While visiting the elite Battle Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth, “I head discussion of the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the National Guard to act as a local police force,” reported Robert D. Kaplan in his 1996 book An Empire Wilderness. “The implication was that turbulence within the United States might one day require the act to be repealed.”
During a discussion of the use of the military to suppress domestic terrorism, a Marine major declared: “The minute I heard about Oklahoma City, I knew who did it – rednecks, the kind of guys from southern Idaho.” That officer went on to predict that owing to the presence of such turbulent people “`a time may come when the military will have to go domestic,’” Kaplan related.
At least some of the “rednecks” who reside in southern Idaho agree with that anonymous major’s assessment. A bill before the Idaho State Legislature, HB 367, would effectively abolish the Posse Comitatus Act as it applies to law enforcement in the Gem State by permitting the National Guard to “assist federal and state law enforcement agencies in interdicting the importation of controlled substances” and participating in the officially licensed plunder called “civil asset forfeiture.” When authorized to act as a “state law enforcement agency,” the Guard will be allowed to participate “in the sharing of property seized or forfeited and receive property and revenues…..”
The amendment containing this enhancement of the Guard’s mission, significantly, would be inserted just above an existing provision allowing county sheriffs to enlist the aid of the Guard to deal with “any breach of the peace, tumult, riot, resistance to process of this state, or a state of extreme emergency, or imminent danger thereof….”
Translated into practical terms, this would allow any of the state’s 44 sheriffs to seek the assistance of the National Guard any time they anticipate resistance to a forfeiture action. After all, everybody in Idaho has guns, a fact that has been invoked by police officials across the state to justify the acquisition of combat-grade armored vehicles from the Pentagon. This means that any time law enforcement sets out to steal somebody’s property through “asset forfeiture” – something that was recently done as part of a federal investigation into “illegal” card games at a private residence – there is “imminent danger” of armed resistance.
Republican state representative Linden Bateman of Idaho Falls (which, for the record, is in southern Idaho) told the Idaho Reporter that “There seemed to be no major opposition to this bill” in the Legislature. Gov. Butch Otter has reportedly read and approved the draft measure. No objections have been heard from Idaho’s “constitutional sheriffs” – the officials who resolved to oppose new federal gun restrictions, but whose independence is neutralized by their dependency on federally supported asset forfeiture.
While Pentagon planners and their assets in law enforcement may be haunted by visions of a “redneck” uprising in Idaho, it’s clear that they can count on the support and cooperation of Quislings in the state government.
Parrish Miller reports that “Rep. Mike Moyle has asked unanimous consent to send the bill back to committee for amending” — which means that it may be dead for this session. In addition, he pointed out that in the original version of this article I mistakenly attributed the quote from Rep. Bateman to Rep. Brandon Hixon. My thanks to Miller for the update, and the correction.