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New American: Militarization of Swine Flu Preparations

The increasing militarization of preparations for an outbreak of swine flu is proceeding rapidly and without very much public debate, despite the relatively mild nature of the disease so far and the fact that many experts believe the panic has been overblown.

Earlier this week, Republican Representative Paul Broun of Georgia warned a town hall meeting that a “socialistic elite” may be preparing to declare martial law in the United States using a pandemic disease as the pretext. “They’re trying to develop an environment where they can take over,” he told attendees according to an article in the Athens Banner-Herald. “We’ve seen that historically.”

In another alarming development this week, National Guard troops are involved in a drill to take over a high school in Maine to deal with potential riots and panic over distribution of treatment for the H1N1 virus, the Maine Sun Journal reported Thursday. “The National Guardsmen will take on the roles of panicked citizens and military police and practice what they would do, such as using tear gas, in the case of a riot,” said the newspaper article entitled “National Guard Drill at High School to Prepare for Possible H1N1 Riot.” The story also noted that local law enforcement would be involved.

This is all despite the fact that the Maine Center for Disease Control has reported just one death tied to the swine flu, and the man actually died from “underlying conditions complicated by H1N1,” according to Dr. Dora Mills, the center’s director.

“This is just a component of moving the stuff from point A to B,” assured the director of Oxford County’s emergency management agency, Scott Parker. He told the Sun Journal that the plan would only be put in place “if needed.”

Apparently concerns about panic and disorder were raised during a conference in April, so the governor and the adjutant General of the Maine National Guard decided to formulate a plan to bring in military police.

But if state military police preparations weren’t bad enough, the federal government now wants to usurp state forces for domestic use under the Pentagon’s command. Though at least the states are fighting back on this issue.

The National Governors Association wrote a letter to the Department of Defense last week criticizing the proposals to take control of their National Guard units for domestic disasters. “Strong potential exists for confusion in mission execution and the dilution of governors' control over situations with which they are more familiar and better capable of handling than a federal military commander," the letter stated.

But no matter who retains control of the National Guard troops preparing to deal with swine flu, the federal government’s increasingly militarized “emergency preparations” for the virus are developing quickly and mostly under the radar. Just last month CNN and Fox News reported online that the U.S. military was drawing up plans to deal with a spread of the swine flu. “The Pentagon is preparing to make troops available if necessary to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency tackle a potential outbreak of the H1N1 virus,” according to a July 29 Fox News article entitled "Military Poised to Help FEMA Battle Swine Flu Outbreak."

And as early as last year, reports also began to surface that federal troops were preparing for “homeland defense” missions and would be operating on American soil — in what would appear to be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of military forces in domestic law enforcement.

Read more at: http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/health-care/1658