05 September 2005

Guard The Borders 9/5/05

With the massive rescue, security, and humanitarian effort going on along the Gulf Coast, attention of America has been focused away from our number one security threat. The Border. The United States is spending Billions of dollars on the Katrina relief, and we should. But, we cannot ignore our border. Every year, millions attempt to invade the United States. Yes, this is an invasion from Mexico. And they are doing it with the blessing of the Mexican government. They come here, get jobs at reduced wages which lowers the standard of living for those of us who live in the areas where they locate to. Often those who are crossing illegally are mules carrying drugs into the country. And the flow of illegal traffic is an avenue for foreign terrorists who wish to do our nation harm. There isn't enough attention being placed on securing our borders. And unless something is done to secure them, it will one day become necessary to seal them. Yes I said SEAL THEM. With a wall. We have a little known (to the common American anyway) law that prevents the government from using federal troops (that's active and reserve components other than the National Guard which falls under the Governor of the state) in a law enforcement capacity. This can be changed however, but it takes an act of Congress to do so. From Wikipedia:

The Posse Comitatus Act is a federal law of the United States (18 U.S.C. ยง 1385) passed in 1878, after the end of Reconstruction, and was intended to prohibit Federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states. It generally prohibits Federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under Federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The original act only referred to the Army, but the Air Force was added in 1956 and the Navy and Marine Corps have been included by a regulation of the Department of Defense. This law is mentioned whenever it appears that the Department of Defense is interfering in domestic disturbances.

There are a number of exceptions to the act. These include:

  • National Guard units while under the authority of the governor of a state;
  • Troops when used pursuant to the Federal authority to quell domestic violence as was the case during the 1992 Los Angeles riots;
  • The President of the United States can waive this law in an emergency;
  • In December 1981 additional laws were enacted (codified 10 USC 371-78) clarifying permissible military assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies - including the Coast Guard - especially in combating drug smuggling into the United States. Posse Comitatus clarifications emphasize supportive and technical assistance (e.g., use of facilities, vessels, aircraft, intelligence, tech aid, surveillance) while generally prohibiting direct participation of DoD personnel in law enforcement (e.g., search, seizure, and arrests). For example, Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachments (LEDETS) serve aboard Navy vessels and perform the actual boardings of interdicted suspect drug smuggling vessels and, if needed, arrest their crews.
  • Under 18 USC 831, the Attorney General may request that the Secretary of Defense provide emergency assistance if civilian law enforcement is inadequate to address certain types of threat involving the release of nuclear materials, such as potential use of a Nuclear or Radiological weapon. Such assistance may be by any personel under the authority of the Department of Defense, provided such assistance does not adversely affect US military preparedness.

The relevant legislation is as follows:

Sec. 1385. - Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus
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.
This law prohibits the military from being used to secure the border as border security is seen as a law enforcement duty assigned to the Border Patrol. However, if the Mexican Army were to mass along the Rio Grande, the President can then use federal troops to respond. Respond? This is a piss-poor way to run a nation. Our own laws prevent us from securing our country. The first step in securing our borders should be to modify the Posse Comitatus Act. The initial need for the Act no longer exists. Southern Reconstruction has long been over. In cases of securing our borders, patrolling our skies, and responding to secure the safety in disaster areas, the US military should be used. But Posse Comitatus stands in the way. This thread is a product of our Monday, Guard The Borders BlogBurst. Sites participating include:
Blogger's 1st Amendment Pledge If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules. Gribbit is a contributing writer at Stop The ACLU and the co-founder and administrator of Stop The ACLU BlogBurst.

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