Wednesday, December 24, 2008

PENTAGON SEEKS TO OVERTURN INITIATIVES AGAINST RECRUITING EXCESSES

Humboldt Sentinel, CA - Emergency closed-session City Council meetings in Eureka and later today in Arcata were called as local officials scrambled to respond to a notice of pending legal action in United States District Court to invalidate two ballot measures adopted by voters in each city on Nov. 4.

The Department of Defense referred Measure J of Eureka and Measure F of Arcata, which seek to restrict the armed forces’ ability to directly contact and recruit minors, to the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. The Assistant Attorney General authorized the filing of a civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief based on an alleged violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution -- this would render the initiatives invalid, according to a letter sent to Eureka City Attorney Sheryl Schaffner on Dec. 10 by Joseph H. Hunt of the Justice Department. . .

The City Council in Eureka, at least, does not appear inclined to throw in the towel without a fight. After a late-night closed session following the Council meeting in which Frank Jäger and Linda Atkins were sworn in, Schaffner told the Sentinel in an interview that she had been directed to proceed with defending Measure J, even if it meant putting aside the other daily work of her office. . .

Eureka Councilmembers did make it clear to Schaffner, as she indicated in her interview, that they would not be willing to expend General Fund monies to hire outside legal help. But even critics of the anti-recruitment initiative conceded the level of public support, with 73% in favor in Arcata and 57% in favor in Eureka. . .

Also in support of the measures was the Redwood Chapter, American Civil Liberties Union, which voted last month to ask their affiliate, the ACLU of Northern California, to provide an amicus curiae brief in support of the measures if litigation were filed against them. The ACLU-NC issued a report last year concerning invasive recruitment techniques in California, which has the greatest number of youth between 15 and 24 of any state, and ranks second in the level of recruits to the U.S. Army.

“When the amount the government spends on advertising for military recruitment surpasses Nike’s total advertising budget, we can understand why youth face an uphill battle when trying to make well-informed decisions,” Eveline Chang, director of the ACLU-NC Friedman Youth Project said.

According to the most recent Congressional Budget Office estimate, well over half of the federal government’s total advertising budget, more than $700 million, went towards military recruitment advertising -- a figure that surpassed Nike, Wal-Mart, Mastercard, and Coca-Cola in a 2007 Advertising Age study. When advertising is combined with recruitment support, the campaign to find recruits for the armed services is well over a billion dollars.

“It seemed the recruiters had the run of the campus; they have access to classrooms and students in the lunch room,” seventeen-year-old Jacquieta Beverly, a recent graduate from Tennyson High School, said in an ACLU release. “It got to the point where it felt like they were harassing you. They would follow you into the lunchroom offering to buy you snacks and stuff. It felt like it was an invasion of your privacy.”

The controversy over military recruiting has been building amidst the unprecedented deployment of military units to perform “domestic operations” and “put down civil unrest” inside the United States, according to a Sept. 8 report in the Army Times.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division went on-line on Oct. 1 at Fort Stewart and at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado to perform domestic assignments associated with NORTHCOM, or the U.S. Northern Command, and Infowars cited a recent U.S. Army War College report warning of the potential for federal troops to be used against people inside the United States.

"Already predisposed to defer to the primacy of civilian authorities in instances of domestic security and divest all but the most extreme demands in areas like civil support and consequence management, DOD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility,” retired Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Freir stated in his report. “Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States.”

The Washington Post also reported on the expected deployment of up to 20,000 uniformed troops to domestic duty inside the U.S. in the next three years, which the Cato Institute warned would constitute the creeping militarization of domestic law enforcement. Former Times-Standard publisher Dave Stancliff asked in an Oct. 5 column whether the country was preparing for martial law.

“I'd wager most Americans aren't aware of this new strike force within our country,” he stated in his Times-Standard piece. “Are we closer to internal collapse than any of us realize? Why does the federal government feel the need for such a unit within our borders? The idea that active duty soldiers will be used to control unruly civilian crowds is both terrifying and unconstitutional.”

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