Military argues Posse Comitatus is irrelevant and dangerous
October 20, 2014
Pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, on Monday dismissed constitutional concerns over the decision to deploy the military in response to the Ebola virus in the United States
“We actually do have the legal authority to do this,” Kirby told Morning Joe. “This is nothing more than potential support, and I stress, potential support to civilian medical authorities if and only if they ask for that.”
“This isn’t going to violate Posse Comitatus,” he added.
On Sunday Obama’s Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced the formation of a “quick strike team” to “provide short-notice assistance to civilian medical professionals in the United States.”
Despite Kirby’s remarks, the move in fact represents a serious violation of Posse Comitatus.
Civil and military separation has a pronounced history in Anglo-American law. It is mentioned in the Magna Carta of 1215. In 1327 Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, argued that so long as civil government is able to enforce the law, military involvement in civil law enforcement is unlawful. In seventeenth century England, Oliver Cromwell experienced resistance to the military enforcing laws. In the American colonies, British soldiers enforcing laws provided a major cause for the Revolution.The Posse Comitatus Act became law in 1878 at the end of Reconstruction. It is intended to prevent the federal government from using troops to enforce state laws.
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