What is Posse Comitatus?

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For two months beginning on July 15, 2015, the U.S. military will conduct a military training exercise called “Jade Helm” in multiple states that’ll include Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.
Described by the military itself as unprecedented in size and scope, Jade Helm has stirred much apprehension and fear in the alternative media community, with some saying it is both a preparation for and a prelude to martial law.
At the least, Jade Helm means U.S. military troops will be active (“conduct training exercises”) on domestic soil within the United States, which may be interpreted as a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
The term “posse comitatus” derives from the Latin posse comitatūs, which means “power of the community” in English use from the late 16th century. The original meaning of posse comitatus refers to a group of citizens assembled by the authorities to deal with an emergency (such as suppressing a riot or pursuing felons).
It is in the context of Jade Helm that the following guest post by FOTM’s Generation iYer Justin (aka threepercent1755), who served in the USMC for 5 years, is informative. (See Justin’s self-introduction here.)
For a dissenting view on Jade Helm, please see my post “Operation Jade Helm, Posse Comitatus, and why we should be concerned“.

What is Posse Comitatus? An FYI for our Readers

By Justin
Posse Comitatus, more significantly known as The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, limits the use of federal troops inside the United States (or CONUS in DoD speak). After the civil war, Union troops flooded the south as a police force, used to ensure former slaves were freed and had their rights as Americans. During the 1876 elections, the US soldiers were ordered to protect the rights of the black freedmen. While using the troops as a policing force would seem a great idea, it limited the accountability of the troops’ actions. The southern states claimed that instead of enforcing laws during the elections, federal troops refused admittance for southern voters or tried scaring them to vote for Republican in the most controversial election in our history. The south, to quell the debate over the presidency, allowed Hayes to win election without quarrel, but only with the passing of The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
While there is no documentation of these grievances that I could find, it strikes me as odd that the south would give up the presidency, such a powerful position, in trade to have the troops removed unless some sort of grievance existed.
So what exactly does Posse Comitatus establish?
The Act limits the use of the Army, and the Commander-in-Chief, from using the Army local and state law enforcement. It does not limit the National Guard from operating in home states or connecting states. (i.e. Ohio National Guard can be activated for Indiana enforcement if the Governor requests) This is also important in the case of Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus in 1957, when he refused to call the Arkansas National Guard with the 101st Airborne to prevent violence in the “Little Rock Nine” case. (https://law.justia.com/constitution/us/article-2/40-military-power-in-law-enforcement.html)
Without this limitation, it would be possible for the president to order the United States Army to do roadblocks inside the US, raid houses like SWAT, patrol the streets in HMMWVs (Humvee) and tanks, and even use military helicopters in assault or pursuit of perpetrators.
The reason I have been compelled to write is Operation Jade Helm 15. Many people incorrectly believe that it is a violation of Posse Comitatus for the military to train off of federal ground. While it may be disregarding other laws, it would only violate Posse Comitatus if the units were enforcing local or federal laws while they were in the area.
I recommend this article for Jade Helm: https://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/04/28/army-tries-to-explain-operation-jade-helm-15-to-central-texas-community-they-say-no/

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0 responses to “What is Posse Comitatus?

  1. Thank You for the great article. I would also highly recommend Alex Jones’s and Hagmann & Hagmann’s programs from the last month, available on You Tube for free.

  2. Kevin J Lankford

    Regardless of reasoning and rationale, military exercises and training performed in the streets of the United States not just in plain view but in spite of the real citizens of this Nation, can only be considered an intentional and flagrant show of force.

  3. Please consider that the Arab Spring was part and parcel of the scheme known as The Refugee Resettlement Program…bringing untold numbers of Muslims into the USA–virtually a Trojan Horse..100,000 from Syria alone–home of ISIS, no ID’s required–paid for by the American taxpayer..we must wake up and align quickly
    Tonight, Dr. Christina Jeffrey will be interviewed on Blogtalk Radio’s Andrea Shea King Show about the involvement of Spartanburg, S.C. in the Refugee Resettlement Program and Dr. Jeffrey’s work to shine light into the darkest corners of the program.
    The show will broadcast from 9-10:30 PM (EDT) tonight, Tuesday, May 5, 2015.
    The show will be available in Andrea Shea King’s archive following the live broadcast. The archive can be accessed through the above link.

