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Bush: Military may have to help if bird flu breaks out
President wants Congress to discuss how to use armed forces
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush says the possibility of an avian flu pandemic is among the reasons he wants Congress to give him the power to use the nation's military in law enforcement roles in the United States.
"I'm concerned about what an avian flu outbreak could mean for the United States and the world," he told reporters during a Rose Garden news conference on Tuesday. Such an deadly event would raise difficult questions, such as how a quarantine might be enforced, he said.
"One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move," he said. "So that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have."
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 bans the military from participating in police-type activity on U.S. soil.
Bush began discussing the possibility of changing the law last month, in the aftermath of the government's sluggish response to civil unrest following Hurricane Katrina.
"I want there to be a robust discussion about the best way for the federal government, in certain extreme circumstances, to be able to rally assets for the good of the people," he told reporters September 26.
Gene Healy, a senior editor at the conservative Cato Institute, said Bush would risk undermining "a fundamental principle of American law" by tinkering with the act, which does not hinder the military's ability to respond to a crisis.
"What it does is set a high bar for the use of federal troops in a policing role," he wrote in a commentary on the group's Web site. "That reflects America's traditional distrust of using standing armies to enforce order at home, a distrust that's well-justified."
October 5, 2005
Bush Fends Off Sharp Criticism of Court Choice
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 - President Bush on Tuesday defended his latest choice for the Supreme Court, Harriet E. Miers, from complaints on the right that she was not conservative enough and from accusations on the left that she was a White House crony unqualified for the job...
The president also said he did not recall ever talking to Ms. Miers, whom he has known for more than a decade, about her personal views on abortion, and he reiterated that he was a "pro-life president" who nonetheless had no litmus test on the issue for judicial candidates.
In an effort to calm conservatives, Mr. Bush said three times that Ms. Miers would not change her philosophy, assuming she is confirmed, over decades on the court.
"I know her well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today," Mr. Bush said....
He said he would stake his reputation that "she is going to basically do what the president thinks she should, and that is be a strict constructionist...."
"I know her," the president said. "I know her heart. I know what she believes."
Bush Defends Supreme Court Pick
President Reassures Conservatives on A Range of Issues
By Peter Baker and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 5, 2005; A01
But Bush said he could vouch that Miers will not move to the left over time, an implicit reference to Souter. "I don't want to put somebody on the bench who is this way today and changes," he said. "That's not what I'm interested in. I'm interested in finding somebody who shares my philosophy today and will have that same philosophy 20 years from now."