Why the Hell is the Department of Agriculture Buying Submachine Guns?

Inspecting the living shit out of some milk. |||You may have seen this equipment order going around:

May 07, 2014 2:03 pm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, located in Washington, DC, pursuant to the authority of FAR Part 13, has a requirement for the commerical acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot burts trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsilbe or folding, magazine - 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation. 

Bolding mine, to emphasize OMG WHY ARE WE MILITARIZING THE LETTUCE INSPECTORS?

This story has mostly drawn attention from the journalistic right: Breitbart.com's Big Government, The Drudge Report, Washington Times, Examiner.com, Guns Save Lives, Personal Liberty Digest, American Thinker, and so on. Last week on The Independents, we had two different Republicans—Rep. Thomas Massie (Kentucky) and Rep. Chris Stewart (Utah)—come on to bemoan the militarization of federal agencies. They are right to do so. But it's equally true that the GOP is heavily responsible for the arming of the executive branch in the first place, and has in its hands the power to change the bad underlying legislation.

OIGs weren't always in the submachine business. The Inspector General Act of 1978 was enacted not so that armed federal agents could kick in doors of raw milk farmers before dawn, but rather (in the words of the Inspector General inside the General Services Administration),

to detect and prevent fraud, waste, abuse, and violations of law while promoting economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the operations of the Federal Government.

Italics mine, to illustrate the sour irony of it all.

So how did an internal government watchdog turn into an external projection of U.S. power against its own citizens? Because of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which amended the IG Act to grant inspectors "full law enforcement authority to carry firearms, make arrests and execute search warrants." The law was sponsored by then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), passed with a heavily Republican majority (207-10 in favor, versus 88-110 among Democrats), passed overwhelmingly in the Senate (90-9, with no Republicans voting against), and then signed into law by President George W. Bush. The blunt truth is that after 9/11, a vast majority of elected conservatives want to arm the bejeebus out of the feds, with little or no deliberation about long-term consequences.

If Republicans now belatedly loathe the creation of dozens of new police units within the federal government, here is what they can do about it: Draft a bill reversing the 2002 amendment to the IG Act, and then pass it.

After the jump, read on for some USDA justification for submachine guns.

According to Politico,

USDA responded to POLITICO by explaining that there are more than 100 agents employed by the law enforcement division of the department’s Office of the Inspector General who carry such weapons because they are involved in the investigation of criminal activities, including fraud, theft of government property, bribery, extortion, smuggling and assaults on employees. From fiscal 2012 through March 2014, OIG investigations pertaining to USDA operations have netted more than 2,000 indictments, 1,350 convictions and over $460 million in monetary results, the OIG told POLITICO in a subsequent email.

More:

USDA spokeswoman Courtney Rowe says the guns are needed by the more than 100 agents employed by the law-enforcement division of the department’s Office of the Inspector General. They’ve carried machine guns for 20 years, she notes. USDA OIG officers “are placed in very dangerous law enforcement situations,” another USDA official told POLITICO. “They make arrests, they serve subpoenas and they engage in undercover operations.”

Thanks to reader Chris Herald for the tip.

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  • Duke||

    Frits!

  • Duke||

    Fist of Etiquette must be dead.

    I for one, think all federal agencies and agents should be armed. I'd love to see an MP-5 toting Smithsonian tour guide. That would keep any unruly children from touching the dinosaur bones.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    NEVER!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Because all the other departments have them.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Look, it's clear the government will continue to grow in power until the point where someone takes over the whole business. Agriculture wants its chance at the throne, too.

  • WTF||

    In the game of thrones, you win or you die.

  • Loki||

    Because all the other departments have them.

    to detect and prevent fraud, waste, abuse, and violations of law while promoting economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the operations of the Federal Government.

    If only they were getting into shootouts with other federal agencies, I would be in full support of them having as many guns as they wanted.

  • Ryan from Arizona||

    LOL, that's awesome

  • sarcasmic||

    Because some local law enforcement departments still have some common sense, and people with common sense might decline requests to be the armed escort for feds who want to enforce something completely and totally stupid.

  • WTF||

    ^This. How else can they conduct SWAT raids on people selling raw milk?

  • Mr.Krinkle||

    "Today we're going to have some fun. We're going to take on the watermelon insurgency I've been noticing lately..."

    .50 Caliber vs 250 Watermelons

    http://youtu.be/XyoAP10uKTk

  • From the Tundra||

    Wow. Expensive fruit salad.

  • Free Society||

    5 bucks per round, I believe. and the cost of 250 watermelons, whatever that may be.

  • waffles||

    Worth.

  • ||

    That reminds me of Mr. Majestic! If only Charles Bronson were here today.

  • ||

    Come on. Of course all the inspector asshole douches wanted to be armed. All these bureaucrat types would love the power that comes with being armed and having arrest powers. The instant you legislate it that they can they're going to go FULL RETARD. And we see that they have.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    to detect and prevent fraud, waste, abuse, and violations of law while promoting economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the operations of the Federal Government.

