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Wolfowitz wants Posse Comitatus Act scrapped

g and compass

Washington Post

Review of Military's Domestic Role Urged

By Vernon Loeb
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 5, 2001; Page A26

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said yesterday that to enhance the nation's ability to counter terrorism, he strongly favors reviewing a legal doctrine that has kept the U.S. military from engaging in domestic law enforcement activities since 1878.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Wolfowitz said the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have made it possible for Americans to envision terrorist attacks -- particularly those involving chemical or biological weapons -- in which the military would have unique response capabilities.

Wolfowitz's comment came in response to a question from Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), the committee's ranking Republican. Warner told Wolfowitz that he believes it is time to reexamine the legal doctrine of posse comitatus and asked the Pentagon's second-ranking official whether he agreed.

"I agree very strongly," Wolfowitz said. He added that it would be much better to determine in advance how the military would function under civilian control in the event of terrorist incident.

While much of the questioning involved the Pentagon's response to the Sept. 11 attacks and its new plans for homeland defense, Wolfowitz appeared before the committee to discuss the Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressionally mandated codification of military strategy, force requirements and organization.

The 71-page document, completed Monday after months of preparation, makes homeland defense the Pentagon's highest priority and embraces "transformational" new technologies in information warfare, intelligence and space.

In a critical revision, the document does away with the military's long-standing requirement to be able to win two major theater wars simultaneously. Under the new plan, the military is expected to win one major war decisively, meaning that it could occupy the enemy's capital, if necessary. At the same time, the military would be able to swiftly defeat a second adversary, engage in peacekeeping operations and invest in advanced defense technologies.

Wolfowitz said the document represents a "paradigm shift" in planning the nation's future fighting force, defining six key priorities for military transformation.

But the committee's chairman, Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), criticized the document, calling it a "vision" statement that lacked specifics about how Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will proceed beginning with next year's budget.

While the document makes homeland defense the Pentagon's highest priority, Levin said, it lacks detail on "how the military will rearrange itself to prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and support civilian authorities in managing their deadly consequences."

One specific initiative favored by some transformation advocates inside the U.S. Air Force -- the purchase of more B-2 stealth bombers -- arose when Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-Mo.) asked whether the Pentagon is considering an expansion of the fleet.

Previously, top Air Force officials have said the answer is no. But Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Carlson, a top planner on the Pentagon's Joint Staff who appeared with Wolfowitz, said expanding the B-2 fleet "will be one of the options that the Air Force considers."

2001 The Washington Post Company

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