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Becker writes: "If terrorists ever target Fargo, ND, the local police will be ready. In recent years, they have bought bomb-detection robots, digital communications equipment and Kevlar helmets, like those used by soldiers in foreign wars. For local siege situations requiring real firepower, police there can use a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. Until that day, however, the menacing truck is mostly used for training runs and appearances at the annual Fargo picnic, where it's been displayed near a children's bounce house."

Atlanta police SWAT members search a building for a shooting suspect. (photo: John Bazemore/AP)
Atlanta police SWAT members search a building for a shooting suspect. (photo: John Bazemore/AP)

Cops Ready for War

By Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz, Center for Investigative Reporting

21 December 11


Law enforcement is not only stockpiling billions of dollars of military equipment, but a report indicates riot police will soon have a new form of sonic weapon: New Riot Shields will Suffocate Protestors With Sound Waves. -- NFM/RSN


f terrorists ever target Fargo, N.D., the local police will be ready.

In recent years, they have bought bomb-detection robots, digital communications equipment and Kevlar helmets, like those used by soldiers in foreign wars. For local siege situations requiring real firepower, police there can use a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. Until that day, however, the menacing truck is mostly used for training runs and appearances at the annual Fargo picnic, where it's been displayed near a children's bounce house.

"Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here," said Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. "There's no terrorism here."

Fargo, like thousands of other communities in every state, has been on a gear-buying spree with the aid of more than $34 billion in federal government grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

The federal grant spending, awarded with little oversight from Washington, has fueled a rapid, broad transformation of police operations in Fargo and in departments across the country. More than ever before, police rely on quasi-military tactics and equipment, the Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

No one can say exactly what has been purchased in total across the country or how it's being used, because the federal government doesn't keep close track. State and local governments don't maintain uniform records. But a review of records from 41 states obtained through open-government requests, and interviews with more than two-dozen current and former police officials and terrorism experts, shows police departments around the U.S. have transformed into small army-like forces.

Since Occupy Wall Street and similar protests broke out this fall, confusion about how to respond has landed some police departments in national headlines for electing to use intimidating riot gear, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators. Observers have decried these aggressive tactics as more evidence that police are overly militarized. Among them is former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, who today regrets his "militaristic" answer in 1999 to the infamous "Battle in Seattle" protests.

Many police, including beat cops, now routinely carry assault rifles. Combined with body armor and other apparel, many officers look more and more like combat troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The list of equipment bought with the federal grants reads like a defense contractor catalog. High-tech gear fills the garages, locker rooms and patrol cars in departments across the country.

Although local officials say they have become more cautious about spending in recent years, police departments around the country are continually expanding the equipment and tactics of their jobs, despite, in many cases, the lack of an apparent need.

The share of federal grants for Fargo and the county it anchors is more than $8 million, a considerable sum for terrorism defense given its remote location and status as one of the safest areas in America. Fargo has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there have been no prosecutions of international terrorism in the state for at least a decade, if ever.

North Dakota's biggest city is a humble place set on plains so flat that locals like to say you can watch your dog run away for two weeks. Yet all patrol officers in Fargo now carry an assault rifle in their squad car.

Fargo police Lt. Ross Renner, who commands a regional SWAT team, said the world is a dangerous place, and the city wants to be ready for anything.

With that in mind, Renner pushed for military-style assault rifles to become standard issue in department patrol cars.

"It's foolish to not be cognizant of the threats out there, whether it's New York, Los Angeles or Fargo. Our residents have the right to be protected," Renner said. "We don't have every-day threats here when it comes to terrorism, but we are asked to be prepared."

Other communities also have ramped up as well. In Montgomery County, Texas, the sheriff's department owns a $300,000 pilotless surveillance drone. In Garland County, Ark., known for its pleasant hot springs, a local law enforcement agency acquired four handheld bulletproof protective shields costing $600 each. In East Baton Rouge, La., it was $400 ballistic helmets. In Augusta, Maine, with fewer than 20,000 people and where an officer hasn't died from gunfire in the line of duty in more than 125 years, police bought eight $1,500 tactical vests. And for police in Des Moines, Iowa, it was two $180,000 bomb robots.

Homeland security and law enforcement officials say the expenditures and modern training have helped save civilian and police lives. Do the armored vehicles and combat dress produce a sort of "shock and awe" effect? Lt. Jeremy Clark of the West Hartford Police Department in Connecticut hopes so. He said it can persuade suspects to give up sooner.

