August 21, 2009
More Military Intrusion Into Law Enforcement By Matthew Rothschild
Here’s another story about the ever-eroding line between the military and civilian law enforcement.
On Aug. 9, nine peace activists walked onto the base at
They were cited for federal trespassing, and five were released. But the Army police at
Problem is, the Army is prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act from engaging in domestic law enforcement. And Army regulations say that civilians should be issued citations and then turned over “to the appropriate civilian authorities.” In this case, it would have been the
The four activists—Joy First, Alice Gerard, Brian Terrell, and Bonnie Urfer—were evidently held for 24 hours on the authority of Fort McCoy alone.
Bonnie Urfer, the director of Nukewatch, was one of those detained.
She says “the officials at
A lawyer for the four activists, Larry Hildes of the National Lawyers Guild, says this was a “virtual kidnapping” and they are considering suing
You are immediately told the following:
“You are accessing a
conditions: The USG routinely intercepts and monitors communications on this IS for purposes including, but not limited to, penetration testing, COMSEC monitoring, network operations and defense, personnel misconduct (PM), law enforcement (LE), and counterintelligence (CI) investigations. At any time, the USG may inspect and seize data stored on this IS.”
That section states: “Whoever reenters or is found within any such reservation, post, fort, arsenal, yard, station, or installation, after having been removed therefrom or ordered not to reenter by any officer or person in command or charge thereof—shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”
That section does not state, however, that the Army itself has the right to fine or imprison those who reenter forts.
“We acted as quickly as we could to do what we should have done, to get them back on the streets and in their homes,” he told The Progressive. “As a general rule, we process them with momentary arrest, we give them a violation notice, a ticket of sorts, and they’re walked back to their cars.” But he added: “Certainly we have the authority to arrest and do things differently.” And he is prepared to defend the
“It appears to me that we were simply being sentenced by the Army for returning to the Fort,” says Terrell, a Catholic Worker and a member of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
“I’m not interested in getting even,” says Terrell. “But I want accountability.”
He sees what happened to them, small as he concedes it was, as “part of a larger pattern of abuse: It’s the Army feeling that the rules that bound it before don’t apply.”
Bonnie Urfer, however, does not want to press charges. “I’m not interested in pursuing this further,” she says. She says the violations against them were “so paltry” compared to what people had to endure down in
But Urfer and Terrell agree on most things, including this: “Our civil rights are not protected by illegal wars,” Terrell says. “They’re eroded by them.”
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs