“Although there are benefits to creating a Department of Homeland Security (H.R. 5005), I could not vote for H.R. 5005 because of the dangers it presents to our civil liberties. The Posse Comitatus Act, which dates back more than a century, bans military involvement in civil law enforcement. This law reflects a long-standing American tradition that bridles against military participation in civilian affairs.
An amendment to H.R. 5005 that passed the House today threatens to turn this important safeguard on its head. That amendment allows the new Secretary of Homeland Security to establish and operate a Task Force that includes the military within the United States. The amendment as written gives unchecked discretion for these military units to take action against threats. The plain language of the amendment could, if taken at face value, allow the army to patrol American cities. It is a reckless and unnecessary provision that poses danger to the American way of life and our cherished separation of the military from civilian authority. As a result of this affront on civil liberties, I cannot support H.R. 5005. “