From World’s Policeman to Police State – Part I
March 23, 2014  //  By:   //  Human Rights Watch  //  No Comment

From the end of World War II, through the Cold War, the fall of the Soviet Empire and even to this day, the United States has commonly been called “The World’s Policeman.” It’s not always a compliment and is actually being rebuked from those on the left and the right of the political spectrum. The direction this incumbency is headed is debatable, but one very troubling effect of the explosion of U.S. military activity since 9/11 is what’s happening back home.

The mentality of the “warrior cop” comes straight from overseas, where we’ve been at war since 2001. Many soldiers, who returned home, have joined their local police forces, only to find themselves using some of the same tactics, weapons and vehicles on American city streets that were used in Fallujah, Baghdad and Kabul.

We have become a police state.

Militarized Police

The single largest factor in the transformation of the peace officer in to an antagonistic, menacing force, is their acquisition of military style weapons, armor and vehicles. Grants from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have given municipal police departments and county sheriff’s offices access to heavy artillery, battle training and the famed Lenco Bearcat, which is essentially a tank. These vehicles cost in the neighborhood of $200,000 and weigh 8 tons.

The Bearcat sounds like a necessary vehicle for navigating a war zone, but what about a small town? A grant from DHS would have brought a one to the streets of Keene, NH, a sleepy community of 23,000 people. That was, until the citizens got wind of it in advance and put the whole thing to a stop. Keep in mind, that this is the absolute exception. Usually the Bearcat finds its way to these small towns one way or another, whether the people living and working there like it or not. In February 2012, however, the citizens of Keene said a resounding “No.” Below is an excerpt from Autoblog.com:

The Keene, NH, police department was going to get its own Lenco BearCat, a vehicle the town’s mayor reportedly described as a “tank.” However, citizens in the town of 23,000 revolted, according to the article, with nearly 100 of them packing a city council meeting in opposition. Critics said the vehicle promoted violence, and cited a promotional video for the BearCat that shows gun-wielding cops using one of the armored trucks to knock down the door of a house and spray tear gas inside. The issue is scheduled to come up again at next month’s meeting.

A $285,933 grant from DHS would pay for the eight-ton military truck. The Huffington Post cites a report from the Center for Investigative Reporting stating that $34 billion of similar grants have been issued since Sept. 11, 2001.

A Lenco spokesman criticized some of the citizens who spoke out against his firm’s vehicle, calling them “crazy.”

It’s quite bold to call people in a small New Hampshire town “crazy,” for rejecting this type of policing in their streets. Lenco Bearcat pictured below

The “Homeland” is now the Battlefield

Post 9/11 paranoia about a large terrorist attack being a possible outcome in just about every corner of the United States has lead to a swift and thorough repeal of basic constitutional rights, for innocent American citizens, in the name of security. The examples are everywhere and impossible to miss.

  • The Patriot Act (2001): This legislation, passed just 6 weeks after the September 11th attacks was a shredding of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It explicitly states that Americans or visitors in our country have no expectation that they are to be secure in their person, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. We are no longer free from warrants being issued against us without probable cause. What this has all deteriorated in to is the Federal Government, through the National Security Agency (NSA) holding a virtual monopoly on data transmitted electronically through the internet, EMail, Cell Phones and many other devices. They then share this info with local police and it casts a very wide electronic dragnet, which few, if any are able to escape. The revelations by Edward Snowden in 2013 rung the alarm bell for the entire developed world that the NSA was collecting all the data, phone calls, texts and any other imaginable information under the guise of “security.”
  • DHS Agency, TSA, Begins Aggressive “Groping” Searches of American Men, Women, Children and the Elderly: Air travel in the U.S. has come to be defined by one single incendiary experience: The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) groping pat down. Through a series of enhanced measures which are claimed by DHS to be  “designed to prevent another 9/11” , airport security in this country has gone from a mild annoyance to something that many have described as sexual assault. The subjects of enhanced security measures could be anyone from a suspicious looking child to a wheelchair bound senior citizen who are selected, supposedly at random, to be stripped down, groped, fondled and humiliated. This is done just so that there can be no doubt in the mind of the screener that this person is not carrying some sort of weapon or bomb. Essentially, they’ve decided that the average American is a potential terrorist, with no evidence to support that claim. Keep in mind that TSA alone employs 60,000 people and their annual budget is nearly $8 Billion dollars. This is a giant bureaucracy who spends more money than entire countries like Canada, Spain and Australia just on security in airports.
  • DHS Purchases Billions of Rounds of Ammo: If our loss of rights and dignity wasn’t enough to scare the average American whose become accustomed to the poor treatment by their Federal Government, what about the fact that they are arming themselves to the teeth? Last year, Forbes confirmed that 1.6 Billion rounds of ammo were being purchased, not by the U.S. Army, but by the Department of Homeland Security. Let that sink in for just a minute. In addition to that, they’re also buying up the steroid addicted cousin to the Lenco Bearcat, the MRAP. That same write up in Forbes from March of 2013 has the details:

Add to this perplexing outré purchase of ammo, DHS now is showing off its acquisition of heavily armored personnel carriers, repatriated from the Iraqi and Afghani theaters of operation.  As observed by “paramilblogger” Ken Jorgustin last September:

The Department of Homeland Security is apparently taking delivery  of an undetermined number of the recently retrofitted 2,717 ‘Mine Resistant Protected’ MaxxPro MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the United States.”

These MRAP’s ARE BEING SEEN ON U.S. STREETS all across America by verified observers with photos, videos, and descriptions.”

Regardless of the exact number of MRAP’s being delivered to DHS (and evidently some to POLICE via DHS, as has been observed), why would they need such over-the-top vehicles on U.S. streets to withstand IEDs, mine blasts, and 50 caliber hits to bullet-proof glass? In a war zone… yes, definitely. Let’s protect our men and women. On the streets of America… ?

“They all have gun ports… Gun Ports? In the theater of war, yes. On the streets of America…?

Seriously, why would DHS need such a vehicle on our streets?”

  • Indefinite Detention Without Trial (NDAA 2012): Not so hidden within the bill that is passed every year to fund the military operations of the United States, otherwise known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), was an indemnity for American citizens to be held indefinitely without trial or even notification to their families in a military tribunal. Section 1021 authorizes such actions and has been highly scrutinized since its signing by President Obama just after midnight on New Years Day 2012. It’s an unprecedented move to allow for executive authority to completely bypass the court system and the U.S. Constitution in the face of a perceived threat by an individual. This is yet another swift erosion of rights once enjoyed by all, which are now subject to review and revision at the stroke of a pen.

Part II of this series will explore how a centralized preparation for civilian unrest and simultaneous usurpation of rights is building up to a tipping point. We’ll also explore how militarized police have engaged in mission creep, deadly SWAT raids and policing for profit, not justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author :