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Martial law threat? Rep.Brad Sherman/DN! expose

by Lydia Howell Thursday, Oct. 09, 2008 at 12:14 PM

California Congressman Brad Sherman says threats were made to instigate martial law if the Wall Street bailout was not passed. Democarcy NOW! Army Col.Micheal Boatner & THE PROGRESSIVE's editor Mathew Rothschild re: deployment of US troops inside the U.S.

BREAKING NEWS! US Military Planning for Martial Law?

See transcript of DEMOCRACY NOW! interview below. TWO VIDEOs ADD SOME EVIDENCE before the Democarcy NOW interview.

Were the militarized police at the RNC a "dress rehearsal"?

Here's the video of Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) telling Congress the Paulson Mob threatened martial law if it didn’t pass the Wall Street bailout


I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties

than standing armies.

Thomas Jefferson


And here's the talk author, Naomi Wolf gave on her book "The End of

America" nearly a

year ago



Friday, October 03, 2008

Democracy NOW! host AMY GOODMAN

Is Posse Comitatus Dead? US Troops on US Streets

In a barely noticed development, a US Army unit is now training for

domestic operations under the control of US Army North, the Army service

component of Northern Command. An initial news report in the Army Times

newspaper last month noted that in addition to emergency response the

force “may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control.”

The military has since claimed the force will not be used for civil

unrest, but questions remain. We speak to Army Col. Michael Boatner,

future operations division chief of USNORTHCOM, and Matthew Rothschild,

editor of The Progressive magazine. [includes rush transcript]


Col. Michael Boatner, Future Operations division chief of USNORTHCOM.

Matthew Rothschild, Editor of The Progressive magazine.

AMY GOODMAN: In a barely noticed development last week, the Army

stationed an active unit inside the United States. The Infantry

Division’s 1st Brigade Team is back from Iraq, now training for domestic

operations under the control of US Army North, the Army service

component of Northern Command. The unit will serve as an on-call federal

response for large-scale emergencies and disasters. It’s being called

the Consequence Management Response Force, CCMRF, or “sea-smurf” for short.

It’s the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment

to USNORTHCOM, which was itself formed in October 2002 to “provide

command and control of Department of Defense homeland defense efforts.”

An initial news report in the Army Times newspaper last month noted, in

addition to emergency response, the force “may be called upon to help

with civil unrest and crowd control.” The Army Times has since appended

a clarification, and a September 30th press release from the Northern

Command states: “This response force will not be called upon to help

with law enforcement, civil disturbance or crowd control."

When Democracy Now! spoke to Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jamie

Goodpaster, a public affairs officer for NORTHCOM, she said the force

would have weapons stored in containers on site, as well as access to

tanks, but the decision to use weapons would be made at a far higher

level, perhaps by Secretary of Defense, SECDEF.

Well, I’m joined now by two guests. Army Colonel Michael Boatner is

future operations division chief of USNORTHCOM. He joins me on the phone

from Colorado Springs. We’re also joined from Madison, Wisconsin by

journalist and editor of The Progressive magazine, Matthew Rothschild.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Why don’t we begin with Colonel

Michael Boatner? Can you explain the significance, the first time,

October 1st, deployment of the troops just back from Iraq?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: Yes, Amy. I’d be happy to. And again, there has

been some concern and some misimpressions that I would like to correct.

The primary purpose of this force is to provide help to people in need

in the aftermath of a WMD-like event in the homeland. It’s something

that figures very prominently in the national planning scenarios under

the National Response Framework, and that’s how DoD provides support in

the homeland to civil authority. This capability is tailored technical

life-saving support and then further logistic support for that very

specific scenario. So, we designed it for that purpose.

And really, the new development is that it’s been assigned to NORTHCOM,

because there’s an increasingly important requirement to ensure that

they have done that technical training, that they can work together as a

joint service team. These capabilities come from all of our services and

from a variety of installations, and that’s not an ideal command and

control environment. So we’ve been given control of these forces so that

we can train them, ensure they’re responsive and direct them to

participate in our exercises, so that were they called to support civil

authority, those governors or local state jurisdictions that might need

our help, that they would be responsive and capable in the event and

also would be able to survive based on the skills that they have

learned, trained and focused on.

They ultimately have weapons, heavy weapons and combat vehicles and

another service capability at their home station at Fort Stewart,

Georgia, but they wouldn’t bring that stuff with them. In fact, they’re

prohibited from bringing it. They would bring their individual weapons,

which is the standard policy for deployments in the homeland. Those

would be centralized and containerized, and they could only be issued to

the soldiers with the Secretary of Defense permission.

So I think, you know, that kind of wraps up our position on this. We’re

proud to be able to provide this capability. It’s all about saving

lives, relieving suffering, mitigating great property damage to

infrastructure and things like that, and frankly, restoring public

confidence in the aftermath of an event like this.

