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Public Citizen Calls on Pentagon to Release Order Permitting Military to Use Force at the Border

Nov. 21, 2018                                                                             

Public Citizen Calls on Pentagon to Release Order Permitting Military to Use Force at the Border

FOIA Filed Today; Public Deserves to Know if Trump Is Violating Federal Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Pentagon should make public a reported “Cabinet order” signed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly authorizing the use of force by troops at the U.S.-Mexico border, Public Citizen urged today as the organization submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking a copy of the order.

The Military Times and other publications are reporting that the order permits Defense Department personnel to use force – including lethal force – as well as to undertake crowd control and engage in search and detention. The reports raise questions about the legality of the order and whether it violates the Posse Comitatus Act, which limits the use of federal military personnel for domestic law enforcement. The order itself has not been made public.

“The authorization of the military to use force within domestic borders is a matter of grave consequence for a nation under civilian rule,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Kelly’s order should be published immediately for the public to understand exactly what he has authorized, whether the Trump administration is violating the law and what risk of violence may await asylum-seekers.

“Making the matter worse, there is no crisis at the border, and no need for the military to have been deployed in the first instance,” Weissman added. “President Trump announced a fake crisis for purely partisan objectives and to further his cruel anti-immigrant policies. The risks of deploying the military were apparent immediately to any rational person, and there is now reason to worry that the situation is spinning out of control.”