Widening Police State (And Immigration) Threat To Republic
congressional delay in passing the administration`s
Homeland Security bill, which creates yet another
appendage of the vast
federal leviathan, supposedly to protect us from
terrorists and their colleagues, has not yet resulted in
the destruction of the Republic.
While senators are bickering over
the managerial details of the new department, they might
also want to stop for a few minutes and ask themselves
just how far they`re ready to go in creating the
infrastructure of a
Pretty far, if what senior Democrat
Joe Biden of Delaware said a few weeks ago. Spouting off
on one of the Sunday talk shows, Mr. Biden, a member of
the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that the
military should be empowered to
arrest civilians. Not since the days of
Reconstruction has the federal government actually done
anything like that, but then, "reconstruction" is more
or less exactly what the Republic is facing these days.
Mr. Biden said the
Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which
forbids the military from performing law enforcement
functions and arresting civilians, "has to be amended."
The rationale he offered was that "it`s not very
realistic" for soldiers who might be checking out a
supposed weapon of mass destruction, to "not be able to
exercise the same power a police officer would in
dealing with that situation."
"Right now," he explained, "when
you call in the military, the military would not be able
to shoot to kill, if they were approaching the weapon,"
and they couldn`t arrest anyone either.
Therefore the law must be changed.
Mr. Biden apparently thinks the
soldiers would arrest the weapon. The point of course is
trained in such matters to detect and disarm the
weapon. The police can arrest the suspects. As for
shooting to kill, if the troops needed to do that to
protect their lives or those of others, nobody is going
In short, Mr. Biden offered only
the thinnest reasons for yet another vast expansion of
Tom Ridge, the current security czar, said on the
same day that he thought the need for such powers was
"very unlikely," and that`s
refreshing—perhaps—though not as much as what he might
have said. Mr. Ridge, as well as the attorney general
and maybe even the president himself, might have said
that what the Delaware Democrat was suggesting was
totally unwarranted and unjustified and that under no
circumstances would they favor giving the military the
rounding up civilians.
It`s interesting no one said that.
What administration spokesmen did
say, aside from Mr. Ridge`s opaque remark, came from the
appointed general in charge of domestic security,
Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, the commander of the
Pentagon`s Northern Command. "We should always be
reviewing things like the Posse Comitatus Act and other
laws," said the general, "if we think it ties our hands
in protecting the American people." Sure, but does it
tie anyone`s hands, and should it be amended?
The general didn`t say, but the
New York Times to which he didn`t say it, reported
that what he did say about amending the law reflects a
"shift in thinking by many top Pentagon officials, who
have traditionally been wary of involving the military
in domestic law enforcement." [NYT, “Wider
Military Role in U.S. Is Urged” — Eric Schmitt July 21,
pay archive–free copy
They haven`t been the
only ones wary of it, nor is their thinking the only
one to start shifting.
The Posse Comitatus Act was passed
outlaw military intervention in Southern elections
after the end of Reconstruction but also to avoid what
many Americans of that day understood to be a danger to
Republican government—having the military, an arm of the
federal government, perform a function that citizens,
local communities, were supposed to do for
Today, of course, neither top brass
like Gen. Eberhart nor leading senators like Mr. Biden
have the foggiest notion of what a republic is, how it
functions, and how confusing functions can destroy it.
Nor is there anyone in the Bush
administration who knows much more.
What no one seems to have noticed,
in the 11 months that have passed since Sept. 11, is
that there has been no need whatsoever for most of the
drastic "emergency" counter-terrorist measures that the
administration has insisted were needed to fight
terrorism and prevent future attacks.
Nor has anyone shown any "need" to
turn the military into policemen.
Before lawmakers and Pentagon desk
jockeys come up with any more bright ideas for turning
what once was a constitutional republic into a full
blown police state, maybe they should all sit down and
read a few good books on what a free republic really is
and how it does—and doesn`t—survive..
August 05, 2002