Baby Steps to Martial Law

On March 10, a man went on a shooting spree in a small town in Alabama. He killed 11 people (and himself). The Alabama town, Samson, only has five police officers, so they understandably needed help to contain the crime scene and make sure that it was not destroyed by traffic and looky loos. Okay, I get that. That is not a problem. However, they did not get this help in the form of other sanctioned police officers, Federal Marshals, FBI Agents, or the National Guard; they did get help from 22 armed Army Troops from nearby by Fort Rucker.

That’s right, 22 United States Army Troops carrying handguns, were on site to “control traffic and make sure the crime scene was not trampled.” Many questions remain unanswered about this whole affair, the first and biggest one being: Who authorized the deployment of these troops? See, nobody seems to know that. The local police are saying that they did not ask the Army for help. The Governor and others in the state government are also denying that they requested any help from the troops, though they “were glad they were there.”

A while ago I wrote a post on how Marines were being used at DUI checkpoints in California. Now that action may also have been illegal, and it definitely scares me, but at least in that instance it was clear who asked for them to be there. This is not the case in Alabama, and that is scary. It’s scary because the military has to be asked, under a very strict and formal set of regulations, before it can operate in any capacity on home soil. Their job is not to police the homeland, or provide security; that is why we have the National Guard as well as Federal and State agencies. But someone had to request that they come to Samson and help with crime scene containment, and if we don’t know who, then that is a problem.

Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., told on Monday that the military police soldiers, along with the provost marshal were sent to Samson.

“The purpose for sending the military police, the authority for doing so, and what duties they performed is the subject of an ongoing commander’s inquiry–directed by the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command,” Perritt said. “In addition to determining the facts, this inquiry will also determine whether law, regulation and policy were followed.”

It’s all well and good to look into who issued the order and to make sure that the proper regulations and policies were followed, but it seems to me that that information should already be known. This should not be a matter of something happened and now we need to find out who ordered it, and if those orders were legal. The chain of command should have been followed, and this includes leaving a clear and easy to read trail of just what happened because now it is quite possible that we will never know who ordered the troops there and if it was done legally.

Some might be asking what the big deal is. Sure, they might say, there were troops on home soil, but they were only there to preserve a crime scene. They weren’t there to police the population. And yes, they were armed, but so what? Regular police officers are armed all the time, and no one complains about that. These claims can be backed up by Jim Stromenger, a dispatcher at the Samson Police Depatrment statement that the troops: “came in to help with traffic control and to secure the crime scene” and that the department was glad for the help. “They weren’t here to police, let me make that clear. They were here to help with traffic and to control the crime scene–so people wouldn’t trample all over (it).”

Well newflash Jim, “traffic control and securing the crime scene” is police work. That is what the cops do when a crime has been committed. It is a basic part of their job, along with investigating crimes and protecting people. So to say that the troops were not there to do police work is a bald faced lie. They WERE there to do police work, and nobody knows who called them in.

Jeff Emerson, the Governor of Alabama’s press secretary issued this statement which indicates that the Governor is not too concerned about this incident:

“From what I understand it was a few folks who came to direct traffic or help where they could,” Emerson said. “If it had been more than what it was there might be a reason for concern, but these folks just came to see if they could help and left.”

Well sure, it wasn’t a whole battalion of troops, but it was still 22 armed US Military Personnel operating (possibly illegally) on American soil. It doesn’t really matter how many there were. It could have been one, or it could have been 100, either way it is a possibly illegal act and just another example of how close to losing our rights as American citizens and facing a state of Martial law we are. Sure, this is just one incident, and thankfully no one was harmed or dragged away by these troops, but something like Martial Law cannot just happen overnight. It has to be a slow, almost invisible process, and then when there is another terrorist attack, huge natural disaster, or some other large scale incident it will be all that much more easy to declare the use of American troops on American soil.

It is frightening to think that somthing like this could actually happen, but what is more frightening is that the American people seem to be okay with it. Sure, there are dissenters and folks who are scared by this, but they are in the minority. Of course, who can blame them when things are so bad right now that it is hard to take care of yourself and your family. The last thing most people are thinking about is a the Martial States of America, and that is why it is such a possibility. We have so many things to worry about and be afraid of that we have reached our threshold, and cannot be concerned about a measly 22 Army Troops operating in a law enforcement capacity in the middle of nowehere Alabama, but this is the exact kind of thing that we should be worried about.


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