Students Did What the U.S. Could Not Do
We need to modify the Posse Comitatus Act
While this has nothing to do with Victoria I wrote it from Victoria since I was there during the New Orleans Disaster and reported on the Canadian Assistance
The "Citizen" National Guard is not
expected to be a rapid response unit. We need to revise Posse Comitatus and have
rapid response military units available.
When a hospital is evacuating seriously ill patents and has to stop due to snipper fire they need a Marine Rapid Deployment insertion by helicopter in 30 minutes not in 3 days!
The National Guard is doing a great job - once they get there with the big convoys.
The "story" for the delay goes like this:
The Guard had to literally fight their way in along with the U.S. Corps of Engineers, since there was no ground access to the cities. For air resources, airports had to be cleared of debris and then how to get from the airports to the people in need - vehicles that can go through high water needed.
But Ted Koppel on Nightline interviewed three college students from North Carolina who drove to New Orleans wanting to bring in as much food and water as their SUV would carry, since there was no such action by any U.S. officials. They were blocked at the highway but they admit they made their own fake Press Passes to be allowed in to help people. Get this...They simply drove their SUV, to the Convention Center where so many were starving in need of water and medical help. The ROAD WAS EASILY PASSABLE! In fact they took pictures of long lines of school buses on the hwy ... EMPTY driving AWAY from New Orleans where they were desperately needed to get people out.
With police helpless since they don't have helicopters and outnumbered by the lawless, with the Governor and Mayor begging for help (famous SOS we need help plea), why shouldn't the military be available? It take days to call up from civilian jobs the National Guard, have them deploy but first the roads need to be cleared to get large convoys moving to the disaster area. Only the active military has or should have, the rapid response by air capability to respond to the immediate life saving and law enforcement needs within the U.S.
In Iraq there is such capability. Not only that but wonderfully fast Medic teams get inserted into a war zone and extract the seriously injured very efficiently and get them outstanding fast medical treatment that has saved many lives in Iraq. Why can't they be stationed to do the same in a natural disaster in the U.S. Especially when we knew for 3 days in advance that a huge hurricane was aimed at New Orleans.
All many people needed is food, water, diabetic or other medication, power for life support machines etc, which should be a lot easier medical situation than seriously injured military in Iraq. Yet they do a great job in Iraq but not ready to do the same thing in the U.S. Under Posse Comitatus Act the military CAN provide these non law enforcement search and rescue activities.
What if this was a terrorist attack? We would have the same problem - the military can act in our airspace and can shoot down airplanes but not provide any active law enforcement on the ground.
Since 9/11 some people have recognized this problem. Only the declaration of martial law which turns complete law enforcement over to the military currently allows active military law enforcement. In the U.S. there has not been martial law since World War II. We need another exemption from Posse Comitatus when agreed upon my the Pentagon and a Governor to allow limited special authority for the military to actively protect citizens when local police resources are not sufficient.
Sen. John Warner R-Va., in an October 2001 letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "Should this law [Posse Comitatus Act] now be changed to enable our active-duty military to more fully join other domestic assets in this war against terrorism?''
The law, was championed by far-sighted Southern lawmakers in 1878. They had experienced a fifteen year military occupation by the US Army in post-Civil War law enforcement. They understood the heel of a jackboot. In a nutshell, this act bans the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines from participating in arrests, searches, seizure of evidence and other police-type activity on U.S. soil. The Coast Guard and National Guard troops under the control of state governors are excluded from the act.
While the Coast Guard was on scene immediately for search and rescue they are not heavily armed or trained in urban gun battles - they have guns on cutters but not designed to do what the Army or Marines are trained to do and doing quite effectively in Iraq. But sadly and tragically we needed them in the New Orleans faster than the National Guard could respond, especially for desperately needed law enforcement.
Pentagon Discussion of Martial Law
Less than a month ago, August 5, 2005 the Washington Post had an article about discussions by the Pentagon regarding declaring martial law if civilian resources were overwhelmed by a terrorist attack. That thinking should extend to natural disasters.
The Post account declares, “The war plans represent a historic shift for the Pentagon, which has been reluctant to become involved in domestic operations and is legally constrained from engaging in law enforcement.” A total of 15 potential crisis scenarios are outlined, ranging from “low-end,” which Graham describes as “relatively modest crowd-control missions,” to “high-end,” after as many as three simultaneous catastrophic mass-casualty events, such as a nuclear, biological or chemical weapons attack. In each case, the military would deploy a quick-reaction force of as many as 3,000 troops per attack—i.e., 9,000 total in the worst-case scenario. More troops could be made available as needed.
However some anti-government groups like the socialist party and the conspiracy theory nuts say, "The anti-terrorism scare has a propaganda purpose: to manipulate the American people and induce the public to accept drastic inroads against democratic rights. As the Pentagon planning suggests, the American working class faces the danger of some form of military-police dictatorship in the United States." Source: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/a.../mart-a09.shtml
How silly. But that is why its hard to get changes made in the relationship between the military and civilian authorities.
Hopefully the uproar about the slow response might get change made before the next disaster.
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