Quartered Among Us

By J.R.A. Davidson


"J.F.A. Davidson" is the pen name of an active duty United States Army Special Forces soldier. He is the editor of
The Resister: The Political Warfare Journal of the Special Forces Underground.

Every totalitarian government requires an "enemy" to justify its excesses. Our own executive branch, which, in many ways, appears to be a dictatorship in the making, is no exception. Since the onset of American collectivism under the Lincoln Administration, most American presidents have declared "war" on something, or somebody, in order to justify the further expansion of federal powers into the everyday lives of Americans.

The Third Amendment is usually ignored during discussions about federal government arrogation of powers not delegated to it in the Constitution. This crucial amendment reads:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

While on the surface, the prohibition against quartering troops in "any house, without the consent of the Owner" seems quaintly anchored in the 18th century, it is, in fact, firmly grounded in the framers' recognition that government is the institutionalized monopoly of force; that the instrument of that monopoly is the standing army; and that unless government is constrained by rigidly defined constitutional limits on the use of force, a standing army will inevitably become an instrument of despotism, not one of national defense.

The inclusion of the Third Amendment was rooted in the Founders' realization that, historically, standing armies were used to enforce unpopular laws, keep the population subjugated, and impel the dictates of the central government. In other words, in times of peace standing armies were the central government's police. The premise underpinning the Third Amendment is the individual's unalienable right to be free from the exercise of arbitrary, capricious, and despotic compulsion by armed forces answerable only to the executive branch of the central government. The Third Amendment's prohibition against quartering troops amongst the population is simply the expression of that fundamental right.

Demonstration of the Founders' concern over the despotic use of the standing army came in the late 1860s, less than a century after ratification of the Constitution, with the Reconstruction Acts following the War Between the States. Reconstruction was designed to crush any expression of intractability by the Southern states against their federal conquerors. Whatever one's thoughts about the outcome of the Civil War, Reconstruction was a brutal, arbitrary, and capricious exercise in the abuse of federal powers, including the use of the standing Army of the United States to enforce domestic "law."

So oppressive were the Reconstruction Acts passed by Congress that President Andrew Johnson vetoed every Reconstruction bill the Radical Republican Congress sent to him. In his veto of the first Reconstruction Act of 1867 Johnson stated: "It is plain that the authority given to the military officer amounts to absolute despotism. But to make it still more unendurable, the bill provides that it may be delegated to as many subordinates as he chooses to appoint...." Johnson further asked, "Have we the power to establish and carry into execution a measure like this? I answer, Certainly not, if we derive our authority from the Constitution and if we are bound by the limitations which it imposes."

The Radical Republican Congress overrode all of President Johnson's anti-Reconstruction vetoes, and excesses by the federal Army eventually became so egregious that congressional dissenters passed the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 (by a narrow margin). The act stated, in part, that "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 an act of Congress...."

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 was, in fact, a return to the intent of the framers to separate federal executive, legislative, and judicial powers, and to keep the federal government from overstepping its proper boundaries. With the passage of the act, Reconstruction ostensibly ended, having been stripped of its overt martial law compulsion.

But while the nightmare of Reconstruction ended, statist and socialist sentiments within the federal government were spreading following the Civil War. Thus began the establishment, multiplication, and expansion of inherently unconstitutional executive branch law enforcement, regulation, and social welfare agencies.

These federal agencies exist for no other purpose than the enforcement of arbitrary, capricious "laws" designed to expand federal powers at the expense of state sovereignty and individual liberty. These agencies, which often have their own armaments, now constitute the functional equivalent of a standing army living amongst the people in time of peace and against which the Second and Third amendments were specifically intended to protect the people.

True, these myriad militarized federal agencies are not "quartered" in the traditional sense. However, the very nature of their jobs -- control of the people -- sets them distinctly apart from their neighbors. They are not quartered "with" us, but they are quartered among us. And their training (for example, the FBI teaches its agents that there is no individual right to bear arms) makes them sufficiently hostile to individual liberties that they constitute the equivalent of an occupying army working for a government hostile to freedom.