"The only time I hear the complaint of ‘God, you guys look scary' is if the incident turns out to be nothing," said Clark, who organizes an annual SWAT competition.

But the gear also can be used for heavy-handed - even excessive - tactics. In one case, dozens of officers in combat-style gear raided a rave in Utah as a police helicopter buzzed overhead. An online video shows the battle-ready team wearing masks and brandishing rifles as they holler for the music to be shut off and pin partygoers to the ground.

Arizona tactical officers this year sprayed the home of ex-Marine Jose Guerena with gunfire as the man stood in a hallway with a rifle that he did not shoot [PDF]. He was hit 22 times and died. Police had targeted the man's older brother in a narcotics-trafficking probe, but nothing illegal was found in the younger Guerena's home, and no related arrests had been made months after the raid.

Police say greater firepower and more protective equipment became increasingly necessary not only as everyday criminals obtained deadlier weapons, but also in response to 9/11 and other terrorist attacks. They point to a 1997 Los Angeles-area shootout with heavily armed bank robbers and the bloody 2008 shooting and bombing attack in Mumbai, India, which left 164 people dead and 300 wounded.

Every community in the country has some explanation for why it needs more money, not less, to protect against every conceivable threat. It could be a shooting rampage at an amusement park, a weapon of mass destruction hidden at a manufacturing plant, a nuclear device detonated at a major coastal port. Nothing short of absolute security seems acceptable.

"The argument for up-armoring is always based on the least likely of terrorist scenarios," said Mark Randol, a former terrorism expert at the Congressional Research Service. "Anyone can get a gun and shoot up stuff. No amount of SWAT equipment can stop that."

Law enforcement leaders nonetheless bristle at the word "militarization," even if the defense community itself acknowledges a convergence of the two.

"I don't see us as militarizing police; I see us as keeping abreast with society," said former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, now chairman of Kroll Inc., the security consulting firm. "And we are a gun-crazy society."

SWAT Competition Underscores Training

They appear on a grainy video in slow motion, wearing battle fatigues, helmets and multi-pocketed vests.

Figures move through the scene as though on a mission. One large man with a pistol strapped to his hip swings a battering ram into a door. A colleague shoots a flash-bang grenade into a field. A third man points an assault rifle into the distance, peering at his target through a scope. A fourth, holding a pistol and wearing a rifle strapped to his back, peeks cautiously inside a bus.

The images unfold to the pulsing, ominous soundtrack of a popular video game, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2."

These are not soldiers in a far-flung warzone. They are members of the Massachusetts State Police competing at a SWAT team competition in Connecticut. The video, posted on YouTube, underscores the training and devotion tactical officers bring to their jobs. It also illustrates the level of force police units across the country can now deliver.

The annual Connecticut SWAT Challenge, hosted by the West Hartford Police Department, is one of numerous contests and exercises that have flourished since the terrorist attacks, as ultra-equipped, better-trained units sought to enhance their skills. The number of participating units more than doubled in five years, to nearly 40 teams by 2009, and dozens of sponsors seek to ensure their products and logos are on display.

One such sponsor sells ThunderSledge breaching tools for smashing open locked or chained doors. Another, Lenco Armored Vehicles, assembles black, bulletproof box-like trucks on oversized wheels that can fit up to 15 officers. Options include radiation detectors and hydraulic rams. KDH Defense Systems markets body armor to police that matches protection "used by some of the world's most elite warfighters."

Clark, of the West Hartford police, says he started the competition precisely because of the new counterterrorism spending. State and local governments weren't willing to match it with costly training necessary for the gear to be used effectively and safely. Clark is startled by the number of SWAT teams falling below the 16 hours of minimum monthly training recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association. Without proper maintenance, only luck remains.

"Luck is not for cops. Luck is for drunks and fools," Clark said. "Invariably, what happens with a police officer is he slips and falls, he breaks his back, he's paralyzed for the rest of his life. Some suspect gets shot with an M4 (assault rifle) through the neck, and he's out of the hospital in a day. Police officers and military guys never seem to have that kind of stubborn luck."

Competitions in the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston use grant cash to create realistic and elaborate challenges, said Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, who created the Urban Shield event in 2007.

