Bush Co. Plans Military State
Ted Rall and I have an on-again, off-again friendship, depending on how off-target his was last week. This week, we are on again!
Soldiers brandishing automatic weapons, a defining characteristic of life in Third World dictatorships, have become commonplace at airports, bus and train stations, government offices and highway checkpoints since 9/11. Now troops are becoming our first responders to situations, such as natural disasters and flu outbreaks, which normally fall under civilian jurisdiction.
Everything's gone topsy-turvy: The National Guard, charged with keeping order here at home and legally under the control of state governors, has been shipped off to Iraq and Afghanistan, shanghaied by the federal government. Here in the U.S., whatever comes up, the Bush Administration's first reaction is to send in the regular army troops who are supposed to be in Iraq. Whether it's a sinister plot against American democracy or the most sustained large-scale foolishness in history, the Bush Administration is tearing down the traditional wall between overseas military action and domestic law enforcement.
Creeping militarism leapt into full view with Bush's October 4 request to Congress to repeal the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the use of the military in domestic policing except for the purpose of quelling a revolution. Citing the theoretical possibility that Asian avian flu, now only transmittable from bird to human, could mutate into a human-to-human form, Bush said: "If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And who best to be able to effect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have."
Overturning Posse Comitatus would allow troops to break into houses and apartments and sweep the streets for flu victims, and forcibly contain them in Guantánamo-style camps. They could seal off cities or whole states. These extreme measures could also be deployed against U.S. citizens after hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, or even election disputes--whenever and wherever a president decides they are necessary.