Dept. of Defense Law Enforcement Assistance and Posse ComitatusSubmitted by LibertyIsPriceless on Sun, 06/30/2013 - 04:43
Army Field Manual FM3-19-15 (Published 2005) details the circumstances under which the department of defense will render assistance to state and local authorities to quell public dissent. Below are some relevant excerpts taken from pages 218-220 which deal with the government's current legal interpretation of this issue.
Information superiority helps forces anticipate problems and
requirements. It allows commanders to control situations earlier and with less force, creating the conditions necessary to achieve the end state. Public affairs, PSYOP, and civil military operations are activities that will allow the commander to control situations earlier and with less force.
Generally, federal military forces may not give law enforcement
assistance to civil authorities without conflicting with the Posse Comitatus Act. However, constitutional and statutory exceptions to this prohibition do exist.
The recent emphasis on drug interdiction has led to an increase in those exceptions.
The Judiciary Act of 1789 allowed US marshals to call upon the
military as a posse comitatus. This continued until after the Civil War, when the federal government used the Army to execute reconstruction era policies.
The southern states regarded the use of the military for this purpose as abusive and repressive, and in 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the original bill ending the practice.
The Posse Comitatus Act prescribes criminal penalties for the use of the US Army or Air Force to execute the laws of or to perform civilian law enforcement functions within the United States. DOD policy extends this prohibition to the US Navy and Marine Corps. Prohibiting the military fromexecuting the laws means that military personnel may not participate directly
An arrest; a search and seizure; a stop and frisk; or an interdiction of vessels, aircraft, or vehicles.
A surveillance or pursuit.
A civilian legal case or any other civilian law enforcement activity as informants, undercover agents, or investigators.
The Posse Comitatus Act does not apply to the following:
Members of the NG when in state service.
Members of a Reserve Component when not on active duty or active
duty for training.
DOD civilians , unless under the direct command and control of an
active duty officer. (includes private military contractors)
A soldier when off duty and acting only in a private capacity.
Soldiers taking action for the primary purpose of furthering a military or foreign affairs function of the United States; for example, enforcing military justice, maintaining law and order on military installations,and protecting classified materials.
CONSTITUTIONAL EXCEPTIONS TO THE POSSE COMITATUS ACT
Under its inherent authority, the US government is responsible for
preserving public order and carrying out governmental operations within its territorial limits, by force if necessary. Under the Constitution of the United States, exceptions allow the use of military force to execute or enforce the law.
Some of the exceptions are to—
Protect civilian property and functions.
Ensure preservation of public order and carry out government
operations, by force if necessary.
Protect civil rights where local authorities do not or cannot protect
Protect federal property and functions.
Quell civil disturbances and labor strife that rises to the level of civil
The President may order the armed forces to support state civil
authorities suffering from an insurrection or civil disturbance. He must act personally by first issuing a proclamation calling on insurgents to disperse and retire peacefully within a limited time. This occurred when federal forces were called in to counter the Los Angeles riots in 1992.