In one scenario, officers with goggles, rifles and fatigues swept through the cabin of a boat. Flames poured from an exploded vehicle during another. Video of the 2009 Urban Shield - with its own heart-thumping doomsday music - depicts tactical teams moving carefully through darkened quarters, roping down the sides of buildings and leaping from a van. Images of 9/11, the Columbine shootings and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California appear with the words "train, adapt, overcome."

Special ops supplier Blackhawk Industries - founded by a former Navy SEAL - was among several elite Urban Shield sponsors this year.

Ahern points to a real-life recent case that tested area responders. A gunman killed three people and injured seven others in October at a Cupertino, Calif., cement plant where he reportedly clashed with co-workers. These incidents aren't infrequent, Ahern insists.

"When you say low probability, I think we deal with these issues on a fairly regular basis," Ahern said, adding that police "identify infrastructure, potential targets, in our area and try to have our teams train at those actual sites."

No one knows for sure the number of SWAT teams nationwide. But at a time when the crime rate has been dropping, the number of police associated with SWAT duties has gone up. The National Tactical Officers Association, which provides training and develops SWAT standards, has about 1,650 team memberships, up from 1,026 in 2000, according to Executive Director John Gnagey.

"What we've always said is if you don't have a specific need, you shouldn't have one," Gnagey said, referring to SWAT units.

Convention Showcases Latest Tactical Gear

The giant showroom in Chicago's McCormick Place convention center provided a vivid picture of how the nation's law enforcement agencies are arming and armoring themselves. Chicago hosted the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in late October. Some 800 exhibitors set up booths in 180,000 square feet of noisy space, many displaying military-style gear as thousands of police and other law enforcement professionals wandered the expo, dazzled by the latest gadgetry.

The sights and sounds are bewildering for a casual observer.

Electronic blasts and booms pour from the IES Interactive Training booth, where attendees chose among a shotgun, handgun and assault rifle with realistic recoil to aim at uncooperative suspects and inanimate targets on a life-size screen. Other booths offered combat-style apparel, such as one vest with a "Never Forget" patch, stirring up the memory of 9/11. At the Blackhawk booth, a mannequin was dressed head to toe in heavy-duty dark attire, a rifle slung from its neck and an additional sidearm strapped to its thigh. Another mannequin wore a full-face black mask.

Then there was the panoply of weapons. Colt's Manufacturing Co. offered a selection of assault rifles. The most popular among cops? An M4 semi-automatic, "closest to what the military issues," a salesman said.

Elsewhere, police officials admired a jumbo armored vehicle in camouflage green emblazoned with the words, "Greater Salt Lake." It was built by Massachusetts-based truck maker Lenco, which also assembled the beefy BearCat that the Fargo-area SWAT team began using last year. The display vehicle had a battering ram affixed to the front. A man who answered questions about it showed off a remote gas delivery system that can be attached to the ram for spraying tear gas into a building from a long steel spear.

Advertising materials throughout the expo send a uniform message: The world is fraught with peril, and new high-tech gear is a solution.

"As criminal organizations are increasingly armed with military-style weapons, law enforcement operations require the same level of field-tested and combat-proven protection used by soldiers and Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan and other high-risk locations," reads one brochure for the Oshkosh Corp.'s burly "tactical protector vehicle." Minus passengers and cargo, it weighs more than two standard F-150 pickups built this year.

Colt makes its own appeal for a family of assault rifles: "The fundamental law enforcement mission profile has undergone drastic changes since the days of Sam Colt's ‘gun that won the West.' … Colt's current law enforcement products have benefitted from decades of field and combat experience."

Security Market for State, Local Agencies Growing

Security analyst Dilip Sarangan of Frost & Sullivan, which tracks the homeland security industry, said security spending by governments and the private sector is "event-based." Both are suddenly willing to budget more when tragedy ignites new anxieties, such as after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the 2005 London train bombings, the Mumbai terrorist attacks and, most of all, the 9/11 hijackings.

"That's what their business is, unfortunately - anytime something bad happens, they make money," Sarangan said.

The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the Homeland Security Research Corp.

New opportunities are making major defense corporations more a part of our domestic lives.

Lenco, manufacturer of the BearCat and other SWAT vehicles, has sold more than 300 of its trucks to law enforcement agencies around the country. It also markets vehicles to the Defense Department, some for use in fighting improvised explosive devices. The company does not disclose sales figures, but a spokesman said more have been sold since 9/11.

