Military arrests in US considered
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: August 2nd, 2009
Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials. Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants. A decision to dispatch troops into the streets to make arrests has few precedents in American history, as both the Constitution and subsequent laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property. The Fourth Amendment bans unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause. And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the military from acting in a law-enforcement capacity. In the discussions, Mr. Cheney and others cited an Oct. 23, 2001, memorandum from the Justice Department that, using a broad interpretation of presidential authority, argued that the domestic use of the military against Al Qaeda would be legal because it served a national security, rather than a law enforcement, purpose. The president has ample constitutional and statutory authority to deploy the military against international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States, the memorandum said. The memorandum was declassified in March. But the White House debate about the Lackawanna group is the first evidence that top American officials ... actually considered using the document to justify deploying the military into an American town to make arrests.
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