In short, the increasing militarization of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies -- aided through duplicity by the Department of Defense -- has created the very monster feared by our nation's Founders: An armed force, quartered amongst the people, under the exclusive control of the executive branch of the federal government.

Under President Reagan the federal government instituted its "War on Drugs" in the early 1980s, an ongoing campaign which (surprise!) has not accomplished its stated purpose, but has generated billions of dollars in additional federal spending, created multitudinous federal and state bureaucracies, and undermined the Posse Comitatus Act. Thus do industrial chemicals require government-approved ID to purchase. Thus do travelers become subject to police scrutiny. Thus are homes subject to warrantless search. Thus may you be denounced by anonymous informants. Thus are your bank accounts subject to warrantless inspection and your transactions subject to be reported to the IRS by a bank teller who "feels" your transactions aren't "normal." And thus may the "authorities" seize your property without cause -- or your cash for no other reason than you have it on you and you have "too much."

Legislative outrages against liberty in the name of the "War on Drugs" are legion. These laws may be challenged in the courts or repealed. But a militarized police force cannot be challenged, nor are expanded police forces ever disbanded after they are no longer needed. They simply find new crimes to fight.

Early in Reagan's drug war there were discussions about using the military to assist federal law enforcement in the interdiction effort. Many in the Department of the Army strongly opposed any participation by the military, arguing that not only would military assistance of law enforcement be a violation of the letter of the Posse Comitatus Act, but would also subvert the intent of that act (i.e., separating the military and police functions of government). They argued further that placing the military in close proximity to the drug trade would ultimately result in the corruption of the armed forces.

These dissenters, predictably, were derided as not being "team players," while at the same time the "approved" military journals were publishing reams of articles about what a good thing military involvement in law enforcement would be to counter this "new threat to national security."

Also predictably, a compromise with the military was reached while "work-arounds" of the Posse Comitatus Act were being researched by Department of Justice and Department of Defense (DoD) lawyers. This compromise seemed reasonable on its surface. Essentially it stipulated that if during the course of normal military training any member of the armed forces witnessed what could be construed as drug-related criminal activity, he was duty bound to report it to his chain of command, who would then forward that information to the appropriate "authorities." That may seem reasonable, but concurrent with that compromise, "Operation Alliance" was being organized, and was officially established in 1986 under Vice President George Bush, who was then acting as head of the National Narcotics Border Interdiction System along with Attorney General Edwin Meese.

What often goes unrealized is that military involvement in the "War on Drugs" was planned from its very inception. Anybody who is interested in what the military will be doing in the near future need only subscribe to the military journals that issue from such places as the National War College, the Naval Post Graduate School, and the Command and General Staff College. The commanders of such places, and their key staffs, are "read in" by Establishment planners very early in the stages of policies that are designed to exponentially expand government powers. A careful reading of such institutional journals reveals not only what is planned, but who will be responsible for implementation.

The primary function of Operation Alliance is to bring together state and local law enforcement agencies, and their supporting active, reserve, and National Guard forces, with federal agencies in order to provide coordinated support to counter-drug operations along the Southwest border of the United States. From its coordination center at Fort Bliss, Texas, Operation Alliance responds to requests for operational support from all law enforcement agencies in the Southwest border region.

Alliance operates under the policy guidance of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which in turn manages both the international and domestic counter-drug functions of all executive branch agencies. The chairman of ONDCP answers directly to the National Security Council. Operation Alliance obtains its policy guidance from the Southwest Border Committee and the Operation Alliance Joint Command Group (OAJCG), which is under the direction of the Southwest Border High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) coordinator -- who is also the director of Operation Alliance. In other words, Operation Alliance receives "guidance" from itself.