In 2007, British defense giant BAE Systems spent $4.5 billion to buy a company called Armor Holdings, which had subsidiaries that made and supplied police equipment, such as riot shields, hard-knuckle gloves, Delta 4 tactical helmets and laser sight mounts for AR-15 assault rifles.

Minnesota-based Alliant Techsystems, the Army's primary provider of small-caliber ammunition, acquired in recent years two major tactical equipment suppliers, Blackhawk Industries and Eagle Industries. Company executives told shareholders that Blackhawk was a "highly profitable business," with $115 million in predicted sales this year.

While such companies also outfit sporting enthusiasts and the military, law enforcement agencies are cast by Alliant as essential customers "in the rapidly growing security market."

Local officials assert that homeland security grants, used to pay for the type of equipment showcased in Chicago, have slowed. But the grants still add up to a lot of spending: The Department of Homeland Security awarded more than $2 billion in grants this year, and President Barack Obama's 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act pumped more than a half-billion dollars into existing grant programs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is largely responsible for distributing homeland security grants. It operates a website known as the Responder Knowledge Base, which serves as a sort of war-on-terror catalog listing what local governments are allowed to buy with readiness funds.

One item featured is an armored bulldozer with a thick front shield and propelled by "tank-like, all-terrain tracks." The manufacturer, Dolmen Corp., says police operate in an increasingly violent world, where the arms race between good guys and bad guys is constantly escalating.

The firm says the military-style vehicle allows police to "gain the edge on crime."

Gnagey, of the tactical officers association, said there's a sense among some local police that the price increases when makers know it's being paid for with federal funds. The minute new equipment arrives, he joked, "if it's painted black and called SWAT, the price doubles."

But the evolution continues. In the Phoenix area, Sheriff Joe Arpaio claimed this year to have his own air armada of private pilots he could dispatch to monitor illegal border crossers. He called it Operation Desert Sky. Arpaio also picked up a full-size surplus Army tank, complete with treads.

The city of Ogden, Utah, is about to launch a 54-foot, remote-controlled "crime-fighting blimp" with a powerful surveillance camera affixed to its belly by the end of the year.

Standard-duty officers seen daily on the streets of Los Angeles were retrained to break in and kill terrorists without negotiating, under an assumption that the attackers could have a death wish and not be interested in resolving matters peacefully. Many officers were also equipped with assault rifles.

Bratton, the former police chief, said in an interview that terrorism had been a low priority early in his career. By the time he retired in 2009, it consumed a significant part of his workday. After the Mumbai attacks, Bratton believed he had to act fast to prepare for such an event.

"We were not structured for that type of attack," he said. "Within six months, we were."

Las Vegas rushed forward as well. Everyday patrol officers were given additional training, and each shift now has "in-the-box" squads that can meet at a pre-determined location and respond as a group to would-be campus or casino attackers. Squad members carry additional gear in their cars, including gas masks, body armor and high-powered rifles.

"When you go to a substation now at a police department and you see someone walk out to their car to start their shift, no longer are they just walking out there with a briefcase," said Las Vegas Sheriff Doug Gillespie. "They've got other equipment they're taking with them that if the situation arises, they put that on and they use it."

Charles Ramsey, who was police chief in Washington, D.C., during 9/11, said officers in the nation's capital began to train for multiple simultaneous attacks. The Mumbai bloodshed, which took place after Ramsey headed to Philadelphia in 2008, also served as a spur for him to make further changes and spend more money to up-armor his force.

Some 1,500 beat cops in Philadelphia have been trained to use AR-15 assault rifles - akin to the high-powered weapons issued to war fighters.

"We have a lot of people here, like most departments, who are ex-military," Ramsey said in an interview. "Some people are very much into guns and so forth. So it wasn't hard to find volunteers."

Preventative Measures Critical, Fargo Police Say

Fargo is not a place anyone associates with crime or terrorism. Its combination of friendly folk, low housing prices and high employment has garnered it recognition as one of the best places in the country to live. It is home to one of Microsoft's largest campuses and North Dakota State University.

Officials in Cass County, which includes Fargo, began buying gear in 2002. The spending on police gear rose from tens of thousands a decade ago to millions.

Police there said such spending is more than justified as a preventative measure. North Dakota has what could be perceived as targets, and the FBI established in Fargo one of its 104 Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Critical energy and agriculture sectors drive the booming economy in the remote border state. Drones used in the war on terror and homeland security are stationed at or operated from air bases in Grand Forks and at the local Fargo airport.

