Monday, October 27, 2008

ACLU alarmed by domestic US army deployment

An Army Times article published a few weeks ago reported:
The brigade, the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, has spent most of the last four years fighting a war in Iraq, and will now be assigned on a permanent basis to engage in numerous domestic functions -- including, as the article put it, "to help with civil unrest and crowd control."
Greenwald blogs that the ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information request on the deployment.

Concerning the announcement, Digby blogged that the army may test new pain-inflicting crowd control technologies that could double as effective torture devices:
There was a time when I would have thought this whole thing was hysterical and paranoid. Not any more. We are living today under a government that has legalized torture and which sees absolutely no problem with shooting people full of electricity on the streets of America every day in order to force compliance.
Photo: Ray gun from an article at BBC "The US military has given the first public display of what it says is a revolutionary heat-ray weapon to repel enemies or disperse hostile crowds."

Background links:
  • Northern Command press release of Sept 30: "For the first time in its existence, U.S. Northern Command is gaining a dedicated force to respond to potential chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incidents in the homeland." The disclaimer says: “U.S. Army North has done an outstanding job anticipating the needs of our federal, state and local partners, and training the CCMRF to be prepared to respond when called upon,” said Army Col. Michael Boatner, USNORTHCOM future operations division chief. “We’re excited about obtaining a ready and capable team that we can quickly activate and deploy as part of a federal response package when responding in the aftermath of catastrophic events,” Boatner said. “This response force will not be called upon to help with law enforcement, civil disturbance or crowd control, but will be used to support lead agencies involved in saving lives, relieving suffering and meeting the needs of communities affected by weapons of mass destruction attacks, accidents or even natural disasters.”"
  • ACLU blog post on freedom of information request regarding CBRNE: "Here’s what we do know: The program, entitled the Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Consequence Management Response Force, or CCMRF (pronounced, strangely enough, "sea-smurf"), will be stationed for one year in Fort Stewart, Ga., with the expectation — according to Army Times — that another active-duty brigade will then take over, and that the deployment will be permanent. The first unit to be deployed will be the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st BCT, or "First Raiders", which spent 35 of the last 60 months "in Iraq patrolling in full battle rattle" (again, the Army Times‘ characterization). The unit’s explicit mission will be to provide support for civilian law-enforcement branches like local police and rescue personnel: it may be called upon in situations involving civil unrest, crowd control, or catastrophes like chemical, biological, or nuclear attack, and it will be trained in skills like search and rescue and crowd control. But we also know that the CCMRF deployment jeopardizes the Posse Comitatus Act, a cornerstone of America’s democratic society. . . .

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