We are inundated in this country with propaganda boilerplate about being the greatest democracy in the world. No, we’re not a police state like our friends in Saudi Arabia or our former friends, and current enemies, in Iran. Our police agencies have figured out how to accomplish police state repression in a “softer,” more sophisticated manner.
Of course I made this argument a few times (1),(2), (3), particularly in my American Big Man series. I also tweeted about the most recent example that happened on the run up to the 9-11 10th anniversary commemoration.
One thing that I've thought about is the Posse Comitatus Act. Original:
Sec. 15. From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress ; and no money appropriated by this act shall be used to pay any of the expenses incurred in the employment of any troops in violation of this section and any person willfully violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or imprisonment not exceeding two years or by both such fine and imprisonment
In 2006 the act was amended to allow the military to step in to restore public order. This was then reverted back in 2008. Now the reason I bring this up is due to Chief Ray Kelly's interview with 60 Minutes in which he admitted that the NYPD has the capability to bring down commercial aircraft. Despite his later denials, I believe him 100%. The NYPD is perhaps the most militarized police dept in the nation. It occurred to me that such militarization of the police is a direct end run around the Posse Comitatus Act. Instead of bringing the military into the domestic sphere merely extend the power of domestic police to include capabilities and equipment previously available only to the military. In the end you get the same result with a different name.
Many people are under the impression that the Posse Comitatus Act provides a blanket ban on the military in the domestic arena. But the Coast Guard, a part of the Navy can and does enforce domestic law. The Insurrection Act already provides for use of the military, and most importantly the Congress may authorize the use of the military to enforce domestic law at any time.
As I said on Twitter; I think a lot of people have an idea about what a police state is based on movies and from dictators in the middle east, etc. They fail to realize to recognize the purpose of a police state is population control. Particularly the control of dissident voices and actions within the population. it is the ability to track citizens against their wishes, and it usually accompanied by claims of security and safety. A soft police state is still a police state.