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Old March 20, 2009, 04:40 PM   #51
LaBulldog
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The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. ยง 1385) passed on June 16, 1878 after the end of Reconstruction, with the intention (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) of substantially limiting the powers of the federal government to use the military for law enforcement. The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services (today the Army, Air Force, and State National Guard forces when such are called into federal service) from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain "law and order" on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) within the United States.

The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act.

The rest of the article is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_Act

So the Army can come to town, but they cannot perform law enforcement duties.
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Old March 20, 2009, 04:54 PM   #52
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LaBulldog, there is much much more to it than that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TEDDY
the prohabition is to prevent active interaction against civilians.there is nothing about helping in traffic control or helping in a hurrican situation.the ruby ridge and waco were what should not happen.get real,or you will see bogge men all night.
The Act was necessary to address severe grievances required to restore the Confederacy to the Union. It is on a par with the constitution, and violation could be argued as a risk to the stability of the Republic.

http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/1385.html

Title 18 US Code, PART I, Chapter 67, 1385, The Posse Comitatus Act
In a nutshell, this act bans the Army / Air Force from participating in arrests, searches, seizure of evidence (or protecting evidence) and other police-type activity on U.S. soil. The Coast Guard and National Guard troops while under the command of STATE GOVERNORS are excluded from the act. Naval operations under Coast Guard command would be also be excluded. Under specified circumstances, the Marines can be excluded as well.

The Act as originally written contains specific punishments for violation - no exceptions. Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be FINED under this title or IMPRISONED not more than two years, or both. (No exceptions)

Change Note: POST WWII: The only exemption allowed for the Army/Air Force has to do with nuclear materials (18 U.S.C. 831 (e)

Ruby Ridge did not involve the Posse Comitatus Act. Waco may have, but was obfuscated with the aid of the then current administration.

Under the posse comitatis Act, the Army/Air Force can't get involved in local, national law enforcement, but there is a stipulation that the Marines can help if signed off by the defense secretary, the chairman of the joint chiefs. (i.e. Marine Commander) For Army/Air Force, Congress would have to change the law.

There have been problems associated with Posse Comitatus even when used according to the Act.

Example is taken from James D. Delk, author of "Fires & Furies: The L.A. Riots"

LA Riots
29 April 1992: Police officers acquitted in beating trial of Rodney King
Most destructive civil disturbance in US history, causing the deaths of at least 54 people and more than $800 million in property damage throughout LA County. More than 10,000 troops from the California National Guard (CANG - under direction of California State Govenor) and 1,500 Marines were deployed to the area at the height of operations.

Sample incident: Marines assigned to "assist" local law enforcement, and Marine Squad Leader subordinated to senior police officer, operating under authority: special circumstance, posse comitatis exclusionary. No other instructions provided to Marines.

Circumstance: Police officers responding to a domestic dispute, accompanied by marines. They had just gone up to the door when two shotgun rounds were fired through the door, hitting the officers. One yelled "cover me!" to the marines as they retreated to safety. The Marines then laid down a heavy base of fire. . . . The police officer had NOT meant "shoot" when he yelled "cover me" to the marines. [He] meant . . . point your weapons and be prepared to respond if necessary. (Police training) However, the marines responded instantly in the precise way they had been trained, where "cover me" means provide me with cover using firepower. . . .over two hundred bullets [were] fired into that house in less than a minute.
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Old March 20, 2009, 05:07 PM   #53
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If you have never served then you need to know we take an oath to protect the American people.Assist-Protect -and Defend.Maybe you would change your tune if you were in that situation.
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Old March 20, 2009, 05:53 PM   #54
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I was in the military. For 6 years. The oath says nothing about "to protect the American people.Assist-Protect -and Defend."

The oath:

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of (STATE NAME) against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of (STATE NAME) and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to law and regulations. So help me God.

According to law. Hmm. Funny.
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Old March 20, 2009, 06:14 PM   #55
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I've been in the military for nearly 25 years now, with nearly 17 in the Coast Guard. This still disturbs me a bit. I don't see anything nefarious in this but I do think it is too close to that slippery slope we talk about. The other thing that bugs me is that you shouldn't ever knowingly put your troops or sailors into a bad situation. Putting your A#% on the line is part of the job, being sued because your CO made a stupid mistake is not.
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Old March 20, 2009, 06:24 PM   #56
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In 1941 Gen. George S. Patton personally drove a tank through the "strip" of bars and cat houses across the river from Ft. Benning Ga. into Phenix City, Alabama whose residents frequently robbed, beat and even murdered soldiers on weekend pass. Somehow missed by history, Phenix City, a mob run city in Alabama in the 1930's and into the early 1950's, was the site of many violent attacks against blacks and whites due to the organized crime activity. In 1954 a military government was installed, and the arrest of hundreds of mobsters, and ejection from town of thousands, and dynamite destruction of many buildings, finally cleaned up the town. orchidhunter

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Old March 20, 2009, 06:28 PM   #57
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He is talking about the MP oath, drilled into MPs at training. Assist, protect and defend. If you were not an MP. You don't have a clue.

