New defense plan raises questions about domestic legal role of US military

[JURIST] A new US Department of Defense plan for defending the US from terrorist attacks, quietly approved last month [official press release], has raised questions about the level of involvement by the US military on its own soil. The plan, titled Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support [PDF full text], does not provide or ask for new legal authority to act, but does spell out plans for military intelligence to work with civilian law enforcement, an expanded role for the National Guard, and reiterates the president's power to deploy troops domestically "to intercept and defeat threats." The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act [text], prohibits federal troops [Wikipedia backgrounder] from being deployed as law enforcement officers in the US without specific Congressional or constitutional authority. A Pentagon official said "nothing in our strategy...would move away from that historic principle", but a national security expert from the ACLU said limits seemed to conflict with duties and that the DOD "seems to be trying to have it both ways." The Washington Post has more.



 

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