Self-Evident Truths: Why We Can Stop Worrying and Love the Posse Comitatus Act   [open pdf - 346KB]

"This paper asserts that the United States government policy prohibiting active participation of the armed forces in civilian law enforcement operations, codified in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, should remain intact. The author presents an analysis that outlines the evolution of legal theory and acts pertaining to the use of the military in domestic crises and past and current applications of military force in the United States. The paper further examines the proper role for the federal government in affecting an effective and efficient response to domestic crisis, giving special attention to the appropriate roles of the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense. The paper also presents examples and research that demonstrate the efficacy of the defense and homeland security establishments, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, to work effectively within the context of the current policy structure. Finally, the author examines whether changes in the current policy actually represent an improved response capability for the nation, a further loss of the checks and balances of the federal system of government, or an obstacle to the global challenges facing the armed forces in the 21st century. The analysis concludes that changes to the Posse Comitatus Act are unnecessary. A working, politically acceptable, constitutionally sound framework that checks the tendency to rely too heavily on the Department of Defense best serves the security interests of the United States in a challenging global environment."

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Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/
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