In October of this year, one month prior to the November midterm elections, a special army unit known as 'Consequence Management Response Force' will be ready for deployment on American soil if so ordered by the President.
The special force, which is the new name being given to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry, has been training at Fort Stewart, Georgia and is composed of 80,000 troops.
According to the Army Times,
They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.
The key phrase is 'may be called upon to help with civil unrest.'
This afternoon a local radio talk show host reported that he had been in contact with a member of the military. This military source stated that the armed forces have been alerted to the strong possibility that civil unrest may occur in the United States this summer, prior to the midterm elections of 2010.
The source described this as 'our long, hot summer of discontent' that could be eerily reminiscent of the summer of 1968 when riots broke out in many of our largest cities.
However, the summer of 2010 could well be much worse due to the players involved. In 1968 the major players were war protesters. This time, the outrage simmering beneath the surface of American society involves a broad cross-section of the heartland, and most of them are heavily armed.
It is highly unlikely that these citizens would ever initiate armed conflict of any kind. In their view, gun rights are for self-defense--and for defense against tyrannical government, which our Founders regarded as the most dangerous force on earth.
However, it has become clear that other groups may well initiate violence in order to start an 'incident' that would give Obama and a rogue Congress a reason to implement martial law, confiscate the citizens' guns, enforce curfews, and suspend all future elections until such time as it is deemed 'safe' to proceed with human liberty as encapsulated in the right to vote.
Tea Party members, for example, have been warned in recent days that members of Andy Stern's SEIU union and members of the organization formerly known as ACORN plan to infiltrate Tea Party gatherings in order to incite some sort of incident that could result in armed conflict.
In addition, all indications point to a humiliating defeat for the Democrats and Obama in November. Not only will the House in all likelihood transfer to Republican control, but it is increasingly possible for the Democrats to lose the Senate as well.
And there are Leftwing groups in this country that would use whatever means necessary to prevent that from happening.
ACORN has already gone underground, changing its name so as to fly beneath the radar screen. How many people will the group register to vote illegally?
And with Obama's plan to naturalize between 10 and 20 million illegal aliens, a brand new voter base for the Democrats will be in place prior to November.
Add to this the growing unrest over continued high unemployment, the coming spike in interest rates and inflation, and the still-boiling outrage over the manner in which Obama and the Democrats shoved ObamaCare down the throats of the citizens, and all of the ingredients are present for a major F-5 tornado to sweep across the heartland.
To what extent would soldiers use deadly force during such 'civil unrest' should the Consequence Management Response Team be utilized? During the anti-war riots of the 1960s they killed student protesters. What about now?
The military source cited by the radio host today was asked this very question. He would merely say that the culture of the U.S. military is changing--half support Obama and the other half are dead-set against him.
His conclusion? There is no way to know for sure if they would obey an order to open fire on ordinary citizens.
Update: The Cato Institute published this warning when the program was launched in its first phase in 2008 (the program has been updated and expanded since 2008). The Founders insisted that standing armies were never to be used against American citizens on our own soil, no matter what violations of this principle have occurred in the years following. In the spirit of the Patriots and of real journalists government must be questioned constantly and held to intense scrutiny in order to preserve liberty.
Be Wary of Using Military as Police
mainstream media has finally gotten around to reporting that the Pentagon has assigned active-duty troops to a homeland defense mission, a historical first. On Oct. 1, the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, freshly redeployed from Iraq, began a year-long assignment as a domestic "chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive Consequence Management Response Force," or CCMRF ("Sea-Smurf"). The 1st BCT is the first of three CCMRF teams, who will comprise 15,000-20,000 soldiers, according to the Army. The other two will come from the Army National Guard or reserves.
Neither the terrorist threat nor the hazards of bad weather require rethinking our traditional reluctance to use standing armies at home. We need not fear a coup, but we should worry about misusing our busy military for civilian tasks and developing an tendency to rely on the troops to answer every scare.
Initial reports were that the 1st BCT might be used to deal with civil unrest and crowd control, missions that would be in severe tension with the Posse Comitatus Act, the longstanding federal statute that restricts the president's ability to use the U.S. military as a domestic police force. In September, the Army Times described the unit's training as "the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded," including beanbag bullets, Tasers and traffic roadblocks.
That report, along with the Bush administration's claim that the Constitution allows that president to use forces as he sees fit, no matter what Congress forbids, created well-founded fears that the CCMRFs first attack would be on Posse Comitatus. Yet Pentagon spokespeople deny that forces will be used for law enforcement purposes. And one suspects that the Bush administration's monarchial view of executive power will be out of fashion come January.
That shouldn't placate us. The real trouble is what is legal, not what isn't. Even when it doesn't lead to collateral damage, the use of standing armies at home can, to quote Jefferson, "overawe the public sentiment," and acclimate Americans to a militarized home front inconsistent with democratic life.
Neither the terrorist threat nor the hazards of bad weather require rethinking our traditional reluctance to use standing armies at home.
In the panicked days following 9/11, Bush administration officials repeatedly suggested that only armed soldiers could defeat the domestic terror threat. When thousands of troops patrolled the streets in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld noted approvingly that "the largest theater for the United States is not Afghanistan today. It is, in fact, Salt Lake City and the environs."
To guard against hijackers, then-Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta proposed putting Delta Force operatives on domestic flights, collecting frequent-flier miles instead of pursuing al Qaida in Afghanistan. Today, along with the "war on drugs," we contemplate using our military to fight hurricanes, floods, immigrants, Mumbai-style attacks, and more, as if it's the national Swiss army knife.
But there is no good argument that domestic militarization is necessary to keep us safe. Civilian officers have been successfully keeping the peace and responding to disasters for a century or so, occasionally supplemented by National Guardsmen under the command of their state governors. Every state's National Guard force is now equipped to cope with attacks using unconventional weapons. Their ranks will be bolstered as the war in Iraq winds down.
The regular military is wonderful for destroying enemy troop formations or bombing their command centers, but not for finding hidden killers like terrorists. Intelligence and old-fashioned police work are our most potent counter-terrorism tools. Neither does Hurricane Katrina justify a domestic army. The problem there was the mismanagement of the National Guard and local first responders, not their lack of capacity.
Moreover, using troops at home undermines military readiness. When soldiers are forced into the role of police officers, their war-fighting skills degrade, according to a 2003 General Accounting Office report that looked at some of the homeland security missions the military carried out after 9/11. The GAO also found that, naturally, such missions also put a serious strain on a military already heavily committed abroad.
Yet creeping militarization continues, and few in the media or Congress object. The militarized future to fear isn't one that ends in a dictatorship or martial law. Our troops' commitment to civilian rule prevents that. The danger we face is one in which the public embraces the notion that civilian institutions are weak and messy, and that when you want the job done, you call in the boys in green. That approach will make us no safer — only less free.
Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and author of The Cult of the Presidency: America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power. Benjamin H. Friedman is research fellow in defense and homeland security studies at the Cato Institute and a PhD candidate in political science at the Massachusetts
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