In addition, they say, some right-wing militias and white supremacists have been long-standing threats.

Fargo police justify the purchase of their SWAT truck, saying that with regular maintenance and low miles, it could serve the force for 30 years. They point to past shootings, like a 2004 incident in which a former Army ranger shot at SWAT team members and pinned down one officer who could have been aided by the truck.

In their minds, if it saves even one life, it's worth the cost.

Other purchases, like the bomb-detection robots, are shared with federal agencies in Fargo that have outposts, but not the resources. The local police also say they've taken a regional approach to spend wisely, leveraging federal grants to buy equipment that has multiple uses.

"It doesn't make sense if we only use it for terrorism activity, and it doesn't make sense if we only use it for criminal activity," said Fargo police Capt. Patrick Claus, a former SWAT commander.

Some residents agree. Tim Kozojed, a corn and soybean farmer in Hillsboro, 40 miles north of Fargo, said he believes police ought to have the equipment they need. But he also believes they must spend money wisely. He's not certain that's happened with the grants.

"I'm very reluctant to get anxious about a terrorist attack in North Dakota," Kozojed, 31, said. "Why would they bother?"

Claus, who was responsible for buying some of Fargo's military-style gear, including the BearCat truck, understands such thinking. But he contends it's misguided, and he and other law enforcement authorities are obliged to prepare as well as they can.

"We prepare for the worst and hope it never happens," he said. "But how many fires do you have to have before you buy a fire engine?"

This story was edited by Robert O'Harrow, Robert Salladay and Mark Katches. It was copy edited by Nikki Frick. your social media marketing partner


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+28 # fredboy 2011-12-21 14:25
The groundswell of fear generated as industry since the 9/11 national defense failure has even infected the cops. When you think about it, they were the most impressionable. Be nice to them, even if they try to slash you with a bayonet or spray you with chemicals. They are afraid.
+8 # maddave 2011-12-22 09:31
Given bright new toys, little boys - regardless of their ages - will invariably leap upon the slightest excuse to use them. Quadruple that for "afraid" boys who are heavily armed.
+2 # LessSaid 2011-12-22 14:57
So much for the cops being a part and relate to the 99%.
+63 # Andrew Hansen 2011-12-21 14:30
The coup is that all this weaponry is purchased with the people's (victim's?) money on which it will be turned. Sad that there are people delusional enough to believe it is "needed" or worse, the right thing to do...
+13 # CL38 2011-12-22 01:31
You're so right. It's an outrage that the tax dollars of the 99% are being used to purchase weapons of this kind to turn around and use on US and on protesters who stand up for us.
+10 # papabob 2011-12-21 14:31
Well, if you aren't able to do the job - at least look like it.
+64 # dbrown 2011-12-21 14:40
The war, when it comes, will be against *US*, my friends: the 99%.
+27 # Torvus 2011-12-21 15:18
Sadly, I think you are spot on. When it comes too the crunch, will the militarised turn their weapons on their own, or protect the 1%? A rotten stink has been coming out of the governance of the US for some years, and this is where it's leading, relentlessly tightening the noose on the 99%. Who can save them? It sure ain't most of the same old politicians who are elected time after time and then turn traitor to the electorate by helping them out: of jobs, homes, freedom of speech . . .
+4 # maddave 2011-12-22 09:55
Torvus, in answer to your question of where the militarized cops' loyalty lies: Just as all war is "economics", so do all forces paid, fed and armed by a government remain loyal to that government AND the economic/milita ry class that brought that government to power and which continues to support it, i.e., the 1%!

See "War is a Racket", BGen Smedley Butler, USMC (Ret) - winner of three Congressional Medals of Honor or equivalent. It's out of print but available thur Amazon,
+2 # Torvus 2011-12-22 11:47
Thanks maddave for the book recommend. What prompted my questioning police/military /militarised police, turning on their own people was that very issue in the Arab Spring, where many armed men said they would not turn on their own brothers and sisters (and some were then murdered by their own former colleagues-in-a rms who did not see things that way). Meantime, looking ahead, while the US forces are stupidly and aggressively decimating their own (instead of getting people onside), what a brilliant opportunity for the real terrorist to strike. Time to stock up on your kevlar suits, gasmasks . . ? Meantime, I'll go read that book, if I can get me a copy.
+8 # maddave 2011-12-22 09:35
Quote: "Homeland security and law enforcement officials say the expenditures and modern training have helped save civilian and police lives." un-quote

