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'Relax,' US Troops On The Border Are Not There To Shoot Migrants, Mattis Says
THE PENTAGON — Any U.S. troops who assist civil authorities who come under attack by migrants will not be armed, Defense Secretary James Mattis clarified on Wednesday.
“There has been no call for any lethal force from DHS [Department of Homeland Security],” Mattis told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. “There is no armed element going in. I will determine it, based on what DHS asks for and a mission analysis.”
Mattis spoke the day after retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, signed a “cabinet order” giving active-duty U.S. troops on the southwest border new authorities to assist U.S. Border and Customs Protection personnel.
If border police came under attack, unarmed military police could respond, but they would be equipped with shields and batons, not firearms, Mattis said.
A reporter noted that Kelly’s cabinet order gives troops the authority to use lethal force, if necessary.
“I have the authority,” Mattis replied, noting that pictures of troops on the border show that they do not have weapons. “Relax. Don’t worry about it.”
Even though the order was not signed by President Trump, Kelly has the legal authority to convey the president’s instructions to the, Mattis insisted.
“He has the authority to do what the president tells him to do,” Mattis said. “He signed the memo out for the White House.”
Neither the troops’ mission nor the standing rules for the use of force have changed, Mattis told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. The roughly 5,700 active-duty troops in California, Arizona, and Texas do not have the authority to arrest migrants, nor are they tasked with law enforcement.
“There is no arrest authority under Posse Comitatus for the U.S. federal troops,” Mattis said. “That can be done, but it has to be done in accordance with the law. That has not been done, nor has it been anticipated.”
If U.S. troops detain any migrants who attack border police, the migrants would quickly be turned over to civil authorities, he said.
“There’s no violation of Posse Comitatus,” Mattis said. “There’s no violation at all. We’re not going to arrest or anything else. To stop someone from beating on someone and turn them over to someone else – this is minutes, not even hours, OK?”
This is not the first time active-duty troops have been deployed to the U.S./Mexico border, Mattis pointed outed. In the 1990s, Mattis was in led Marines who were dispatched to the border under President Clinton to help stop illegal immigration as part of “Operation Gatekeeper.”
In 1997, a Marine corporal shot and killed an 18-year-old goat-herder, whom he thought was firing at the Marines. Task & Purpose asked Mattis on Wednesday what steps he is taking to make sure another such incident does not recur.
“I’m not going to dignify that,” Mattis replied. “They’re not even carrying guns for Christ’s sake.”
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 officially agreed upon by key lawmakers in the House and Senate would officially establish the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.
The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would allow service members to seek compensation when military doctors make mistakes that harm them, but they would still be unable to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.
On Monday night, Congress announced that it had finalized the NDAA, which must be passed by the House and Senate before going to President Donald Trump. If the president signs the NDAA into law, it would mark the first time in nearly seven decades that U.S. military personnel have had legal recourse to seek payment from the military in cases of medical malpractice.
A major serving at U.S. Army Cyber Command has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to the Justice Department.
Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove, who is based at Fort Gordon, Georgia, has been remanded to the U.S. Marshals service, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia says.
Pardoned soldiers Clint Lorance and Mathew Golsteyn were special guests at a recent Trump fundraiser
President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party's annual Statesman's Dinner, was in "rare form" Saturday night.
The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.
But the secrecy was key to Trump's performance, which attendees called "hilarious."
Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a "total comedian," according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.
He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.
Retired Col. Charles McGee stepped out of the small commercial jet and flashed a smile.
Then a thumbs-up.
McGee had returned on a round-trip flight Friday morning from Dover Air Force Base, where he served as co-pilot on one of two flights done especially for his birthday.
By the way he disembarked from the plane, it was hard to tell that McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, was turning 100.