The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding information about reports that the military has been deployed to help with civil unrest and crowd control within the United States.
This action could jeopardize separation between civilian and military government.
The ACLU says that the American public has a right to know where and why the unit has been deployed according to an information request that was filed on October 21.
The ACLU’s web site reports:
“The military’s deployment within U.S. borders raises critical questions that must be answered,” said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “What is the unit’s mission? What functions will it perform? And why was it necessary to deploy the unit rather than rely on civilian agencies and personnel and the National Guard? Given the magnitude of the issues at stake, it is imperative that the American people know the truth about this new and unprecedented intrusion of the military in domestic affairs.”
As I reported on September 25, 2008 the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team is being deployed to the United States on a permanent mission.
The ACLU cites the same report that was released by the Army Times. The military unit has been deployed for active duty under Northern Command. Northern Command was established in 2002 to assist federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities. This is the first time that an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment.
Inside the United States border civilian authorities have controlled and directed internal affairs in the past.
The ACLU reports:
“This is a radical departure from separation of civilian law enforcement and military authority, and could, quite possibly, represent a violation of law,” said Mike German, ACLU national security policy counsel and former FBI Agent. “Our Founding Fathers understood the threat that a standing army could pose to American liberty. While future generations recognized the need for a strong military to defend against increasingly capable foreign threats, they also passed statutory protections to ensure that the Army could not be turned against the American people. The erosion of these protections should concern every American.”
After 9/11 the Department of Defense has expanded its role in domestic law enforcement and the different intelligence operations that monitior activity within the United States. This includes the use of wiretapping civilians. The ACLU has repeatedly expressed concerns about such actions. The use of active military troops has heightened this concern.