Michael Brown Shooting

Here's How Lawmakers Use the War on Terror to Defend Police Militarization


Local police forces need military equipment to fight terrorism, members of Congress argued in June when they successfully beat back legislation that would have restricted the Defense Department's ability to transfer such weaponry to police departments.

During a late-night debate on an annual defense appropriations bill, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) tried to attach an amendment to demilitarize the police. Specifically, his measure would have blocked a Defense Department program that provides surplus military equipment—Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and M16 assault rifles, among other things—to local law enforcement, free of charge.

The House crushed Grayson's effort, with 355 votes against it and 62 for it. Ahead of the vote, lawmakers argued that it's good for local law enforcement to have access to weapons used in war zones. One member warned it would "devastate" police departments if they didn't have access to such equipment.

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Also: Ferguson's Rep. Lacy Clay Voted Against Amendment to Limit Military Surplus Transfers to Local Cops, Just Two Months Ago


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  1. You do realize, everyone, that the militarization of police through Pentagon cast-offs is by design. At some point the feds expect that civilian pacification will be necessary, and turning civilian law enforcement into domestic paramilitary forces is the best way to have an army in place ready to do so. Things like Ferguson is simply a training exercise.

    Go ahead, try to figure out if the above comment is parody or not. I dare you.

    1. Shhh! You’re not supposed to say it!

    2. A friend was really good at plausible conspiracy theories too. You’d scoff and laugh, but couldn’t really point to anything obviously wrong.

      My favorite was in the late 1990s in the run up to Y2K and during the Microsoft anti-trust trial, when Bill Gates was lying on the stand and Microsoft had introduced as evidence an obviously fraudulent video, claiming it had been made in one single take, when you could see clocks jumping forwards and backwards, icons and screen layout changing, etc. His theory was that Bill Gates was trying to look so evil that they would lose the case, the verdict would mandate a federal takeover of Windows development, and when Y2K hit the fan, Bill Gates could point to the Feds as being responsible.

      Only he could tell it much better than I can. He was chock full of such stories.

    3. Here’s something that gives me some hope.

      If I were to buy into your theory, I would further add that the Feds are outfitting the cops because they know that, come the revolution, the military is not going to be on the government’s side.

      I don’t remember who it was or where, but somebody had linked to a piece on coups wherein they had quoted Admiral Zumwalt talking about how when Watergate hit the fan Nixon had kind of hinted that he would like to know where the military would stand if he were to declare martial law. Zumwalt let him know right quick that he would get no support from the military. The military perhaps are professionals serving the american people and not necessarily the government.

      1. The military perhaps are professionals serving the american people and not necessarily the government.

        Police, on the other hand…

        1. They think of themselves as the last bastion of lawn odor, and know a few of their buddies who would be the first to get strung up. If cops had principles, the supposedly vast majority of honest cops would rat out the supposedly tiny minority who give them all a bad name.

      2. I think the problem would be where the lines are being drawn.

        If the executive were to declare martial law or start a coup, I don’t think the three branches of government would split equally. I think the military would be for the people, and for defending the constitution, but the question of where the leadership would come from is still up in the air.

        Of the three branches, I think the judiciary is the most inline with the constitution, however they interpret it.

        If a coup were to happen, the people would essentially need to rapidly re-establish a separate chain of command independent of whatever would call itself the government.

        1. I think the military would be for the people, and for defending the constitution,

          And after a week it would be obvious they were for the Treasury department.

    4. About 6 months before all the Snowden stuff hit, I was thinking about getting a new cell phone – upgrading from a flip phone to a smart phone. I expressed concerns about government wire taps and agencies using the more advanced technologies in smart phones to track the people who owned them.

      My friends made fun of me for being paranoid and a conspiracy theorist.

      Then Snowdon happened and the news leaked that the NSA was using Angry Birds to track people.

      I still haven’t said “I told you so”, but I need to.

      1. There is a reason why I use about 10% of the capability of my smartphone.

        1. Of course, I did end up getting smart phone but I try to limit how it’s used. The GPS is always off unless I’m traveling out of town.

          1. That when you REALLY need it OFF.

          2. Turning GPS off does little but save battery. Even if you leave it “on”, most of the time the GPS is not active, because it is very power hungry (the satellite signals are extremely low power and hard to detect).

            Your position can always be tracked from the cell towers your phone is connected to, with varying degrees of accuracy depending on how dense the cell coverage is. If you’re in a rural area with the GPS active then it will provide more accurate location information to the carrier, but otherwise you are not gaining any privacy by turning it off.

            1. To clarify, the GPS unit itself does not provide the information to the carrier (GPS is a one-way street), but it will provide information to the phone which the phone will pass on to the carrier.

    5. If the cops ever have to people with the numbers, arms, and will to put up a real fight, they’re going to shed their uniforms and flee like the Iraqi military, leaving all those fancy military toys in the hands of the insurgents.

      Whether this is a positive or a negative depends on the nature of the people fighting the cops, I suppose.

  2. One member warned it would “devastate” police departments if they didn’t have access to such equipment.

    I blame violent video games.

  3. “One member warned it would “devastate” police departments DOD rent-seekers if they didn’t have access to such equipment police departments.”


  4. Even if the terrorists were to launch a string of attacks around the US as was feared shortly after 9/11, what the hell do the police need MRAPs APC’s for? Do they think the next wave of terror attacks is going to be jihadis with RPG’s hiding on rooftops and setting off IED’s on Main Street? If so, isn’t that what the Army and Nat’l Guard units are for? Seems to me that all the heavy transport in the world isn’t going to do jack when a sports venue or shopping mall gets bombed.

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