The graph, in text above, showing a decrease in police killed by gunfire is welcome & impressive; however, what I would like to see is a similar graph showing the INCREASE in number "civilians" (a pejorative term used by militarized law enforcement personel when referring to ordinary citizens) killed by the police officers "in the line of duty". I'd further like to see that graph broken down to show the number of innocent civilians "mistakenly" maimed or killed heavily-armed, hyped-up, wannabe Green Berets or SEALS.
+32 # Scott479 2011-12-21 14:48
Once the police have the equipment they will use it, warranted or not, and besides we have hundreds of empty FEMA camps waiting to be filled with masses of people each of whom will be named "Indefinite Detention".
+46 # BradFromSalem 2011-12-21 14:54
How many police officers could the Fargo area have hired with 8 Billion dollars? After they paid for that, how many teachers?

Would any of this equipment have stopped 9/11? The Shoebomber? The Underwear bomber?

What if we took that 8 Billion that we spent on Fargo and used it to help feed, provide medical care, and educate the very persons that the terrorists recruit from?

How come, me a dumb American, that spent too much of his college years killing brain cells to get a degree, can ask these questions? Meanwhile studious PHDs sit around and make the same mistakes their fathers made. Those mistakes are the very root of terrorism against the US.
Once we own up to our mistakes and make amends, then we have a chance that terrorism will recede. Giving big nasty military grade guns to civilian police is the same as invading a country. Are we the people the terrorists or is it "our" government?
+8 # mwd870 2011-12-22 09:10
Great comments. What a waste of money, without thought to the consequences. In another article, a ranking official admitted the local police are getting antsy to use their fancy military gear.

This is not proactive spending. A comitted terrorist could succeed before the civilian police realized what happened. Do they expect a sudden invasion by thousands of terrorists from wherever?

I hope this is not about the rights of American citizens to free speech and public assembly in redress of grievances. More likely, it's about the money equipment manufacturers are raking in, having successfully lobbied the government to support this policy.

We the people are not the terrorists. The resources spent on local homeland security could have been put to so many better uses.
+4 # BradFromSalem 2011-12-22 09:46
Occam's razor. It most likely is about creating new "markets" for the the profit of the Military Industrial Complex. You are absolutely correct.
It would be nice if we had an Educational Industrial Complex that was equally as powerful.
+1 # CandH 2011-12-24 14:01
Bill Gates, and his I-stole-it-so-n ow-I-want-to-pr ivatize-everyth ing-with-it friends in politics, are working their magic on creating that "Educational Industrial Complex." Once they get their greedy slimy hands on Education (ie privatized oversight with public taxpayer dollars,) watch the money FLOW out the door for things like CEO (and partners) bonuses (incrementally increasing every year 35% or so like most CEOS in this country are.)
0 # CandH 2011-12-24 13:57
Quoting LiberalLibertarian:
Meanwhile studious PHDs sit around and make the same mistakes their fathers made.

Sadly, those weapons-designi ng PhDs have children, whose legacies bequeath them to the same universities/de partments/colle agues of what? The weapons-designi ng industry. It's a feedback loop of ideological idiocy and evil banality...
+35 # Johnny 2011-12-21 14:55
The "terrorists" are you and me and everybody else who objects to spending our tax money for the mass murder of Muslims simply so Israel can continue unimpeded to steal the land of its native population and neighbors.
+27 # colvictoria 2011-12-21 15:24
Thanks Johnny my sentiments exactly. Funny how we in the US are horrified at how the Egyptian military treated the women protesters. We gasp and say "not in America." Even here at RSN people cannot fathom that it is coming to a city or town near us very soon if it hasn't already (Manhattan). This is just the tip of the iceberg.
People Get Ready!
+12 # Phlippinout 2011-12-21 18:54
Aint that the truth. Just this morning i heard Hillary Clinton talking about the violence against protesters in Egypt and I laUGHED OUT LOUD. What a joke!
+22 # DLT999 2011-12-21 15:48
You said it right, Johnny. The "terrorists" means US -- the 99% who object to this murderous band at the helm who murder, maim, torture, imprison, and rob everyone in their midst who dares to stick up for themselves and do the moral thing by resisting.
+2 # grouchy 2011-12-21 16:01
Hey, maybe rig the biggie armored thingy so it bounces too--then let it join the fun next door! I bet the kids will love to play on and in it! Oh, no stock of ammo, however.
+19 # bugbuster 2011-12-21 16:10
I doubt that it would be cost effective for most police departments to maintain extraordinary equipment and training. My guess is that they are being used as dumping grounds for old gear. I can see it in my mind's eye: A cop trade show, cop big shots, slick salespersons with great pitches, wining and dining the cop big shots, sales.

