Predictably, advocates of the unlawful deployment of our military use fear to foment support this action. They call to mind the summer of 1968 when riots and demonstrations decrying the country’s prolonged conflict with Viet Nam plagued some of America’s large cities. The summer of 2010, they advert, could be “our long, hot summer of discontent.” In order to prevent that eerie specter from becoming reality, proponents encourage Americans to welcome the calming presence of armed American troops patrolling potential hotspots.
The subordination of such an outfit, known as the Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF), under the command of US Army Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was documented last year by this writer in The New American. Lest any suppose that such an overt act of tyranny be the product of our current President’s fertile fascist imagination, that account related how President Barack Obama was simply carrying out the historic reassignment implemented by President George W. Bush, who in 2008 claimed that as commander-in-chief, the President was authorized by the Constitution to use the armed forces as he saw fit, congressional opposition notwithstanding.
In response to the Bush administration’s pronouncement, the Cato Institute published a warning of the dangers of using a brigade of the United States Army as a domestic police force. The Cato Institute article reported that the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team would be brought home from Iraq and combined with 15,000–20,000 other soldiers to form the new unit. NORTHCOM’s website claimed the size of the unit composed of servicemen from all branches of the military would not exceed 4,700 personnel.
Typically, that estimate falls far below the actual number of regular army troops assigned to the force. According to reports, the CCMRF is composed of 80,000 troops and has been drilling at Fort Stewart, Georgia (home of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division) since being redeployed from Iraq.
The duration of the CCMRF’s domestic policing assignment is open ended. Army Colonel Louis Vogler, the chief of NORTHCOM future operations, told the Army Times, “Right now, the reponse force requirement will be an enduring mission. How the [Defense Department] chooses to source that and whether or not they continue to assign them to NORTHCOM, that could change in the future. Now, the plan is to assign a force every year.”
Every year, year after year in perpetuity, the United States Army will place one of its brigades at the command of NORTHCOM, and by extension of the President, with the power to patrol and quell any flare ups of civil unrest, including “crowd control … or chaos.” With such vague marching orders, there is little wonder that many fear that such a force could be used to support a coup or enforce the executive branch’s will on any gathering deemed “unruly,” “dangerous,” or disruptive of the peace.
In a frightening description of the unit’s training and mission directives, Colonel Roger Cloutier, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, practically crows about the arsenal of tactical weapons that will be placed at the unit’s disposal. Colonel Cloutier asserts that his troops are training to use “the first ever nonlethal package” of weapons that will be used to “subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.”
The “package” referred to by Cloutier includes spike strips to slow or stop traffic, bean bag bullets, tasers, shields, and batons.
In apparent ignorance of the Posse Comitatus Act, which expressly forbids the armed deployment of federal troops within the borders of the United States, Colonel Cloutier muses that he “can’t think of a more noble mission than this. We’ve been all over the world during this time of conflict, but now our mission is to take care of citizens at home … and depending on where an event occurred, you’re going home to take care of your home town, your loved ones.”
He continues in the same lofty spirit, “I don’t know what America’s overall plan is — I just know that 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are soldiers, airmen and Marines that are standing by to come and help if they are called. It makes me feel good as an American to know that my country has a dedicated force to come in and help the people at home.”
It is the very acme of irony that an active duty commander in the United States Army would use such language to exult in the absolutely illegal deployment of his unit as a police force endowed with lethal law-enforcement power within the “home towns” of America. The United States already has a force dedicated to help the American people; as a matter of fact it has thousands of such forces. They are known as the police and they are already lawfully and loyally serving the public good in every small town and sprawling metropolis from coast to coast and border to border.
Finally, the citizens of this Republic, the palladium of liberty, must understand the staunch, unwavering opposition of our Founding Fathers to the use of the national armed forces in response to domestic civil unrest. Their words and warnings could be no clearer. From Sir William Blackstone (whose Commentaries on the Laws of England were of unparalleled influence on the Framers) to Thomas Jefferson; from Patrick Henry to James Madison; our learned forbears were unanimously aligned against any use of “standing armies” inside the borders of this nation.
Here is but a sampling of their statements, which should serve as testimony against the deployment of any unit of any branch of the United States Armed Forces with the ostensible mission of imposing order in the towns and cities of this nation.
Henry St. George Tucker in Blackstone’s Commentaries: “Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”
Patrick Henry of Virginia: “A standing army we shall have, also, to execute the execrable commands of tyranny; and how are you to punish them? Will you order them to be punished? Who shall obey these orders? Will your mace-bearer be a match for a disciplined regiment?”
The Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788: “That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power."
The Pennsylvania Ratifying Convention: “As standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military shall be kept under strict subordination to and be governed by the civil power.”
North Carolina’s Declaration of Rights of 1776: “That the people have a Right to bear Arms for the Defence of the State, and as Standing Armies in Time of Peace are dangerous to Liberty, they ought not to be kept up, and that the military should be kept under strict Subordination to, and governed by the Civil Power.”