The oath you listed is not for active duty troops. These troops were active duty.
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Old March 20, 2009, 07:38 PM   #58
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You are right, that one was the NG. The current one from Army.mil



Quote:
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
and an oath taken at some MP school still cannot authorize the breaking of Federal Law.
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Old March 20, 2009, 07:39 PM   #59
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Law not democracy

This is about the law. America is a republic, not a democracy. The law rules, not what the majority thinks is best at a given moment.

The act of deploying armed active duty soldiers into a domestic law enforcement environment without proper authority is illegal. In this day and age any Army Post Commander can be talking to the very senior leadership of the military, and our nation, in minutes. Certainly in a shorter time than it takes to drive the distance in this case. Bad judgement costs, the appropiate individual should be dealt with as his or her boss, and the law, sees fit.

Doesn't mean it was wrong. Lots us have probably been in a situition where we said "I know this isn't following the rules, but in this time and place I'm not following the rules" It may be anything from speeding to get a loved one to the hospital, to bending the rules of engagement in combat. It happens, and when you get caught / called on it you own up, and pay up.

Those MP were in the right place doing the right thing. That's not the issue - someone higher up broke the rules, took shortcut, or let emotion cloud a military decision. That is what was wrong here, helping fellow citizens in time of need was, and is, dead solid perfect. If our elected leadership was involved this would be a story 180 degrees out. Then if the elected leadership does this type thing at the wrong time, we, the citizens of America, fire their ass at the next election.
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Old March 21, 2009, 12:37 AM   #60
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m.p.driver & Dust Monkey,

I'm with you. As for the "tinfoil hat folks" here...all I can say is MFMSC.

USASA aka Army-MP.
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Old March 21, 2009, 06:05 AM   #61
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I do not see how it is "tinfoil hat" to point out that someone broke the law. The law was broken, period. However you want to attempt to justify it, what happened was illegal. funny thing is, no one here has really argued that what happen was legal, all of the people who believe that the MPs should have been there are arguing expediency, not law.

All of the excuses here are missing one thing: The base commander of an Army post does not have the legal authority to do what he did. I never said that there was some conspiracy, I am just saying he was wrong and broke the law. That should be dealt with. Especially claiming to be police, they should deal in what is legal, not expedient.

I don't see how anyone can support this while supporting the rule of law.

I have no idea what MFMSC means.
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Old March 21, 2009, 11:50 PM   #62
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The U.S. military can and does help during domestic disasters. Unless authorized to do so by Congress, they have no police powers.

The Army can come to town, they cannot do police work.
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Old March 22, 2009, 11:02 AM   #63
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Quote:
The base commander of an Army post does not have the legal authority to do what he did.
You are making an assumption what the soldiers did was illegal. I am not sure you can make that case based on what is currently known.

It seems kind of close to the edge, but without a full understanding of what was ordered and what was done, it is hard to say with any certainty.

It does not appear the soldiers were actively engaged in enforcing any kind of state law, nor did they make any arrests. The law is pretty clear that they can provide some forms of assistance to local law enforcement on request.
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Old March 22, 2009, 11:47 AM   #64
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Let me ask a dread hypothetical to the constitutional experts.

1. A full blooded set of Americans go nuts, like the dude who shot up a church recently to get the 'liberals'.

2. This set duplicates 9/11 and takes over 4 jets.

3. This time we get some warning, maybe 20 minutes.

4. They intend to crash into the Sears Tower, Hancock tower, Austin Capitol and the Statue of Libery.

Is it law enforcement only - can the USAF do anything?

Or

1. Their motivation is purely economic - send money to an account in the Caymans and give us amensty. Purely economic is just criminal and not rebellion?

Can the armed forces intervene?

So if 3000 more die, is it ok on the Internet. The exception proofs the rule.
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Old March 22, 2009, 02:26 PM   #65
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Glenn E. Meyer I think you raise some very interesting situations to ponder over but I think taking it to the air in regards to this topic takes it out of the realm in which the laws in place where designed for. I am far from an expert but I do find it interesting none the less.

