Wednesday, October 05, 2005
“President” Bush said yesterday that he would consider using the armed forces to enforce quarantines should there be an outbreak of avian flu in the United States. It would thus seem that Bush has never heard of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
The Act reads as follows:
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.
The Navy and Marines have been included in the Act by a Department of Defense regulation.
There are exceptions to the Act, e.g. episodes involving nuclear materials, but my search (cursory as it was) did not reveal any mention of ‘in the case of disease or pandemic’.
It would be a good idea to have a plan in place to prevent the spread of disease should there be a mutation of avian flu which produces a strain that is passed from human to human, but our military should not be involved. Besides, last I heard, they were pretty busy in Iraq and Afghanistan.