    If I thought for a moment these heavily armed IG teams would be kicking down the doors of regional government offices and shooting wayward bureaucrats, I would support this 110%.

  • Free Society||

    So how did an internal government watchdog turn into an external projection of U.S. power against its own citizens?

    Because the government is incapable of setting and enforcing it's own limitations upon it's own power. Does it surprise anyone? Might as well give a junkie the keys to your pharmacy and then act shocked when things go missing.

  • paranoid android||

    I'm not saying it's a conspiracy to drive a stake through the heart of federalism once and for all, but I am saying that if there were such a conspiracy, this is exactly what it would look like...

  • kinnath||

    The Amish. The USDA needs to be armed to deal with the constant threat of unpasteurized milk pushed by the Amish.

  • Army of the 12 Monkeys||

    I can't wait for that episode of "Amish Mafia".

  • Francisco d'Anconia||

    You never know when one of them Tea Party Dairy Farmer types is going to need to be put in his place.

    The cupboard is bare, there is simply nothing left to cut.

  • ||

    We just had an OIG inspection at our work last year. I never saw them lurking around, but I'm just picturing rumpled bureaucrats sitting in a conference room with rifles propped up against the chairs.

  • Ryan from Arizona||

    I hope that someday a sheriff or governor has the courage to tell these feds that they have no jurisdiction and to leave their state immediately. Despite what the 9 kings say (SCOTUS), there is a thing called nullification

  • Rev Match||

    USDA responded to POLITICO by explaining that there are more than 100 agents employed by the law enforcement division of the department’s Office of the Inspector General who carry such weapons because they are involved in the investigation of criminal activities, including fraud, theft of government property, bribery, extortion, smuggling and assaults on employees.

    Uh, once one has determined that something (however arbitrarily) illegal is going on, would one not then defer to the DOJ? I suppose one would not if one is a power-hungry psychopath.

  • BiMonSciFiCon||

    I think the Department of Education has a SWAT team.

    Yet there's nothing left to cut.

  • PapayaSF||

    It's one thing to say "They make arrests, they need to be armed." It's quite another to say "They need machine guns."

  • Adam330||

    “They make arrests, they serve subpoenas and they engage in undercover operations.”

    So these geniuses are carrying machine guns while undercover? And you need a gun to serve subpoenas? I've served a number of subpoenas- I had no idea it was so dangerous to hand someone a piece of paper!

  • Ryan from Arizona||

    What's scary is here is the vast number of agencies and federal powers that can arrest you. It used to be that was left to local law enforcement and maybe state rangers. Now, there are hundred of agencies with their own swat teams. From a legal perspective, who has the juridiction? Oh that's right, states have no rights anymore. They are subservient to any and all federal powers (sarcasm). What happen if the local sheriff said no to the USDA swat team?

  • ||

    Very true, and unfortunately there are a vast number of laws and regulations that go along with those machine guns. I wouldn't be surprised if each of us on a regular basis are violating some esoteric law or regulation that we have no idea of.

  • Mike Parent||

    Give it a little more time and they'll militarize the Sisters of the Poor.

  • Loki||

    Nah. Remember, "religious fanatics" who don't even want to supply their female employees with BC getting their hands on guns = bad.

    Government bureacraps getting their hands on guns so that they can gun down those EVUL religious fanatics and anyone else who dares question their AUTHORITAY = good. /sarc

  • Loki||

    OMG WHY ARE WE MILITARIZING THE LETTUCE INSPECTORS?

    You ever been charged by heads of GMO lettuce hopped up on Nitrogen enriched fertilizer? It's not pretty, man.

    here is what they can do about it: Draft a bill reversing the 2002 amendment to the IG Act, and then pass it.

    You still think it's Congress' job to pass legislation? How quaint.

  • Jan S.||

    Wouldn't a better question be, "Why the hell do we have lettuce federal inspectors?"

  • Jan S.||

    Federal lettuce inspectors.

    [/dyslexia]

  • Ryan from Arizona||

    Personal story here. Last spring an EPA paper pusher paid a visit to my 91 year old grandfather inquiring about his rumored plans to plow up the forty acres of pasture land that had never been tilled before. This is not bordering Yosemite or some federal land. This is regular Iowa farmland with no creeks or rivers to speak of. But these federalist jerkwagons wanted a sample to assess whether this could be considered wetlands. It's a good thing I wasn't there, with my rebellious streak, I'd have told them where they could put that soil sample. The depression, World War II, working his hands to the bone until he was 80... only to be visited by the lefty environmental tyrants. An now, had anyone protested their arrival, out come the tanks and mercenaries suited with body armor and sub-machine guns. And my wife wonders why I haven't registered any of my guns...

  • exchef100||

    They were too dumb to become cops so they got jobs with the fed. Now they want their toys. Simple as that.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Even Hitler never thought of having competing SS's.

  • jmomls||

    Well, we're almost there. In the Reich, there were regular police [Ordnungspolizei], the Sicherheitsdienst, the Sicherheitspolizei, the Gestapo...

