Martial Law On The Horizon

23 03 2007

I stumbled upon ••this article•• that discusses the overturning of the posse comitatus law (1878) in the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act. It’s funny that I found it today, as I have been thinking about this topic ever since the Warner Defense Act was passed. An excerpt from the article:

n October 2006, Bush signed into law the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. Quietly slipped into the law at the last minute, at the request of the Bush administration, were sections changing important legal principles, dating back 200 years, which limit the U.S. government’s ability to use the military to intervene in domestic affairs. These changes would allow Bush, whenever he thinks it necessary, to institute martial law–under which the military takes direct control over civilian administration.

Sec. 1042 of the Act, “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies,” effectively overturns what is known as posse comitatus. The Posse Comitatus Act is a law, passed in 1878, that prohibits the use of the regular military within the U.S. borders. The original passage of the Posse Comitatus Act was a very reactionary move that sealed the betrayal of Black people after the Civil War and brought the period of Reconstruction to an end. It decreed that federal troops could no longer be used inside the former Confederate states to enforce the new legal rights of Black people. Black people were turned over to the armed police and Klansmen serving the southern plantation owners, and the long period of Jim Crow began.

During the 20th century, posse comitatus objectively started to play a new role within the bourgeois democratic framework: as a legal barrier to the direct influence of the powerful military establishment and the armed forces over domestic U.S. society. It served to some degree as an obstacle against military coups and presidents seizing military control over the country. (However, National Guard troops have been legally available to the ruling class for use inside the U.S., and there have been other loopholes to the prohibition of the use of armed forces domestically, as in the mobilization of Marine troops during the 1992 L.A. Rebellion.)

This website seems to be fairly left-wing, but makes an excellent point. With the transfer of power over the National Guard from the states to the federal government (under the Warner Defense Act), and now the removal of legal obsticles to the use of the regular army within the United States, Bush has — in my opinion — literally paved the way for dictatorship. Perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but eventually.

I personally don’t think Bush himself would bother. What scares me is that he does not seem to think that other presidents might very easily take advantage of all of the loop-holes he’s created and seize control of the nation.

We had a good country once.




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