In a meeting with Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO), U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that the Pentagon has no plans to recommend changes to the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the participation of active duty military forces in domestic law enforcement activities.
On September 21, Skelton sent a letter to the President asking him to clarify remarks he made in a speech that appeared to call for an increased role for the military in domestic emergency response. Skelton questioned whether the President intended to seek a waiver to the Posse Comitatus Act or to request a full rewrite of the Act.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the President directed Executive branch agencies to compile lessons learned during the response and recovery effort. Secretary Rumsfeld told Skelton that while DoD is still compiling its recommendations, changes to the Posse Comitatus Act have not been discussed and the Department does not intend to make any recommendations that would involve changes to the Act.
"I agree with Secretary Rumsfeld that no changes need to be made to the existing law," said Skelton. "Clearly there were many breakdowns in the response to Hurricane Katrina and improvements must be made to improve the federal, state, and local response to future emergencies, including both natural disasters and terrorist incidents. I commend the President's effort to collect the lessons learned from the Hurricane Katrina experience, but I also believe that an independent Hurricane Katrina commission
would best be able to provide credible and positive reform recommendations to improve our emergency preparedness," said Skelton.