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Pentagon develops domestic counter-terror plans, but legal problems may ensue

[JURIST] According to US military leaders, the Pentagon has established new contingency plans for domestic military deployment in the event of a terrorist attack, but the procedures may challenge traditional doctrines constraining military roles in national law enforcement. The plans envisage US military forces under the aegis of the new US Northern Command [official website] engaging in a range of domestic activities from crowd control to full-scale disaster management in response to as many as three major terror attacks on the US homeland at the same time. Last month the US Department of Defense also approved a new Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support [PDF text] that dealt largely with National Guard response to such attacks. That move likewise raised legal questions [JURIST report] about the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act [text] which prohibits federal troops [Wikipedia backgrounder] from being deployed as law enforcement officers in the US. The Pentagon has until recently avoided making plans for domestic response, but still continues to reiterate that it sees troops as performing mostly supporting roles. The Washington Post has more.

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