The Posse Comitatus Act is the United States federal law....that was passed on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction and was updated in 1981. Its intent (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) was to limit the powers of Federal government in using federal military personnel to enforce the state laws.
For 136 years, the federal government has been prohibited from using the United States military on the soil of the Homeland to enforce the law. The National Guards of the various states and the Coast Guard are not included in this prohibition.
How best to circumvent Posse Comitatus? Simply turn the Homeland's many local police forces into the military.
A couple of months ago, one of the few true progressives in Congress, Democratic Representative Alan Grayson of Florida introduced an amendment to stop the transfer of military equipment to local and state police.
During a late-night debate on an annual defense appropriations bill, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) tried to attach an amendment to demilitarize the police. Specifically, his measure would have blocked a Defense Department program that provides surplus military equipment -- Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and M16 assault rifles, among other things -- to local law enforcement, free of charge.
How did the Grayson amendment fare?
The House crushed Grayson's effort, with 355 votes against it and 62 for it. Keeping your local police force militarized, it seems, is a bipartisan policy.
To opponents of his amendment, Grayson responded....
"Where is the terrorism on our streets? Instead, these weapons are being used to arrest barbers and to terrorize the general population," he said. "In fact, one might venture to say that the weapons are often used by a majority to terrorize a minority."
Or in the case of Ferguson, Missouri,.....'used by a minority to terrorize the majority.'
Why would congressional members vote to continue militarizing local police forces?
“The argument made is that everyone wants their community to ‘be prepared’ with the best equipment, in the event they need it,” said another House Democrat, who also voted against the amendment. “Hard to say 'no' to your local police chief when they are explaining to you how this equipment could help and in what type of situation.”
"be prepared" for what? A freaking invasion? Someone will have to explain in detail why a smallish town like Ferguson, MO needs the type of military equipment we saw used in Iraq. What possible need could local-yokel cops have for Humvees and rocket launchers?
The answer: intimidation of U.S. citizens.
The phrase...."in the event they need it"......screams off the page. That comment reflects our nation's wrongheadedness after 9-11. That comment is a variation of Dick Cheney's 1% doctrine. If there is a 1% chance that a foreign country might do us harm.....then pre-emptive war is justified. On a local Homeland level, that doctrine translates into the militarization of local police forces "in the event they need it."
Too bad Congress doesn't take the same approach to dangers and threats we KNOW are happening...like, say, global climate change. Just sayin'.
But isn't Alan Grayson a wild-eyed radical who hates America? Wasn't Grayson, as a hater of America, trying to weaken our local and state police forces by refusing them GI Joe gear?
Grayson's legislation wouldn't have cut off all funding for the Pentagon program -- instead, it would have banned funding for a specific set of heavy-duty gear, including grenade launchers, toxicological agents and drones, all of which may legally be transferred to police departments under current law.
Even that was too risky for the bipartisan buffoons. Hey, never know when your township yokels might need to launch some granades, huh?
However, what really drives the continued militarization of police is....lack of political courage. In fact, many of the poor decisions made post 9-11 have not been courageous decisions at all.....but instead, decisions made out of political fear. Few congressional representatives want to be accused of failing to provide military-grade equipment to police...."in the event" that those police forces might, you know, "need" those grenade launchers.
Refusing to go along with militarizing local police would subject congresscritters running for re-election to criticisms of weakness on Homeland security. Nothing worse post 9-11 than a congressional candidate not willing to take any and all threats, real or imagined, hysterically seriously.
And so, like with the Voting Rights Act and the Citizens United ruling, existing laws, like Posse Comitatus, are easily circumvented, or simply tossed out under some fairy tale notion that 'laws are not a suicide pact', or similar stupid thinking.
Wiill the United States become just another third-rate military dictatorship where the lines between the military and local law enforcers are blurred beyond distinction?
I think we're already there.
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