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News Services Pushing for the Total Federalization of America

Infowars.com | September 15, 2005

Here's Gannett News Service pushing for the total federalization of America. FEMA was in contol of the New Orleans debacle from minute one. By intentionally dropping the ball they could then call in the military to a triumphant bugle call for the calvary. Then all the pundits on TV say, "this is great, troops should run our lives."

Federal troops should be first responders to natural disasters, experts say

Gannett News Service | September 15, 2005
By John Yaukey

Hurricane Katrina invaded the Gulf Coast region like an enemy, cutting communications, isolating security forces and severing supply lines.

It's no surprise then that disaster coordinators, Pentagon officials and military experts are war-gaming future domestic catastrophes with the full-time military playing an integral first-responder role - possibly as a police force — which is now illegal.

“I think that's one of the interesting issues that Congress needs to take a look at,” President Bush said while making his third tour of the battered Gulf Coast region this week.

Some homeland security experts now believe there should be federal troops — that don't need 72 hours for call-up as some National Guard units require — capable of dropping into a disaster zone as the damage is being done, rather than afterward.

“More of our military capability should be on alert in this kind of situation to move within hours instead of days,” said Michael O'Hanlon, who studies both homeland security and military issues at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution. “This includes both people and equipment like low-draft boats capable of cutting through shallow water.”

This new thinking about a federal military presence in natural disasters was made abundantly clear last Friday when Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen replaced civilian Michael Brown, the embattled former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the head of all federal Katrina recovery efforts.

But this debate is not without considerable historical baggage. The reluctance to use federal troops on U.S. soil is rooted in the perennial American struggle between states' rights and federal authority.

Here are some questions and answers that explore a sensitive policy issue that could change the way Americans save lives when disaster strikes.

Question: How much faster can full-time troops respond to disasters such as Hurricane Katrina than the National Guard?

Answer: A good example is the Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division. This unit, headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C., is capable of dropping troops into action anywhere in the world in less than 20 hours.

It can take National Guard units several days to respond in strength to hurricanes.

The 82nd Airborne is now helping with humanitarian aid in the Gulf Coast region, steering clear of any police activity.

There are about 20,000 active duty troops in the Gulf Coast region now, serving alongside 50,000 National Guard forces.

Q: As New Orleans flooded and slipped into anarchy, Katrina victims were pleading for more security. Why couldn't federal troops come to their rescue?

A: Federal troops are legally constrained in what they can do domestically by the Posse Comitatus Act. Passed in 1878 to limit the use of federal troops to control Southern polling places, Posse Comitatus makes it a crime to employ “any part of the Army ...to execute the laws.” It does not apply to the Coast Guard.

Q: Can the restrictions against using federal troops for domestic enforcement be suspended in time of emergency?

A: Two laws allow this.

The president can invoke the Insurrection Act dating back to 1795, which permits the military use of federal troops on U.S. soil to put down violence that local authorities are incapable of handling.

Under the National Defense Act of 1916, the president can federalize a state's National Guard troops in an effort to centralize control over a chaotic situation. Bush suggested “federalizing” Louisiana's Guard forces when the chaos in New Orleans began escalating, but Gov. Kathleen Blanco objected.

Q: Have these measures been used before?

A: Yes. The elder President George H.W. Bush federalized the National Guard in California to quell the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.

In 1963, President Kennedy used the Alabama's Guard to force desegregation at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa.

In 1957, President Eisenhower used federal troops and the Arkansas National Guard to force the desegregation of Little Rock's public schools.

Q: Why change the laws restricting federal troops if there are fairly direct ways of circumventing them when the need arises?

A: Invoking rarely used measures can be difficult, time-consuming and potentially controversial.

In the case of Louisiana, a Republican president would be taking control from a Democratic governor. The Bush administration debated this and decided against it, according to reports about the dialogue between Washington and Baton Rouge.

Automatic mechanisms that permit, or even obligate, a powerful federal military response to a major disaster could save time by eliminating politics and indecision.

Katrina could prompt major military revisions

Airforce Times | September 15, 2005
By Rick Maze

The chairmen of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Homeland Security Committee said Tuesday Hurricane Katrina could lead to major changes in the military, including revoking or relaxing restrictions on putting active-duty military troops into domestic law enforcement duties.

“The time has come that we should just reflect on the Posse Comitatus Act and other statutes that have served this nation quite well in years passed,” said Sen. John Warner, R-Va., the armed services committee chairman. “We face an uncertain future as it relates to terrorism and the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

The hurricane, he said, provides an example of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that are close to overwhelmed.

Warner is not in a rush to make changes, and is not even certain that the Posse Comitatus Act and Insurrection Act that restrict military involvement in law enforcement need to be changed. He said he simply wants some high-level discussions about whether the laws are workable or need to be updated.

The Senate is expected to return to work in the next few weeks on the 2006 defense authorization bill, but Warner said he probably would not support an amendment to the bill making any changes.

“We are talking about some major and fundamental changes in military law and criminal law, and we should not rush,” he said.

“We need to do this right. We have to in a very quiet and careful manner look at the totality of permanent law and regulation to determine what changes should be made to meet contingencies of the nature we have experienced, whether it is a natural disaster or … a terrorist attack in the future,” he said.

He said he has been working on the concept for 18 months, well before Katrina's destructive arrival. But Katrina, with its heavy military involvement, provides examples that can help bring attention to the need for a review of the laws.

“If a situation arose where law enforcement powers were needed and the active-duty person is restricted mostly to handing out water, I don't think a citizen needing help would understand,” he said. “If this happened in front of television cameras, I don't think the public would understand distinctions between active and Guard troops.”

Warner said he would not support a complete repeal of restrictions on law enforcement powers for the military.

“It is a very sound law,” he said. “Active-duty troops should not be involved in law enforcement except under the most serious … circumstances.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who heads the homeland security and governmental affairs committee that is looking into problems with hurricane relief efforts, agrees with Warner. “I think it is really important that we look at this, along with a host of other issues,” she said.

In talking with federal officials who have worked on Katrina relief efforts, Collins said she got the impression “those on the front lines believe current structures are inadequate to deal with a catastrophe of this magnitude.”

Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said he has praise for military efforts on Katrina, one of the bright spots of federal relief efforts.

“The National Guard and our military, when they arrive on the scene, things change,” Lott said. “We could not have made it without them, period. People would have died.”

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