AMY GOODMAN: So the use of the weapons would only be decided by SECDEF,

the Secretary of Defense. But what about the governors? The SECDEF would

have—Secretary of Defense would have—would be able to preempt the

governors in a decision whether these soldiers would use their weapons

on US soil?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: No, this basically only boils down to

self-defense. Any military force has the inherent right to self-defense.

And if the situation was inherently dangerous, then potentially the

Secretary of Defense would allow them to carry their weapons, but it

would only be for self- and unit-defense. This force has got no role in

a civil disturbance or civil unrest, any of those kinds of things.

AMY GOODMAN: Matt Rothschild, you’ve been writing about this in The

Progressive magazine. What is your concern?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Well, I’m very concerned on a number of fronts about

this, Amy. One, that NORTHCOM, the Northern Command, that came into

being in October of 2002, when that came in, people like me were

concerned that the Pentagon was going to use its forces here in the

United States, and now it looks like, in fact, it is, even though on its

website it says it doesn’t have units of its own. Now it’s getting a

unit of its own.

And Colonel Boatner talked about this unit, what it’s trained for. Well,

let’s look at what it’s trained for. This is the 3rd Infantry, 1st

Brigade Combat unit that has spent three of the last five years in Iraq

in counterinsurgency. It’s a war-fighting unit, was one of the first

units to Baghdad. It was involved in the battle of Fallujah. And, you

know, that’s what they’ve been trained to do. And now they’re bringing

that training here?

On top of that, one of the commanders of this unit was boasting in the

Army Times about this new package of non-lethal weapons that has been

designed, and this unit itself is going be able to use, according to

that original article. And in fact, the commander was saying he had even

tasered himself and was boasting about tasering himself. So, why is a

Pentagon unit that’s going to be possibly patrolling the streets of the

United States involved in using tasers?

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Boatner?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: Well, I’d like to address that. That involved a

service mission and a service set of equipment that was issued for

overseas deployment. Those soldiers do not have that on their equipment

list for deploying in the homeland. And again, they have been involved

in situations overseas. And having talked to commanders who have

returned, those situations are largely nonviolent, non-kinetic. And when

they do escalate, the soldiers have a lot of experience with seeing the

indicators and understanding it. So, I would say that our soldiers are

trustworthy. They can deploy in the homeland, and American citizens can

be confident that there will be no abuses.

AMY GOODMAN: Matt Rothschild?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Well, you know, that doesn’t really satisfy me, and

I don’t think it should satisfy your listeners and your audience, Amy,

because, you know, our people in the field in Iraq, some of them have

not behaved up to the highest standards, and a lot of police forces in

the United States who have been using these tasers have used them


The whole question here about what the Pentagon is doing patrolling in

the United States gets to the real heart of the matter, which is, do we

have a democracy here? I mean, there is a law on the books called the

Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act that says that the

president of the United States, as commander-in-chief, cannot put the

military on our streets. And this is a violation of that, it seems to me.

President Bush tried to get around this act a couple years ago in the

Defense Authorization Act that he signed that got rid of some of those

restrictions, and then last year, in the new Defense Authorization Act,

thanks to the work of Senator Patrick Leahy and Kit Bond of Missouri,

that was stripped away. And so, the President isn’t supposed to be using

the military in this fashion, and though the President, true to form,

appended a signing statement to that saying he’s not going to be

governed by that. So, here we have a situation where the President of

United States has been aggrandizing his power, and this gives him a

whole brigade unit to use against US citizens here at home.

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Michael Boatner, what about the Posse Comitatus

Act, and where does that fit in when US troops are deployed on US soil?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: It absolutely governs in every instance. We are

not allowed to help enforce the law. We don’t do that. Every time we get

a request—and again, this kind of a deployment is defense support to

civil authority under the National Response Framework and the Stafford

Act. And we do it all the time, in response to hurricanes, floods, fires

and things like that. But again, you know, if we review the requirement

that comes to us from civil authority and it has any complexion of law

enforcement whatsoever, it gets rejected and pushed back, because it’s

not lawful.

AMY GOODMAN: Matthew Rothschild, does this satisfy you, editor of The

Progressive magazine?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: No, it doesn’t. One of the reasons it doesn’t is not

by what Boatner was saying right there, but what President Bush has been

doing. And if we looked at National Security Presidential Directive 51,

that he signed on May 9th of 2007, Amy, this gives the President

enormous powers to declare a catastrophic emergency and to bypass our

regular system of laws, essentially, to impose a form of martial law.

And if you look at that National Security Presidential Directive, what

it says, that in any incident where there is extraordinary disruption of

a whole range of things, including our economy, the President can

declare a catastrophic emergency. Well, we’re having these huge

disturbances in our economy. President Bush could today pick up that

National Security Directive 51 and say, “We’re in a catastrophic

emergency. I’m going to declare martial law, and I’m going to use this

combat brigade to enforce it.”

