US Continues to violate Constitution in Permanent World War on Terror

Eric Blair

activistpost.com

5/17/13

Two disturbing developments have occurred in the last couple of days that have gone relatively unnoticed compared to the recent IRS, AP, and Benghazi scandals.

First, the senate is debating an expansion of the already broad powers of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) so the U.S. can essentially engage any area in the world in the war on terror, including America. Which brings us to the second development: the Pentagon has recently granted itself police powers on American soil.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Sheehan told Congress yesterday that the AUMF authorized the US military to operate on a worldwide battlefield from Boston to Pakistan.  Sheehan emphasized that the Administration is authorized to put boots on the ground wherever the enemy chooses to base themselves, essentially ignoring the declaration of war clause in the US Constitution.

Senator Angus King said this interpretation of the AUMF is a “nullity” to the Constitution because it ignores Congress’ role to declare war.  King called it the “most astoundingly disturbing hearing” he’s been to in the Senate.

Even ultra-hawk John McCain agreed that the AUMF has gone way beyond its authority.

“This authority … has grown way out of proportion and is no longer applicable to the conditions that prevailed, that motivated the United States Congress to pass the authorization for the use of military force that we did in 2001,” McCain said.

Glenn Greenwald wrote an excellent piece describing how this hearing reveals the not-so-secret plan to make the war on terror a permanent fixture in Western society.

Greenwald writes:

It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.

A self-perpetuating permanent war against a shadowy undefinable enemy appears to be the future of American foreign policy.  How convenient for the war machine and tyrants who claim surveillance is safety.

But perhaps most disturbing of all of this is the military’s authority to police American streets as if it was in civil war. For all those still in denial that America is a militarized police state, this should be the ultimate cure to your delusion.

Jeff Morey of AlterNet writes:

By making a few subtle changes to a regulation in the U.S. Code titled “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” the military has quietly granted itself the ability to police the streets without obtaining prior local or state consent, upending a precedent that has been in place for more than two centuries.

The most objectionable aspect of the regulatory change is the inclusion of vague language that permits military intervention in the event of “civil disturbances.” According to the rule: “Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.”

A law from 1878 called the Posse Comitatus Act was put in place to prevent the Department of Defense from interfering with local law enforcement.  But now, the DoD claims they’ve had this authority for over 100 years.

“The authorization has been around over 100 years; it’s not a new authority. It’s been there but it hasn’t been exercised. This is a carryover of domestic policy,” said an unnamed defense official who also emphasized that all soldiers take an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies “foreign and domestic” indicating that citizens are a threat to the Constitution.

Yet, the Constitution is a document that polices the government, not the people. In other words, the only people who can be “enemies” of the Constitution are those who took an oath to defend it. Therefore, only government officials can be an enemy the Constitution.

This follows a recent West Point study that sought to define the American people as “domestic enemies” in order to justify soldiers breaking their oath to corral pesky citizens.

The West Point Terrorism Center wrote that “conspiracy theorists” who worry that local law enforcement will be steadily replaced by federally-controlled law enforcement could potentially be a domestic enemy:

Some groups are driven by a strong conviction that the American political system and its proxies were hijacked by external forces interested in promoting a “New World Order,” (NWO) in which the United States will be embedded in the UN or another version of global government. The NWO will be advanced, they believe, via steady transition of powers from local to federal law-enforcement agencies, i.e., the transformation of local police and law-enforcement agencies into a federally controlled “National Police” agency that will in turn merge with a “Multi-National Peace Keeping Force.” The latter deployment on US soil will be justified via a domestic campaign implemented by interested parties that will emphasize American society’s deficiencies and US government incompetency.

So, as the US military claims to have the authority to be a “National Police” force, researchers who claim there is an agenda to do just that are now labeled as domestic terrorists?

Does this make any sense? Will oath takers see through these ridiculous interpretations and engage the real domestic enemy to the Constitution? Or will they just follow orders when the time comes to crack down on Americans?

————————————————

Military Quietly Grants Itself the Power to Police the Streets Without Local or State Consent

The lines between the military and law enforcement have blurred even further

May 15, 2013 

alternet.org

By Jed Morey

The manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects offered the nation a window into the stunning military-style capabilities of our local law enforcement agencies. For the past 30 years, police departments throughout the United States have benefitted from the government’s largesse in the form of military weaponry and training,  incentives offered in the ongoing “war on drugs.” For the average citizen watching events such as the intense pursuit of the Tsarnaev brothers on television, it would be difficult to discern between fully outfitted police SWAT teams and the military.

The lines blurred even further  Monday as a new dynamic was introduced to the militarization of domestic law enforcement. By making a few subtle changes to a regulation in the U.S. Code titled  “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” the military has quietly granted itself the ability to police the streets without obtaining prior local or state consent, upending a precedent that has been in place for more than two centuries.

The most objectionable aspect of the regulatory change is the inclusion of vague language that permits military intervention in the event of “civil disturbances.” According to the rule: “Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.”

Bruce Afran, a civil liberties attorney and constitutional law professor at Rutgers University, calls the rule, “a wanton power grab by the military.” He says, “It’s quite shocking actually because it violates the long-standing presumption that the military is under civilian control.”

A defense official who declined to be named takes a different view of the rule, claiming, “The authorization has been around over 100 years; it’s not a new authority. It’s been there but it hasn’t been exercised. This is a carryover of domestic policy.” Moreover, he insists the Pentagon doesn’t “want to get involved in civilian law enforcement. It’s one of those red lines that the military hasn’t signed up for.” Nevertheless, he says, “every person in the military swears an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States to defend that Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

One of the more disturbing aspects of the new procedures that govern military command on the ground in the event of a civil disturbance relates to authority. Not only does it fail to define what circumstances would be so severe that the president’s authorization is “impossible,” it grants full presidential authority to “Federal military commanders.” According to the defense official, a commander is defined as follows: “Somebody who’s in the position of command, has the title commander. And most of the time they are centrally selected by a board, they’ve gone through additional schooling to exercise command authority.”

As it is written, this “commander” has the same power to authorize military force as the president in the event the president is somehow unable to access a telephone. (The rule doesn’t address the statutory chain of authority that already exists in the event a sitting president is unavailable.) In doing so, this commander must exercise judgment in determining what constitutes, “wanton destruction of property,” “adequate protection for Federal property,” “domestic violence,” or “conspiracy that hinders the execution of State or Federal law,” as these are the circumstances that might be considered an “emergency.”

“These phrases don’t have any legal meaning,” says Afran. “It’s no different than the emergency powers clause in the Weimar constitution [of the German Reich]. It’s a grant of emergency power to the military to rule over parts of the country at their own discretion.”

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