The use of military force in the Persian Gulf is a legal exercise of international law, but using U.S. military personnel in the effort to stem the influx of illegal drugs to the United States is contrary to accepted American law.
That was the opinion of Anne N. Foreman, general counsel of the Department of the Air Force, in a Law Day address at Hill Air Force Base. Foreman was the keynote speaker at the the luncheon attended by northern Utah attorneys, law enforcement officers and the general public.Lt. Fred F. House, a member of the Utah Department of Corrections who died earlier this year in a shooting in Marion, Utah, was posthumously awarded the Liberty Bell Award, an honor bestowed each year on the person in the northern Utah area who best exemplifies the ideals of American law and order. The award is sponsored jointly by the Judge Advocate's Office at Hill Air Force Base and the Davis County Committee for the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.
In her remarks, Foreman said U.S. military actions in the Persian Gulf are in conformity with the international laws established by the United Nations. Foreman, a former member of the United State's U.N. delegation, said the organization's charter spells out the need for ensuring international peace and using force, where necessary to maintain that peace. She said the Korean conflict is the greatest example of U.N. members working together to establish peace.
Unfortunately, said Foreman, political differences between the member countries sometimes makes it difficult to deal effectively with crisis situations.
Foreman said a law passed in 1876 strictly forbids the use of federal troops for law enforcement efforts. She said that law was amended in 1981 to allow the use of federal military equipment by local law enforcement agencies, but, with strict guidelines.
She said proposals to use military personnel for direct enforcement of drug trafficking laws violates that law. She said enforcement of those laws should be retained by civilian police agencies. She said putting the military in a role of having to deal with drug traffickers would make it more difficult for the military to meet the nation's defense needs.
Foreman said it is important to maintain this country's tradition of separation between police and military functions. She said one of the strength's of the United States has been its ability to maintain the balance of powers outlined in the Constitution and to have the restrictions contained therein honored by the military.
Foreman said the rule of law is the most critical process in determining the success of civilian government.