by Duane Lester | December 1, 2008 5:16 pm
The Pentagon has released a plan to deploy 20,000 troops in America by 2011. The deployment would be to assist locals in dealing with terrorist attacks, or so the story goes:
Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.
The Pentagon‘s plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces to be ready for emergency response by September 2011. The first 4,700-person unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade based at Fort Stewart, Ga., was available as of Oct. 1, said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of the U.S. Northern Command.
If funding continues, two additional teams will join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops in supporting local and state officials nationwide. All would be trained to respond to a domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attack, or CBRNE event, as the military calls it.
I know I’m not the only one who thinks this is a bad idea. When you have the ACLU and Cato both working against it, it’s got to be hazardous to your liberties:
The American Civil Liberties Union and the libertarian Cato Institute are troubled by what they consider an expansion of executive authority.
Domestic emergency deployment may be “just the first example of a series of expansions in presidential and military authority,” or even an increase in domestic surveillance, said Anna Christensen of the ACLU’s National Security Project. And Cato Vice President Gene Healy warned of “a creeping militarization” of homeland security.
“There’s a notion that whenever there’s an important problem, that the thing to do is to call in the boys in green,” Healy said, “and that’s at odds with our long-standing tradition of being wary of the use of standing armies to keep the peace.”
Folks, we have a very well trained and capable National Guard in each state, ready, willing and able to assist with disasters, both natural and man-made. This move is unnecessary and dangerous.
Photo by Jef Poskanzer.
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