Quote:
Civilian airliners with large numbers of American citizens are no longer exempt from military attack and the command to take out domestic air threats is under NORADS control if there is not time to reach the president.
And if I am not mistaken now under NORTHCOM.

The fact that no civil law enforcement even has the potential, training or equipment to address this issue in the sky is why military intervention is allowed. Civil law enforcement has only recently(post 9/11) been receiving training to deal with the aftermath.

Even if your could bind this scenario under posse comitatus, you left ample time in your scenario to allow the command to be ordered by the appropriate bodys that govern it.

Put your scenarios on the ground so it is an equal playing field in regards to the laws about rules of engagement.

The issue I have is not that they were there at all, it was the order was not passed down the proper chain of command to do so.

I mean if you think about it, we are ALL individuals with our own unique way of thinking, what I may feel is morally right or wrong does not stand water in a court of law in regards to my actions. So why should special treatment be given in this situation even.

If proper channels were used in this situation this issue would not even raise an eyebrow from me.

But it just shows how unprepared STILL our law enforcement in rural areas is to deal with crisis even after all the training recommendations about domestic terrorism.

Their force IS small so why have programs like COP(citizens on patrol) not been introduced there so they could be self sufficient in a "special event".

I am no expert as I have said, but I truly find these topics interesting because it does give insight and raise personal awareness in regards to these types of scenarios.

Maybe if more people talked about these subjects and not deemed them taboo or guise them under "it could never happen" we as a whole would be able to address them effectively and with out hesitation or possible persecution when they arose.
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Old March 22, 2009, 02:52 PM   #66
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So the military can blow you up in a purely economically motivated crime but cannot arrest you?

Is that what this is all about? As far as ample time, we've seen the appropriate authorities taking too long to act or decide.

Can the President order an action that seemingly violates the law and order the shoot down?

Not to thread hijack but this debate is similar to one theory of moral actions. In one case, the most moral action is absolutism to the law - even if it becomes a suicide pack or leads to death of innocents. Another is that a moral action is to follow the values of your own conscience if it promotes the greater good or moral cause.

I proposed the resolution for some is that if some situation like postulated, if some law breaking member of the military tries to aid you, refuse the help and perish in the flames.

If the immediate action is to prevent harm, as compared to a conspiracist expansion of military power, then I'm not fretting.

Of course, let's bring up the Katrina example.

Look at it two ways, depending on your personality structure:

1. Was it a stupid, misguided and illegal action postulated on a mistaken belief it would aid in saving lives?

2. Was it a planned conspiracy on the slippery slope to gun confiscation?

Since it was probably #1 - it was corrected in the courts, IIRC.

So, if in a seeming emergency, some military unit tries to save lives (did they here?) - our normal processes are really self correcting. If it is a conspiracy the law means nothing anyway when the black heliocopters come for you.
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Old March 22, 2009, 07:45 PM   #67
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Quote:
1. A full blooded set of Americans go nuts, like the dude who shot up a church recently to get the 'liberals'.

2. This set duplicates 9/11 and takes over 4 jets.

3. This time we get some warning, maybe 20 minutes.

4. They intend to crash into the Sears Tower, Hancock tower, Austin Capitol and the Statue of Libery.

Is it law enforcement only - can the USAF do anything?
Quote:
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
Posse comitatus does not prohibit all LE activities of the US military. Only those not expressly authorized by Congress. I believe there is some kind of provision for the military to be used if requested by local authorities.

I do agree it is a slippery slope that we should not be approaching. I wish congress would decide just what the military can do and what it cannot in these kind of situations.
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Old March 22, 2009, 10:31 PM   #68
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ilbob is exactly correct, but under posse comitatus. What has happened here is that Glenn E. Meyer is, I suspect, very well versed in these things and has thrown us a "trick" question to assist in our education. He has introduced a second set of law, most of which has never been tested, but came close during 911. That is the Emergency Powers and emergency executive authority for the most dire circumstances. That is the tin foil hat area. Speculation about it, I mean.

I recall Tommy Franks on the news some years back stating to the effect that if Al Quaeda were to nuke us, then it would be martial law the next day. He was aluding to the Emergency Powers stuff. There are several conspiracies along these lines. Every one I have seen is false. To believe those conspiracies is to not do your homework. All of the executive emergency powers are available from the library of congress. They are available in the entirety of text to the public. The truth is out there but some prefer a good conspiracy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
Can the President order an action that seemingly violates the law and order the shoot down?
Posse Comitatus is superceded in this case by Emergency Powers.
The answer is yes, legally, under the circumstances addressed by Emergency Powers and approved by congress - already. I suspect the results would not be good for political survival of anyone involved, but this as previously stated has not yet been tested in the real world.

