A Virtual Front Porch (wiki) to discuss the Posse Comitatus Act which prohibits the military acting as law enforcement in the US.
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The Posse Comitatus Act is

  • a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152)

1385. Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances
expressly authorized by the Constitution
or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the
Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or
otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined
under this title or imprisoned not more than
two years, or both.
(Added Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, §18(a), 70A Stat.
626; amended Pub. L. 86–70, §17(d), June 25, 1959,
73 Stat. 144; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII,
§330016(1)(L), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)
Section Source (U.S. Code) Source (Statutes at Large)
1385 ......... 10:15. June 18, 1878, ch. 263, §15,
20 Stat. 152; Mar. 3,
1899, ch. 429, §363 (proviso);
added June 6,
1900, ch. 786, §29 (less
last proviso), 31 Stat.
This section is revised to conform to the style and
terminology used in title 18. It is not enacted as a part
of title 10, United States Code, since it is more properly
allocated to title 18.
1994—Pub. L. 103–322 substituted ‘‘fined under this
title’’ for ‘‘fined not more than $10,000’’.
1959—Pub. L. 86–70 struck out provisions which made
section inapplicable in Alaska.

Source (GPO.gov)

At a hearing on the Posse Comitatus Act before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary in 1981,

William H. Taft, general counsel of the DoD wrote on 2017-11-17:

The PCA expresses one of the clearest political traditions in Anglo-American history: that using the military power to enforce the civilian law is harmful to both civilian and military interests. The authors of the PCA drew upon a melancholy history of military rule for evidence that even the best intentioned use of the Armed Forces to govern the civilian population may lead to unfortunate consequences. They knew, moreover, that military involvement in civilian affairs consumed resources needed for national defense and drew the Armed Forces into political and legal quarrels that could only harm their ability to defend their country. Accordingly they intended that the Armed Forces be used in law enforcement only in those serious cases to which the ordinary processes of civilian law were incapable of responding.

Source: 1683

The purpose of the act

  • in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807
    • is to limit the powers of the federal government in using its military personnel to act as domestic law enforcement personnel.

It was passed as an amendment to an army appropriation bill following the end of Reconstruction, and was subsequently updated in 1956 and 1981.

The Act only specifically applies to the Army and, as amended in 1956, the Air Force.

  • While the Act does not explicitly mention the naval services, specifically the Navy and the Marine Corps,
    • the Department of the Navy has prescribed regulations that are generally construed to give the Act force with respect to those services as well.

The Act does not apply to the National Guard

  • under state authority
    • from acting in a law enforcement capacity within its home state
      • or in an adjacent state if invited by that state's governor.

The United States Coast Guard

  • which operates under the Department of Homeland Security
    • is not covered by the Posse Comitatus Act either,
      • primarily because although the Coast Guard is an armed service,
      • it also has both a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency mission.


The provision created by "except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress" allowed the use of federal forces against:

  • the 1919 rioters in Chicago,
  • the so-called Bonus Marchers in Washington, D.C., in 1932,
  • and the railroad workers who went on strike during the administration of President Truman, who temporarily nationalized the railroads under the Army Corps of Engineers.

Military drills

Becoming quite common.

Military drills in American cities are psychological operations.

  • To get citizens used to seeing the military in our streets.
    • Which goes against the Posse Comitatus Act
      • To get military used to being in our streets.

Here's an article with numerous youtubes, links to documentation, etc. explaining the history and possible future...

See Also

The Virtual Front Porch

See Also Off Site

The Posse Comitatus Act: What Does It Mean to Local Law Enforcement?

  • Police Chief Magazine
    • By John W. Probst, Lieutenant Colonel and Commander, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, F. E. Warren Air Force Base, U.S. Air Force
      • July 2004

Civics Lesson: Just What Is the Posse Comitatus Act?

  • Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel
    • by Alice Cherbonnier
      • August 7, 2002

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878

  • PrisonPlanet.com

Preparing the U.S. Army for Homeland Security

  • Concepts, Issues, and Options
  • Rand Corporation
    • by Eric V. Larson, John E. Peters
      • Homeland security encompasses five distinct missions: domestic preparedness and civil support in case of attacks on civilians, continuity of government, continuity of military operations, border and coastal defense, and national missile defense. This report extensively details four of those mission areas (national missile defense having been covered in great detail elsewhere). The authors define homeland security and its mission areas, provide a methodology for assessing homeland security response options, and review relevant trend data for each mission area. They also assess the adequacy of the doctrine,organizations, training, leadership, materiel, and soldier systems and provide illustrative scenarios to help clarify Army planning priorities. The report concludes with options and recommendations for developing more cost-effective programs and recommends a planning framework that can facilitate planning to meet homeland security needs.

Contributors to this page: WizarDave .
Page last modified on Friday July 29, 2016 09:08:51 CDT by WizarDave.

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