December 7, 2008
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” –Benjamin Franklin
The Posse Comitatus Act is a 130-year old federal law specifically designed to restrict role of the military in domestic law enforcement. It was wise to create the law…it is dangerous to abrogate it.
We now hear the Pentagon anticipates having 20,000 uniformed troops inside the continental United States by 2011. Allegedly the purpose is to “help state and local officials,” specifically in the development of response to nuclear, biological or chemical terrorist attacks or other domestic catastrophe.
As evidenced by the Janet Reno massacre of the Branch Davidians, tactical deployment of military assets in law enforcement operations is a for real Pandora’s Box. The liberty verses safety challenge is a very slippery slope. It is easy to let the genie out of the bottle…getting him back IN is a bear.
This renewed push for homeland security emphasis is not without critics. Beyond various military and civil libertarian types, this is probably the worse possible time to even consider further overtaxing military assets (not that there ever is a good time).