Posse Comitatus has been with us a long time and the history of it is well documented. We have real world examples for study.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
Of course, let's bring up the Katrina example.

Look at it two ways, depending on your personality structure:

1. Was it a stupid, misguided and illegal action postulated on a mistaken belief it would aid in saving lives?
You were close with number one. It was incompetence.

NBC reports on Governor Blanco's Katrina mistakes:

http://newsbusters.org/node/2072

When a Governor makes mistakes with legal use of troops (National Guard in this case) they are responsible to their own state residents. I believe a price was paid here. Anybody know who the NEW governor is? Yep, that's how it's supposed to work.

Emergency Powers is a whole new bucket of worms. Hopefully, we will NEVER see how that works.
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Old March 22, 2009, 11:18 PM   #69
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OK, here is a true, no kidding example of how being bound by laws with zero lattitude for moral interjection can be wrong.

This really occurred during Hurricane Ivan.

An active duty C-17 crew of mine was flying FEMA cargo to a location in Texas, and then was going to another location further in Texas (locations witheld to protect the innocent).

Upon arriving my crew finds a Texas ANG C-130 broke down and a full load of patients and an aeromedical team stranded. Many of these patients are elderly, several in critical condition. During my crew's download, 2 of the patients have to be resucitated.

The aeromed team approaches my crew and asks for help (thinking "hey, there's a plane that's working"). Now realize, this ANG acft is operating under Title 32, my C-17 is under Title 10. My crew's answer, "absolutely." There's room in the C-17 for all of them and their next stop was the destination for the C-130.

An unknown Colonel approaches my crew and informs them of the problem with Title 10 vs 32 in this case. The doctor is standing there explaining that if they wait too much longer, a couple of the patients will die. My crew says forget the law, loss of life is more important and begins loading the patients, aeromed team, and all of their equipment.

The funny part is at this time a sheriff's deputy arrives, walks onto the C-17, and rather sheepishly informs the crew he was directed to prevent the C-17 from taking off unless the patients were on board by order of the govenor. My crew informs the deputy they are taking the patients.

As they are taxiing out, they receive a satellite phone call that the govenor has validated the patient load with FEMA to the US Transportation Command and down through the Tanker Airlift Control Center.

Technically, my crew broke the law putting the patients on the jet. Had they followed the letter of the law and departed when they should have and ignored the situation (the legal alternative) vs taking the time to load these patients, people would have died.

I agree laws are there to be followed, for the conduct of good order and discipline, and anyone who has read any of my posts should know I will never advocate any action that would break the law, all the way down to not stealing election signs for target stands. However, there comes a point where you must use common sense. Our legislature cannot predict every eventuality and there will be those .001% flukes where following the letter of the law does not meet its intent. In those cases, you've got to fall back to a defensible moral position.

In the case of the MP's helping out the local law enforcement, from what I've read, they performed nothing more than yeoman's work and didn't do any law enforcement activities. It sounds like the local law enforcement was probably undermanned for what it was tasked to do and needed the help and the assistance they provided allowed the LEOs to focus on the search for the suspect, preserved evidence, and the end result is a sounder case for the prosecution with this evidence to put a killer behind bars. Had they not helped, evidence could have been lost, the killer might have gotten away, the community would have been in more danger. The truth will be borne as more facts come in.

There have been multiple times in recent history where active duty troops helped out local communities in need. Its part of the base-community relationship. I've seen units volunteer to fill sandbags during floods, search for survivors of tornados, and help local communities recover from storm damage.

Those in search of conspiracy need to chill out on this. If the proof rises that they performed police action, more than just crowd and traffic control, and these troops were willfully involved in martial law-type behavior, then be concerned. Until then, please hand over the tinfoil hats.

Last edited by globemaster3; March 22, 2009 at 11:25 PM.
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Old March 23, 2009, 01:43 AM   #70
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Quote:
So the military can blow you up in a purely economically motivated crime but cannot arrest you?
I only agree with that if it is ordered by the powers that be and follows the letter of the law governing it. If it is not ordered, then I would expect the duty to fall on the civil sectors who are duty bound to enforce the situation to the best of their ability.

In the air situation though, civil leo has virtually no ability to approach the situation. And I have yet to see any local tax dollars going to buy f-16s and training for my local pd. If situations like this are of concern they they need to take measures to be able to address it.

Quote:
Is that what this is all about? As far as ample time, we've seen the appropriate authorities taking too long to act or decide.
With technology what it is today there is no excuse in regards to communication of a threat. The real issues is just like you said though , the time to decide. This to me represents poor preparation. Millions are spent on think tanks and inquires to address these types of scenarios. The real issue is with to many not concerned about the issue at hand but the heat they face if the outcome goes wrong.


