Monday, May 3, 2010

1st Amendment to the US Constitution--Freedom to Assemble

The first Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees to the people of the United States among other freedoms the freedom to assemble. 40 years ago tomorrow the event known forever as the KENT STATE UNIVERSITY SHOOTINGS occurred.
It is interesting that the military's involvement in Riots and Civil Disorders is so understudied and painfully ignored by many in leadership roles in command in the United States military and Executive Branch civil agencies. One of the first major opinions written to then Director of FEMA, Louis O. Guiffrida was on August 19th, 1981 when the General Counsel opined that the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, Public Law 93-288 could not be utilized by the President for riot and civil disorders. This conclusion whether correct legally or not respected the undiscussed federal policy over several administrations that declaring disasters for riots and civil disorders would only encourgage more rioting and civil disorder. Whatever the correctness of that policy decision, in the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 at the end of the George H.W. Bush Administration that event was a declared Presidential disaster, but for fires not for rioting or civil disorder. The federalization of the California National Guard was almost immediately viewed as a mistake for many reasons, not the least that DOD then had to pay for those troops not FEMA.
Oddly, the National Guard troops at Kent State to my knowledge were not federalized by the President under Title 10 but were still technically under the command of the Governor. No MSM mentioned this fact and President Nixon was blamed for the shootings. If I remember correctly there are at least 5 books in print discussing the events surrounding the Kent State shooting but have not read them and not sure if any in print. Perhaps the OFFICE of the HISTORIAN at Kent State has them.
Military support for Civil Disorders was first correctly analyzed by a brilliant lawyer at the Department of Justice now long deceased Mary Lawton in a monograph that when distribute at various DOD training establishments made all those with open minds understand that DOD had incorrectly analyzed the law in such situations since its inception. My efforts to get that monograph updated fell on deaf ears in the higher circles of the Department of Justice. It still requires updating and all DOD related documents and plans should be specifically reviewed not just by JAG lawyers but also the Department of Justice.

Post Script: The May 4th, 2010 Washington Times is reporting from James Rosenthal a NY Times reporter of great skill and competence that FBI files show that the rioters shot first at the NG forces. This is new information. But if true, it raises the distinct possibility that the NIXON Administration did not pursue the instigators because the riot helped cover the fact that the President and Henry Kissinger under the rules of International Law in effect at the time were in fact "War Criminals" for invading and bombing Cambodia without any formal declaration of war or authority under which they were acting. I will be interested to see how other academics and researchers react to this new information. And yes would be interesting to know exactly how far the FBI pursued this lead.