On Wednesday, the Washington Times said the Obama administration considered but rejected using military force against the Bundy ranch and its supporters during a recent week-long standoff earlier this year, citing a 2010 Pentagon directive critics say would allow the president to use the military against civilians.
According to Bill Gertz, the directive contains "noncontroversial" provisions that allows support to civilian fire and emergency services, special events and the domestic use of the Army Corps of Engineers. But, he added, the measure allows the use of military arms and forces, including unarmed drones, in operations against domestic unrest with presidential authority.
“This appears to be the latest step in the administration’s decision to use force within the United States against its citizens,” an unnamed defense official opposed to the directive said.
According to Directive No. 3025.18, titled “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” military commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.”
“Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,” the directive says. But it would appear that commanders can act without White House approval under certain extreme conditions.
“In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions, the directive adds.
The first use would be military support “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.”
“Federal action, including the use of federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect the federal property or functions,” the directive says.
Military assistance, Gertz added, can include loans of weapons, ammunition, vessels and aircraft.
"The directive states clearly that it is for engaging civilians during times of unrest," Gertz said. The directive, however, does not permit the use of armed missile-firing drones, but unarmed drones can be deployed. During the Bundy ranch standoff, a report claimed that Attorney General Eric Holder approved a drone strike against the ranch.
So much for the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act forbidding the use of federal military to enforce state laws, Kurt Nimmo said at Infowars.
The standoff ended in mid-April when the BLM withdrew from the ranch. Liberals, however, expressed outrage that federal agents did not engage in a Waco-style assault on the ranch, and a number of leftists demanded the Bundys and their supporters be killed with drones.
Gertz said a White House National Security Council spokeswoman refused to comment.