- Defense secretary calls for even more
- Terrorism is escalating to the point
that Americans soon may have to choose between civil liberties and more
intrusive means of protection. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen says.
- The nation's defense chief told the Army
Times he once considered the chilling specter of armored vehicles surrounding
civilian hotels or government buildings to block out terrorists as strictly
an overseas phenomenon. But no longer.
- It could happen here, Cohen said he concluded
after eight months of studying threats under the Pentagon microscope.
- Free-lance terrorists with access to
deadly chemical and biological bombs are "going to change the way
in which the American people view security in our own country, he predicted
in a Sept. 10 interview.
- Cohen is calling for the government to
step up its efforts to penetrate wildcard terrorist organizations.
- "It's going to require greater intelligence
on our part - much greater emphasis on in telligence gathering capability,
more human intelligence, and it's going to take more technical intelligence,"
- But using the U.S. military in a domestic
law enforcement role would require revisions to laws in force for more
than a century, cautions Shreveport attorney John Odom Jr. "You can't
do it from the the Defense Department side unless Congress dramatically
revises the Posse Comitatus laws." said Odom, a colonel in the U.S.
Air Force Reserve and a reserve judge advocate.
- The 1878 law specifically prohibits the
use of the military in domestic law enforce- ment unless authorized by
Congress or the Constitution and does not allow for military intervention
through action by the secretary of defense or even an executive order from
the president, Odom said.
- "We're trained from the first day
of judge advocate school to think of Posse Comitatus !! Odom said. "If
Secretary Cohen is suggesting that the Department of Defense be involved,
it may be part of a legislative package. but it will not happen unilaterally
without a lot of folks thinking long and hard about it."
- Cohen said terrorism would be a top priority
in five new areas he plans to focus on now that he has wrapped up his first
defense budget, the quadrennial review of the military and a new, four-year
- Other goals include modernizing the military,
improving troops housing and other benefits, streamlining the defense bureaucracy
and shaping new military relationships and contacts across the globe.