Sen. Obama’s proposal of a “civilian national security force” – deja vu?

Last night I was chatting by phone with a well-informed priest, brilliant and with a vast knowledge of history ancient and contemporary, about various developments political, social and ecclesial.

He told me alarming thing which I hadn’t heard before.

He mentioned that Presidential candidate Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL), in a speech in Colorado Springs last July, went off the prepared pre-released stump speech and announced his desire for a "civilian national security force".

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Civilian… just as strong.. just as well funded as the military….

What would that cost?  From what segment of the population would such a civilian security force be recruited?  Who would opt to enlist in such a force?  If there is recruitment of the military, who would then be the target for such a force?

Those comments, which he spoke, were not in the text of the speech as released by the campaign.  Thus, he either spoke them off the cuff, which is plausible, or they were cleansed from the speech, which is unlikely, since these speechs wind up being recorded by many sources.


Aside from the incredible expense of such a thing, I wonder how that would be different from what local law enforcement and state national guards do.

But there is a rather disturbing dimension to this idea, which I think we can surmise reveals something of the candidate’s mind, since he went off script to talk about it.

The paramilitary nature of such a "security force", has the ring of the Sturmabteilung, the SA, of 1930’s Germany.  Brownshirts.  They were unleashed on those who opposed the goals of the poltical party the NSDAP… which is known usually by a different name these days.

I don’t care who the candidate is or what party he belongs to… I find even the whisper of the musings of an idea of a proposal about such a thing truly disturbing. 

Compound this proposal with the oversight of someone rooted in the Marxism of Black Liberation Theology and formation in the radical thought of Saul Alinsky, who dedicated his Rules for Radicals to Lucifer, I start to get alarmed.

I frankly don’t know what at the time were the reactions to this proposal in the press.  It seems to have gone off the screen.  This suggests to me both that people at the time didn’t perhaps catch some of the darker implications of such a "security force", or the press at the time quieted the coverage.  

As a result, I must suspend to a certain extent alarm in favor of disturbed curiosity.

Since this post is likely to bring out the wackos, who will inevitably leap to the stupid conclusion that I am being politically partisan, I will leave the comments off. 

I need to understand more about this whole thing.

If people have helpful things to contribute, they can e-mail me and, if I consider them apt, I will post them.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. This is from a reader:

    Father Let me preface my comments by saying that I have been in professional law enforcement since 1967 (that makes me old) and served as a Chief of Police for over 15 years. Thus, matters of this nation’s security, particularly since 9-11-01, have been of professional interest to me. When I first heard of Obama’s proposal for a Civilian National Security Force (CNSF) naturally my interest was aroused. As a result I made a concerted effort to find out the details of what he envisioned and to do so as objectively as possible. To that end I have read everything I can find regarding his proposal (not much) and my efforts to get more from his campaign have not even been acknowledged. I must tell you that I have found no specifics at all regarding what appears to be a one time mention of this concept. At the risk of sounding political I must say this is not the only shoot from the hip proposal I have heard from this candidate. I share your concern about what the CNSF would look like. Who would run it? Who would it be accountable to? What would be its objectives? What specific duties, responsibilities and legal authority would it have? I also share your concern about it morphing into something like Nazi Germany saw in the 30’s. From a law enforcement perspective I have some pragmatic concerns as well. Over the past 25 years we have pumped millions of dollars into programs designed to create and maintain civilian auxilliary forces within existing law enforcement agencies. By and large those programs have not been successful. Where such programs have been established there have been a host of misunderstandings and conflicts between them and professional law enforcement—as there have been with private security companies as well. Assuming Obama’s proposal (which I suspect on advice from the advisors he listens to he has dropped like a hot potato) were to create an entitity separate from existing military and law enforcement structures I would predict even more conflicts and “failures to communicate”.

  2. Another reader:

    My reading leads me to believe it is a public works project  which would be costly to taxpayers, but nothing sinister. The Posse Comitatus law of 1878 would preclude the use of a paramilitary force to impose upon a civillian populace.

  3. From a reader:

    You posted a comment from a reader saying that the Posse Comitatus Act, 18 U.S.C.A. § 1385, would somehow limit the ability of a “Civilian National Security Force.” Nothing is farther from the truth. The Posse Comitatus Act was initially enacted following the Civil War to limit Army abuses in enforcing civilian law in the South during the Reconstruction. As written, the Act only applies to a limited number of organizations, such as the Department of the Army, which would include National Guard troops after being federalized. It does NOT apply to all military organs, and the Navy is a prime example. (The Navy, however, applies the terms of the Posse Comitatus Act to itself through a duly approved administrative regulation which bears the force of law.)

    Think of the United States Coast Guard. It is a rock-solid military force with professional warriors comprising of their ranks. However, it is not a part of the Department of Defense during peacetime; rather, it is a constituent unit of the Department of Homeland Security. Posse Comitatus does not limit its activities, and should not since the USCG is also the primary marintime police force for much of the USA.

    Like the Coast Guard, any new type of federal agency would not be bound by Posse Comitatus.

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