Occupy Wall Street and the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division: A Hypothetical Examination of the Slippery Slope of Military Intervention during Civil Disturbance

42 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2012 Last revised: 8 Jun 2015

See all articles by McKay Smith

McKay Smith

George Washington University Law School; George Mason University School of Law; U.S. Department of Justice; United States Senate; Department of Homeland Security

Date Written: July 2012


Throughout 2011, the world was an incredibly angry place. The global economy was in disarray. The streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria had erupted in unprecedented violence. While Americans watched events spiral out of control abroad, a new movement was taking shape domestically. The Occupy movement is a self-described, nonpartisan protest movement targeting economic injustice and social inequality. At its core, however, many domestic protestors also vocally deride the current state of U.S. politics. This article analyzes the Army’s authority to collect information in support of domestic operations, particularly operations aimed at quelling civil disturbance. Historically, the use of the military to respond to domestic events significantly impacted the rights of U.S. persons. In 1975, Congress began a detailed examination of the intelligence community in response to a series of revelations in the media. The Church Committee, as this investigative committee would come to be known, made a number of alarming findings, including the existence of an Army domestic intelligence program that collected information on U.S. persons based purely on their political beliefs. Thus, this article serves as a vehicle for examining the effects of contemporary military intervention on constitutional rights. More importantly, the resulting discussion attempts to answer one important question - are we in danger of repeating the past?

Keywords: McKay Smith, intelligence, constitutional rights, civil rights, homeland defense, civil support, domestic operational law, Department of Defense, National Security, First Amendment, Church Committee, Executive Order 12333, DODD 5240.01, DOD 5240.1-R, DODD 5200.27

Suggested Citation

Smith, McKay, Occupy Wall Street and the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division: A Hypothetical Examination of the Slippery Slope of Military Intervention during Civil Disturbance (July 2012). George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal (CRLJ), Vol. 22, No. 3, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2122857

McKay Smith (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

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Washington, DC 20052
United States

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
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U.S. Department of Justice ( email )

National Security Division
Washington, DC 20530
United States

United States Senate ( email )

Senate Armed Services Committee
Washington, DC 20002
United States

Department of Homeland Security ( email )

Office of Inspector General
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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