Brooks Questioning: Defense Under Secretary Says Existing Law Authorizes Border Wall Construction
Washington, DC— Tuesday, in a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) questioned Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood concerning deployment of U.S. military assets to America’s southern border. Under Secretary Rood confirmed that existing federal law (10 U.S.C. 284) permits President Trump to direct the military to construct a border wall without declaring a national emergency, that President Trump has not yet directed the military to provide border security and wall construction pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 284, and that the military would obey a presidential order for border security and wall construction if such an order is given.
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video of Congressman Brooks’ questioning
A key excerpt from video of Congressman Brooks’ questioning follows:
Brooks: I want to direct your attention to 10 United States Code § 284 which authorizes President Trump to deploy the United States military to the southern border to build fences and to do a lot of other things, and for clarity, if you look it up in the dictionary the word fence includes the word barrier and the word barrier includes walls made of a wide variety of different materials. So that having been said, it seems to me that 10 U.S. Code § 284 can be used by the President of the United States to direct the United States military to build a wall. Now as of today, you’ve mentioned military forces along the southern border, have any of them been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284?
Rood: Congressman, I don’t believe any of our forces have been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284. You are correct, however, that that use of authority would authorize the secretary of defense to erect barriers, roads, fencing, those types of materials to disrupt drug smuggling.
Brooks: Does 10 U.S.C. § 284 as you understand it, require the declaration of a national emergency before it is implemented?
Brooks: It does not?
Brooks: Has President Trump, to your knowledge, ever used 10 U.S.C § 284 to direct the military to build the wall that is necessary for border security?
Rood: No, not to my knowledge, Congressman.
Brooks: If President Trump were to direct the Pentagon and the United States military pursuant to 10 U.S.C § 284 to build such barriers as are necessary to secure our southern border from drug trafficking and international crime cartels would the United States military obey that order?
Rood: If we judge it to be a lawful order, yes sir. And I assume it would be.