OAJCG operates with Operation Alliance as a coordinating and planning group. Its members include over 20 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Group meetings are chaired by the Senior Tactical Coordinator -- a position that rotates between the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Border Patrol, and the Customs Service. OAJCG meetings generally focus on ways to obtain military support for domestic law enforcement agencies and operations. Those support requests are then sent forward to Joint Task Force-6 (JTF-6).

JTF-6, located near Fort Bliss, Texas, serves as the planning, coordinating, and operational headquarters providing DoD support to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies along the Southwest border. The stated objective of this support is to assist law enforcement agencies in their mission to detect, deter, and disrupt drug trafficking.

JTF-6 routinely provides four types of support to Operation Alliance. The first type is reconnaissance support. Ground reconnaissance support includes sensors, listening posts, observation posts, ground surveillance radar, and ground patrols. Aerial reconnaissance support includes Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), Side-looking Airborne Radar (SLAR), photographic imagery, and Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV). If you are enjoying a camping or hiking trip in a national forest anywhere in the Southwest, there is a good chance your activities and a description of your vehicle are being recorded by soldiers or Marines performing a JTF-6 reconnaissance mission.

The second type of operational support is training. Training support includes patrolling, helicopter insertions and extractions, sniping, operations and intelligence, and Advanced Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (AMOUT).

The third type of support is logistics, which includes engineer projects and air and ground transportation. Engineer projects include barrier erection, road repair, and range construction. Air transportation includes UH-60 (conventional aviation units), MH-60 (special operations aviation units), and CH-47 helicopters, as well as provision for support from attack helicopters. Ground transportation support includes loans of military vehicles and the use of tactical vehicles (such as Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles). Logistical support also includes loans of surveillance equipment -- primarily passive and thermal night observation devices.

The fourth type of operational support is Research, Development, and Acquisition (RDA). This involves identifying and demonstrating technologies appropriate to combining military and law enforcement capabilities and operations.

JTF-6 also provides extensive intelligence support to Operation Alliance. Intelligence support to law enforcement agencies consists of providing the techniques, systems, and procedures that facilitate the analysis, "fusion," and sharing of drug-related intelligence in response to specific requests from law enforcement agencies. This intelligence support is provided by attaching U.S. military intelligence personnel to law enforcement agencies -- specifically to the FBI and DEA -- and by aerial imagery, intelligence instructors, and translators.

This "fusion" of military intelligence and law enforcement intelligence is reflected in the operations of DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). EPIC provides operational and tactical intelligence to the law enforcement "community." It has its own proprietary database, as well as access to other proprietary intelligence databases -- such as those of the FBI, CIA, DIA, and NSA. EPIC provides this information to authorized DoD, federal, and state law enforcement agencies.

In addition to JTF-6, there are two other military drug task forces. JTF-5, headquartered at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, California, is responsible for counter-drug operations in the Pacific and Asia. Combined JTF-4 (CJTF-4), headquartered at Key West, Florida, is responsible for counter-drug operations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

If counter-drug operations can be considered an essential mission for U.S. armed forces, then CJTF-4 and JTF-5 should cause us little concern, since their operations are directed against foreign nations and nationals. JTF-6 however, should cause us considerable alarm, because its policing operations target U.S. citizens within U.S. borders.

It is tempting to accept JTF-6's mission of "fusing" military and law enforcement operations and intelligence as a necessary evil to stop the flow of illicit drugs into America. That is exactly what the Establishment is counting on you to think. For the past 15 years, resistance of active-duty military personnel to involvement with law enforcement has been eroded by both familiarity in performing such missions and by Defense Department dictate. We now have an entire generation of career and non-commissioned officers who see no danger in training police, supporting law enforcement operations, and working in cooperation with law enforcement agencies. The most senior of those officers are the very ones now writing articles in professional journals extolling the "virtues" of military involvement in combating "domestic terrorism."

