Monday, September 26, 2005

The White House has a Posse

So Bush is talking about having the Pentagon take care of domestic emergency situations like Katrina. Like a lot of lefties, my immediate response was (in unison, now): "What about Posse Comitatus?" For those of you scratching your head, that's the law from 1878 that says:
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Basically, the state can't use the military against the domestic population, they have to use the police. If you go to protests and the army is doing security, a lot of people raise this and I've always been of mixed feeling of this critique. It always feels like there is a hint of "It is bad enough that the military is used on foreign people, but how dare they use them on us!"

So I went and looked up Posse Comitatus. Turns out, Posse Comitatus is pretty much done. If you read federal regulation 32CFR501.4, they talk about the armed forces can be declared by both the president and local authority. They just have to "weigh every proposed action against the threat to public order and safety it is designed to meet, in order that the necessity therefor may be ascertained." Not only that, but the Homeland Security act of 2002 pretty much says that it is all gravy for the president to disregard Posse Comitatus, for terrorism or insurrection.

Which brings to mind Jefferson. Don't think that we at History Is A Weapon have forgotten that Jefferson was a slave-owning racist. But he did point out that the Tree of Liberty must "be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it's natural manure." Further, he added that the solution wasn't repression, but "the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two?"
Which isn't great, because Jefferson betrays that he thinks the cause of rebellion is that the rebels are just children who need to be informed. But he also gets the importance of dissent itself: "God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. the people cannot be all, & always, well informed. the past which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive; if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty."

Now perhaps I, too, am buying into the mythology of the state. For Jefferson, he clearly wasn't addressing women, people of color, or the white indentured. No, his liberty is the liberty of the democratic slave state that Tony Bogues outlines so well. Like the Romans who proclaim that Rome will always be a free state, free for the masters. But is it a step better than Bush who shows up with a list of all three thousand positions in the government that he can fill without oversight and fills all of them with people who will obediently execute his coterie's agenda?

Some Links

Wikipedia's List of U.S. military history events

The Myth of Posse Comitatus by Major Craig T. Trebilcock, U.S. Army Reserve (Written in October 2000)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

We Are Building An Army So Powerful, We Won't Need Any Weapons.

Things that would be nice for History Is A Weapon:
First, an OCR program that works with a mac.
Second, assistance editing this statement which may or may not be placed on the front page, but will probably go on the site somewhere:
History didn't Happen.
History isn't what happened. No, it is a story of what happened. And there are different versions, different stories, about the same events. One version might revolve prominently over a specific set of facts while another may play them down or not include them at all. Like stories, each of these different versions of history contain different lessons. Some histories tell us that the leaders before have always tried to do right for everyone. Others remark that the emperors don't have the slaves' best interests at heart. Some teach us that this is both what has always been and what always will be. Others counsel that we shouldn't mistake transient dominance for intrinsic superiority. Regardless of the value of these many lessons, History isn't what happened, but the stories of what happened and the lessons these stories include. The very selection of what histories we are taught shapes our view of how what is came to be and, in turn, what we understand as possible. This choice is never neutral or objective. Those who choose, either following a set agenda or guided by hidden prejudices, serve their interests. Their interests could be to continue this world as it now stands or to make a new world. History is a tool to shape our understanding of our world. And every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.

Came across a nice website with some cool posters as this was being worked on: Autonome. "One hundred thousand volunteers needed in the only war that brings you back to life." and "We Are Building An Army So Powerful, We Won't Need Any Weapons."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Added Author List

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies by Bartoleme de Las Casas, A Street Speech by Walter Rodney, and "Power Anywhere Where There's People" A speech by Fred Hampton.

Obviously, the main page is getting messy and needs to be cleaned up.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


From today's New York Times Obit:

"HE also spoke publicly against a proposed local law barring racial discrimination in public accommodations and against an integreation plan for the Phoenix schools. He campaigned in 1964 for the conservative Republican Presidential nominee, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona."


"In 1953, he married Natalie Cornell, a fellow Stanford graduate who was then working in Washington for the Central Intelligence Agency."


"A memo that clerk Rehnquiest wrote for justice JAckson in 1952 on the school desegregation cases then before the court, including Brown v. Board of Education, came back to haunt his own Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Entitled 'A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases,' the memo argued that the attack on school segregation should b rejected and the separate-but-equal doctrine the court had endorsed in the notorious Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 'was right and should be re-affirmed.'
'I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by my 'liberal' colleagues,' Mr. Rehnquist wrote to Justice Jackson. He also wrote that 'in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are.'"


"He was the only dissenter in a high-profile 1983 case, Bob Jones University v. United States, in which the court upheld the refusal of the Internal Revenue Service to grant tax-exempt status to a private university with racially discriminatory policies for student behavior - a ban on interracial dating or marriage."


"A 1979 majority opinion, Bell v. Wolfish, held that it did not violate the Constitution for prison officials to place two prisoners in a cell designed for one. There is not "some sort of one-man, one-cell principle lurking in the due process clause," Justice Rehnquist wrote."

Allow us at history is a weapon to be among the first to say: Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish! (Hell Burns A Little Hotter Tonight)