More to the point is the tactic used by our local police to clear out the Occupiers: in the dark of night they dump homeless and troublemakers at the camp, then point to the scruffy bums and troublemakers at the Occupy camp so as to get rid of them.
+16 # noitall 2011-12-21 16:16
As an American, I see this as being VERY EMBARRASSING! Hopefully with the way our media reports the "news", the world won't find out.
+10 # Aussieken 2011-12-21 16:43
Poor America - trouble is in Oz we usually catch up with what you are doing ten years later. In this case though - I don't think so - we are not so afraid and have better uses for our tax dollars.
+1 # Doubter 2011-12-22 14:04
Ten years!
You poor innocent optimist.

I hope you are right but I wouldn't put my faith in government if I were you.
+31 # DaveM 2011-12-21 16:55
"If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail" --Abraham Maslow.
+30 # oakes721 2011-12-21 17:02
The Cost of Barney's Bullet is Bankrupting Mayberry and America.

Follow the money. Weapon-making is a big business: Create the need: FEAR. Cost? PEACE.
+17 # jon 2011-12-21 18:29
Joseph Stalin would be proud.
+19 # Tippitc 2011-12-21 20:46
Fargo - a real hotbed of terrorist activity!!! What is in the water in D.C.?! Have they lost their freakin' minds?? Or are they just planning ahead?
The cops in Fargo are better equipped than the soldiers in Iraq were - the government has not just run off the road, they have gone off a cliff!!
My biggest FEAR - the government in D.C. - what do they do next?!
+2 # anarchteacher 2011-12-21 21:44
Back in the 1960s, the John Birch Society, were warning about the militarization of law enforcement creating a national police state. "Support Your Local Police - and Keep Them Independent," ran the slogan on the JBS bumper sticker. Haughty Progressives just laughed and jeered at these loony "conspiracy theorists."

Then along came the libertarians, warning about how the War on Drugs was going to nationalize and militarize local law enforcement, creating a police state. Progressives just laughed and jeered at these evil greedy Ayn Randians, dope smoking Social Darwinists, nerdy delusional isolationists.

Yes, liberals and progressive were deaf to these warnings, too busy attacking the messengers to listen to the message.

With the USA Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the recently passed Military Authorizations Act, the police state they warned about decades ago is here, in full paramilitary riot gear, backed by the elimination of posse comitatus and habeas corpus.

Under Obama's watch with a bipartisan Congress, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is dead; martial law and indefinite detention is alive and well. Progressives can be proud. You finally got what you have been wishing for all these years.
+5 # Glen 2011-12-22 07:31
Anarchteacher, the parties have essentially been working together, in spite of a show of discord, for a long time, and they are covering all acts of crime against the world but especially citizens. Obama is carrying on what was begun decades ago. Many countries have recognized this. U.S. citizens, not as much. (I continue to receive e mails presenting weapons technology and the accompanying pride in the comments is disturbing.)

The future looks bleak and world war is now possible, as I have said before.
+2 # BradFromSalem 2011-12-22 12:22
So, the John Birchers and their insane anti communist ideology were actually prophets?

How about an alternate view? The Birchers basis for fearing the rise of militarized power was as more a fear of the rise of Socialism in America. The Libertarians are essentially their modern descendants so, there is no ideological difference between them. Certainly not for this topic.

The rise in militarized police force are an outgrowth of the very philosophy espoused by both groups. In a Conservative, Ayn Rand style, Libetarian state; the government is starved of all tools to promote a better society, except by brute force. Force is the only tool allowed in that world view. Additionally the War on Drugs is sourced on the same Puritanical Religious Fundamental morality that created Prohibition.

Obama and many Democrats are not innocent here, they like many other Americans have been coerced into being afraid. Most of the fears are irrational, but the fear feeds irrational reactions. The Right Wing specializes in selling fear.

