CBS News 3 in Columbus, Georgia reports that the U.S. military will soon be patrolling in that city. According to the television station: “Starting at 10 o’clock Friday, two senior non-commissioned officers from Fort Benning will be on courtesy patrol. The soldiers will be wearing armbands that read, ‘Courtesy Patrol.'”
Doesn’t this at least violate the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act which forbids the military from engaging in normal domestic law enforcement? Although the patrols won’t actually be making arrests (and would pass legal muster), isn’t their mere presence patrolling in uniform repugnant to the norms of a liberal democracy?
I urge citizens of Georgia to stand up and insist that these uniformed patrols return to base where they belong. If you have any decent respect for the American tradition of anti-militarism – on this, see Arthur Ekirch’s book The Civilian and the Military – please voice your concerns to the office of the base commander at Fort Benning and the mayor who has signed off on this:
Office of Fort Benning Commanding General Robert Brown: (706) 545-2218
Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson: (706) 653-4712
What is happening to this country? And yes, I know this isn’t anything new. In fact, over 15 years ago, General Charles Dunlap – in an excellent article in the Wake Forest Law Review – chronicled the growing problem of military influence in America and noted:
Threats to civilian control arise when that ‘area of responsibility’ expands to include problems that should be left to civilian leadership to resolve, such as economic and social problems.