Abuses of the Operation Alliance/JTF-6 "coalition" by law enforcement agencies have been legion. In many instances, police departments attempt to secure training for their officers through Operation Alliance rather than pay to have their personnel trained by professional police trainers. In other instances law enforcement agencies submit blatantly illegal requests for support. In essence, Operation Alliance has become a federal welfare agency distributing military "services" to law enforcement parasites.

For example, in October 1992, Company B, 3d Battalion, 3d Special Forces Group (Airborne) was deployed to Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona to perform a 30-day reconnaissance mission on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. The request for this mission came from the chief of the reservation police, who claimed concern about smugglers using the reservation for the aerial delivery of drugs. Well into the mission, one of the company intelligence sergeants discovered that the reservation police chief had actually requested the JTF-6 mission for the sole purpose of exerting his influence over the tribal council, with whom he was having a political battle, and who opposed having U.S. soldiers stomping around the reservation. During the entire 30-day mission, no evidence of smuggling, aerial or otherwise, was reported, despite continuous patrols and occupation of observation posts. But the tribal council did bend to the will of the chief of reservation police.

Frequently military liaison officers attached to regional law enforcement drug task force coordination offices are the worst abusers of the system. The same unit mentioned above was deployed to March Air Force Base, California in October 1993 to conduct reconnaissance in the San Bernardino and Angeles National Forests. Midway through the mission, the JTF-6 liaison officer (a Marine major) submitted a request for an aerial reconnaissance mission to "over fly and take photographs" of a private residence -- on private property -- at the request of the DEA and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. To his credit, the commander of the SF company, who had his own concerns about the legality of JTF-6, not only declined the mission request, but informed the Marine major that if he submitted another such request he would be reported to Forces Command for soliciting violations of laws prohibiting the military from collecting intelligence on American citizens. Unfortunately, not all commanders have such integrity. Requests such as the above are commonplace -- and frequently acted on.

In the summer of 1993, an Operational Detachment "A" assigned to Company B, 2d Battalion, 10th SFG(A), was deployed to Padre Island, Texas. The detachment was the Special Operations and Tactics team for Company B. Personnel were selected for that mission because of their Close Quarter Combat (CQC) qualifications. Their mission was officially listed as an AMOUT training mission in support of local law enforcement. After the training was completed, they accompanied the police entry team on a drug bust. When details of this flagrant violation of the Posse Comitatus Act were transmitted to 10th Group headquarters, everybody who had access to the message traffic was ordered to "keep your mouths shut!"

Perhaps the most serious ongoing abuse of the Posse Comitatus Act is the relationship between the Combat Application Group (CAG) and the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). Anybody who has questions about the HRT's behavior at Ruby Ridge or Waco need only reflect on the fact that these two organizations differ in name only. HRT is a clone of CAG to the extent that it uses the same equipment, the training is identical, and HRT uses CAG's training facilities, instructors, and standard operating procedures.

CAG, by virtue of being a subordinate unit of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), is for all intents and purposes exempt from the Posse Comitatus Act. This exemption was granted in the summer of 1994 when JSOC was assigned primary responsibility for counter-proliferation operations, both overseas and within the continental United States. CAG was designated as JSOC's action agency within the Army.

JSOC is officially described as "a joint headquarters that ensures interoperability between special operations forces of each service in support of geographical commanders." Translated, this means that JSOC coordinates the Army's CAG and Intelligence Support Activity, the Navy's SEAL Team 6, and Air Force and Marine support to those units. JSOC is responsible for all military counterterrorism.

It is significant that JSOC is exempt from Posse Comitatus because so are the Navy and the Marines. The Marines, with notable exceptions, operate within the same constraints as does the Army. But that is a voluntary decision, secured only by a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Marine Corps Commandant and the Justice Department.

