On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate held the first hearings on the militarization of the police in the aftermath of events that took place in Ferguson, Missouri last month. The hearings were held by the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs and will hopefully be the first of many. The debate over whether equipment that is designed for use by military personnel on battlefields should end up on Main Street U.S.A. can now begin. We are as a nation are now thirteen years removed from the September 11, 2001 attacks and the transformation from a free country into The Homeland that came in the aftermath. It is long overdue to ask some very serious questions as to whether the reaction to those attacks has destroyed what it was that America stood for in the first place.
According to a story from The Hill entitled “Senators blast DOD program that ‘militarized police’”:
Senators blasted the Pentagon on Tuesday for providing police forces with an over abundance of military equipment, which they say laid the groundwork for what unfolded in Ferguson, Mo., last month.
“Tell me what the difference is between an increasingly militarized police force and a standing army,” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said during a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the first congressional hearing on the militarization of police.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed deep skepticism about the Defense Department’s 1033 program, which since the 1990s has provided local police departments with more than $5 billion worth of surplus military equipment, including assault rifles, body armor, and armored vehicles.
The Pentagon says the program is intended to help police combat terrorists and drug cartels, but the senators suggested some police departments may be overstepping their authority by using this military equipment for crowd control at riots.
Coburn called the militarization of police an overreaction “on the basis of 9/11.”
That Senator Coburn is a conservative and is asking serious questions on the militarizing of the police should serve as a wake up call to others on the right on how far out of control the problem is. When it comes time for official policy to shift due to a terrorist attack, economic collapse, contagious disease outbreak or some other state of emergency, conservatives will not be immunized when Leviathan rolls out the shock troops. With the idea having been floated about putting the nation’s police under federal oversight by members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other liberal groups we are teetering on the edge of the abyss. This is why it is imperative that all Americans get on board with pushing to demilitarize the police and implement oversight on surveillance programs.
A story from The Guardian entitled “Police using military gear in riots could be forced to repay millions in grants” has additional detail on Tuesday’s hearings:
US police forces that use military equipment earmarked for counter-terrorism to handle public order disturbances instead could be forced to repay millions of dollars in grants, under a review revealed during the first congressional hearings into this summer’s riots in Ferguson, Missouri.
The Department of Justice and the White House were already investigating whether to limit federal programs that have showered local law enforcement agencies with armoured vehicles and military-style equipment in recent years.
But the Department of Homeland Security, one of three US agencies primarily responsible for providing the equipment, said it was now considering whether to demand that its grants be repaid if police are found to have broken a little-known rule prohibiting its use in riot suppression.
“We have a range of remedies should [the DOJ] find non-compliance, including recoupment of funds,” Brian Kamoie of the Federal Emergency Management Agency told Kentucky senator Rand Paul during a hearing of the Senate homeland security committee.
Paul said he was horrified by the “thoroughly un-American” policing tactics seen in Ferguson and demanded an immediate end to a similar Pentagon program, called 1033, that has provided 12,000 bayonets, 5,200 humvees and 617 mine-resistant armoured vehicles (MRAPs) to civilian forces across the US.
There will be no quick and easy solution to the police and surveillance state that rose from the rubble of the World Trade Center, there is too much money involvedand the cancer is in an advanced stage. That being said, continuing to chip away at it – and the Senate hearings are a good start – and an increasing public awareness could at least begin the necessary process to restore some of what has been lost.
While it is important to note that some programs are necessary to prevent actual terrorism, there has been an exploitation of the attacks to build a money-sucking monstrosity that has become an integral part of the economy. There will be much resistance to any efforts to shackle this beast and quite frankly the clock is ticking down daily. With the media and politicians in hysterics over a potential domestic terrorist attack from ISIS it is important to note that such an event would not only lock the police state into place forever but trigger the targeting of political dissidents and government critics. What do you think that mammoth NSA storage facility in Utah was built for?
The Patriot Act, the National Defense Authorization Act and other legislation –some of it secret – have severely damaged civil liberties and provided the legal basis for the full implementing of a totalitarian state. Both keep being renewed regardless of which party controls the White House. Within these acts lie the seeds of our destruction as they could effectively end the American experiment once and for all. The Department of Homeland Security itself also needs to be dismantled. This massive, multi-headed monster also was forced down the throats of Americans in the aftermath of 9/11 and has been imbued with the type of powerthat blows away anything that was ever rolled out by Hitler or Stalin.
No matter what our differences may be as citizens – and there are many – the one thing that should unify every single American is the preservation of our system of democracy itself. There is nothing at all exceptional when the state turns tyrannical and is weaponized against the people as it will be in our star-spangled banana republic when the day arrives. Barring serious intervention that day is coming and coming soon.