of they just here to help for emergencies.’
“Despite conspiracy theories that this could be a first step toward martial law in the U.S., there won’t be tanks on Main Street or active-duty troops putting down demonstrations. That is barred by federal law banning the military from being used on U.S. soil for domestic law enforcement.”
‘Did you read the Army Times article?
Have you read the Military Commissions Act 2006?
Have you read the Military Budget Act of 2007?
Have you read the Patriot act?…
‘What they are saying is that the local, state and federal police departments can’t handle a crisis?’
‘If you’re reading these posts, you’ve already read the words “mission creep,” “end-run around Posse Comitatus” and “unconstitutional”‘.
‘I joined the Navy to make sure NO GOVERNMENT WOULD NEVER DEPLOY TROOPS ON OUR SOIL. Why did you join? I believe every Governor should recall all National Guard troops to defend your states…. This detachment must stand down. This is an illegal order.’
So don’t take the warning from me. Take it from many these patriots in military circles.