Talk:US Army sergeant asserts Posse Comitatus is not being violated

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My interview with Sgt. P.S.N, United States Army Kamnet (talk) 07:00, 14 October 2008 (UTC)Reply

10/13/2008 6:16 PM Kevin Fields: In summary, what do you believe is happening here, from a military standpoint?

10/13/2008 6:17 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: As far as I can tell, they won't be in charge of law enforcement, so no, this is not a violation of Posse Comitatus. As far as crowd control and disaster relief are concerned, that's certainly not without precedent.

10/13/2008 6:18 PM Kevin Fields: Right, but before they've always been under the control of state officials, such as a governor or local law enforcement, correct?

10/13/2008 6:19 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: The National Guard was called into Little Rock in 1957 to prevent black students from enrolling in Central High School as per Brown v Board. Eisenhower called in the 82nd Airborne, federalized the Arkansas National Guard, and ordered them to escort the students into the school. They hung around for months afterward to keep the peace. The military was used to quell the Watts riots in South Central L.A. in the 1960s, and again in the aftermath of the Rodney King trial in 1991.

10/13/2008 6:20 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: In the cases where NorthComm is called to provide troops from the 1st BCT of the 3rd ID, they will still be used at the discretion of the local officials.

10/13/2008 6:21 PM Kevin Fields: So it is possible that the President can assign federal troops to act in law enforcement officials, and it NOT violate Posse Comitatus? Or would such a case clearly violate it, but nothing can be done about it?

10/13/2008 6:22 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: No, the president cannot order them to act as law enforcement. He can order them to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign AND domestic.

10/13/2008 6:23 PM Kevin Fields: What would be the difference?

10/13/2008 6:25 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: you're not going to see Humvees patroling your city streets, writing tickets, and arresting shoplifters, wife beaters, or even rapists and murderers. You WILL see them stop rioting, looting, violent demostrations, and the like if the local law enforcement does not possess the ability to do so. They won't be involved without either a request from local officials or a determination by DHS/Fema that such involvement is necessary.

10/13/2008 6:28 PM Kevin Fields: Critics have suggested that this is part of a strategy to usurp power and consolidate it in the Presidency. Is it possible for a President of the United States to stage a coup by depolying the CCMRF and NorthComm to permamently take over an area where there is rioting or a national disaster?

10/13/2008 6:30 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: No. For one thing, Congressional oversight prevents this. For another, I'm quite certain the Supreme Court would claim original jurisdiction in a case such as that. This is one reason presidents are limited to two terms.

10/13/2008 6:32 PM Kevin Fields: So even though this unit, and NorthComm, are under the direct command of the President, Congress can still stop his actions?

10/13/2008 6:33 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: They can call for hearings to examine his actions. Congress is who impeaches and ultimately removes the President from office if he usurps his authority.

10/13/2008 6:35 PM Kevin Fields: Critics say that such hearings would not be swift, and that such action would not directly affect the President or any action he takes through this unit. Would you agree with that?

10/13/2008 6:37 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: The only mandate NorthComm has is to provide *support* to Homeland Security operations, so no.

10/13/2008 6:40 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: The three things I'd ask you to remember are these: First, there is precedence dating back nearly to the beginning of this nation's history for using the military in times of national emergency or cataclismic disaster.

10/13/2008 6:41 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: Second, when there are cases where the citizens of an area have overpowered the police, such as in New Orleans during Katrina or the aforementioned riots in L.A., the military's mandate to defend the U.S. against domestic enemies is pretty much a no-brainer at that point.

10/13/2008 6:42 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: Third, who else is training to handle mass casualty situations such as dirty bombs, 9/11 type of events, or mass poisioning epedimics? These are things that the United States military are trained to handle that relatively few other agencies are equipped or funded to handle.

10/13/2008 6:43 PM Sgt. P.S.N.: The whole point of NorthComm is so that the military is better organized and better able to respond on short notice than we were after Katrina.

10/13/2008 6:44 PM Kevin Fields: Thank you for your input into this story.





While the issue is certainly newsworthy, I'm not sure if an anonymous grunt's (if you'll excuse me) opinion is really of any interest. Kind of like publishing your anonymous local bank's anonymous clerk asserting that the financial crisis won't deepen; there might be some merit to it (or not), but all in all it's a bit lame for news.

At least change the title, as if a sergeant could in any meaningful way 'assert' anything in this case; more like 'opines', or something to that effect. 05:29, 16 October 2008 (UTC)Reply

While I appreciate the attempt to get some clarification on this story, I would agree that you might as well have asked the hobo down on your local street corner. -- 09:48, 16 October 2008 (UTC)Reply

The reason I interviewed Sgt. P.S.N. was to widen the previous story's neutral point of view (NPOV). The previous article on the subject included activist Namoi Watts as a source, who based part of her opinions on a retired United States Air Force colonel, who was extremely critical of the news. While his opinion was very worthwhile and informed, his status of being both retired military and a member of a different branch can be used as an argument that it is a poor source. While including an active member of the Army may also be biased, for this story it brings balance to the NPOV. Essentially, it is "the other side of the story" that was missing from the previous article. kamnet (talk) 13:29, 16 October 2008 (UTC)Reply

It's not so much about the POV, but more the fact that this grunt has as little knowledge about the issue as any of you and me. As far as I can see, the previous report quotes only the colonel actually leading the new unit, who naturally is a very relevant source. But seriously, asking a random sergeant half way around the globe is like asking your magic eight ball for comments.
Just to respond to kamnet's comment - NPOV is per article, not 'over time' like an organisation such as the BBC. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:48, 17 October 2008 (UTC)Reply