The Navy has signed no such MOU. Indeed, in 1989 members of SEAL Team 6 conducted several unilateral "takedowns" of crack houses in Los Angeles. Credit, of course, was given to LAPD's Metro SWAT team. But because everybody in the counterterrorism business wears the same uniforms and uses the same equipment, weapons, and tactics, it is impossible for those not in the know to tell the operators apart. Indeed, there is hardly a federal agency that has not formed its own private army. Even the Department of Housing and Urban Development has a SWAT unit. And all are trained by -- you guessed it -- either the Army under the auspices of Operation Alliance and CAG, or by CAG's HRT clone.

In February 1991, Colonels William W. Mendel and Murl D. Munger (Ret.) of the Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College, wrote a book which was intended to be distributed throughout the military command structure and among federal law enforcement agencies, entitled Campaign Planning and the Drug War. In the foreword, Attorney General Edwin Meese remarked that "military experience is relevant to the effort against illegal drugs. The need to utilize intelligence, develop strategic and operational plans, and conduct coordinated tactical actions exists as much in the battle against drugs as it does on the battlefield. Thus, leaders in the fight against drugs can learn much from tested military techniques."

Campaign Planning and the Drug War was essentially the culmination of the counter-drug "journal debates" of the 1980s. It was devoted to extolling the virtues of militarizing the planning and decision-making processes of civilian law enforcement agencies. In the introduction, Colonels Mendel and Munger ask the question, "Was there a gap between National Drug Control Strategy and law enforcement tactical actions that could be bridged by military campaign planning methods...?"

Of course there was, or they wouldn't have written the book! Major General Paul G. Cerjan, then commandant of the War College, considered this "gap" to be a "void in drug war planning." To fill this "gap," Mendel and Munger detailed the "principles, formats, and examples of military operational planning techniques ... offered as models for interagency civil-military actions."

By the time Campaign Planning was published, all U.S. Army Major Commands had already established primary staff positions to deal with and plan counter-drug operations. So Mendel and Munger were addressing an existing military structure and were simply informing law enforcement agencies how to reorganize their staffs and planning procedures to match those of their military counterparts.

Since George Bush's entry into the "War on Drugs," coalition warfare has become the latest bandwagon for generals seeking one more star. From the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff down to brigade level, you will find not a single general who contends that the United States can -- or should -- engage in unilateral action solely in America's interest. In fact, the latest buzzword is "jointness," and the recent appointment of General Hugh Shelton as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff reflects an enthusiasm for merging the several armed forces of America into a joint force.

The "coalition" of military and civilian law enforcement is addressed by Mendel and Munger in glowing terms, along with a recommendation that a "coalition headquarters" be established to better coordinate military and civilian law enforcement efforts.

Waco was not an aberration. It was a "trial balloon" sent up by those who perceive a "coalition" of military and law enforcement to be a good thing. It was, therefore, a portent of the future. And the military's involvement in that unspeakable outrage, along with its subsequent cover-up of the magnitude of its involvement, bodes ill for America's future. If present trends are allowed to continue, that future could see the use of federal forces to combat domestic terrorism, police American cities, and even enforce restrictive gun control policies. The eventual result would be a national police force, regardless of whether or not it is called that.

Normal people desire to live free of tyrannical policies and dictatorial decrees. Yet, lemming like, these same people will stampede across the plain of liberty to fling themselves off the cliff of "security" to crash onto the rocks of totalitarianism below, if but some "enemy" is declared to be a threat to their peaceful ways.

Thus did the "antitrust" rhetoric of the late 1800s subvert American capitalism and usher in our "mixed economy." Thus did "making the world safe for democracy" forever embroil us in European wars and give us a foreign policy inimical to America's interests. Thus did the "New Deal" usher in American fascism and make the collectivist "left" unassailable. Thus did the "civil rights" movement subvert the very concept of God-given rights. Thus did the "War on Drugs" usher in a militarized nascent police state. And thus will the yet-to-be-declared "war on domestic terrorism" result in total despotism -- unless the American people oppose this latest power grab.


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