Monday, September 26, 2005

Posse Comitatus: They’re Coming for You!

First, a note to those who might have missed it: my story of this weekend’s protest is located here: Part 1 Part 2

Now, then. I’ve been covering an expected request for increased Federal powers since Katrina. This whole thing seems to be flying under the radar in a similar manner as the Patriot Act. I’m not surprised; I mean, who would want to advertise another power grab, especially one that could mean a soldier on every corner of every city? Best to keep people from knowing about it, right?

But, of course, that doesn’t stop it from happening. The Administration is seeking ways to utilize the military for law enforcement during disasters:

But over in the Department of Homeland Security, officials are already throwing out ideas to use the military to gather intelligence in chaotic disasters. In New Orleans, for instance, Coast Guard officials conducting helicopter rescues could see broken levees and burgeoning crowds outside the city's convention center, long before crucial federal officials on the ground learned of such developments from local authorities, according to extensive Coast Guard interviews with U.S. News. Russ Knocke, the DHS press secretary, says DHS realizes now that such eyes in the air are crucial.

"People want us to be omniscient and omnipresent, but the truth is, we're not," Knocke says. "We could have had the military, for instance, fly over New Orleans early on to help us gain visibility on things–water levels and developing pockets of criminal activity." Knocke says DOD assets in the future could even assist in "stabilizing a city" or "conducting a large-scale evacuation."

Look, I have absolutely no problem (in fact, I welcome) the military helping out with relief and rescue efforts during a disaster. There’s probably not a better-trained group out there to handle such matters. But the military is built for fighting wars, not for domestice law enforcement. Hell, there are plenty of existing civilian resources that could meet the need for intelligence. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has P-3 Orions that could just as easily have been used to "gain visibility on things-water levels and developing pockets of criminal activity". The problem? BICE would have to stop the War on Drugs and Immigrants to help people, and we all know that isn’t happening.

So, what have we learned? The federal government screws up, and bigger government is the answer. Make sure a few civil liberties are eroded, and new police powers granted, even though the screw up had nothing to do with private citizens. Its almost enough to make me think they drop the ball on purpose.

Posted by crimnos @ 8:41 AM