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.
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.
Naomi Wolf is the author of the book “The End of America – A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot“, and the newly released book “Give Me Liberty“.