The US military will be on call to respond and use force in case of unrest at this year’s Democratic and Republican Party National Conventions in Tampa, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina.
In a disturbing illustration of the creeping militarization of the day, US Northern Command has admitted that the Army will aid domestic law enforcement if called upon by the Secretary of Defense.
“During the Democratic/Republican National Conventions, Department of Defense personnel will support the U.S. Secret Service,” a Northern Command spokesman said in an email.
“For operational security reasons we do not discuss the numbers of military personnel and resources that are involved,” U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. William G. Lewis said. “Additionally, we do not share our operational plans.”
Laws and traditions in this country going back hundreds of years have tried to restrict the government’s ability to use its military force on its own people, as a vital safeguard against outright militaristic rule here at home.The Bush administration’s post 9/11 attempts to cripple those safeguards still linger.
Northern Command took over responsibility for homeland security when Bush and the Department of Defense created the agency after the 9/11 attacks.
The practice harks back to the 1968 Democratic convention where a US Army and National Guard plan called Operation Garden Plot authorized an infantry brigade armed with riot control equipment and snipers to quell protesters if called upon.
“My job was to shoot to kill as directed,” said former US Army Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Gary Huber, who was assigned as a sniper in the Garden Plot. “I’m surprised we were issued ammunition because that normally wasn’t the case except when I was assigned along the East German border.”
At a time when the US military is peppered across the world, occupying foreigners in several countries, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the federal government and their professional militias also view American citizens as potential enemies to be dealt with by force.