Federal Military Commanders: Overlords of Tomorrow

Well, it seems that the Pentagon is at it again: trying to give itself the power to patrol the streets of America without oversight from Congress. In America there used to be something called the Posse Comitatus act of 1878, which prevented the military from conducting police activities. It is the case that this separation of power has been under attack in the United States for quite some time.

Back in 2007, when I was a junior at Yale, Congress passed the John Warner National Defense Authorization act, eviscerating the PC act of 1878. Not many people at Yale read news of real significance, since they are mostly too concerned about the latest local incident offending someone's emotions or racial sensitivities, so it was quite a shock when I submitted an article to the Yale Daily News praising the legislation. 

The article was titled: "Making US a police state would lower health care, prevent national disaster." As with all good satire, it was published under a pseudonym: José Abrego. I chose Abrego since it is close enough to Abreu to throw off people trying to find me in the Yale facebook, and indeed the mystery surrounding who wrote the article, and how right-wing it was, terrified the poor Yalies. The article gave me a lot of play in the Yale Political Union, and I'm almost certain that I contributed to the swift repeal of the John Warner act a few months later. 

The Rumpus, the Yale tabloid which keeps the population in check, didn't criticize me in its pages for the article. Instead, they criticized the editor -- Mangino -- referring to him as "Mangina." They simply accused me of trying to profit from the national attention, but I don't see anything wrong with that.

However, I don't think that in 2013 there will be controversial and offensive satire that will make people realize how dangerous some legislation can be if taken to its probably intended extreme. The Department of Defense has now claimed that "Federal Military Commanders" -- whatever that means -- can quell civil unrest if the president cannot be reached. The DoD memo effectively sets the stage for a military coup in the United States, for the Pentagon can now "legally" deploy force in the United States without oversight from Congress or the President.

If this doesn't alarm you, then you haven't also been paying attention to the recent debate surrounding the AUMF, the act passed after 9/11 giving the United States president the power to go to war with whoever attacked us that day. In a recent congressional hearing, the Pentagon claimed that the AUMF gives it the power to fight anywhere in the world, without permission from Congress. "The war is from Boston to the FATA [Pakistan.]" 

And we should pay close attention to the DoD memo in conjunction with Pentagon interpretation of the AUMF as giving it power in Boston; the Pentagon is essentially telling the American people that they are at war in the United States. Senator Lindsey Graham made it clear: "The Homeland is the battlefield."

Everything that has happened this month has made it clear to me: the United States government expects war with its own citizens, within its own borders.