As a retired (federal) law enforcement officer, I think JH’s article was well written and presented a number of very good points. His comments about budget issues, the police tendency to grab so much free military surplus gear, and officer’s dedication to the job was well done.
For better or worse, the police are often the layer between “the government” and the people. They must deal with extremely difficult situations in, often times, dangerous conditions. Most are well-meaning, and, yes, a few are over-the-top authoritarians.
I suppose what bothers me (as I have observed) is a tendency for officers to increasingly view themselves in a kind of a “war” between the police and the public they serve. By the very nature of a law enforcement career, police usually see themselves in competitive we/them relationship with the public. Moreover, after years of dealing with “bad guy’s”, there is a natural tendency toward suspicion and personal safety.
In my view, the challenging civil upheaval that our country faces is a given. It is coming. Again, the police will be the layer between the government and the people (unless it’s martial law, in which case the military will be more center-stage). Personally, I wonder if the Department of Homeland Security isn’t (quietly?) fanning the flames that make our police even more defensive, under the guise of professional preparedness.
JH: Good article…. – C.C.
o o o
Attached is an excerpt from “A Primer On Martial Law”, as the subject is touched on in the article by J.H. as an “insider”. The original “Martial Law” dissertation is eight pages long, so this “part of part 3” is intended to arouse, as a “teaser”, the reader to study deeper into a very important Constitutional question that could be in our near future. The term “martial law” is used willy-nilly in common discourse, without any allusion to the reality of what is meant. It is so common, yet it is not generally understood in a legal sense. I’m tempted to reply to the “Militarized Police” comments, especially as to the recent SCOTUS decision that SWAT teams can legally attack any home, day or night, without a warrant, if the home has any guns, legally-owned under the Second Amendment. Just kiss your Fourth Amendment good-bye! So, are we to trust the police? – E.C.
The essence of “martial law” in this third sense may be vague, but its constitutional effect is pellucid: Any attempt to impose “martial law” by force is nothing less than “Treason”. The Constitution declares that “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort”. And “if [‘War’] be actually levied, that is, if a body of men be actually assembled, for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable purpose, all those who perform any part, however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are actually leagued in the general conspiracy, are to be considered as traitors”. In operation, “martial law” proceeds by arraying men under arms in order to set aside or suspend the Constitution of the United States, in whole or in part, and to employ those arms against anyone who resists–without any constitutional or other lawful authority for doing so. Therefore, inasmuch as “the United States” exists only perforce and through application of the Constitution, “martial law” amounts to “levying War against the [United States]”. And inasmuch as WE THE PEOPLE are the authors and beneficiaries of the Constitution, “martial law” amounts as well to “levying War against” THE PEOPLE themselves. It would be immaterial that those who attempted to impose “martial law” wore uniforms (even with United States flags as shoulder patches), or held military commissions, or acted pursuant to orders from supposed superiors. Even someone who commits “Treason” under a claim of “good faith” is entitled to no immunity. This principle is part of the modern Law of Nations: “[T]hat the [officer] acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility”. And it subsists in American law of a far longer heritage.
In sum, “martial law” in the third sense of that term cannot exist in this country. It is a legal impossibility. Participation in it would constitute the most serious of all crimes. And it would supply just grounds for mass resistance among the citizenry aimed at overthrowing whatever purported governmental apparatus attempted to impose it. For, as the Declaration of Independence proclaims, under such circumstances “it is the [people’s] right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security”. And the Declaration of Independence is still very good law in America. (exerpt from ‘A Primer on “Martial Law”‘ by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr.)