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“Principles of Control”: Military civil disorder operations, then and now

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The above video was produced by the US military in 1968, and describes how the Defense Department and civil law enforcement agencies should disrupt and crush civil "disturbances," or protests. Mostly, protesters just want to "let of steam," after which they'll go home. But there are others — "professional agitagors" — against whom the police and military must deploy "more force"; in the video, they look an awful lot like Black Panthers. 

Fast forward to today: citing the 1807 "Insurrection Act," the US military claims legal authority to take control over domestic law enforcement operations in the event of a national emergency or "National Special Security Event." The military says it can even oversee the forcible detention and relocation of US citizens. A 2012 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the US government to indefinitely detain US citizens without due process

In March 2012, the Obama administration quietly passed an Executive Order granting the federal government broad powers to seize national infrastructure, including food sources, in the event of an emergency. Specifically, it would grant control over the following entities or organizations to these federal agencies:

(1)  the Secretary of Agriculture with respect to food resources, food resource facilities, livestock resources, veterinary resources, plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment and commercial fertilizer;
(2)  the Secretary of Energy with respect to all forms of energy;
(3)  the Secretary of Health and Human Services with respect to health resources;
(4)  the Secretary of Transportation with respect to all forms of civil transportation;
(5)  the Secretary of Defense with respect to water resources; and
(6)  the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services, and facilities, including construction materials.

Back in 1968 military also produced the following video on interrogation techniques. It's pretty funny, and seems relatively old fashioned in today's brave new world.

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© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.