George W. Bush used his failure before 9/11/2001 to seize power with the Patriot Act. Similarly, he is using his failure in responding to Hurricane Katrina to try to seize more power.
Bush wants the power to order the military to arrest people in the US. Currently, the military is barred by the Posse Comitatus Act from arresting people in the US. Changing this would negatively affect the nature of our society and the right to protest.
President Bush on Monday…raised the possibility that lawmakers might expand presidential authority to:
…Grant wider leeway for active-duty U.S. military personnel to carry out law enforcement operations.
Once the military starts arresting people in the US, it won’t be limited to natural disasters.
Protests can be declared “emergencies” for soldiers to arrest protestors if Congress changes the law about the role of the military.
What looks to me like a protest, may look like a riot to a government official.
Nor were arrests by the military needed in New Orleans. There were police in New Orleans. What was needed from the military was more food and water than they supplied.
In Bush’s Thursday night speech, he continued with the notion of expanding domestic military power:
“It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces, the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment’s notice.”
Once the military can arrest us, can they then imprison us? Put us on trial? Hold us indefinitely?
Letting a president declare any cities he so chooses “emergency” areas where the military can arrest people for as long as he chooses is too much executive power. We need more relief supplies during an emergency, not arrests, and there are police to conduct arrests when necessary.
Bush was able to respond to previous natural disasters in Florida and elsewhere without being able to authorize the military to arrest people. President Bill Clinton was as well. Bush’s failure regarding Hurricane Katrina means he should have less power, not more power.
We should maintain the distinction between the role of the police and the role of the military.