  4. traildustfotm

    One thing I am counting on is the nobility of our men and women in the armed forces and their civilian support people. Most of the ones I know are willing and ready to make independent decisions if immoral or illegal commands come from above. What the usurper in the oval office fears most is our volunteer military. He knows those guns can be pointed where conscience demands. May God bless and have mercy on our nation. May He accept our sincere repentance and turn from His anger.

  5. Does the Patriot Act override the Posse Comitatus Act?

    • Excellent question, MomOfIV!
      From pp. 49-50 of a Congressional Research Service paper titled “The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters: The Use of the Military to Execute Civilian Law“:
      Finally, it is arguable that Congress’s authorization for the use of force against those responsible for the September 11 attacks has mooted some of the limitations on the use of the military for law enforcement purposes by recasting them as military operations. Soon after the attacks, the Office of Legal Counsel [OLC] advised the White House and Defense Department that the Posse Comitatus Act imposed no constraint on the President’s use of military forces domestically for anti-terrorism operations against “international or foreign terrorists operating within the United States.”
      This conclusion rested on the determination that the act only applies to the domestic use of the Armed Forces for law enforcement purposes, rather than for the performance of military functions. The Posse Comitatus Act itself contains an exception that allows the use of the military when constitutionally or statutorily authorized, which has occurred in the present circumstances The Posse Comitatus Act and Related Matters Congressional Research Service only applies to the domestic use of the Armed Forces for law enforcement purposes, rather than for the performance of military functions. The Posse Comitatus Act itself contains an exception that allows the use of the military when constitutionally or statutorily authorized, which has occurred in the present circumstances.
      In concluding that the prevention and deterrence of terrorism is “fundamentally military, rather than law enforcement, in character,” OLC conceded that distinguishing between military and law enforcement functions when dealing with terrorism is “no easy task.” Counter-terrorism operations could therefore “resemble, overlap with, and assist ordinary law enforcement activity.” Military action might encompass making arrests, seizing documents or other property, searching persons or places or keeping them under surveillance, intercepting electronic or wireless communications, setting up roadblocks, interviewing witnesses, and searching for suspects. Moreover, the information gathered in such efforts could be of considerable use to federal prosecutors if the Government were to prosecute against captured terrorists.
      OLC further opined that the President’s inherent power to defend the United States supplied a “constitutional exception” to the Posse Comitatus Act, and that statutory exceptions could be found in both the authorization for use of military force and § 333 of the Insurrection Act.
      It does not appear, however, that much of this opinion remains the official interpretation of the Justice Department.

      I’ll look into this more tomorrow.

  6. One other question I have, why is it called “jade helm”, what is behind the name may be useful in portraying it’s legitimate intent.
    I could speculate that jade = oriental gemstone mainly applied to China, and helm implying soldier’s headgear, or in general military, but that may be extrapolating more from it than is there, or may be outright incorrect.

  7. In this, the year 2015…. the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War (or, as some prefer, The War of Northern Aggression)…. we may be entering a new ‘Reconstruction’ period (or, more accurately, ‘re-education’, as the Marxists seem to prefer).
    Then: Radical Republicans exerting their will on a defeated and disarmed populace. Now: Radical Democrats…. or whatever.
    Perhaps, the Posse Comitatus Law is ‘evolving’, like the Constitution. Or, should I say, ‘trampled underfoot’ by jack-booted thugs.
    When I was growing up, so many years ago, I don’t recall any mention of Posse Comitatus in our American History classes…. and I believe we received a much more comprehensive education in the 60s than they do now. Seems like the first time I heard about it was in a film in the 1980’s (“Tank”, starring James Garner as a career Army NCO who owned his own personal WWII Sherman tank, which he hauled around with him to his new duty posts). In that film, a local police chief demanded that the military assist him in arresting the NCO, with the local Army commander citing “Posse Comitatus”…. to which the sheriff, a southerner, responded, “I’m not a Pussy Communist!”
    Perhaps we are now under the provisions of the “Pussy Communist Law of 2015”, directed by the head pussy communist in Washington….
    and all of his pussy communists in command positions (post-purge).

  8. How can I join the posse comatataus?


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