  • ||

    What a completely phony article.
    The issue is that branches of the Federal government are becoming militarized.
    He makes pretzels out of his ‘logic’ by blaming Republicans and suggesting ways for Republicans to fix the problem.
    The Republicans deserve blame for all kinds of things, but this is happening under Obama.
    Because he is a lick-spittle Liberal Democrat he can’t go there.
    Just because a portion of a law passed ten years ago has become perverted doesn’t mean that the law was necessarily wrong in the first place.
    The people doing the current perversion are the ones to blame.
    The only thing Democrats can use as a defense against their behavior is to blame Bush.

  • LarryA||

    Just because a portion of a law passed ten years ago has become perverted doesn’t mean that the law was necessarily wrong in the first place.

    Actually, it does. Laws should be written so bad leaders can't pervert them.

  • TribelessLawlessHeartless||

    FDA has special agents who investigate fraud just like your local police. (Last time I checked, even Ayn Rand abhorred fraud.) They are full federal agents. Who cares what guns they carry. The FDA already has guns. It has pistols, shotguns and AR-15s. These .40 cals are the modern equivalent to the Thompson .45 used in the 20s. It seems a silly contradiction to on the one hand claim that as citizens we deserve the right to bear arms to protect ourselves against someone, and on the other to complain when law enforcement officers seek to arm themselves with the very guns we want in order to protect themselves from criminals who would do the officers harm. The government has loads guns. Whats 100 more?

  • LarryA||

    when law enforcement officers seek to arm themselves with the very guns we want

    Let me know when civilian ownership of automatic firearms gets deregulated so I can realistically own one.

  • TribelessLawlessHeartless||

    Exactly my point. You and I can own automatic weapons, you just have to jump through the hoops, generally meaning spending enough money. If you and I want them to defend ourselves, our fellow Americans employed in law enforcement want them, too.

  • Ryan from Arizona||

    If the government stays the same as it is today, it's probably not a big issues. The abuses by the federal government are fairly limited and aren't reaching the masses. Yeah, you have the Bundy thing, some abuse of eminent domain, pushing around farmers and some other skirmishes, but nothing revolutionairy. However, keep in mind that the federal government keeps on growing and any power given to it and removed from the state, is never given back. Imagine an economic collapse where the federal government is armed to the teeth and put in charge or martial law in every state. Yeah, it's unlikely, but I feel safer with my local and state law enforcement that one big central one that is controlled by people thousands of miles away. Most of the forefathers felt the same way and wrote the 10th amendment to try to limit the feds. Some good that did.

  • Pulseguy||

    The changes that have occurred in our society over 50 years were probably not considered likely to happen 60 years ago either.

  • Ryan from Arizona||

    Oh, one more point. I own guns not to protect myself from criminals. In fact I don't even really like guns. I own guns for the true intent of the second amendment... and it's not hunting either.

  • Ryan from Arizona||

    Oh, one more point. I own guns not to protect myself from criminals. In fact I don't even really like guns. I own guns for the true intent of the second amendment... and it's not hunting either.

  • Ryan from Arizona||

    Oh, one more point. I own guns not to protect myself from criminals. In fact I don't even really like guns. I own guns for the true intent of the second amendment... and it's not hunting either.

  • JD the elder||

    The issue, TLH, is that there are already about a zillion federal agencies which have been declared to be "law enforcement agencies" and authorized to go armed. If agriculture inspection work is so dangerous, shouldn't enforcement be the business of actual law enforcement agencies, like the FBI or the US Marshals, and not a bunch of jumped-up bureaucrats? The bit about "but our work is really dangerous!" is pure marketing. Bureaucracies seek to expand their power and budget, and getting an armed division is just another way to do that.

  • Jerry Baustian||

    The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prevents the armed forces of the US from being used for domestic law enforcement.

    Arming the USDA, the EPA, the BLM, the DHS, etc., and giving military equipment to local police and sheriffs, could be viewed as a way to get around the Posse Comitatus Act in the event of insurrection.

  • Pulseguy||

    Overall, I'm okay with this. If I'm reading it correctly:

    "to detect and prevent fraud, waste, abuse, and violations of law while promoting economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the operations of the Federal Government."

    So, if I'm right if they see someone acting inefficiently in the Federal government, and causing waste and fraud, they will use the machine guns to shoot them.

    I can live with that.

  • CodeWarrior||

    What if they decide you are breaking the law because your garden is too big and come in and burn half of it down? How would that make you feel? Don't think it could happen? it happened in the early 1900's here in the US when Progressives tried to control the economy..

  • Dan Richeson||

    As to the headline question:

    Because GMO's are getting out of control?

  • Stickler Meeseeks||

    "High capacity" weapons for me, but not for thee.

  • Mark22||

    Oh, my weasly-sense just tingled: "$460 million in monetary results". "Monetary results"? That could be anything. Probably one of those wonderful Obama accounting scams where he counts the savings of fabricated costs as income. Of course, even a "$460 million loss" would be a "monetary result"...

  • CodeWarrior||

    I'm never voting for an R or D ever again... ever...

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