Quote:
Can the President order an action that seemingly violates the law and order the shoot down?
I do not believe that it violates the law anymore as they put measures in place to exercise that authority on a few different levels aka "the proper channels" using the chain of command to operate within the guidelines of the laws imposed to govern those actions.

Quote:
Not to thread hijack but this debate is similar to one theory of moral actions. In one case, the most moral action is absolutism to the law - even if it becomes a suicide pack or leads to death of innocents. Another is that a moral action is to follow the values of your own conscience if it promotes the greater good or moral cause.
But that poses the question, is the majority really in charge of what is considered the greater good? I am far from doom and gloom and hold a high value of the existence of life but the stop loss at all costs maybe part of the big problem. Trying to govern based on the 200 year old ideals of the "American dream" in my opinion 60% of the problem we face today. And I am not talking about our amendments, I am talking about the million or so things we tacked onto it to try and control every situation based on the greater good theory.

Morally good in the eyes of who is the real question. These same people who follow and preach the "it was morally acceptable" ideals are the same ones that will yell at the tv and say cut his balls off to a rapist on trial. Or the judge or officer who jokes that the offender is going to visit Bubba when he goes to jail.
How can one represent or uphold moral anything when they condone the acts of possible forced anal sex or the removal of ones testicles?





Quote:
I proposed the resolution for some is that if some situation like postulated, if some law breaking member of the military tries to aid you, refuse the help and perish in the flames.
I personally would not expect to see military come to my aid ever unless it was ordered to do so. To be honest in today's overbearing laws we need to follow, my first thought if I new he was breaking the law would be maybe I do not want his help because even if I survive I may be spending 10 years in prison for abetting the crime. Yeah a stretch but much stranger things have happened.



Quote:
If the immediate action is to prevent harm, as compared to a conspiracist expansion of military power, then I'm not fretting.

Of course, let's bring up the Katrina example.

Look at it two ways, depending on your personality structure:

1. Was it a stupid, misguided and illegal action postulated on a mistaken belief it would aid in saving lives?

2. Was it a planned conspiracy on the slippery slope to gun confiscation?

Since it was probably #1 - it was corrected in the courts, IIRC.
And what came out of it? Absolutely nothing, they were able to do what they wanted and no one had any recourse for their actions because someone thought it was morally right to do so based on the situation. It used the time of crisis as an excuse to break the law and go gun grabbing. If they put that much effort into daily law enforcement they could be pretty well assured that the people holding guns there had them legally which the majority did but yet they broke the law with no recourse for their actions. Typical double standard.

Quote:
So, if in a seeming emergency, some military unit tries to save lives (did they here?) - our normal processes are really self correcting. If it is a conspiracy the law means nothing anyway when the black heliocopters come for you.
You mean a conspiracy absence of the law if they are coming it will not matter, but that does not mean we need to lube up and make it a pleasurable experience because it is deemed it is ok for them to do so.
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Old March 23, 2009, 09:16 AM   #71
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globemaster3,

Good post. Goes along with my thinking and experience in situations working with civilian authorities.
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Old March 23, 2009, 09:25 AM   #72
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Glenn:

We don't have to run to Federal military air assets.

Air National Guard in many states. They can be called up by their governor just like the regular National Guard.

Of course, your local law enforcement are not going to be the ones who discover such a plot. It will be feds who assume "responsibility" for such investigations and reactions.
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Old March 23, 2009, 09:29 AM   #73
Glenn E. Meyer
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Air assets are not going to be controlled and allocated in real time by a governor.

The plot will be discovered with the planes in the air. Norad is tracking. So given I'm not up on all the statutes - can Norad track them and vector fighters?
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Old March 23, 2009, 09:37 AM   #74
azredhawk44
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Sure, I've seen it on 24. (Or some TV show... can't remember).

I don't have my 1246 page copy of the Patriot Act handy, but I think that was one of the provisions of it. Allowing for a chain of command in the Executive Branch to handle such a situation, with ultimate responsibility for a yes/no shoot command lying in the hands of the President, SecDef or possibly one other person... a general of some sort. I dunno, can't remember.

Nothing in there about MP's securing a traffic light, though.
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Old March 23, 2009, 09:52 AM   #75
Glenn E. Meyer
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So that's what we are all excited about - that securing a traffic light leads to tyranny but we had the Patriot Act and citizens declared enemy combatants - blah, blah?

What if an enemy combatant ran a red light - can the Army send him to Comedy Driving School?

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