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Michael Boatner?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: The only exception that I know of is the

Insurrection Act. It’s something that is very unlikely to be invoked. In

my thirty-year career, it’s only been used once, in the LA riots, and it

was a widespread situation of lawlessness and violence. And the governor

of the state requested that the President provide support. And that’s a

completely different situation. The forces available to do that are in

every service in every part of the country, and it’s completely

unrelated to the—this consequence management force that we’re talking about.

AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned governors, and I was just looking at a piece

by Jeff Stein—he is the national security editor of Congressional

Quarterly— talking about homeland security. And he said, “Safely tucked

into the 6 billion defense bill, it easily crossed the goal line on

the last day of September.

“The language doesn’t just brush aside a liberal Democrat slated to take

over the Judiciary Committee”—this was a piece written last year—it

“runs over the backs of the governors, 22 of whom are Republicans.

“The governors had waved red flags about the measure on Aug. 1, 2007,

sending letters of protest from their Washington office to the

Republican chairs and ranking Democrats on the House and Senate Armed

Services committees.

“No response. So they petitioned the party heads on the Hill.”

The letter, signed by every member of the National Governors

Association, said, “This provision was drafted without consultation or

input from governors and represents an unprecedented shift in authority

from governors…to the federal government.”

Colonel Michael Boatner?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: That’s in the political arena. That has nothing to

do with my responsibilities or what I’m—was asked to talk about here

with regard to supporting civil authority in the homeland.

AMY GOODMAN: Matthew Rothschild?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Well, this gets to what Senator Patrick Leahy of

Vermont was so concerned about, that with NORTHCOM and with perhaps this

unit—and I want to call Senator Leahy’s office today and ask him about

this—you have the usurpation of the governor’s role, of the National

Guard’s role, and it’s given straight to the Pentagon in some of these

instances. And that’s very alarming. And that was alarming to almost

every governor, if not every governor, in the country, when Bush tried

to do that and around about the Posse Comitatus Act. So, I think these

are real concerns.

AMY GOODMAN: Matt Rothschild, the Democratic and Republican conventions

were quite amazing displays of force at every level, from the local

police on to the state troopers to, well, in the Republican convention,

right onto troops just back from Iraq in their Army fatigues. Did this

surprise you?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: It did. It surprised me also that NORTHCOM itself

was involved in intelligence sharing with local police officers in St.

Paul. I mean, what in the world is NORTHCOM doing looking at what some

of the protesters are involved in? And you had infiltration up there,

too. But what we have going on in this country is we have infiltration

and spying that goes on, not only at the—well, all the way from the

campus police, practically, Amy, up to the Pentagon and the National

Security Agency. We’re becoming a police state here.

AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Michael Boatner, a tall order here, could you respond?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: Well, that’s incorrect. We did not participate in

any intelligence collection. We were up there in support of the US

Secret Service. We provided some explosive ordnance disposal support of

the event. But I’d like to go back and say that, again, in terms of—

AMY GOODMAN: Could you explain what their—explain again what was their

role there?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: They were just doing routine screens and scans of

the area in advance of this kind of a vulnerable event. It’s pretty

standard support to a national special security event.

AMY GOODMAN: And are you saying there was absolutely no intelligence


COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: That’s correct. That is correct. [inaudible] we’re

very constrained—

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: But even that, Amy, now the Pentagon is doing sweeps

of areas before, you know, a political convention? That used to be law

enforcement’s job. That used to be domestic civil law enforcement job.

It’s now being taken over by the Pentagon. That should concern us.

AMY GOODMAN: Why is that, Colonel Michael Boatner? Why is the Pentagon

doing it, not local law enforcement?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: That’s because of the scale and the availability

of support. DoD is the only force that has the kind of capability. I

mean, we’re talking about dozens and dozens of dog detection teams. And

so, for anything on this large a scale, the Secret Service comes to DoD

with a standard Economy Act request for assistance.

AMY GOODMAN: Boatner, in the Republican Convention, these troops, just

back from Fallujah—what about issues of, for example, PTSD,

post-traumatic stress disorder?

COL. MICHAEL BOATNER: Well, my sense is that that’s something that the

services handled very well. There’s a long track record of great support

in the homeland. If those soldiers were National Guard soldiers, I have

no visibility of that. But for the active-duty forces, citizens can be

confident that if they’re employed in the homeland, that they’ll be

reliable, accountable, and take care of their families and fellow

citizens in good form.

AMY GOODMAN: Last word, Matthew Rothschild? Ten seconds.

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Well, this granting of the Pentagon a special unit

to be involved in US patrol is something that should alarm all of us.

And it’s very important to the Army. General Casey, Army chief of staff—

AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: —was a drill exercise for this group just last week,

or just three weeks ago. It was called—

AMY GOODMAN: We leave it there. We’ve got to leave it there. Thank you

to Matthew Rothschild and Colonel Michael Boatner.

Report this post as:

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