|What were the long-term political effects of the revelation that the FBI had been spying on American political activities for decades through COINTELPRO? Summary
The Posse Comitatus Act states that: 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.
18 U.S.C. § 1385. It reflects an American tradition that bridles at military involvement
in civilian affairs. Congress, however, has approved a number of instances where
extraordinary circumstances warrant a departure from the general rule, particularly in
cases where the armed forces provide civilian assistance without becoming directly
involved in civilian law enforcement. This is an abridged version of The Posse
Comitatus Act and Related Matters: The Use of the Military to Execute Civilian Law,
CRS Report 95-964 in which the authorities for the statements made here may be found.
This report summarizes proposed bills that could result in increased interaction between
military and civil authorities. (H.R. 1986, H.R. 1815, S. 1042, S. 1043)