Saturday, May 1, 2010


By Mark Anderson
American Free Press
(Issue # 18, May 5, 2010)

The battle-hardened 1st Brigade Combat Team/3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga., may be deployed as a crowd-control unit in anticipation of possible civilian unrest just before the 2010 midterm elections. The thinking is that the nation’s severe economic downturn and uncertainty about the nation’s economic and political status could spark rioting or large demonstrations.

This Army unit that has made several deployments to Iraq, but was assigned on Oct. 1, 2008 to the U.S. Northern Command (Northcom) based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. Thus, this division would be the main military force to carry out Northcom’s stated mission. Northcom “plans, organizes and executes homeland defense and civil support missions,” Northcom’s web site states.

Northcom was actually established Oct. 1, 2002 in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks for the express purpose of protecting the U.S. “homeland” and to support local, state and federal authorities. Northcom is commanded by Gen. Victor R. Renuart Jr.

This marked the first time an active-duty unit had been given a dedicated assignment to Northcom. The force is known as Consequence Management Response Force. It is an “on call” federal response force for “terrorist attacks and other natural or manmade emergencies and disasters,” according to military sources.

“In October of this year, one month prior to the November midterm elections, a special army unit known as ‘Consequence Management Response Force’ will be ready for deployment on American soil if so ordered by the president. According to The Army Times, they may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack,” is how Conservative Examiner writer Anthony G.Martin stated the situation on April 13, 2010. He is among several sources, another being, that have posted articles saying the Army seems more focused on domestic operations due to expectations of civilian unrest.

Due to the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act—a long-honored civil code that severely limits the use of the military in domestic law enforcement, mainly due to abuses experienced by Southern Americans from post-Civil War martial law during Reconstruction—many concerned Americans wonder if the U.S. military will ever “cross the line” and break that act, ushering in a militarized police state, temporarily or long-term. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) is said to have watered down some of the act’s restrictions, but the Supreme Court has challenged some MCA sections’ constitutionality.

U.S. Army Major Mike Humphreys of Northcom explained to AFP a great deal from the military perspective, saying that “the Posse Comitatus Act is a civil code that we follow. . . .We take that very seriously. We are citizens, too. All we can do is follow our orders and assist in defending the Constitution of the United States. I have faith in our Constitution.”

Asked about soldiers’ behavior in the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans—in light of video footage that shows GIs entering occupied homes and confiscating weapons that homeowners may have needed to deter looters—Humphreys replied that federal troops only entered those homes if accompanied by National Guard troops that had not been federalized and answered to the state of Louisiana. That is how it worked, which could not be understood from watching the videos, he said.

He said he has heard talk of unrest near election time in 2010, dismissing it mostly as the concerns of “angry, disgruntled people,” but he said there would have to be enough unrest for a state governor to ask the federal government for an emergency declaration. The president would then have to issue such a declaration. FEMA, with the permission of the state or states affected by the unrest, would enter the state as the lead federal agency for which military units assigned to Northcom would “assist,” Humphreys said.

“Even FEMA is not in charge; the state governments still have responsibility,” Humphreys added, pointing out that to technically violate Posse Comitatus, the U.S. military and Department of Defense would actually have to take control from the states. “We did not violate Posse Comitatus—U.S. forces, the U.S. military, was not in charge,” he said, with respect to Katrina’s aftermath. “FEMA took an active role.We assisted FEMA and other local authorities.” However, FEMA’s policy of keeping droves of Katrina refugees holed up in the New Orleans Superdome, where many suffered deprivations and some died, received stinging criticism in many quarters, including from Fox News reporter Shepard Smith, who’s not normally critical of government operations.

AFP pressed Humphreys on whether Posse Comitatus is violated in spirit, through a backdoor approach following FEMA’s lead, even though the military is not technically usurping control from the states. He denied that was the case.

He summarized that with FEMA taking the lead, “We set up a joint operations center” during emergency response operations, regardless of whether the reason is a manmade disaster, unrest, natural disaster or terrorist attack. That operations center is typically comprised of state emergency people, the National Guard under the affected states, federal military under the Defense Department, the Red Cross and various nonprofits.

There are, notably, online reports from military sources that confirm the existence of “nonlethal” directed-energy weapons that some military commentators have suggested for use during crowd control operations in the United States. Critics say the use of these weapons can cause severe burns.

Mark Anderson is a longtime newsman now working as the deputy editor for AMERICAN FREE PRESS. Together he and his wife Angie provide many photographs of the events they cover for AFP. Mark welcomes your comments and inputs as well as story leads. Email him at at

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