"All the DoD services are prohibited from directly participating in law enforcement acts. "
Uh, no. Not quite, not anymore.
You're no doubt refering to what is generally called the Posse Commitatus Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1385.
Two holes in that. First, the USSC had in fact ruled that the Act only applies to those branches of the military that were specified in the Act. And that's one reason why the USCG was always allowed to operate domestically, the Act probably would have mentioned them if they had existed back then--but it doesn't.
Second hole coming with the Dick Act of 1903 and the founding of the modern National Guard program. Conveniently, there is "The National Guard" but then there is also "The National Guard of the United States". The former are various State Militias which have been seconded (activated and loaned) to the latter and placed under the control of the Army. But, they are not regular Army, technically they are still State Militia on loan to the Federal Militia so, again, not prevented by the Act.
Note to non-Americans: Yes, this is archaic and obtuse law to us, and none of our politicians wants to open that can of worms. In fact, if you look up the enabling laws for our National Guard, you'll find seven acts (including/since the Dick Act of 1903) finally are mentioned--but you can't find their full texts on line. Conveniently.
And now for the real kicker
. After Katrina, our President said "bring in the military" and his advisers had to explain to him, that's illegal. Which made no one happy. So very very quietly, perhaps even deviously, they snuck an appendix into the Omnibus Defense Appropriations Act of 2006 (?). That's a law about 1000 pages thick that Congress always has to sign, and usually does so without really reading.
The new section makes no mention of the Posse Comitatus Act, so if you search for that you get no results. However, it cleverly mentions 18 U.S.C. § 1385 and that in time of a presidentially declared emergency
, that section of USC may be set aside and the President (exclusively) may order US military troops into domestic law enforcement duty.
Some of us would argue that this is very dangerous precedent, contravening long established law and doing so without public debate. In fact, arguably intentionally CONCEALING the change, and giving the president powers that are not his.
But that's the way it is. I may be confusing 2006 with 2007...but 18 U.S.C. § 1385 no longer is what it was. There's an obscure section of new (now 12 year old) law that we can only hope is used with great discretion. Of course, our presidents are always known to have great discretion. (Cough, cough.)
thing, the way things get changed with zero press coverage and zero Congressional knowledge, even when they are the ones signing the changes. Kinda scary.