Don't worry so much... This is nothing that has not been done before. The original Posse Comitatus law was enacted to prevent local sheriffs from calling on the Army to take care of local problems. The U.S. Military can be authorized by Congress at any time to quell an 'insurgent' act, etc. There is little in the Constitution that prevents the CIC from using the military on home shores. The actions under consideration now are not unprecedented, if unusual and unwelcome. While I do not condone this action, I do not fear it. The POWER for abuse has always been there. IF Congress were to do this properly, even the most liberal ACLUer should have no fear of the action. However, there is that IF...
The Origins of the Posse Comitatus
The original Posse Comitatus was a rider to an appropriations bill, Chapter 263, Section 15, approved on June 18, 1878.
Chapter 263, Section 15, Army as Posse Comitatus:
From and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful to employ any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress; and no money appropriated by this act shall be used to pay any of the expenses incurred in the employment of any troops in violation of this section, and any person willfully violating the provisions of this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or imprisonment not exceeding two years or by both such fine and imprisonment.
The impetus for this bill came from two sources. The first was the end of the Civil War Reconstruction. From the beginning of the Republic until the enactment of Posse Comitatus it had been regular practice to station federal troops at polling places to prevent inebriates from voting, and to be certain that those entering the polls were entitled to do so in an era of limited suffrage. After the Civil War, the federal troops were stationed at polls to be sure that universal manhood suffrage was permitted, and that no former Confederate officers voted. All former Confederate officers had been stripped of the right to vote or hold office above the state level. The end of the Reconstruction period meant that enforcement of those strictures was no longer necessary.
The second impetus was conditions on the western frontier. Fort commanders were often the only law and order in a region, the only security for settlers moving west. Most of the frontier was still outside the US proper, and had not been admitted to statehood. Fort commanders had begun to exercise civilian law enforcement responsibilities, sometimes in an arbitrary way, to hunt down whomever they believed to be criminals or Indians who were threatening settlers. The argument was that criminality and Indian attacks happened quickly and needed quick action from whatever authority was on the spot. They were, after all, a long way out of communication with Washington, D.C. The results were sometimes violations of the Constitution and conditions otherwise untenable to elected civil officials.
President Rutherford B. Hayes registered his protest against Posse Comitatus by vetoing the Army Appropriations Act for 1880. His statement on why he did so included the following:
The bill provides in the usual form the appropriations required for the support of the Army during the next fiscal year. If it contained no other provisions, it would receive my prompt approval. It includes, however, further legislation, which, attached, as it is, to appropriations which are requisite for the efficient performance of some of the most necessary duties of the Government, involves questions of the gravest character. The sixth section of the bill is amendatory of the statute now in force in regard to the authority of persons in the civil, military, and naval service of the United States "at the place where any general or special election is held in any State."
The effect of the adoption of this amendment may be considered –
First. Upon the right of the United States Government to use military force to keep the peace at the elections for Members of Congress; and
Second. Upon the right of the Government, by civil authority, to protect these elections from violence and fraud.
This section is, however, not presented to me as a separate and independent measure, but is, as has been stated, attached to the bill making the usual annual appropriations for the support of the Army. It makes a vital change in the elections laws of the country, which is in no way connected to the use of the Army. It prohibits, under heavy penalties, any person engaged in the civil service of the United States from having any force at the place of any election, prepared to preserve order, to make arrests, to keep the peace, or in any manner to enforce the laws. This is altogether foreign to the purpose of an ‘Army appropriations bill.1
President B. Hayes’s veto statement of the Army Appropriation Act for 1880. April 29, 1879.
President Hayes may have been mistaken on one point, however. The bill in question was only for the Army, that is, the Department of War. The Department of the Navy was still a separate entity at that time, and required entirely separate appropriations measures.
The act contains legal loopholes by exception, "except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress." These exceptions provided a loophole by which Posse Comitatus has been suspended several times in this century, including use of federal troops to end rioting in Chicago in 1919, against "Bonus Marchers" in Washington, D.C. in 1932, and under the Truman administration when a railroad workers’ strike was ended by nationalizing the railroads and placing them temporarily under the Army Corps of Engineers. Recent debates have been over what authorities troops should have during Hurricane Andrew relief operations, and how, or whether, troops could be employed to support the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
The National Security Act of 1947 created the Department of Defense by combining the War Department and Department of the Navy. This new entity was defined by US Co