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Groups search result 9 for "decontamination" terrorism

Search Result 9
From: Hdlinnebur (
Subject: Domestic Military forces
View complete thread
Date: 2001-03-23 07:35:43 PST

New military unit 
for domestic deployment 
Cohen says Americans should 
'welcome' troops on home soil 
By Jon E. Dougherty

Critics are denouncing recent congressional changes to the Posse Comitatus Act
that will allow a broader use of U.S. military forces in a domestic law
enforcement role including a new unit for deployment in assisting civilian
officers during a terrorist attack. 

The new command, established Oct. 7 in Norfolk, Va., will be called the U.S.
Joint Forces Command, and replaces the former U.S. Atlantic Command. At a
ceremony commemorating the new unit, Defense Secretary William Cohen told
participants the American people shouldn't fear the potential of seeing U.S.
military forces on the streets of U.S. cities. 

The military must "deal with the threats we are most likely to face," Cohen
told reporters, downplaying concerns about troops operating on home soil. "The
American people should not be concerned about it. They should welcome it." 

The new command is designed to prepare U.S. troops to fight abroad or to
respond if terrorists strike with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. 

In opposing the measure, critics cite the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which
prohibits federal troops from participating in domestic law enforcement
activities under most circumstances. With the concern over domestic terrorism
rising since the World Trade Center bombing and numerous incidences of
cyber-attacks on U.S. defense and financial institutions, the Clinton
administration has begun to relax some of those restrictions. 

In July, WorldNetDaily reported the new measures would end the requirement for
local law agencies to reimburse the federal government for any local use of
military equipment, as well as enable the Department of Defense to deploy
military troops in cases of anticipated or actual terrorist attacks. 

Then, David Kopel of the Independence Institute warned that the measures would,
if passed, "set (bad) precedents for years to come." 

Since the Waco debacle in 1993, when federal law officers and military
personnel assaulted a church community resulting in the deaths of over 80 men,
women and children, Kopel said the federal government has been "eroding the
protections contained in the Posse Comitatus Act." In the past, he told
WorldNetDaily, most of the amendments to the original law had been based on
bogus drug issues. Now, he said, that issue seems to have shifted to so-called
terrorist attacks, or at least the threat of them. 

The Defense Department has said only the military has enough equipment to
operate in a poisoned environment, or to manage a massive decontamination
effort. Secretary Cohen told reporters last week that federal law will not be
violated because the military would only respond if requested. 

"It is subordinate to civilian control," he said. 

But Gregory Nojeim, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union
in Washington, D.C., told WorldNetDaily he is concerned about "nightmare
scenarios" like those in the recent films, "Enemy of the State" and "The

"Soldiers are not equipped, by training or temperament, to enforce the laws
with proper regard for civil and constitutional rights," he said. "They're
trained to kill the enemy." 

Nojeim said the ACLU is concerned about "letting loose the most effective
fighting force in the history of the world" on American civilians. 

Cohen said that the creation of the Joint Forces Command would better
coordinate the training of the four armed services. However, history is replete
with reasons why some Americans continue to be hesitant about using military
troops in a law enforcement capacity. 

Besides questions about the Army's Delta Force role during the Waco siege, most
recently, in 1997, U.S. Marines assigned to assist the U.S. Border Patrol in
combating illegal immigration accidentally shot and killed an 18-year-old goat
herder. That force has since been withdrawn and reassigned, but lawmakers have
remained committed to expanding the military's civil law enforcement role in
other ways. 

For example, the military also has been given an expanded role in defending
against cyber-terrorism, or assaults on U.S. computer systems. The U.S. Space
Command in Colorado will be leading that effort. 

Nojeim questioned the need for such an expansion of federal military forces
into the domestic law enforcement arena, even though U.S. officials have said
the nation is now at greater risk of terrorist attack. He also believes the
White House should do a better job of educating the American people about why
the changes to the Posse Comitatus law are needed. 

"For years the federal government has showered the FBI with hundreds of
millions of new dollars to help it combat crimes involving chemical and
biological weapons," he told WorldNetDaily. "Taxpayers need to know where that
money has gone and why the president now wants to call in the troops." 

Addressing the long-term ramifications of the change in military law
enforcement policy, Nojeim said, "When the crisis hits, those with the biggest
guns will be subordinate to no one."

Jon E. Dougherty is a staff writer for WorldNetDaily. 
 1999, Inc.
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