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Who sent 22 military police and an Army officer into the tiny Alabama town of Samson last week after a gunman went on a rampage that left 11 people dead?
That's what the U.S. Army would like to know.
The Associated Press reports that an Army spokesman says the military has launched an inquiry to find out what happened, why the troops were sent from nearby Fort Rucker, what they did while there and whether any federal laws were broken.
The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) passed on June 16, 1878 after the end of Reconstruction, with the intention (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) of substantially limiting the powers of the federal government to use the military for law enforcement. The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services (today the Army, Air Force, and State National Guard forces when such are called into federal service) from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain "law and order" on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) within the United States. The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act.