Progressives may have been naive, but they are not the source of the insanity. Greed and Right Wing ideology are the primary initiators. And like Prohibition, even when it ends, the mess will take at least 50 years to clean up.
+12 # RMDC 2011-12-22 09:19
This is really disgusting. I live out in the country on a farm and not long ago I saw a police SUV parked on the shoulder of the road. The cop was putting an A-4 assault weapon in the back of his truck. I felt like stopping and telling him to get the hell out of this county, we don't need or want fascist thugs like him here. I had a real moment of hatred for this guy.

We hire police to manage certain things -- accidents, crimes, fires, lost kids, and so on. What right to they have to militarize themselves and become the GESTAPO for the 1%. Truly, government no longer is "of the people, by the people and for the people" as some guy said about 150 years ago. Now it is government against the people and for the corporations.

Karl Marx in his book on the revolutions in France said following the end of the Napoleonic wars reactionary regimes that took control did not demobilize their militaries. Rather, they turned their militaries against their own working classes and began a century long war on social organizing among the working class. That's happening here. The working class of the US is the enemy. This was all theorized at the Congress of Vienna in 1815-16 which is still the foundation of contemporary reactionary politics. Kissinger worships Prince Metternich who convened the Congress and who once said "I hate democracy." We have a ruling elite which similarly hates democracy. The other name for reactionary politics is fascism.
+9 # Glen 2011-12-22 12:13
I too, have encountered military type cops, and I, too, live in the country. Even in small tourist type towns cops train for riots and stash heavy gear. Cars have been followed by black SUVs on interstate highways, which are probably military or government, with the occasional local police black SUV, all taking license numbers on dozens of cars. Many is the time I have been in a city, even prior to 9/11 and seen militarized SWATs or common cops. Seemed nobody noticed their actions, and at times they were swarming buildings, banging on doors with their sticks, shoving pedestrians aside roughly, pulling weapons, etc. All for a SUSPECTED criminal.

Sure, U.S. citizens can be violent criminals, but not to the extent these police departments depict most of them and unless terrorists are delusional they are not going to be interested in your town or mine, much less a corn field.

I could go on. We are all worried now, for all the points you made in your post, which is outstanding.
+3 # KittatinyHawk 2011-12-23 18:57
Most cops always had bully mentality. Now we train with videos, allowing our children to watch killing even partake in killing. We are the ones who have allowed the mentality of today.
I never saw any of my puzzles have my kid interact as a ruthless killer, but then I took the time to actually raise my child not let technical crap rule the house. I also see parents with the kids but the parents are on cell phones...I wonder if parents even talk to their kids anymore. It seems not, seems we have let them do whatever they want, then they go into service and learn to kill, torture, and we are on our cell phones. We made the game as much as the Government enjoys watching our stupidity ! It can be changed but then people would actually have to learn how to get along, raise children themselves.
Perhaps go Church/Temple less. I do not see these as any good place, just a money pit like Congress/Senate
+4 # anarchteacher 2011-12-24 09:51

Watch this incisive interview on the militarization of our nation's local law enforcement by a surprising source.

Those authorities are adopting repressive techniques and training from the Israelis to be used against our American OWS protesters.

Also counter-terrori st procedures and technology used by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are being implimented domestically in the US.

As historian Alfred McCoy elaborates in his book, Policing America's Empire: The United States, The Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, the government first used the Philippines as a key laboratory for counterinsurgen cy techniques after the Spanish-America n War, and imported or repatriated these hegemonic techniques of police repression of dissent back to the US to be used during World War I, the first Red Scare, and continuously ever after.

This militarization has only accelerated during the linked Wars on Drugs and Terrorism.
+2 # CandH 2011-12-24 14:21
I'm halfway through this insightful and fascinating BBC documentary called, "The Century of the Self." It discusses the "birth" of Public Relations (ie propaganda) in the US by Bernays (cousin of Freud,) in the 1st World War, extensively used by the Nazis, and further used by corps in the US to create the "wants-v-needs "consumerist" mentality, also used by the United-Fruit-Co rporation-CIA-b acked-War-Coup in Guatemala (ie the Red Scare PR campaign,) the 60s CIAs experiments with mind control/LSD/ele ctro-shock brainwashing... (only so far halfway through the 3 hour documentary.)
+1 # wrodwell 2011-12-26 14:04
The militarization of police forces across the country has an underlying objective: to protect the status quo from any perceived "threats" that will surely emanate from a possible - and probably necessary - new American Revolution. Anyone wanna guess how many citizens will die by police weapons especially if the economy worsens and the income gap increases?

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